We produced tremendous accomplishments and I am very proud of the work by the entire team. I am grateful for the experience of working with Krisstina Wise and the rest of the executive team. I wish them all the best of luck in their future success.
I also look forward to the space of possibilities that is now created!
I’ve been spending this week solving a problem that I noticed with one of our real estate specific software packages – a number of customers would report to me that they were not receiving their reports from our system, even though I could email them the same email (copied and pasted) from my normal email client (gmail, via google apps). From this, I discovered that in order for people to receive email from some of our 3rd party tools, we might need to implement a change to our DNS to make use of a technology called the Sender Policy Framwork. Essentially, this framework allows a domain name owner to specify which mail servers or networks are allowed to send mail on the behalf of the domain. Some internet service providers check the SPF records of the sender, and if the mail server they are receiving the mail from is not listed as a legitimate email sender for the from: domain, they will silently fail to deliver the email. This is especially sneaky because it does not generate a bounce, since the purpose of the framework is to defeat spammers who are sending phishing emails pretending to be websites like paypal or banking sites.
After researching further, I found that a number of large internet email hosts (ISPs, or internet service providers) honor the SPF standards, and are currently at least checking SPF for “negative” configurations where specific senders are “blocked”. These include the larger mail hosts like google, yahoo, and hotmail, as well as a number of ISPs. From the openSPF website, current surveys are showing between 5-12% of ISPs implementing the SPF standard, which means that there are likely to be a lot of emails that are not getting through from senders that do not have SPF configured, especially email delivered to the more stringent ISPs. The broad adoption by “common carriers” like google, hotmail, and yahoo also means it is likely that these ISPs will turn up the heat on spammers in the future by slowly becoming more strict in their enforcement of SPF standards, since it reduces their costs of routing spam email.
After this research, I decided it was time to act to make sure that our customers received email from all of our services.
The easiest way is to send mail to a 3rd party that has SPF rule checking turned on. We use Google for our mail services, and they do check SPF records, so all I need to do was use the “view original” menu option (it’s in the “reply” menu on every message) to see the results of the SPF testing. I did this with a email that a customer reported they did not receive (we are copied on these emails).
What you are looking for in the internet headers is this:
This means that the 3rd party mail sender is property authorized to send mail on behalf of your domain. This is the “happy” result.
What I found was:
This means that there is no SPF record configured that says the email sender is allowed to send on behalf of the domain. Basically, anything other than “pass” means that these emails may not reach some destinations, depending on how strictly the receiving mail host has configured their system.
Some internet service providers will reject messages that evaluate to a “softfail”; google is a little more tolerant and allowed it through to me, but apparently not to our customer of this particular email.
In order to fix the problem, I had to identify what SMTP server was sending email on behalf of goodlifeteam.com; in the message header below the softfail, I found this:
google.com: domain of transitioning email@example.com does not designate 126.96.36.199 as permitted sender)
188.8.131.52 happens to be one of the mail servers used by Top Producer’s Market Snapshot, so now I can “white list” this server in our SPF record so that these messages do not receive a soft fail – thus improving the likelihood of delivery.
First, I audited whether there was a problem by looking at the mail headers of my email messages from any of our 3rd party services that send email.
Next, I had to write a handful of changes into our SPF record for our domain to include those 3rd party services as valid senders for our domain. This included Top Producer and Top Marketer (for Market Snapshot), one of our two 3rd party IDX systems, our current website host, and of course, our mail host, which is google via google apps. I had already configured our domain for google apps and our website, so I needed to generate the additional SPF rules so that allowed all our mails from Market Snapshot and our 3rd party IDX to be properly delivered.
After doing this research, I wrote up an SPF rule using the SPF wizard at http://old.openspf.org/wizard.html
I found the wizard exceedingly easy to use, plus it gives you a nice verbose explanation of what each rule means.
This is what was produced:.
The SPF record:
can be explained as:
||This identifies the TXT record as an SPF string.|
||Every host in the range 184.108.40.206-220.127.116.11 is allowed to send mail from goodlifeteam.com. (THIS IS OUR 3RD PARTY IDX, REALZI)|
||Every host in the range 18.104.22.168-22.214.171.124 is allowed to send mail from goodlifeteam.com.n (THIS IS THE IP RANGE FOR MARKET SNAPSHOT AND TOP PRODUCER)|
||goodlifeteam.com’s IP address is 126.96.36.199 (ekiaiomcem.c06.mtsvc.net).
That server is allowed to send mail from goodlifeteam.com. (THIS IS OUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE HOST)
||This wizard found 13 names for the MX servers for goodlifeteam.com: gy-in-f27.1e100.net, ALT1.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.com, mu-in-f27.1e100.net, ASPMX4.GOOGLEMAIL.com, ALT2.ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.com, ASPMX3.GOOGLEMAIL.com, ASPMX2.GOOGLEMAIL.com, mail-yx0-f60.google.com, ww-in-f27.1e100.net, ASPMX5.GOOGLEMAIL.com, gv-in-f27.1e100.net, and ASPMX.L.GOOGLE.com.
(A single machine may go by more than one hostname. All of them are shown.)
The servers behind those names are allowed to send mail from goodlifeteam.com.
(THESE ARE OUR GOOGLE MX RECORDS)
||realestate.goodlifeteam.com is also allowed to send mail from goodlifeteam.com. (THIS IS THE WEBSITE THAT COMES WITH OUR 3rd PARTY IDX – MOSTLY AS A PRECAUTION IN CASE THIS SERVER STARTS SENDING MAIL INSTEAD OF THE SMTP THEY CURRENTLY USE)|
||Any server allowed to send mail from
||SPF queries that do not match any other mechanism will return “neutral”.
