20 Seconds for Love at First Sight

Article from the Wall Street Journal

First impressions seem to matter most when it comes to dating, job interviews…and real-estate listings.


Researchers tracking the eye movements of subjects who looked at online home listings found that more than 95% of users viewed the first photo—the one that shows the exterior of the home—for a total of 20 seconds. After that, their eyes tended to flit all over the screen, according to Michael Seiler, founder and director of the Institute for Behavioral and Experimental Real Estate at Old Dominion University at Norfolk, Va.

“Without an eye-catching photo, the battle is lost before it begins,” Prof. Seiler says. “You have to grab people’s attention within two seconds. Do it the way a billboard does.”

Following the home-exterior photo, Prof. Seiler found that 76% of participants viewed the property description—things like the size and number of bedrooms/bathrooms—second. Real-estate agents’ remarks, which can be a turnoff if they contain all-capital text, hyped-up adjectives and brand names, were the most overlooked—41.5% of home buyers didn’t view them at all.

Understanding how people view a listing online can help agents refine their approach. “For a lot of people, the first point of contact with a house is through the Internet,” Prof. Seiler says.

Overall, when viewing an online real-estate listing, home buyers spend about 60% of their time on photos, 20% on the property description and 20% on the real-estate agents’ remarks section, Prof. Seiler says. The research tracked eye movements of 45 people who each viewed 10 listings with six photos in August 2011, looking at the time spent viewing each online feature and the number of times their eyes stopped at a certain element. His study, “Toward an Understanding of Real Estate Home Buyer Internet Search Behavior: An Application of Ocular Tracking Technology,” has been accepted by the Journal of Real Estate Research.

The study participants’ eye movements followed a “Z” pattern, beginning in the upper left corner to the upper right and continuing down the page in small “Z” patterns. After reaching the bottom right corner, they continued scanning up the right column of the screen. But as online browsers click through properties, their interest wanes. “People have respondent fatigue. After a while, you get lost in a sea of homes,” he says.

Paula Wells, a team coordinator for Intero Real Estate in California’s Silicon Valley, says she makes sure that the photos, property details and remarks can be seen on the page without scrolling. “Most homeowners are going to be looking for the photo first. That’s going to pique their interest or not,” says Ms. Wells. Nine times out of 10, she displays an exterior photo first and orders the rest of the photos as if you’re walking through the home. Remarks are kept short, 400 characters at most.

Lisa Lippman, senior vice president and director of Brown Harris Stevens, limits her remarks to two to three paragraphs. “People get bored when you just rattle off brand names of the appliances and types of wood and stone,” she says. Instead, Ms. Lippman recommends writing about the views, lifestyle and neighborhood. “You want to whet somebody’s appetite so they want to see it,” she says.

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Spring is in the air!

DSC_0209-R2The spring market is in full bloom at Reinhart South! Come by and meet with one of our experienced agents and discuss your real estate opportunities during this peak season.


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Great for out of town buyers! The Ann Arbor Area Visitors Guide 2013

Get a free copy of the Ann Arbor Area Visitors Guide 2013

Here is a great way to give out of town buyers an overview of the Ann Arbor Area. Click the link above and enter your info to get your free copy of the Ann Arbor Area Visitors Guide for 2013!!

Ann Arbor Visitor Guide

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Making the Cut | The Strategy Behind All of Those Apps

From Inman.com by Katie Lance

Is your phone cluttered? Do you have apps on there that you downloaded once or twice but never really used?

No doubt there are thousands of apps available to download in the app store, but as a real estate agent, should you really be downloading every new app? I know it’s tempting, but after just purging a ton of apps – I encourage you to take a hard look at your phone and look at the strategy behind the apps you have downloaded. Are they useful for your business?

I recommend (if your phone allows you to do this) – to put your apps into folders to make them easy to find and then try to limit your apps in folders to one to two screens at max. There comes a point when you have so many apps – you simply can not find what you are looking for!

