By Jesse McCarl
By Lolly Spindler
Joy Bender of Canter Brokerage has been a HouseHunt agent since 2012, representing several communities in the San Diego area. She relocated to San Diego from Minnesota in 2011, and after only a few years and with help from HouseHunt, has already received some very prestigious designations.
On October 24, 2013, Bender was named a Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist (CLHMS) by the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (ILHM). The IHLM, according to their website, is “the premier independent authority in training and certification for real estate agents working in the luxury residential market.” It helps real estate professionals provide high quality service to both luxury home buyers and sellers. The CLHMS designation is recognized as “the mark of accomplishment in luxury markets around the world” and is given to those who have documented performance in the top 10% of their markets.
Joy Bender is one of only 13 members to be named a Certified Specialist in San Diego County. As an agent new to this market, her accomplishment is even more impressive.
Joy not only merited the International Designation for Luxury Home Marketing Expertise, she also earned membership into the prestigious Million Dollar Guild. Both of these honors came after closing four sales—all from HouseHunt sites. “I earned both of these as a direct result of HouseHunt sites. All four sales to qualify for [these] certifications came from them: one from my Fairbanks Ranch site and three from my La Jolla HouseHunt site.”
She continued by explaining that her success resulted not only from the sites, but from HouseHunt’s membership, pipeline, training and qualifications. She also owes her success to her dedication to following up with and nurturing leads.
We are extremely proud of Joy Bender and appreciative of her ongoing partnership with HouseHunt. She is an incredible agent who is honored and committed to her community and its residents. Congratulations Joy!
LinkedIn, the social media network for professionals, has over 238 million registered members across the globe. Unlike other social media sites, LinkedIn is all business. It’s where you put your best professional foot forward, from your personal profile to your company page. LinkedIn will not only help brand you as a professional in the world of real estate, it’s also a great place to promote your business. Here’s an inside look at LinkedIn for Realtors.
When creating your account, make sure to use a professional headshot as your profile photo. Some people have these taken by professional photographers, but as long as your face isn’t obscured and there isn’t too much going on in the background, you should be fine. Next, you can either input all of your previous and current employment information manually or upload your resume, which will automatically fill in the “Experience” field in the “Background” section of your profile. You may need to correct a few stylistic errors after you upload, but LinkedIn does a pretty good job of formatting your information correctly.
A great, newer feature of LinkedIn is that you can add videos, documents, images, presentations or articles as uploaded files or added links to each job you’ve held. This can be great if you have a lot of original content up on your real estate business’s blog, or if you have made videos of properties. There are also fields for education, languages, honors and awards, skills and expertise (where people can endorse you for certain skills), interests, personal details, how to contact you, and a personal summary. Other sections that will show up on your LinkedIn profile include your recent activity, connections, groups and people and companies you follow.
Once your profile is set up to your standards, connect your Facebook and/or other social media accounts so you can easily find your friends and colleagues and add them as connections.
According to LinkedIn, “a company page helps LinkedIn members learn about your business, brand, product and services, and job opportunities. Any LinkedIn member can follow a company page.” This is a great platform for your real estate business; not only will it raise awareness of your company, it will allow you to engage with past, present and future clients as well as generate leads.
In order to set up a company page, you will need to meet the following criteria:
If you do, indeed, meet these criteria, go to Interests?Companies?Add a Company from your personal profile. You can also follow LinkedIn’s easy guide which not only walks you through how to create a company profile, but also shows you how to add a products and services tab and spotlight customer recommendations.
Once you have your personal profile and company page set up, it’s time to start engaging.
Now that the leg work is done, it’s time to build your real estate business by engaging on LinkedIn.
Start by joining groups. Find groups, both open and members only, pertaining to the real estate and overall housing world. Once you’re a member, start liking and commenting on discussion posts. If you come across a discussion that you feel is memorable or is particularly interesting, consider “liking” the post. Once you like a discussion, your photo will automatically show up on the news feed on the front page of LinkedIn’s “Discussions” page. Remember to only look for discussions that are relevant to your industry or interests and don’t go overboard by liking every single discussion on LinkedIn; you won’t be taken seriously. Find one discussion topic a day to participate in and in due time you’ll get noticed by other LinkedIn users as an active participant of the group.
