When considering the best location for establishing a retirement residence, the two most important factors are often times price based and amenity based. There is no question that nearness to family and attractive weather also play an important role much of the time, but cost of living issues and “life quality” opportunities seem to be the most prominent factors in most cases. How much house can you buy for the money and how much of your retirement income do you get to keep in your pocket after accounting for your tax burden? These are the pressing questions, especially in this economy, that most often guide people’s thinking in making their best possible retirement choice.
How does Las Vegas real estate fit into this picture? Let’s just talk about it the way it really is. Las Vegas homes have dropped in price by approximately 60% over the past 3 to 4 years. In fact, prices are now so low in Southern Nevada that U.S. News & World Report recently ranked Las Vegas #2 in the entire country for buying a retirement home on a price basis. As compelling as this is, I would like to point out another tremendously important factor that favors Las Vegas as a prime retirement destination … our overall tax burden. The only state that takes less in taxes than Nevada is Alaska, and the only other states that even come close to our minimal tax rates are Wyoming and New Hampshire. To be honest, it has been our experience that most people try their best to escape cold and snow in their retirement years. Las Vegas, Nevada gives you the opportunity to maximize your retirement income while completely avoiding the snow shovel and the bone chilling temperatures.
How do we stack up on the question of lifestyle amenities and overall pleasurable living? Everyone knows that story already – 320 sunny days a year, great golf and outdoor sporting activities, stimulating cultural venues, fantastic restaurants, terrific shopping and all the nightlife you can stand. When you put it all together, it is hard to imagine a retirement destination with a better mix of all the things that matter most than Las Vegas, Nevada!
Just one of the many really great things about having billions of dollars in cash laying around is that you can work on lots of cool projects all the time. Google has taken this unique economic opportunity and elevated it to an engineering art form. In fact, Google employees are encouraged to set aside a small block of their scheduled work time each week to ponder and play with ideas that have nothing to do with their particular Google department or traditional project discipline. How cool is that!
As it happens, one of the cutting-edge projects being developed by Google engineers are Google cars that literally drive themselves. First you start with a Toyota Prius, add roof cameras, mix in a Google technologist in the passenger seat and a “just in case” driver behind the wheel … and you are ready to roll. This particular project is a logical extension/application of Google artificial-intelligence software, which is coded to sense anything near the car and make choices that would replicate what a human driver would do. I do have to tell you that drivers in Las Vegas in particular are not the best, and I would personally hope that the AI driving software can be developed to make better decisions than most Las Vegas drivers!
How is it going so far? Google’s fleet of seven test cars have already driven over 1,000 miles without a human ever touching the wheel. This includes freeways, congested city traffic and hilly-windy roads in downtown San Francisco. Any accidents so far? Can you believe that someone actually rear-ended a Google self driving test car at a stop light! Wow, that must have been especially embarrassing and one can only imagine how the police report was worded.
Without question I can tell you that Las Vegas real estate agents would love to have Google self driving cars in the future. Between client conversations and last minute research on the iPhone or Evo, it would be a tremendous convenience to set the GPS to sequence through multiple residential viewing destinations, and then sit back and give great customer service while the driving is being safely taken care of!
The Michelle Sterling Las Vegas Real Estate Team has a few Blackberry holdouts, but by and large our crew runs their business with iPhones. Whether in the office or out in the field, I rarely see one of my agents without their iPhone in hand running a search query or an app of some sort that augments their daily business process. In line with that tech-enhanced productivity groove, I was happy to inform my Team yesterday that Google Goggles is now available as a mobile app for the iPhone. What is Google Goggles? This amazing new technology actually allows you to use the camera on your phone as an instant search tool for a wide range of information. The phone is literally transformed into a “visual” search tool that enables you to access in-depth information on your immediate spatial surroundings simply by pointing and capturing images as if you were taking a picture. Google Goggles can absorb and process business cards and book covers for example, giving you immediate additional information on what these things represent or contain. Google Goggles also reads labels and text … and what Realtor doesn’t spend boatloads of time sifting through printed information of all kinds with an eye towards contextual understanding? The text can even be translated from one language to another through the additional magic of a Google translation app, which comes in handy for a team like ours that works with clients from all over the world. By integrating the GPS data in the iPhone, Google Goggles can also provide location-based results about where you are and what you are near. How often do Realtors take clients to communities or neighborhoods and get immediately bombarded with questions about nearby businesses, restaurants, freeway access distances and other geo-specific stuff. With Google Goggles you can show your clients this information right on your phone. You can even scan business cards and add important new contacts to your address book instantly. Google Goggles is going to be a great tech resource for Realtors with iPhones !!
The explosion in the level of activity on Facebook and Twitter has called into question the continued relevancy of blogging in some techie-talk circles of late. Usually these discussions are framed in an “us vs them” context where one type of online social activity gains at the expense of another. This seems very strange to me. The Michelle Sterling Team runs multiple Las Vegas real estate blogs and we consistently integrate new posts into our other social media presentations by providing a brief post summary along with a link. In fact, if you take a look at the types of tweets that consistently get retweets on Twitter, you will find that many of them contain links to blog posts that cover engaging topics. Therefore, the key to making these links from Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to your blog posts worth following is the quality of the content you produce. While it is true that the Internet is flooded with blogs, the vast majority are maintained infrequently at best, with content that is substandard in terms of both substance and style. This opens the door for anyone willing to make a concerted and consistent effort to create good quality content. If you do so, you will get noticed and read, it’s as simple as that.
Why does real estate blogging in particular matter to your career? According to eMarketer, roughly 50% of all US based Internet users regularly read blogs. Even more importantly, the National Association of Realtors has documented that 77% of buyers use the Internet as a research resource to find their new home. For those under 44 years old, that percentage soars to 90%. The power of the Internet is central to the residential real estate industry and blogging plays an important role in developing that opportunity for your business.