February, 2012

What's New
Original Reference GuideWe're Celebrating - it's the start of our 30th year!

The old cliche is "my how time flies" but in 1982 some days went very slowly.  It took one whole year using a Kroy Machine and an Apple II Plus computer to publish the various Tract names for our first guide.  We only had 146 projects in it for the two cities.

To go back even further, in the 1960's I moved to Mission Viejo.  My first plan was a Sorrento model in the Eldorado Tract.  The 405 Freeway hadn't opened up yet and there were 4620 people in the community.  Over the next forty some years, I bought and sold many homes in Orange County and because of the marketing efforts of the builders and the master planning.  I can still remember each one of my homes.  Your clients remember their Tracts too, just like I do.  But, rest assured, with our information, we can bring confidence to you and make you look pretty darn good in their eyes.

Don Bren, in my opinion, is and will always remain the most innovative real estate icon this area has ever seen.  He began as an owner of The Mission Viejo Company and continues his journey as the owner of The Irvine Company.  The unique thing about Orange County was the large land holdings which afforded keen early master planning in cities like Mission Viejo, Laguna Niguel and Irvine.  Mr. Bren currently has a twenty year plan for the Irvine property.

In 1978 I entered into an agreement to buy a real estate Office in Corona Del Mar that had about 80 Agents at the time.  The office was sold and eventually became the Prudential California Office in Newport Beach.  That was more than 30 years ago.  Having hired many brand new Agents, I quickly realized that they had to learn the names of the developments located in Newport, Costa Mesa and Irvine or they would lose out to a more informed competitor.  The "old timers" in the office knew the Tracts by name and knew the idiosyncrasies of them as well.  The newcomers needed to come up to speed and do it fast to insure a competitive edge!

Our first little Reference Guide was made with these new Agents in mind.  It contained the Tract names and Codes for Irvine and Newport Beach and sold for $19.95.  Each development needed a unique identifier so the MLS computers could track the project.  Hence the term "Builder Tract Code" or B/T was born.  Each development was assigned a unique code and each model was listed.  We had eight different Associations of REALTORS® and each had their own MLS committee.  With help from many sources and 30 years' time, we have now identified almost 4,000 Tracts and that's just Orange County!

Form the early Reference Guide, the cities and information within the books expanded.  When we stopped selling the 3 ring binder editions, there were 23 volumes and cost was $2,700 for the full set!  Not many could afford it.

Seventeen years ago, the Internet was new to the majority of us as we migrated to the CD-ROM technology.  The CD-ROM was "state of the art" at that time.  It was a time and money saver for many, but there were always those who were new to computers and struggled with installation and other computer challenges.

Now everything we do is Web based.  It's easier for us to update our data and you can retrieve the information anytime, anywhere.  I will talk more about technology in future issues, but for now, I suggest that you start saving your money for the new iPad.  The third edition resolution will shock everyone.  By the way, I have never, nor do I now, own Apple stock.  My loss.

Tips 'n' Tricks
Time and again I get asked the question about how to copy and Email a Floor Plan?  Below are some simple steps and concepts:  The thing to keep in mind is practice makes perfect.  So try these steps when you are not pressured to leave for an appointment in the next 5 minutes.  Make a cup of tea and set 20 minutes aside for "education purposes."  No interruptions please.  You will be happy you did. 


  1. Windows 7 (and some Vista computers) have a program called "Snipping Tool."  It can be found by clicking "Start," - "All Programs" then open the "Accessories" folder.  It is an easy program to learn and use.  In seconds you can capture a screen shot of anything you see.  With a Floor Plan open on your screen, just draw a box around the plan then click the copy button.  From there you can paste it to another spot.  The drawing is a PDF (Portable Document File).  To Email it, draw the box, then click the envelope on the top of Snipping Tool to open your Email, and send the drawing.  (If you use Internet Email such as Gmail, save the drawing using the Save button (also at the top of the screen), then attach the file and send).  There are many uses for this program and Aerial Photos are becoming extremely important in marketing real estate and appraisals.  The Snipping Tool will help capture anything you see on your screen.  So experiment, but practice, practice, practice! It takes me under 30 seconds to send a photo, Floor Plan or aerial using this tool.  There is a good tutorial with the program, just click on the question mark on the screen.
  2. Windows XP… sorry no Snipping Tool, but just two days I ago discovered a free program called "JING".  Go to www.techsmith.com and down load Jing.  It too is a screen capture program that's quite easy to use.  With it you may capture and do the same things I mentioned in step number one.
  3. iPadNow as to the iPad. Hundreds of you have heard me say that I believe the iPad is the fourth greatest invention for Real Estate Professionals.  It sits right behind the MLS, the automobile and the ballpoint pen.  I got my first iPad the 3rd day they were released.  I then got the second version last December.  I Now eagerly await the anticipated release of the iPad 3 this March.  We will talk more about the device in the future, but know that Inside Tract® builds its entire screen displays around the iPad screen resolution.  There are over 100 other Tablet type devices that compete against the iPad.  I call them iPad-wannabies.  These tablets, like the iPad, will play an ever more important role in the Real Estate Professionals future.  How difficult is it to Email a Floor Plan from the iPad?  Start by opening the drawing then touch the Email icon on the top of the screen.  Listen to the whoosh as the drawing flies out!  It's over and gone. 

    Another great iPad & iPhone tip:  To capture any screen shot quickly touch the two buttons on the iPad or similar one on the phone as illustrated in the photo.  The screen will be captured and you'll find the picture it in your photos.

Featured Tract
Dean Rathbun, Sr.We are working to add many new Tracts that came on line during the "wild" building days of a couple years ago.  It can take up to 5 hours to add one development, so we ask you for your patience but please know that we want to get the information to you and as fast as possible.  Between mapping and redrawing the various options of each plan, it's a slow process.  If you are a Premium Member and you see a notice that information is coming or there are no models listed under the Tract description, just click on "Ask Dean" at the top of the screen and we will send the information to you as soon as possible.  This of course does not apply to Custom Homes as we don't have those plans. 

In summary, according to scores of clients January was the busiest month that our customers have had in years.  There is no science to this remark but it's based purely on the conversations that I have had during the past month with many of our customers.  We look ahead to 2012 with the promise to keep working on your behalf to improve our service for you.  Thanks for reading!

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