Leave meaningful comments on any discussion that’s relevant to your industry or profession. Liking a discussion will add your photo to the front page of that post’s feed, and commenting on a topic will do the same. Find a discussion or post that resonates with you and add an insightful, informative comment to the thread. LinkedIn users who have commented ahead of you will be notified of your comment (if they checked the box marked “send me an email for each new comment” at the bottom of the comment box). This is by far one of the best ways to get your brand or business noticed and engage with other users. It also serves as a great, non-intrusive way to put your product out in the open. Don’t overdo it on the comments though. Much like “liking” a discussion, you’ll want to start by finding a discussion from your groups and adding a comment a day.
Share your discussion across a few social media platforms. While this feature is only limited to LinkedIn’s open groups, it doesn’t hurt to open the floor up to other professionals who aren’t yet a part of LinkedIn. This is useful if you come across a discussion that is particularly interesting, that you’ve commented on, or feel is too good not to share on Facebook or Twitter.
Most importantly, try to start a discussion. Sure this may not come easily at first, but after all the perusing, liking and commenting you’ve already done, you already have a pretty good handle on what kinds of topics are relevant and get noticed by the community. Furthermore, if you start a discussion of interest often enough, you may be spotlighted as LinkedIn’s “Top Influencers of the Week,” which will list your name and photo in the side margin of the Discussions page. If this happens, more and more professionals within the network will want to reach out to you.
Overall, LinkedIn is a great tool for promoting both yourself and your business as professional and social media-aware. In order to stand out from the crowd and represent yourself as the expert in your field, engage with others by liking and commenting on discussions that are relevant to the real estate industry. Keep at it and be patient, by building your online social media presence your expertise will shine through and people will take notice.
By Michael Bearden
According to the most recent Current Market Conditions national grass roots survey conducted by HouseHunt.com, home prices continued to accelerate in most areas of the country with over 89% of the areas surveyed reporting positive price appreciation and 54% of the areas reporting double-digit price appreciation. This is compared to 43% in the last quarter and 6% in the third quarter of 2012.
HouseHunt member-agents are reporting that both buyer and seller activity increased in the third quarter. Seller activity increased in 49% of the areas reporting and buyer activity increased in 74% of the communities surveyed. Repeat buyers and investors dominated the buyer activity in 85% of the markets, while only 15% of the markets reporting that first time buyers were the most active in their communities.
HouseHunt’s random survey of member-agents, conducted in the third quarter of 2013, found the following:
• 89% of the local markets surveyed reported home price increases over the last year with 54% of the markets reporting home price increases in excess of 10%, an increase of 11% over last quarter, and 48% over the 3rd quarter of last year.
• Activity increased for both buyers and sellers. Buyer activity increased in 74% of markets, decreased in 12% of markets, and remained unchanged in 14% of markets. Seller activity increased in 49% of markets, decreased in 25% of markets, and remained unchanged in 26% of markets.
• Home buyers reported the main reasons for purchasing are low interest rates and rising home values as their motivation for purchasing a home today, along with good economic news. Population and job growth also created buyer activity in certain communities especially in Texas, California, Florida and the Carolinas.
• First time buyers continue to decline with only 15% of the markets reporting that first time buyers represented the greatest amount of home buyer activity. This is the all-time lowest reading since HouseHunt surveys began in 2000. Repeat buyers and investors are dominating buyer activity in 85% of the markets surveyed.
• More homeowners listed their homes for sale in the third quarter, but inventories remained tight in 74% of the markets compared to 53% one year ago. As a result, the overall market is still a sellers’ market. This is reflected in 77% of the markets reporting that sellers received more than 95% of their asking price and multiple offers were common in 91% of the markets surveyed. Additionally, 65% of the markets reported that homes were sold in less than 60 days. Short sales and foreclosures represent less than 15% of the inventory in 77% of the markets surveyed.