So which ones on my phone made the cut? Here are my top 7 I use almost everyday!

  1. DropBox. I have all of my photos from my phone sync right to DropBox for peace of mind and I can always access any documents I need at the click of a button.
  2. Evernote. This app keeps me organized on the go. It’s my go-to place to take notes, or to write something down so I don’t forget – whether they are critical notes for my business or they are articles I want to read later.
  3. Facebook Pages. I can’t imagine running a Facebook Business Page (or more than one) and not having this app. Easy to use and it makes it super simple to look at your activity and engage with people on your page.
  4. HootSuite. I use HootSuite daily to manage my Twitter stream. I have multiple lists I look at on a daily basis – lists of news sources, clients, and people I want to make sure I connect with. I love the scheduling feature because if I find 2 or 3 great articles that I don’t want to share immediately, I can schedule them to post later in the day.
  5. Cards. This is an iOS app only – but I love it. It allows you to send a physical card in the mail. It has a beautiful template and functionality and the finished product is beautiful. Great for quick thank you notes!
  6. Voxer. This is by far one of my favorite apps for keeping in touch with people closest to me. The “walkie-talking” style lets you leave quick voice messages and even chat in real time. You can also send text and photos – it’s a great communication tool!
  7. Foursquare. I find Foursquare is a great way to connect with people on a smaller platform. It’s an easy way to talk about your business without actually talking about it in a pushy way. I also love Foursquare for any industry events I attend.
I have many more that still made the cut like Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, DocuSign Ink, Instagram, Facebook and QuickBooks.
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Free Your Inbox: Easily & Automatically Prioritize Emails With These Free Tools

Free Your Inbox: Easily & Automatically Prioritize Emails With These Free Tools

prioritize emailsEmail has almost completely replaced snail mail communication. Now everyone is trying to get into your inbox. From family and friends to companies and advertisers, they all demand a piece of your attention. If you have not been managing your inbox with filters and other prioritization tools, it must be a mess. And with ever more emails cluttering it up, it’s easy to lose track. Have you ever missed an important email?

About a year ago I said goodbye to my desktop email client and switched to Gmail’s online interface for good. It was a big change, but since then I have learned a thing or two about managing emails. This article shows you three hassle-free and automatic ways to prioritize emails, including one that doesn’t require Gmail. These tools will ensure that you never miss an important email again.

Starting Over With Email Or First Time Organizing Your Inbox

When you are switching to a new email address, email client, or have never ever put much effort into organizing your inbox, I highly recommend giving OtherInbox Organizer a try. That is if you use AOL, GMail, Yahoo!, or iCloud with their native / web interface or IMAP. Organizer analyzes all your emails and sorts them into different folders. It cuts out the clutter and only leaves your most important emails in your inbox.

I tried Organizer with my Gmail account. After signing up, Organizer proceeds with scanning emails to organize senders. This can take a while and you don’t have to stick around for it to finish.

prioritize emails

The next day I noticed new labels had cropped up in my Gmail account. In Gmail, Organizer sets up an OIB root label with several sub-labels, ranging from Business to Travel and everything in between. Emails that Organizer recognizes, but isn’t sure about seem to be labelled as Home. In my case that included notifications from Doodle, Dropbox, and Skype. Upon closer inspection, I found that Organizer had sorted over 30,000 emails in my Gmail account.

prioritized inbox

From the start, Organizer recognized almost all of my newsletters, social network notifications, group or list mails, and much more. Compared to the labels and filters I had set up previously – all in tedious manual work – Organizer performed very well. It even took care of some new senders that I had not submitted to any filters, yet. And every day, there is a daily digest that summarizes what Organizer has done with incoming emails.

prioritized inbox

Organizer isn’t necessarily perfect, however, it’s flexible. If there are emails you would like to sort differently, you can return to the OtherInbox web interface, find the respective sender, and change how it’s treated. You can create a new folder / label or disable sorting for selected senders.

