“Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken”

How many Realtors have you come across that sound and look like everyone else?  Their website is generic, their business card is no different from the next and their marketing pieces say the same message as their competitors.  In a world run by technology and where the cost is so minimal in giving your business a specific look and feel, it’s a wonder why a lot of Realtors have not taken advantage of the vast array of tools out there.

Let’s face it, the way business is conducted in our industry is ever changing and constantly evolving to incorporate technology and how we inform and interact with our clientele. In fact, I challenge you while you’re out on your next lunch break, to ask a few strangers how they choose a Realtor and why.  I would bet that referrals play role as well as consistent marketing.  Rarely have I come across someone that says, “I chose my Realtor because I heard they are with ‘X’ brokerage.”

On that note, why help brand a franchise or a larger company when you could brand yourself as the number one Realtor in your marketplace and the person with a wealth of information and connections on any Real Estate matters?  To be an elite Realtor, one must remember that your business relies solely on your efforts, not the efforts of your colleagues.  Knowing directly what works each time in getting a property sold and keeping your pipeline full of new business is what separates those who choose Real Estate as a hobby and those who make it a career.  So be yourself, build your brand and cultivate what it is that makes clients want to work with you, regardless of what company you are affiliated with!

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3 TIps For Lead Generation

You can be a closing Champion but if you don’t have the deals to close in the first place, then you’re no Champ at all. Farming (lead generation) will always be a necessary part of the Realtors profession, period! Generating leads online can be tough, especially with non-conventional forms of communication that come with the introduction of social media. Here are three simple tips to enhance your online lead generation.

Manage Awareness: In order to establish a relationship, the person must first know who you are, or be aware of you. This is where web 2.0 comes in. You can improve your online presence through the use of things like Social Media, Blogs, SEO, or even online press releases. These all great ways to start, the goal is to make sure that your name comes up when someone searches the keyword “Realtor” online.

Manage Consideration: Now that people know who you are online you have to give them a reason to consider you. First impressions are important so make sure whatever they first come into contact with is quality. You can try listing some legitimate positive testimonials on your webpage. This will give the consumer a little glimpse as to how you conduct business. Provide consumers opportunities to inquire about your service by Email subscription. You now have their name and point of contact to market to.

Manage Action: Now that you have names and emails you can follow through. It may seem like a lot of work but sending a semi-personalized email to each prospect can go a long way. No one likes to be spammed so do whatever you can to make it not seem like a huge email blast. It can mean the difference between retaining a prospect or being blocked forever.

3 Features That Your Realtor Branded App Should Have

Todays’ technology makes it easy for Realtors to work remotely but having and maintaining a mobile application can be a little frustrating.

It can get overwhelming when deciding what features your personalized agent branded app should have.  While many apps have great features, some may have too many which can leave a buyer confused and disoriented.

The more features your app has the more places it has to glitch up and crash. The key to preventing your app from constantly crashing, confusing a user, and preventing you from having a constant headache is to simplify with these 3 features.

Mobile MLS Mapping – Most applications have this as a standard feature. When building your own app this is a must have. This feature allows the user to search for property from a “Google Maps” platform. It’s extremely user-friendly and anyone who has a smart phone (if they don’t they’ve got bigger issues) can use it.

Agent Branding –  This seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised as to how many apps do this incorrectly. Agent Branding is simply making sure the app is clearly about you. You should have features that allow the user to contact you (by phone or email) regarding a property they find on the app directly from the app. This also leaves no room for another agent to get your client!

Home Spotter – I put this on the list simply because I think it’s extremely cool! This home Spotter feature allows the user to hold his/her smart phone or tablet up to a property (as if they were taking a video or picture) and get all the info for that property. Price, listing agent, how many rooms, everything is virtually displayed over the property! This feature is just for bragging rights. You can bet the other agent doesn’t have it on his/her app and it will definitely impress your clients.

 

Take Your Real Estate Marketing Online

A lot of Realtors consider themselves to be “Old Skool” (yes that’s school with a k). I’ve had many Realtors express concerns about the effectiveness of online lead generation.  The question they ask is, “Can we compete in our market without implementing an online or web 2.0 campaign?”

