Vine App for Twitter-Quick Tip: 5 ways real estate professionals can use the new app

From Inman Next

The social networks are all aflutter this week with news of the latest video app – Vine. Twitter announced on it’s blog:

Today, we’re introducing Vine: a mobile service that lets you capture and share short looping videos. Like Tweets, the brevity of videos on Vine (6 seconds or less) inspires creativity. Now that you can easily capture motion and sound, we look forward to seeing what you create.

Much like Instagram is now on Facebook’s team, Twitter was surely feeling under the gun to create its own photos and/or video sharing app, and Vine has a lot of potential.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you can download it for the iPhone or iPad here. The beauty of this app is the:

  • Simplicity
  • Ease of use
  • Ability to capture multiple shots (in just 6 seconds)

For real estate pros, there are certainly dozens, if not hundreds of video apps available, but there are some great opportunities to use Vine as an agent or a broker. First and foremost, I do not think Vine will replace any professional video. But, I do think where Vine has an extraordinary opportunity is the opportunity to create quick, bite-sized content on the fly – as a part of your overall content strategy.

Here are five quick ideas:

  1. Celebrating moments. I could see a fun Vine made up of a shot of the happy homeowner at the title office, signing the papers, holding up the set of keys, shot of the kids, shot of the SOLD sign rider being held up. One of the best parts of real estate is the moment when you just made your client’s dreams come true!
  2. Introducing a feature of a home. Vine is not a good app for a home tour – but I think it would be awesome to give a glimpse; a glimpse of an amazing backyard or kitchen – highlighting 4 or 5 different angles.
  3. Showcasing your team at a sales meeting. How about a few quick shots of a few agents milling around, smiling, hanging out, on the phone or checking their messages? It’s an easy way to get the message across that you have a fun team.
  4. What you are working on. How do you tell people who you are without telling them what you do? Show them! Working on 3 deals at the same time? Do a quick Vine of your computer, your iPad, the app you use for your contracts – show how you can work quickly and multi-task using technology.
  5. Educational events. Every time you go to an educational event; whether it is your local association or Inman Connect – take the opportunity to showcase the fact that you are investing in yourself and your business. Events provide an easy opportunity to create quick content. Take a vine of a speaker on stage, the notes you are taking on Evernote, and a scan of the crowd.

One thing to note, you can’t take a partial Vine and then finish it later. The point is to shoot it in the moment.

An important thing to note though, as in all new technology, it is important to take the time to evaluate it and make sure it makes sense for you and your business. Just because something is hot and new, doesn’t mean it is neccesarily for everyone – especially in real estate or any industry!

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Anatomy of a real estate marketing website

Anatomy of a real estate marketing website – 18 crucial features of a real estate home page

From inman.com

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Your homepage is the most important page of your real estate website. Most people find it hard to imagine a website as more than some nice design and pretty images to show off to customers, colleagues, friends and family.  When you are thinking about what’s important on your real estate website, you need to consider both new and repeat visitors alike. While it’s main job is to convert your visitors into leads and customers, you also need to build trust, communicate value and solve visitor problems.

Here are 18 super important homepage elements that will get you started in the right direction.

H1 / Header

Consumers shouldn’t have to guess at what you do. Your H1 is the first thing search engines scan to start understanding your site, and the first thing people will see when your site is displayed in search results. Make it clear and easy to understand

 

H2 / Sub-header

A short description of what you do and how you’re valuable.

Benefits

This is an opportunity to describe why your website and your business will solve your visitors’ problems. Think of it as a summary of qualifications. Keep it brief.

Primary Call to Action

All the primary CTAs should be above the fold and provide multiple options for consumers in every stage in the buying cycle.

 

Testimonials

Social proof helps to show that other customers trust you and the service you offer. Using videos and quotes with real names and photos will help with this message and decrease potential objections.

Recruitment Messaging

In the real estate industry, the growth of your business is often determined by the growth of your team. By addressing recruiting here, you can demonstrate your growth, as well as discuss the value of working for and with you.

Up-to-Date Blog Content

Add additional value and support your inbound marketing efforts by creating great content for your blog. Just make sure you’re adding new posts regularly. If you aren’t going to have up-to-date content in your blog, don’t include one.

Secondary Navigation

Footer or sidebar navigation allows you to reiterate you primary navigation and also provides a fast track to any second-tier supporting pages.

Navigation

Providing a clear path into your website helps reduce bounce rates. Make your navigation text clean and simple so it doesn’t overwhelm consumers. Organize your navigation so that it directs them where you can be most valuable.

Primary Images

The images above the fold have the opportunity to capture a visitor’s attention. Invest in professional imagery. Make your selection to fit your market and audience.

Teaser Properties

Featured listings allow you to showcase some of the properties a consumer might find on your site. Choose listings that have great photos and showcase the best stuff in your market.