prioritized inbox

What isn’t immediately obvious is that Organizer can learn. If you find a sender that Organizer doesn’t recognize automatically, drag the respective email to an OIB folder or label it manually. This will teach Organizer to sort all future emails from that sender into the selected folder and you should receive a respective notification email, which can take some time.

inbox prioritization

OtherInbox Organizer is a truly impressive tool. It will unclutter your inbox and help you focus on emails that matter in no time. And where it isn’t perfect, you can help it improve. If I hadn’t put so much effort into setting up complex labels and email filters, I would stick with Organizer in a heart beat. My only concern would be relying on an external tool and what would happen if it stopped being a free service or went out of business. In that sense, I’m glad I already have a system that works for me.

Verdict: Perfect tool if you have no clue how to manage the mess in your inbox!

Fixing Up An Existing Gmail Account With Priority Inbox & Filters

In my work email account I have been using Gmail’s Priority Inbox since last year. That is the only inbox I have ever managed to clear on a daily basis. Wouldn’t you like your inbox to look somewhat like the screenshot below? Priority Inbox puts important and unread emails on top, starred or important emails or any other selected labels (up to two) sit right below, and everything else is cued at the bottom.

inbox prioritization

You can enable Priority Inbox in your Inbox settings. It’s one of five inbox types. We have previously written about Priority Inbox here.

inbox prioritization

I found that Priority Inbox is very reliable. In some rare cases emails turned up in important and unread, although they were not from a regular contact and had not even been sent to me personally. However, on a daily basis, I only find emails that matter on top of my inbox. I had actually forgotten that I had Priority Inbox enabled – that’s how good it has worked for me!

Verdict: Set it up and find that it just works. You still might have to set up email filters, though.

Of course Priority Inbox isn’t all that I’m using to manage my work email account. I have also set up a bunch of filters to keep my inbox, particularly the everything else section, clear of clutter. This goes back to one of our key Gmail articles, 3 Things Pro Gmail Users Have Set Up In Their Accounts. You might also want to check out the 5 Gmail Filters To Help Prioritize & Organize Your Inbox.

Managing Multiple Email Accounts in Gmail with Multiple Inboxes

With Gmail you can manage multiple email accounts from a single interface. However, it can become quite confusing if emails from several different accounts end up in a single inbox. While labels offer a great way to sort emails and distinguish between different categories, they don’t necessarily provide a good overview. Enter Multiple Inboxes, a Gmail Labs feature that lets you view up to five additional inboxes in your Gmail Inbox pane.

Over the past year, I have been using Multiple Inboxes to get an overview of my inbox, starred emails, drafts, and emails under different labels. I admit that the Starred emails have gone a little out of control. Other than that, it has been working like a charm.

prioritize emails

Multiple Inboxes is easy to set up and I have explained it in detail and with many screenshots here; just scroll down to the header Manage Multiple Email Accounts in Gmail.

Verdict: Great tool to maintain an overview over multiple labels or email accounts. Requires that you set up filters / labels.


Another tool I tired was the cloud-enabled desktop app Inky. It looks neat, but doesn’t seem very useful when it comes to prioritizing email. I didn’t find the Sort by Relevance feature very helpful, but instead found the app to be a little too simple and painfully slow. We mentioned Inky in this article: Email Goes Modern: Three Windows 8 Email Apps

For those of you using Outlook or Yahoo and wishing to manage multiple email accounts, this article may be useful.


Being completely sold on Gmail and having invested a lot of time in setting up filters, I found that the native Gmail tools Priority Inbox and Multiple Inboxes (via Gmail Labs) still work best for me. However, if you are just starting out with prioritizing emails, if you have an email account that isn’t Gmail, and if your inbox is a terrible mess, then OtherInbox Organizer will be a life saver!

Do you use any tools or techniques for managing your emails that we should know about? Please share in the comments!