Of course it’s “Possible”. However, as you continue the practices that you’re used to, you can be sure that your competitors are venturing in areas that you are not. As I’ve mentioned in earlier post, most people searching for a new property start by searching online. Here are two statistics for you to think about when considering taking your marketing campaign online.

  • According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process. Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253%  over the past four years.
  • NAR studies show that 52% of buyers turn to the Web as their first step in the home buying process.

So what does this information tell us? It tells us that almost all home buyers went online at some point in their home buying process, and over half did so before they even turned to a broker. The majority of people buying homes today spend time searching, learning and taking information online before they even think about speaking with a broker.  This alone is enough to consider expanding your marketing efforts online.

Real Estate Report Card

There are a lot of Real Estate companies with applications that claim to be the “best choice for your Real Estate needs”. I’ve just recently come across an article that I feel accurately describes and grades a few of the major Real Estate platforms. It goes without saying that each review should be taken with a grain of salt. Most of these applications give you the same MLS listing results, so the majority of the reviews focus on design and touch user interface. The only way to find out which one is right for you is to try them all!

“Reposted from 1000watt Blog.” 

Zillow

Zillow announced that it will be the first publicly traded company to take questions from investors via Twitter and Facebook. It also re-launched its mobile apps, moving all the search options under the “hamburger” icon and integrated its Mortgage Marketplace into the experience.

Grade: B+

I think Zillow’s openness on social media has done wonders for its brand and I like the new design… but I don’t love it. Somehow it feels like it has lost a bit of its personality. Maybe I miss the green from the new all-blue look. (Too Trulia for them, perhaps?) Also, I’m really beginning to think that the map is not the best view for real estate listings on mobile. More on that in another post, though.

Trulia

Trulia’s suite of consumer products, its website, mobile apps and iPad app all got face-lift too. Photos got bigger. The design got flatter. And in the case of the search results page on their website, they lost the left rail altogether and moved to a two-column layout.

Grade: A

I like the direction that Trulia is taking its design. Deep-sixing that left rail of refiners is like a blast of fresh air across the page. Trulia was the last holdout of the major portals on this front. Vendors and brokers, if you’re still desperately clinging to that wall of drop downs and form fields on your website, do yourself a favor and move on.

Realtor.com

Realtor.com released school search in its iOS and Android apps this month. The feature lets you quickly find properties within specific school districts or boundaries with a quick tap. Great school ratings are integrated, as are important data points like teacher/student ratios. Parents everywhere rejoice.

Grade: A-

I love all the innovation coming out of “Move” on the mobile front. They were first out of the gates with a draw-to-search feature, which still feels like magic. School search is a such a no-brainer and their execution here is fantastic. I love the speed and responsiveness. My only hesitation in awarding them an A grade this month is that the app itself is starting to look a little tired, with feature upon feature being piled on. I think this is an app that is screaming out for a UI refresh.

Redfin

Redfin pushed out a major design overhaul of the company’s website a few weeks back. They buried the previous design’s “cadaver blue” and splashed the wall with Redfin red . The company’s tree logo also got felled. A quick survey of the comments on the blog post announcing the change shows people were none too happy with the change.

Grade: B+

The new identity and red makes a ton sense. After all, the color is in the company’s name. I really like the cleanliness of the new site too, but its mobile apps still look like they’re the walking dead.

Use QR Codes and Make it Easier for Buyers and Sellers

By now we all know that the easier you make it on a Buyer or Seller, the more business you’ll get. However, some Realtors are not aware of how easy you can make it. With today’s web 2.0 technology almost all the information a person could need  about a property is at their fingertips. Most of us do our research before visiting an open house or commercial property (most of us). But what about those who just happen to be interested when walking or driving by but are too lazy to go in? Put the information in their hands with a QR code or SnapTag. One of these slapped on a Real Estate sign makes it easy for someone to scan and visit your site or information right from their mobile device.