Sharing & Saving Opportunities

Make it easy for a consumer to share and save properties that they like.  This helps engage your consumers, and when they’re saving, allows for additional lead capture opportunities.

More Social Proof

If you’ve received awards or press in prominent publications, be sure to build in a display case for them. Let your visitors know that the world at large thinks you are great.

Secondary Calls to Action

Offering up ebooks, market data, and tools and tips that your consumers find valuable will help you generate more leads. Give away your best content!

Additional Resources

Most of your visitors aren’t ready to buy yet. By offering neighborhood information, videos and maps, you help real estate consumers orient themselves and more easily hone in on the properties that suit their needs.

Footer Calls to Action

The footer can be another valuable opportunity for lead generation. Use your footer wisely. Add video, lead capture, and sub-navigation, and don’t forget the social media buttons.

Phone Number

Having your telephone number readily available is just good for business. It makes it easier for a potential customer to move their inquiry offline and brings you one step closer to turning a suspect, into a prospect, into a lead.

Physical Address

The #1 local search ranking factor is a physical address in the city of search.

Local search services like Google+Places, Bing Places and Yahoo search rely on understanding where your business is located so they can they can properly match you with searcher in your geographic area.

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2012 home sales: Best in 5 years

Steady December home sales capped the best year for the U.S. real estate market in five years, according to an industry trade group report Tuesday.

The National Association of Realtors said that December sales of previously-owned homes came in just slightly below November’s sales pace, but up 12.8% from a year ago. That brought full-year sales to 4.65 million, up 9% from 2011 and the best year for home sales since 2007, when there were 5 million homes sold just before the start of the recession.

Sales are being helped by a combination of strong market fundamentals — near record low mortgage rates, lower unemployment and a rebound in home prices, all of which are bringing in buyers into the market who had been waiting for it to hit bottom. The mortgage rates and years of depressed home prices have also combined to create the most affordable housing market on record, according to the Realtors group.

And the Realtors are predicting strong sales should continue into 2013 and beyond. It has a forecast for 5.1 million existing home sales this year, and 5.4 million next year.

The improved demand for homes in December led to the inventory of homes for sale to fall to 1.82 million homes on the market, the lowest supply since January 2001. One factor in tightening supplies is a drop in foreclosures and other distressed home sales, which made up only 24% of home sales in December compared to 32% a year ago. The tighter supply, and the drop in distressed sales, have helped to lift home prices so that the median sales price for the year rose to $176,600, up 6.3% from 2011. That’s the biggest gain in prices in since the bubble year of 2005.

The rebound in the market for previously-owned homes is also showing up in the market for new homes, where sales rebounded to their highest levels since 2009, while housing starts reached the highest level since 2008.

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LinkedIn SEO: How to Increase the Visibility of Your Business Profile

From www.entrepreneur.com
Editor’s note: Google isn’t the only way for your business to be discovered online. This is the fourth in a five-part series looking at alternate sources for search.
In today’s corporate world, you aren’t somebody until you can be found on professional networking site LinkedIn. But as more individuals and businesses add their profiles, it’s becoming more challenging to turn up in searches.

What most LinkedIn users aren’t aware of is that the results displayed for these searches aren’t random. LinkedIn uses an internal set of algorithms to prioritize certain profiles over others, giving the businesses and individuals who have optimized their accounts correctly a leg up in using the service to find jobs, clients and more.

If you’re using LinkedIn for any of these purposes, getting a strong ranking in its internal search results should be a top priority. Here’s how to do it:

Fill out your profile completely: One of the most important ways to improve your position in LinkedIn’s search results is to fill out your profile completely. Not only does this give LinkedIn additional opportunities to identify search-related keywords in your profile, but the company is also more likely to rank completed profiles over partially finished ones.

If you aren’t sure if you’ve filled out your profile completely, LinkedIn provides a helpful tracker in each profile that shows both the percentage of fields completed and any specific areas that still need information.

Include relevant search keywords in profile areas: As you’re completing your profile, include the keywords for which you’d like your name to appear in LinkedIn’s internal search results.

Keywords you target in your LinkedIn profile shouldn’t be the same long-tail search engine optimization phrases you target on your website. Instead, the keywords in your profile should be those that a potential client or employer would probably enter into the LinkedIn search bar.

For example, on your website, you might target the long-tail keyword phrase, “best Raleigh NC accounting practice.” But the odds are small that a potential client or employer will enter this exact phrase into the LinkedIn search feature. Instead, they’re likely to search for phrases like “accountant” or “accountant NC.” So in optimizing your LinkedIn profile, try to think like your target clients or employers and focus on the keywords you believe they would search for.