Image credits: Vector Mail via Shutterstock

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4 reasons Google+ beats out Facebook for real estate

From Inman.com by Laura Monroe

Social media marketing is changing, I think for the better. Yes, there are many choices, and they seem to change, and come and go as quickly as my teenager’s whims and preferences, but nonetheless, it’s a place we need to be as real estate business owners.

Here is some news, Facebook might be on the way out. As Facebook continues to find ways to monetize the platform, create more noise in between our conversations, change an algorithm to force marketers to communicate in ways that goes against their values, what’s left is a social platform that seems to “patch” things the way Microsoft “updates” it’s operating system to fix the things that are foundationally wrong. This is a growing trend that we must pay attention to because it’s the consumer who is tuning out, not the marketers that are leaving. Meanwhile:

Google+ is quietly growing an infrastructure that can’t be ignored

Google understands that social communication is a lifestyle lived digitally. It touches us not just in business, but in personal relationships, human behavior and how, who, and when, we like to make our decisions online. So what does this mean for us in real estate? You have a better way to find and reach the customers and clients that are looking for you: through search, through web ownership, through community, and through lifestyle.

1. Google+ Communities

One of the most exciting features to Google+ is Communities. Launched in December, it allows people to join community based on a shared interest. Not just a shared platform. Slightly similar to Facebook’s Groups, Communities has a robust list of features: Group Hang-outs, shared Google Drive docs, searchable index of topics of conversations. Why is this different than Facebook? Google+ encourages you to reach out and actually find new people to add to your “Circles”, not just invite the ones you know. The public communities and content are aslo indexed on Google Search, another great reason be there, not so on Facebook.

Getting started Tips:

1. Start a Community based on your consumer’s SHARED interest, NOT your business. Start it with someone else in your community and get the conversations rolling. Don’t make it all about real estate. YOU are not all about real estate. Be resourceful and share. Join communities that interest you.

2. Attend, find and host your own online hang-out and events, to broaden your community. Is there something your broker is sponsoring for the community? Start an event. Community garage sale? Let people know. New shopping center coming? Do you know the great handymen, decorators, school principals, and best restaurants? Share with your community, it’s all centrally located.

3. If you find content on the web that might interest your Community, +1 it, and you can choose where to share it on Google+…Circles, Public or Community.

2. Claim your business

Google+ Local allows local businesses to list their details, as well as a place to collect customer reviews. Of course this information is indexed and searchable on the web. If you are not listed on it, you should be.  Combine this with a Google+ Business Page that connects to your Google Analytics, and keep track of your social ROI . Yeah, Facebook doesn’t do that either.

3. Claim authorship of your content

As bloggers, marketers, and content creators, your content is the king of your online digital strategy. It is above and beyond your most valuable commodity. It’s the reason why Trulia and Zillow want you on THEIR platforms, not your own. Google allows you to claim what is rightfully yours with Google Authorship. In a few steps you can use your Google+ profile to claim the content that you post on your blog. The benefit of this is huge for search engine optimization, and for Google to understand who you are, and what you are writing about. Most of all, if your content is stolen, you have a remedy.

4. Google workflow & mobile integration

Who doesn’t love a good user experience? Something that’s easy to find, use and even fun. Easily accessible from your Gmail dashboard, and on it’s mobile app, using Google+.

It’s never too late to try something new, and in this case now is a great time! While I love Facebook and would never abandon it, don’t be afraid to discover and chart new territory for your business. What community could you start today?

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5 Tried & True Tips For Winning At Instagram & Getting Tons Of Likes

From MakeUseOf.com
February 20, 2013
By Nancy Messieh

When it comes to getting noticed on Instagram, there are basic rules to follow as would be the case with any social network – post regularly, interact with users, include an interesting description with your photos that will get other users attention. Beyond that, there are a few Instagram-specific ways to ensure that you can gain more followers, gain more likes, and pretty much win at Instagram.

