Minnesota is already known for being “nice”, but a local company called ecoEnvelopes is bringing nice to the world and attempting to turn corporate America green by helping businesses reduce their company’s environmental impact AND save money in the process.

After working for years to perfect the design and obtain the US Postal Service’s approval, ecoEnvelopes has developed an innovative line of reusable envelopes that simply zip open, allowing users to insert their response or payment and seal them up again just like a regular envelope. With 81 billion return envelopes being sent through the US mail each year, ecoEnvelopes stands to have a great impact on the environment by helping  to reduce the estimated cost of envelope-excessive corporate America’s 1 billion pounds in greenhouse gas emissions and more than 71 trillion BTUs of energy.

Not only can everyone participate in environmental stewardship and feel good about their part in greening the mail (the envelopes are also made with up to 100% post-consumer recycled content!), but by eliminating the need to print, store, handle, insert, track and include a separate reply envelope, ecoEnvelopes can cut mail costs 15% to 45%, the company says.

Not a bad way to “green” our real estate businesses, I say! 🙂  ecoauditimage.jpg



Green is the new black during this, the final weekend of the 2008 Parade of Homes Spring PreviewSM presented by Builders Association of the Twin Cities’ members.

This year’s Guidebook includes plenty of great Green articles to help us make sense of this growing movement and the homes in this year’s 14-home earth-friendly mini tour are built to showcase Green building practices, products and design, and many of them will host education seminars and other interesting events to give home buyers a better understanding of their Green options.  

Some of the seminars that are taking place this weekend include: “Landscaping for a Green Community”, “Light up Your Home AND Your Energy Bill” and “Geothermal Heating and Cooling: A Systems Approach.” And I’m thinking about checking out an event with eco-friendly design expert, Jackie Kanthak, who will be will answering questions, giving green design ideas, and offering advice on the the hard to find eco-friendly products for the kitchen and bathroom.

Green or not, the homes on parade cover a broad spectrum of prices to fit the needs of every buyer, ranging from the lowest priced home by S.W. Wold Townhomes, Inc. in Cambridge, priced at $119,900, to the most expensive home by Stonewood LLC, located on Loring Drive in Minnetrista and priced at $2,950,000.

So come on out this weekend to take advantage of the longer days and beautiful spring weather that’s rolled our way, and peruse the preview parade!

For more information go to

Happy house hunting!!! 🙂

:: Kelly ::

Greetings everyone!

I wanted to take a moment and introduce myself. My name is Kelly Carlson, Marketing Manager for the Don Edam Group, and I’m going to be contributing to this blog (and to the real estate industry in general) in the days to come, from a completely new and different perspective than your typical real estate professional.

Hoping to utilize a trifecta of my favorite hobbies (trend hunting, exploring new places, and trying new things), as well as tapping back into the service journalism and editorial voice that my U of M education once afforded me, my intentions are to keep you posted on all the latest news, statistics, tips, and trends in real estate and to scope out and share with you all of the food and dining, shopping and style, arts and entertainment, health, education, and local events that make our Twin Cities neighborhoods unique and fabulous places to live!

Although I am relatively new as a licensed real estate agent, I’m excited to know that the combination my background, work and educational experience, and personal interests can lend something new to the industry. While my expertise (& nearly a decade of experience!) lies primarily in promotions, marketing, and trend research, I also have 2 years experience as a credit analyst for a local mortgage services company and 4 years experience in title insurance research, giving me a range of knowledge and skill that can only add to our clients’ success.

I get a kick out of being a social anthropologist and spotting changes in consumer behavior, scoping out new trendsetting products and services, and just about any super-smart thinking on where our societies are headed at large. I look forward to developing new and innovative ways of marketing your homes and neighborhoods so that others can see why you called it “home” for so long, and I hope you enjoy the information I can share with you about the people, places, and events that form our great Twin Cities communities.

In the meantime, happy house hunting and speedy sales to all! )



Looking for a commanding view of the collapsing housing market? According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, some 138 mountaintop acres next to the landmark Hollywood sign in Los Angeles are going on sale Wednesday for $22 million.