“Our third quarter survey results are a clear indicator that the housing market is in full recovery, prices are increasing and both buyer and seller activity has also increased significantly. We expect the rate of price increases to decline in the fourth quarter and throughout 2014. While activity should remain strong, we expect increases in inventory, higher interest rates and tougher loan standards to balance the market between buyers and sellers. As a result, we expect home prices to move upward but at a much slower pace than 2013,” said Mike Bearden, President and CEO of HouseHunt, Inc.
|Avg. Time On Market|
|Sold in 60 Days Plus||84%||74%||78%||70%||69%||61%||60%||54%||35%||35%|
|Annual Price Appreciation|
|Up 10% Plus||5%||8%||7%||7%||10%||6%||18%||29%||43%||54%|
|Repeat / Move-up / Investors||66%||73%||71%||71%||73%||67%||73%||74%||81%||85%|
|Ask vs. Sale Price|
|Less Than 95%||45%||49%||58%||54%||44%||38%||37%||31%||30%||23%|
|More Than 95%||55%||51%||42%||46%||56%||62%||63%||69%||70%||77%|
By Lolly Spindler
Tammi Sullenberger is a realtor in Peachtree City, Georgia. She worked for Prudential Georgia Realty from 2006 to 2011 and has been with the Keller Williams Realty Atlanta Partners, Peachtree City, GA team since January 2012. Tammi and her husband Brent Sullenberger became a dynamic HouseHunt duo in June of 2013 and they’ve already closed a client!
Tammi states that she never would have found the client had it not been for HouseHunt. The client came to Peachtree City from Texas, and only had two weekends to look for a new home. Luckily, Tammi and Brent were able to find the client a house in that timeframe and have now closed the deal!
“The leads are good, quality leads, some active buyers looking right away and some looking six months to one year from now,” Tammi explained. “We have already closed one HouseHunt lead.”
Additionally, Tammi and Brent have recently been referred to a new client by another HouseHunt agent in Roswell, Georgia. This agent “was representing a HouseHunt buyer that had a home to sell in Peachtree City (PTC), so she looked up the HouseHunt agent that handles PTC and found me to possibly list their house on this end.”
Closing a deal within four months of teaming up with HouseHunt and receiving referrals from other HouseHunt agents are fabulous perks of using HouseHunt’s online lead generation service.
Do you have a HouseHunt success story? Please email us at email@example.com.
By Lolly Spindler
We’ve all had them, those nagging negative reviews. Although we like to say we’re not affected by them, they still hurt our feelings. What’s more detrimental is that they can hurt our business. Here are some tips for battling a bad review and how to pull in more positive ones.
These days, there are a lot of review sites: Google Places reviews, Angie’s List, Insider Pages and Yelp to name a few. The best, and potentially worst, thing about these sites is that anyone can write a review for any business or business professional. So what happens if you come across a negative review of yourself or your services?
1. Don’t reply right away
Take time to consider your response. One of the worst things you can do is reply right after you read the comment—this is when you’re at your most vulnerable emotionally. Take time to consider what is being critiqued. Is it you personally? Your methods? Something out of your control? Take note of what exactly is being poorly reviewed and rack your mind to remember under what exact circumstances it took place. Also, if the reviewer’s complaint is valid, make a mental note not to repeat the transgression.
If the reviewer is a former client or someone you’ve done business with, go into your files and look for her/his email address. Send s/he a private message explaining that you read the review and would like to remedy the situation. This way, you take the discussion out of a public forum and personally address the issue. If there is anything they request of you, make sure to handle it as soon as possible.
If the negative comment isn’t removed or updated (saying that you contacted the user) after you’ve reached out, post a simple reply on the review board. Do not explain, justify or defend your position. Instead, state that you would like to remedy the situation and ask that they please contact you at their earliest convenience. This way, others can see that you tried to engage with the reviewer and fix the problem.
4. Conduct a survey after you close the deal
This is a great away to avoid negative reviews completely. After you’ve wrapped up business with a client, hand them a survey allowing them to review all aspects of your service. This way, if the client takes issue with something, it can be addressed before s/he gets within reach of a keyboard.