We’ve listed five Instagram tips and techniques we’ve tried out ourselves and know that they are a gold mine at getting noticed, getting likes, and getting followers on Instagram. So in no particular order, here they are.

Use Popular Hashtags

Hashtags are the first place to start when it comes to getting more likes for your photos on Instagram. Think about the subject matter, so that other Instagrammers taking photos of the same things will be able to find you. Tagging on Instagram isn’t just limited to your subject matter – you can tag your photos based on the style of photography or processing, can be tagged with the apps that you used to process your photos, or the Instagram filter you used, or based on your location, and of course with the popular Instagram hashtags that regulars use: #instagood, #photooftheday, #igers, #instagood, and more. Just take a look at hashtags being used by other users or better yet, keep track of the top Instagram hashtags here.

Because it can be a hassle adding tags on your phone, you could always post the photo from your phone, and then use Instagram’s web-based interface to copy and paste hashtags from a saved document, or a draft in your email. (You could also use this method on your phone if you don’t have access to a computer – simply save your favorite tags as a note or in a draft email). You can also use sites like Tagstagram to easily find, and copy and paste, popular tags.

Take Part in Community Activities

There are a ton of Instagram activities taking place on the mobile social network. The biggest one is probably JJ’s daily forum. Started by Instagram user Josh Johnson who has almost 280,000 followers, his forum has grown to thousands of members, and a network of editors working with him to highlight Instagram photos on a daily basis. To take part, all you have to do is follow Josh Johnson to find out the daily theme and hashtag to use to submit your photos. Themes are based on styles (e.g. black and white), content (e.g. reflections) and more. If Josh or one of editors notices your submission, you could be featured by one of the editors or Josh himself. instagram tips There are many other communities worth participating in. If you’re a fan of black and white photography, check out Monart, Insta_pick_bw and Streetphoto_bw. For general photo features, keep up with Photooftheday, Ink361, all_shots and contestgram. If you’re an Instagram-purist – using the app to share mobile photography only, be sure to check out the incredibly vibrant mobile photography community Ampt, who are also running challenges on Instagram’s competitor, EyeEm.

Give and Take

Like any social network or community, Instagram is all about engagement. It’s all about the give and take. The more you interact and give your time to other users, the more they will do the same for you. Liking other users’ photos is a great way to get noticed, and leaving thoughtful comments is even better. The more you like photos shared by users outside of your circle of friends or personal network, the more you’ll gain both followers and likes. We’ve also found that when users like your other photos, some of their friends and followers will notice you too.

It’s also not just a matter of randomly liking photos left and right. It pays to engage with users who are interested in the same types of photography, shoot in the same city as you, or just have a common interest. That way you’re more likely to find genuine engagement beyond an anonymous or faceless like.

Using a third party service like Statigr.am can be a great way to keep track of your engagement, to make sure you’re responding to comments, and to easily like and comment on other users photos.

getting instagram followers

Get Creative with your Photo-Editing

Don’t limit yourself to Instagram’s filters. While they’re great, there’s simply no limit to the great iOS and Android apps available for avid mobile photographers. Whether its photo-editing apps like Snapseed and Adobe Photoshop Express to really make your photos pop, or creative apps that let you create gorgeous collages like Fuzel or PicCollage. Find the app that works for you, and put your mark on your photos. By sticking to a distinctive style or niche, you’ll find it’s easier to get noticed and build a following.

Get Featured by Instagram

Getting featured by Instagram could gain you thousands of followers per day, but that of course is easier said than done. Instagram hasn’t really let on how it chooses users to add them to their ‘suggested users’ list. If you are added to the list, you’ll stay there for one week, giving you maximum exposure on the social network. (If you haven’t checked out the suggested user’s list before – you can find it in the app under Settings > Find & Invite Friends > Suggested Users.)

instagram tips

The list of suggested users is varied – if you have an interesting perspective, style or niche, and continue to get noticed by Instagram users, you may eventually catch Instagram’s eye.

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