 

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Quick Response Code (QR) – Got their start in the automotive industry by making it extremely easy for shops to identify vehicles. The usefulness of these bar codes quickly caught the business worlds eye and now they can be found in almost every industry. The appeal of the QR code is obvious. These guys can be encoded with almost anything  and link you to  just about everything with a URL attached

 

Unknown

SnapTag – You either love it or hate it. The idea behind SnapTag is to encode a logo with any data that can be encoded into a QR code. Its main premise is that QR codes can be ugly and what better way to promote your business than with your own logo. Simple enough. However, the technology hasn’t exactly caught on and some critics say the tech doesn’t work as well as it should.

 

The benefits of these codes are simple. They make it easier for the Buyer or Seller to access your information, in turn, increasing your chances of nailing that listing or selling that property. As for which one to use? I’ll let you try them both out and you can be the judge.

 

Photography and Your Listing

As many of us already know, photos play a major role when it comes to publicizing a property. Photos and videos grab everyone’s attention whether it’s on Facebook, printed marketing materials, or your blog/website. The photo/video must be clear, crisp, elegant etc. To achieve this many Realtors hire professionals to make sure the photos are  of quality, but what happens when professionals are not available? We’ve all been in a position where you are  touring a property for a client and you want to send them a quick pic or video to gauge their interest. Or maybe you’re not satisfied with the pictures on the MLS but you don’t have time to hire anyone. How do you make sure these photo/videos are quality? Here are a few tips for you to follow.

The Rule of Thirds – The guideline proposes that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections. The iPhone Makes this easy with its grid feature. If you break the image into nine sections, how do your subjects fit in those spaces? You don’t always want them in the middle.

comp_lighthouse

 Use a Tripod (when available) — this will allow you to take a longer exposure and give you crisp, clear photographs with available light.

Use all of the available lighting  — in the home, being careful not to shoot directly at bright light coming from windows unless you are using multiple exposures or exposure adjustments. When the camera sees the bright light coming from the window, it thinks there is enough light for a proper exposure; what will actually happen is the room will be underexposed and detail will be lost.

Wide-Angle lenses are best for photographing rooms, as they will show more of the room, which will enhance the space.

Never Shoot at Mid Day — When shooting the property from the outside its best to avoid shooting at mid day, this is when the Sun is at its peak and the light will cause the camera to under expose the picture.

These are just few tricks that can help you when taking photos of your listing. Happy Clicking!

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Use Social Media Analytics to Improve Your Real Estate Efficiency

As I’m sure you all know by now Social Media is an extremely effective and affordable marketing tool; one that every business in every industry should be utilizing. The use of Social media turns us into our own public relations or marketing firm. However, while Realtors may acknowledge the potential of these tools, they often fail to go further and see what is or  isn’t effective. This is where analytics comes in. To put it simply, the analytics of your Social Media sites are the cold hard data which come from the number of clicks, views, likes, etc. WordPress has a simple version of this on the black bar at the top of the page (for those of you who use WordPress and are logged in). Although it may seem boring, knowing the statistics of your different sites is extremely important if you want to gauge the effectiveness of your campaign. As a Realtor you need to know who is responding to the promotions you publish, whether or not they are sharing it (which means they’re excited about it), the amount of people who are actually engaged in your links, etc. All of these things can help you tailor your message toward a specific demographic or geographic, which as a Realtor, is one of the most valuable abilities to possess. Research what Buyers and Sellers like to view, replicate it, and toss of what they don’t.

So how can you get a quality analysis of your social media sites? I’ve compiled a list of what I think are the 3 best analytic programs:

Google Analytics:  Allows you measure sales and conversions, as well as gives you fresh insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how you can keep them coming back. It includes Analysis tools, content analysis, social analysis, advertising analysis, etc.

 Radian 6: Social media monitoring tools, social media engagement software and social marketing

 Hootsuite: A better view of your social campaigns with powerful analytics tools and customizable reports that gives you a complete and comprehensive picture of your participation in social spaces. HootSuite Social Analytics closes the loop between social and digital with real-time views into campaign results.