5. Beef up the positive reviews
Another great advantage of conducting closing surveys is that if someone absolutely loved working with you, you can ask them to post their feedback online. Ask for online posts of positive reviews from satisfied clients either in person, on the phone or via email. Warning: do not send them a link to your Yelp/Google Reviews/etc. page in your email –this will most likely be considered a solicited review and is less likely to be published and seen by other users. Furthermore, you may want to request that the client also review the broker or another agent you worked with—the more reviews a user posts on a review site, the more likely they are to be seen. Even by rating their favorite restaurant, a client’s review of your business will become more creditable and therefore more valuable.
At the end of the day, having one or two negative reviews isn’t the end of the world. We’re all human, and not everyone is going to think we’re simply fabulous. Plus, who trusts a business or professional with all five star ratings? No one wants to work with Mr. Roboto!
By Jesse McCarl
The Real Estate Funnel is a resource used to illustrate the proper approach for agents to take towards clients in various stages of the home buying process. At the broad end is every person you’ve ever met in your life, plus a few more from a lead generation service. At the narrow end are the people who are just about to close a deal on the home of their dreams. You want to be at that end of the funnel with as many clients as possible. But to get there, you have to work through the stages of the funnel with people on an individual basis.
But how useful is a lead generation service if all it does is throw a few more names in an already overstuffed hat? HouseHunt doesn’t just find names and numbers. We help to ensure you can move any client down the funnel until you’re buying them a fern as a closing gift.
With HouseHunt, you will be prepared to capture a client’s attention, connect in person, and close the deal.
So how does HouseHunt help you “capture” clients? After creating a website for each of our real estate professionals, we intercept traffic to those sites from potential buyers or sellers. And we don’t just count a site visit as a lead either; HouseHunt has the most in depth lead form of any similar company. This ensures that you get serious clients, and that they prequalify their intent so that you can place them in the funnel immediately.
The initial stage is when you want to make sure your name stays in front of potential clients. These people could be anywhere from six months to several years out from buying a home. But whenever they decide they’re ready to move forward with the process, you want to be the first person that comes to mind.
As an agent, you do this by simply reminding everyone you exist. Try to connect on various social media platforms. Include anyone with the slightest bit of interest in a monthly newsletter. Shoot out ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Merry Christmas’ postcards to any potential customers or references.
We make all of these daunting tasks a breeze with TIM (Total Internet Marketing), a back-end system in which you can label clients based on where they are in the funnel. Holiday greeting emails for your clients will never slip your mind again with our automated system. You can have a slick newsletter shipped out on your behalf. We make you easy to find online by optimizing your social media presence with resources like Google+.
Furthermore, your website is marketed towards any search where you are the HouseHunt representative; you are advertised all over the world as opposed to only local buyers.
After you’ve found a client (or, as is often the case, they’ve found you), your job is to make sure they feel a sense of urgency to continue down the funnel until they are signing a title. At this point, you can start matching some potential home buyers to homes. You will have the most up-to-date listings database of any online real estate service, as HouseHunt is directly connected to the MLS where available. Don’t waste your time (or theirs) with options that aren’t even on the market any longer.
Our TIM system will keep your serious clients up-to-date with listings in their area as they’re posted. This is perhaps the most pivotal part of the funnel, and it is managed by HouseHunt for you. The database contacts your customer with all the information regarding the house itself, as well as community and school information, taxes, loan estimates, recreation, and more. This creates a bigger pipeline of business for you and frees you up to focus on selling more homes and building relationships with other buyers.
After you’ve “connected” with the client to learn about their goals and timeline, keep in mind that there’s a variety of reasons the consumer may not be ready to make an offer quite yet. Maybe s/ he’s waiting on a loan, or still contemplating between a couple different neighborhoods, or needs his/her house to sell before s/he can buy. No matter the circumstance, make sure to prepare your client so that s/he’s ready to move down the funnel once the issue is resolved.