Abutting the largest urban park in the country –- and just west of the giant sign’s H, the property atop Cahuenga Peak has been privately owned for years. Eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes bought it before World War II in hopes of building a mountain hideaway for his then-girlfriend Ginger Rogers. She demurred. It passed undeveloped into Mr. Hughes’s estate and was sold in 2002 to Chicago-based Fox River Co. for $1.68 million.

Two years ago, city officials, residents and conservationists launched a fundraising drive to buy the property atop the 1,820-foot-high peak, which affords sweeping views of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel mountains. Their stated goal was to make the peak part of Griffith Park, the municipal land that practically envelopes it. Safe to say, they didn’t raise anywhere near the current $22 million asking price.

Griffith Park has suffered two damaging wildfires in the past year. Any potential developer is certain to face obstacles getting building permits.

Still, rare hill properties in Los Angeles can attract determined buyers, while the overall housing market remains depressed. In Los Angeles County, notices of default outnumbered home sales in the fourth quarter of 2007, and the median price of homes continues to fall, according to DataQuick Information Systems, a La Jolla, Calif., real-estate research firm. From the lofty heights of Cahuenga Peak, the view isn’t necessarily rosy. Full Story


Donating money to charitable causes is all very well and good, but there’s usually an abstractness about it that makes one wonder if the funds are really helping those who need it. According to the folks at Springwise however, a new project by California eco-urban design firm LJ Urban aims to make giving more concrete—quite literally—by matching its sales of homes domestically with funds to build homes in the impoverished African nation of Burkina Faso.

LJ Urban has designed a new eco-urban community of 35 LEED ND Certified homes in the urban core of Sacramento, its home town. The community is suggestively named Good, and for each home within it that gets sold, LJ Urban has committed to funding the complete training of a West African mason to build sustainable homes for families in Burkina Faso. By partnering with the Association La Voûte Nubienne (AVN), which has already trained about 60 local masons to build durable homes out of earth bricks and mortar, LJ Urban aims to go beyond just providing homes to impart enduring skills and jobs to the local community. Taking the notion a step further, LJ Urban has also opted to skip the expensive marketing campaign to promote its Good community, and to use that money to train more African masons instead. So, for every 100,000 people who visit LJ Urban’s new, dedicated website by July 1st, the company will fund the complete training of another local Burkina Faso mason—up to 20 in all through this viral approach.

The Good project was inspired by Toms Shoes, a project that donates a pair of shoes for every one it sells. “[That] approach captivated us because it broke through the ‘charity fatigue’ all of us have felt at one time or another,” LJ Urban’s team explains. “The question then became: ‘What if we could do something like that with our houses?’…” The project is also reminiscent of One Laptop Per Child’s (OLPC’s) “Give One Get One” campaign last year through which consumers could donate a laptop and get one for their own use at the same time.


You have information to share. Wonderful and insightful knowledge about your business and changing industry. You are an expert. You are smart, alert, and creative when dealing with change. With RSS you can share that knowledge with the world 24/7. According to the a recent article by RISMedia, RSS allows you to become the information source and the authority of your profession, virtually distributing it to the desktop of the very people you want to reach.

In the past year “RSS Feed” has become a very popular buzz word in Internet marketing. Questions like “What is RSS?” and “Why do I need RSS?” are commonly heard at industry conferences and coffee shops around the world.

What is RSS?

Really – Simple – Syndication.

RSS may be defined as being simple, yet the concept and application of RSS is anything but simple. An RSS feed at the most basic concept level collects content on the Web and categorizes it into a simple structure so that another person can easily download the content and be notified of when it is updated.

The technology can be used for many purposes:

– Product information
– Opinion and observation articles
– Business and professional tips
– Travel logs
– Press releases
– Personal and professional journals

As a business owner, RSS gives you many advantages in distributing your information online and promoting it to the right demographic.

Easier Distribution: RSS doesn’t have the many pitfalls of mail or e-mail marketing. There are no permission lists or databases to maintain. Everyone subscribes by choice and has complete control over the distribution of your information to them.