 Each program has its own unique benefit but all provide you with valuable data that can lead you to closing more deals in a shorter amount of time. On top of that, they are very user-friendly and easy to link up to any current social media site that you may have. If you’re a Realtor and you are marketing through social media there is no reason for you not be analyzing your data on your own when these sites practically do it for you. Happy Hunting!

Real Estate Tech Trends : Part – II

Last month I gave you guys a list of trends relating to technology and how buyers and sellers use it to find a their agents. So today I’m gonna give you a few more statistics for you to use in your daily hustle and bustle.

Why Buyers choose their Agent:

24% Say they chose a Buyer who is honest and trustworthy.

21% Say they chose a Buyer based on their reputation.

15% Say they used an agent that was a friend or family member.

12% Say they chose an agent based on their knowledge of the neighbor.

9% Say they chose an agent because they thought the agent had a caring personality.

6% Say they chose the agent because they received a timely response.

5% Say it was the Prestige of the firm.

4% other.

Expected Response time <VS> Actual Response Time:

SELLERS:

77% of seller expect a response from their agent within 30 minutes of an inquiry.

45% of sellers expect an instant reply from their agents after an inquiry.

Only 24% of Agents respond to sellers within 30 minutes of initial contact.

BUYERS:

88% of buyers expect a reply within 1 hour of inquiry.

42% of buyers expect to be contacted instantly.

Only 30% of Agents respond to Buyers within 1 hour of inquiry. 

Response Time importance:

6% of buyers say response time is somewhat important when selecting their agents.

94% of buyers say that response time is Very Important when selecting their agents.

All Say that Response Time was important.

Repeat Business:

74% of buyers say that they would definitely use an agent that was recommended to them by others.

15% of buyers say that would probably use an agent recommended by others.

5% of buyers say that they would probably not use an agent recommended by others.

4% of buyers say that they would definitely not use an agent recommended by others.

2% of buyers said they don’t know.

Only 10% of buyers actually used agents they had previously used.

This is only Part II of Real Estate and Tech Trends. Part III will be coming soon and focuses on how Buyers & Sellers use and respond to both new and traditional marketing tactics!

Make Your Real Estate Platforms Mobile Friendly

u.s. share of time spent by device-1

So as we all know by now Social Media is the way to go. Many of the major companies have figured out the same. I recently read an article that focused on how companies are making their ads more user-friendly. Native ads are ads that are embedded into the page itself (Facebook news feed ad, Twitter’s promoted tweets) as opposed to the traditional banners, pop ups, etc.. When I read this, it occurred to me that this type of ad not only allows the company to swindle its way into the reader’s focus, but it also allows the ad to be seamlessly applied to mobile applications as well. How many promoted tweets or ads have we seen on our mobile devices that we didn’t know about?

As a Realtor,  I instantly noticed that I should not only be taking advantage of these “Native ads”, but that I should also make sure that all my web-based platforms are mobile friendly. Social media usage is increasing drastically on mobile devices. Sites such as 4Square and Instagram are already at 99% mobile usage. Twitter is at 70% and Facebook recently reported that a little over half  (51%) of its users are mobile users. This trend seems to be increasing as application UI (user interface) gets better each year. As a Realtor, you need stay on top of all emerging technology, including tech trends. If you see that more and more people are using the web from their mobile devices then it would behoove you to make sure that all of your real estate pages, virtual tours, YouTube pages, etc. are mobile enabled or mobile friendly.  As a Realtor, service your Buyers and Sellers better by making things easier for them by having sites that are simple to navigate and easily accessible on any platform.

 Fortunately, there are a few sites that can help you do this for free. Dudamobile is a website that will convert your website into a mobile friendly format and you can customize it as you see fit. Mobify and Gomobi are two other notable mentions. These are only a few choices of sites that will make your websites mobile friendly.  As a side note, most social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are already optimized for mobile use. So get cracking and browse through your sites to see which ones need to be mobile friendly!  Be accessible on all platforms and watch your followers and conversion rates double!