Expand the size of your network: In addition to considering the different keywords it finds in your profile, LinkedIn also looks at the size of your network. In particular, LinkedIn prefers to display results that have at least some connection with the search user — even if these connections are only second or third level, rather than first level direct relationships.

As a result, you will probably improve your LinkedIn profile’s visibility in the search results by expanding your network. First, make it a point to connect with your past coworkers, managers, clients and other contacts. Once you’ve completed this step, you can try to further improve your LinkedIn search presence by reaching out to new contacts, especially people who share your professional interests and qualifications.

Participate in LinkedIn Groups: Participation in LinkedIn Groups can be as powerful a ranking signal as the size of your personal and professional network. So if you aren’t having much luck connecting with new contacts, you can join groups to boost your overall level of profile activity.

To find groups to join, you can search LinkedIn using your industry’s keywords, as well as see which groups the members of your network participate in. Once you become part of a group, do your best to contribute in a positive and professional way. Simply joining a group isn’t as beneficial to your search ranking as actively engaging with it.

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Facebook 30 Day Challenge!

From Inman.com

Quick Tip: The 30-Day Facebook Challenge

Too often I see a “Facebook graveyard” – Facebook pages created by real estate agents with the best of intentions but unfortunately they are left to die from lack of attention. Most Facebook business pages that are run by agents have one common problem: lack of consistent content.

Most agents (and brokers) will post sporadically; one article on Monday, nothing for 3 days, a photo on Saturday, nothing for a week, a link to a video on a Monday, nothing for 3 days. And then they wonder why they don’t see the ROI from Facebook.

If you’ve listened to any of my presentations at Agent Reboot or my webinars, you know first-hand how important I think a content strategy is to your social media plan.

So here is the challenge to ALL of you who are reading this who have a Facebook business page.

  1. Go to your business page today. Take note of how many likes, comments and shares you have. Write it down or document it somewhere digitally.
  2. Make a commitment to post one piece of content to your Facebook business page daily for the next 30 days. Every day, Monday through Sunday, post just one piece of content. Remember a piece of “content” could be as simple as a link to an article from Inman News or an Instagram photo of the neighborhood you work in. The key here is consistency – every day for 30 days. The other key is to post during “prime time:”  7-9am or lunch time. In fact, here is one simple way to create 30 days worth of content in just a number of hours.
  3. Set aside $100 and create a Facebook ad to run for four days with a maximum per day spend of $25. Create Sponsored Stories – these are ads that say “so and so liked” (your page). The goal here is to build likes to your Page and thus increase engagement and conversation.
  4. At the end of 30 days reevaluate your likes, comments and shares. Are you getting more interaction?
These are just a few simple things you can do to jump-start your social presence. The key here is to post every day for 30 days. With the Facebook “scheduling” feature for Pages, there is really no excuse for missing a day.
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Five Ways Homeowners Can Cut Costs in 2013

From Yahoo Homes

If you want to cut expenses in 2013, there may be no better place to start than right at home.

“I will save money on monthly expenses.”

“I will not eat ice cream.”

“I will do yoga.”

What do these sentences have in common? That’s right – they’re all New Year’s resolutions that have little chance at being fulfilled.

Hold on – “I will save money on monthly expenses” actually has a chance, thanks to the many ways you could save on everything from your mortgage payments to your cable bill.

In fact, you might be surprised at how much you could save. So eat the ice cream, forget the yoga, but read on to see how you might be able to finally fulfill that New Year’s resolution of saving money.

Cost Cutter #1: Refinance Your Mortgage

We’re guessing that if you’re like most homeowners, your biggest monthly expense is your mortgage payment. So wouldn’t it be nice if you could reduce it by tens, or even hundreds of dollars?

But how is that possible, you ask? The answer lies in the low interest rates, which can be as low as 3.34 percent for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. This rate is as of December 6, 2012, according to government lender, Freddie Mac.

And even if you bought your home as recently as 2008 or 2011, refinancing to that rate could make a significant difference. And yes, we know what’s in your head right now: “How much could I save?”

So let’s look at an example of two homeowners.  Homeowner A, who bought their home in January 2008, and Homeowner B, who bought their home in January 2011. Both have 30-year fixed-rate mortgages. ‘We’ll also use the historical interest rate data for January 2008 and January 2011 from the Federal Reserve, which oversees national monetary policy. Just keep in mind that everybody’s situation is unique, so your savings may vary. Ready?

Homeowner A Homeowner B Refinanced Mortgage
Mortgage Amount $300,000 $300,000 $300,000
Interest Rate 5.76 percent 4.76 percent 3.34 percent
Monthly Payment $1,752.62 $1,566.75 $1,320.48
Total Interest Paid (over life of loan) $330,944.94 $264,030.28 $175,374.01

Savings: By refinancing, Homeowner A saved $432 per month and $155,570 over the life of the mortgage. And Homeowner B didn’t do so badly either, saving $246 per month and $88,656 over the life of their loan.*

Cost Cutter #2: Bundle Your Cable, Internet, and Phone

Everyone knows buying in bulk saves money. So why are you still getting your home digital services, namely cable, Internet, and home phone, from separate companies? That could be causing you to lose money every month.