Messages that are not sent from an approved server should still be accepted as if the SPF record did not exist.
After that, I added a TXT record to our domain name, and included the SPF rule as generated by the wizard, and waited for DNS to propogate the record. A few hours later, I checked a recent Market Snapshot inquiry and looked in the header and Voila!
Received-SPF: pass (google.com: domain of firstname.lastname@example.org designates 188.8.131.52 as permitted sender)
Messages coming from all of our 3rd party services are now listed “pass” by google and are more likely to be delivered to our clients. Hurry for emails that make it to mail boxes!
The Goodlife Team, Austin Real Estate Agents , are now proud to represent The Riverside Grove Project located South of Riverside on Grove Boulevard. Visit the fan page for the project at the Riverside Grove project on Facebook.]]>
Just spent some time giving the Boulevard Condos website some love. It is very easy to let websites go adrift after a project is finished, but with the age of this site (and several others in the Goodlife Team portfolio), plus the regular, highly targeted visitor traffic it does receive, doing the maintenance is worth while. I specifically updated our Boulevard news pages to include all future updates about The Riverside Grove, and also tied in our property searching on the site to answer the number one question people ask about when they do find the site – “what is currently for sale or lease?”. Now all condos for sale or lease at 1201 Grove are easily visible.
The Riverside Grove website also has updates coming. We’ve had plenty to do with the Riverside Grove facebook pages, and also with preparing for the Riverside Grove grand opening event – stay tuned for more on the project!
I’m looking forward to our work with the folks over at East Austin Online. They’ve done a great job on having their site rank for just about every term I can think of related to living in East Austin, which is fantastic. Plus they’re just great people that want to see the East side of Austin do well. It’s excellent when you find like minded folk that are willing to do the work to promote something they believe in!
Finally – I’m working on a series of updates for the Modern Home Tour Austin website and facebook pages. Stay tuned for these as we prepare to another great tour in 2011!]]>
Chris Thorman writes about Geo Fences for real estate search – a concept from the retailing that I think shows some promise. About 25% of the goodlife team’s leads come from people that text or call on signs, and features that enable a mobile shoppers that are driving neighborhoods be better aware of listings that fit their criteria seems like an easy win from the customer perspective.
My friend and brother from another planet, Rob Hahn, contends that Mobile Won’t Matter in 2010 – I’ve already commented on his blog that I don’t agree, since I see the strategy from the sign to the car being one of the strongest lead generators for the Goodlife team. Just like using good photos in the MLS, having a mobile strategy that is marginally better than the competition can results in leads that transact vs. people that just drive by. If a mobile application or text messaging service gives you that edge, the question is just one of ROI.
I don’t always agree 100% with the good folks at 1000 Watt Consulting, and in the case of mobile iPhone applications generating more actionable leads I am in agreement about principle if not time frame. I’m not sure if mobile is the flyer box quite yet, but with the advent of mobile texting applications that over time are cheaper and more effective than distributing print flyers (ever get a consumer’s phone number from a flyer box? ever have to “refill” a virtual flyer?) I think they are on the right track.
Our experience with consumers in Austin Texas is that they want what they want right now, in the palm of their hand. The more we can give them at that moment, the more likely we can work with them.
On that note, this week the Goodlife Team is launching a new mobile texting service. If you are in Austin and want to know the price, basic property information, and get a link to a mobile friendly property search, text “goodlife” to 59559 and follow the instructions.
The Goodlife Team, Austin Realtors , is now proud to represent Renaissance Properties The Riverside Grove Project located on Grove Boulevard in South Austin. Visit our fan page for the Riverside Grove project on Facebook.]]>
The market for new construction homes in Austin continues to vex my real estate friends nationally; I call and talk to them about what we are doing at the goodlife team with new developments and their don’t understand it in the context of the national real estate market, which is perfectly understandable. If you only use the national news, it would seem like there would be no new construction until 2020 at the earliest due to the glut of resale inventory. Austin exists in it’s own economic climate, not unaffected by the national market, but also with some peculiar advantages – reasonable unemployment given the circumstances, diverse business environment meaning we don’t depend on any one industry for jobs, and the reasonable appreciation rates in our housing market prior to the national bust. Plus, people still want to move here Garry Wise is writing about this every month as part of our blog – see the latest market stats at Austin Real Estate Market Stats – this is updated every month with our interpretations of what is happening in the Austin real estate market.
Of course, if you are searching for any property in East Austin, come visit us at www.goodlifeteam.com.
A short interview I gave on what else you can do to affect the sale of a home besides the price.]]>
In January of 2009, I accepted the position of CTO of the Goodlife team real estate brokerage in Austin, TX, run by my friend and collaborator Krisstina Wise. I chose to do this for a number of reasons.
I will be updating this blog site periodically (but a lot less frequently), and many of my posts about the industry and technology in it will appear on www.goodlifeteam.com/blog as part of the conversation with and about the industry. If you are a past client or friend from the Keller Williams days, feel free to participate. I am also fairly active on twitter, and you can follow me at www.twitter.com/jackmiller
Wishing you the best while we re-make the real estate industry,
Editor’s note: A number of Keller Williams related posts were removed from the content of this site since many of them are no longer applicable. If you are looking for technical help with Keller Williams systems or tools, please contact the fine folks at support.kw.com.]]>