With the HouseHunt system, you can move people to the closing stage fast. Many of the leads generated have done a lot of research on their own and are just looking for an agent to work them through the final stages of the funnel. This is the part you love, why you became an agent. You get to be with people for the biggest purchase of their lives. You get to walk with them as they turn a house into their home.
It has been said that in real estate, a lead generation company is like a gym: You have to use the resources if you’re going to achieve results. Well with all the resources HouseHunt offers—in-depth lead forms, the TIM system, MLS listings, and more—you are at a state-of-the-art gym and we are your personal trainers. Now you’ve just got to get to work.
You are able to move your clients to the closing stage fast with HouseHunt because our lead forms are more in depth than any other service. No matter what stage a person may be at in the real estate funnel, we can make sure you’re standing by them when they reach the other side.
By Andrew Gale
You can start with the domain authority you’re guest posting for. If it’s a low ranking domain or has a bad backlink profile consisting of spammy directories, out of country domains and low quality content which you can check with a tool like an open site explorer, then you can assume Google probably sees it as a bad idea.
Be sure to check the type of content the site you’re linking to has as well. In the past 300 word posts were ok but, now Google has up’d the anty and said they want high quality 500 word minimum posts. Our belief with the minimum word count is to completely ignore it. Write about the topic you’ve chosen and make it as good as possible. When you focus on that alone, the posts always end up over 500 words and it’s not an issue. Great content has no specific word limit other than to solve the issue of the searcher which would be finding it.
Check to make sure the content is original. If accepting guest posts or doing guest posts on other websites be sure to check that the content is original and not duplicate content. See more on that here.
If you’re the one guest posting, make sure to include images, proper natural links, and any other sort of media that makes your content quality. This makes your post look better to Google and has a direct relationship to your brand. To get any benefits from your article, you’re going need to leave a positive impression on the reader.
The search crawlers are getting better at identifying what industry you’re in and they want you be an expert in that industry. Every piece of content, every link and action you do should be related to that industry. If you have an astronaut guest post about space on your blog which has content like expired listing letters, it doesn’t really make any sense why that blog would be talking about both of those topics. This is actually a good thing though because specialized websites that focus on a single industry are now actually being rewarded.
The key to doing guest posting right is to do it for the right reasons. SEO is a side benefit of high quality guest posts but, straight from Matt Cutt’s mouth here are the main reasons to guest post in 2014:
“There are still many good reasons to do some guest blogging (exposure, branding, increased reach, community, etc.). Those reasons existed way before Google and they’ll continue into the future. And there are absolutely some fantastic, high-quality guest bloggers out there. I changed the title of this post to make it more clear that I’m talking about guest blogging for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.” – Matt Cutts
One of the best reasons to do guest posting is not for SEO, but to gain traffic and build a new audience. When you get to put your content in front of someone elses audience you’re exposing your brand into new places. This is a great strategy to drive new targeted relevant traffic to your website that you didn’t have before. If you go into Google Analtyics right now, how many referring domains sending you traffic do you have? Focusing on this single metric alone is a great way to build your own audience by helping other people satisfy theirs.
Being in the real estate niche is harder than most because online it’s nowhere near as big as some of the other industries but, there are still a few places that are highly respected and have great blogs that you can be a part of:
HouseHunt Agent Blog (here)
Guest posting is an invaluable tool if you do it right. If you could only focus on a single metric to increase traffic to your website, it should be referring domains driving traffic to your website and guest blogging is the #1 way to do that.
By Lolly Spindler
Google+ for Realtors is becoming more integral to real estate social media marketing. Although it may seem like a new social media platform, Google+ has been around since 2011. Since then, it has become the second largest social networking site in the world, boasting approximately 359 million active users. With the added bonus of this platform being inextricably linked to Google Search, the most-used search engine on the World Wide Web, it’s understandable why so many people are creating Google+ profiles for themselves and their businesses. Higher placement in search results means higher organic rankings, more views and more business for you!