In fact, bundling two or three of those digital services could save you a significant amount, says Consumer Reports senior editor, Jeff Blyskal. “Depending on the competition in your area, we found that it could save you 40 or even 60 percent,” he says.

And he adds that the low rate is usually locked in for anywhere from six months to two years. Then your rate might go up.

However – and this is a big however – that doesn’t mean you have to sit there and take the rate hike. In fact, Blyskal strongly suggests you do exactly the opposite. He says cable companies are being hit hard by the same economic challenges that likely led you to look for savings – so they’ll do a lot to keep customers.

For instance, the results from the Annual Telecom Survey conducted by the Consumer Reports Research Center in April 2011 revealed some promising potential savings for customers. Out of the surveyed Consumer Reports readers who said they bundled services, one-third said they negotiated for a better price or package before signing up. Of that one-third, more than 90 percent were successful.

So just how big can the savings be? For more than 40 percent of hagglers, the reward was a discount of up to $50 a month – not too shabby.

The bottom line, he says, is that bundling and bargaining is in the consumer’s favor.

Cost Cutter #3: Re-shop Homeowners Insurance

If you own a home, you likely have homeowners insurance to protect you against loss from natural disasters, fire, theft, and vandalism.

But if you thought all policies were the same, here’s some good news: shopping around can often make a big difference in your homeowners insurance premium, says Loretta Worters, vice president of communications for the Insurance Information Institute (III).

In fact, “Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes,” notes a home insurance article published by the III. However, III warns that you don’t want to simply go with the lowest price either.

“Don’t shop price alone. You want a company that answers your questions and handles claims fairly and efficiently,” notes III. “Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations.”

On top of shopping around, another way to save is to “buy your homeowners and auto insurance from the same insurer, says Worters. “Some insurance companies will reduce your premium by five to 15 percent if you buy two or more insurance policies from them,” she says.

Cost Cutter #4: Make Your Home Safer

Have you been thinking about installing an alarm system, putting on a new roof, or investing in storm shutters for your home? If that’s a yes, in addition to making your home safer, these updates could also save you money on your homeowners insurance.

Just how much can you save? According to Worters, typically, you can get discounts of at least five percent for installing things such as a burglar alarm, smoke detectors, and dead-bolt locks.

“In addition, some companies may cut your premiums by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police, fire, or other monitoring stations,” says Worters.

Finally, she says, “Adding storm shutters and shatter-proof glass, reinforcing your roof, or buying stronger roofing materials can all help make your home not only safer, but insurance more affordable.”

But before you start making these additions, she advises checking with your insurance company about discounts first, since all alarm systems and other upgrades don’t qualify with all companies.

[Is your home well-protected? Click to get an updated home insurance quote now.]

Cost Cutter #5: Make Your Home Greener

No, we’re not talking about donning overalls and painting your home the color of moss. We’re thinking more environmentally, as in doing things such as installing low-flow toilets or a programmable thermostat for your heating and air-conditioner.

“Toilets are by far the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They go on to say that “switching to high-efficiency toilets can save a family of four, on average, $2,000 in water bills over the lifetime of the toilets.”

And besides the toilet, another thing that can add up to savings and a more comfortable home is installing an ENERGY STAR programmable thermostat, says the EPA. These thermostats allow you to program your heating and cooling system to specific settings for six or more times during the day, notes the U.S. Department of Energy’s website.

How much you save can vary, but, as an example, the U.S. Department of Energy says that you can expect to save 5 to 15 percent per year by turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day. That might merely mean using an extra blanket at night. So maybe it’s time to snuggle up and save.

*Please note that our example does not take into account any interest homeowners may have already paid. Homeowners should also consider that refinancing can come with closing costs.

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Home prices post biggest annual jump in two years

From CNNMoney

The recovery in the housing market continues to pick up steam, as home prices posted the biggest percentage gain in more than two years in the latest reading of the closely followed S&P/Case-Shiller index.

The index showed prices up 4.3% in October compared to a year earlier. That’s the best improvement since May 2010. But that earlier increase was due to a temporary spike caused by a homebuyers’ tax credit of up to $8,000 on homes purchased in late 2009 and early 2010.

This latest rise comes as the housing market has shown numerous other signs of recovery in recent months. A combination of near record-low mortgage rates, lower unemployment and a drop in foreclosures to a five-year low means there are more buyers interested in purchasing fewer available homes. That in turn has lifted prices.

October marked the fifth straight month that the index has been up on a year-over-year basis.

Continue Reading…

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