Control of Information: RSS supports the ability of teaser paragraphs and introductory information. You don’t need to send out everything through RSS- which allows you to include links to other information, lead generation forms, and industry partner information that is hard to squeeze into one communication.

“Pull” or demand marketing, rather than PUSH: Subscribers are in complete control. They don’t endlessly worry at six o’clock that they are going to get a telemarketing call interrupting personal time. If they choose- they can get more information or simply cancel the subscription. Giving control of this process increases the quality of distribution channel and strengthens the relationship.

Link-building, traffic, and promotion: everyone wants more traffic and eyes viewing their site information. By including links within articles going out on RSS feeds, a percentage of readers will be pulled back to the main site and source of the information. This means that one newsletter distributed via RSS could result in a reader flipping through ten pages of your site: which means more education, better branding, and a possibility of having a new client.

Up-to-date content: One of the main reasons that RSS (which is supported by blogs, community sites, and other social media) has gained popularity is that users have learned that 95% of the content is recent information. Rather than read about last weeks news, RSS subscribers are reading today’s news. If you compared it- it is just like have the nightly news on your desktop, laptop, or mobile phone 24 / 7 on demand.

Search Engine Marketing with RSS

Before you run out and get a RSS feed setup on your site, understand a critical item in having one. The words you choose for your RSS feed name, description, and source files are very important.

If you are a real estate broker, you probably know that having a domain for your site such as “” will drive traffic to a New York real estate office. The same is true of RSS feeds.

When naming the file structure of your RSS feed-don’t choose something like “tomsdailynewsartcles,” but choose a detailed three to four keyword phrase for your feed. It will help you rank for those key phrases. If you have several areas of content, more strategic uses of search marketing are possible by using multiple RSS feeds for your search marketing goals.

Getting People to Subscribe to a Feed

Feeds should be prominently displayed on your site with a call to action to subscribe. Users can use many different methods to read your feed, including built-in services in an Internet browser, e-mail application, or mobile phone. As your audience subscribes to the various RSS feeds on your site, those subscribers help add to the overall recognition and strength of how your site produces natural, organic traffic through multiple sources. An important call to action on any site, newsletter, or feed is to encourage current readers to share the information and articles with like-minded friends and associates. Full Story

When the market is slow it is especially crucial to be efficient with your time. Make sure that the majority of your efforts are spent on activities that bring immediate reward. According to RISMedia, one of the most effective ways to master time is to eliminate time-wasters from your life. You can do this by starting a “To-Don’t List.” Every successful agent has a “To-Do List” but the super-successful write down those things they will stop doing that waste their time such as:

Don’t work with unmotivated buyers. Stop working with buyers who won’t sign a Buyer-Broker Agreement with you. If they won’t commit themselves to an agent who will work hard on their behalf and show them all of the properties on the market how motivated are they?

Don’t work with unmotivated sellers. Owners who aren’t willing to price their properties to sell and make their homes show well aren’t motivated. If they want to “test the market” with a price that’s even slightly above market send them to your competitors.

Don’t work with clients you dislike. Perhaps you just don’t have much rapport with them but folks you don’t personally like will waste your time just the same. If buyers don’t intrinsically trust you’ll find they will be reluctant to make offers when you suggest at a price that is reasonable. Sellers who lack trust will be unwilling to price their properties to sell or spend the money to make it look its best.

Don’t run ineffective ads. If an ad doesn’t pay for itself stop it immediately. This means that you must track every ad to see how much business it brings in and if it isn’t measurable (such as vanity advertising) or doesn’t at least cover its cost dump it. Ineffective ads not only waste time but money as well.

Don’t hang around with negative people. In this market there are plenty of people filled with doom and gloom so avoid them. Don’t forget that real estate is cyclical. For example, in 1980’s interest rates were twenty-two percent and higher and yet plenty of agents made a very good living during this market and other challenging times. Spend your time with positive, upbeat people not those who brighten an entire room just by leaving.

What’s wasting your time? Make your own “To-Don’t List” and stick to it. Have a prosperous and productive new year. Story

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