Personal Profile vs. Business Page
Similar to Facebook, there are two options to showcase your real estate business on Google+: a business page and a personal profile. Although you must first create a personal profile in order to start a business page, which one you should use to promote your business is a bit more complicated. Like we covered in our discussion about Facebook, there are advantages and disadvantages to using both. If you already have a personal Google+ profile replete with pictures of friends, family and opinions, start fresh with a business page. If you don’t have either, there are advantages to each you should consider.
If you’re creating a lot of original content on your real estate business’s website and want to have it attributed to you as an author, you may want to create a personal Google+ profile in order to take advantage of the perks of Google Authorship. However, if establishing your authorship is irrelevant or something you deem unnecessary at the moment, a Google+ business page allows you to establish your business as a Verified Publisher of any content on your official, linked website. If you do make a Google+ business page, make sure to link it to your real estate business’s website, and link the website back to your business page.
According to Mark Traphagen, Virante Inc’s Director of Digital Outreach, you should create both. Create a simple, professional Google+ Personal Profile and a Google+ Business Page. This way, you can drive traffic from your personal profile to your business page and brand yourself as both a human being and a professional in the real estate industry.
Learning the Lingo
Once you set up your account and fill out all of the necessary fields, start adding people to “circles.” Adding someone to a circle is the equivalent of “friending” someone on Facebook or “following” someone on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. Google+ will suggest people that you’re already connected with via your Gmail or any social media account. Keep in mind that, like having to accept someone’s friend request on Facebook, the people you add to a circle will have to add you back. This will be represented by two small arrows pointing in opposite directions when you go to their profile.
From your personal profile, add friends and family members to circles and join communities that pique your interest. From your business page, add clients, coworkers and other businesses to circles and join real estate communities.
Posting & Engagement
Unlike Facebook, you can’t just post anything to someone’s profile. You can privately post something, which is the equivalent of a private message. You can also +1 someone’s post (the equivalent of a Facebook “like” or thumbs up) which will then show up in the home feeds of those who have added you to a circle, but not on your profile’s Posts tab. Furthermore, you can share someone’s post on your own page by clicking the “share” arrow to the right of the +1 button (this will show up in the home feeds of the people or circles you decide to share it with).
Post photos of your active properties and recently sold properties on your business page’s Posts tab and any videos of listings under the YouTube tab. At the end of your post, type in + and the names of clients who have recently bought or sold any of the properties to tag them. In settings, enable location sharing for posts and photo geo location for photos so people can see exactly where your business is located and what community you serve. +1 and share others’ posts that you find relevant to your business and the real estate industry (like HouseHunt’s blog posts!).
Also, make sure to include community content on your page. Establish yourself as the local expert by posting information about and links to popular restaurants, scenic views, area pools and parks. This will allow you to highlight the best aspects of the area you farm and encourage community members to use your page as a resource.
Beyond just posting your own content, it’s important to +1 and share other’s posts. Join and post to real estate communities and follow or circle other agents you admire and/or have worked with. Commenting on content you find useful or genuinely enjoy is also a great way to catch a potential client’s eye. By engaging with other users, they will be more likely to engage with you by adding you to their circles or reposting or +1ing your content.
Another great benefit of Google+ is Google Hangouts. One type of hangout is either a recorded or real time video discussion where experts or members of a community discuss a relevant topic to their field. A hangout can also be a simple video call with your friend(s). You can find public hangouts on air from your Google+ menu, or hangout with anyone from your circles. Another awesome aspect of Google+ is its association with YouTube. If you get a +1 on one of your YouTube videos, that +1 will also show up under the YouTube tab of your Google+ page. The same reciprocal linking system goes for all Google products, including Google Local, where you can find reviews of local businesses (and maybe even your own). Other advantages of Google+ include Google Events and What’s Hot, where you can find popular and recommended posts.
To Wrap It Up
Your real estate business needs a home on Google+. Whether you go the personal profile or business page route, a presence on Google+ is becoming more and more essential as more emphasis is being put on the connection between Google+ and Google Search. Establishing yourself on this platform will most likely increase your presence and rank in search results—what other social media platform can boast that?
Please feel free to post any questions in the comments section, and happy Circling!