14 Epic Fails in Real Estate

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Whether it’s in a listing photo or a business photo, many real estate agents come across looking foolish far too often. As a matter of fact, sometimes the only thing worse is what happens WITHOUT a real estate agent! Here’s a compilation of just a few of our favorite epic fails in real estate!

Be sure to check out the full, unrated version after the jump.

 

Click Here for Full Presentation. 

Special thanks to the following sites for these pictures: Funny Pictures, WTF Real Estate, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and BuzzFeed.


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Content Marketing in Real Estate [Infographic]

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Content-Marketing

Content Marketing is a way to provide information or resources to current and potential customers for the purpose of building brand credibility.

The goals of content marketing are to develop brand loyalty, customer engagement, lead generation, and customer education. You establish yourself as an authority on the subject matter at hand by providing free resources that consumers would be drawn to regardless.

Some of the most common methods for real estate professionals to use content marketing include blogging, guest blogging, social media, virtual tour videos, forum participation, ebooks, Powerpoint slideshows and presentations, infographics, and webinars.

B2B companies with a blog generate 67% more leads per month. Leads developed from an organic search have nearly a 15% close rate. 68% of customers will take time to read/view content from a name they trust.

Let us know in the comments how YOU use content marketing for your real estate business.


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Buffer for Real Estate Professionals

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84% of real estate agents are on social media. This is good because, in such a personable occupation, you want to be accessible through multiple mediums. But if your Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ aren’t done well, then you may end up doing more harm than good. Luckily, there are social media dashboards to help you stay organized and accessible.

On this blog, we’ve discussed the platform Hootsuite which allows you to schedule and structure social media content. If you never got around to making a Hootsuite account – or simply weren’t impressed – there is a great alternative called Buffer.

buffer logo

Scheduling Out and Adding to Buffer

On Buffer, you can schedule posts to go out at certain times on certain dates, just like with any social media dashboard. But the added feature is that you can create a steady stream of content without having to schedule each individual post.

When you set up your account, you will set up Buffer times, or times when you’d like to see content go out. For example, we know the best times to post to Twitter are mid-morning and mid-afternoon. But with an unpredictable professional schedule, you can’t ensure that you’ll be able to post at those times. You can set Buffer to automatically push content at those key times.

Any time you see a page online you want to send to your followers, you just drop the link in your Buffer, and it will share without any effort from you. People will constantly see the resources you’re sending out, and you’ll stay at the forefront of your prospect’s minds.

buffer twitter

Other Unique Qualities

In addition to the concept of “buffering” and a slick, intuitive interface, there are many other handy features available through this dashboard, all of which come in handy when you’re using Buffer for real estate business.

Recommended Content

Don’t have anything lined up to be shared with your followers? That’s okay! Buffer offers unique posts every single day that it thinks would be valuable to your constituents. So even if you can’t find something creative to share with your people, you can stay relevant with material someone else found for you.

Accessibility

When you download Buffer, you will notice its logo everywhere. On Facebook, you’ll see the usual “Share” button on posts right next to a “Buffer” button to share that material later.

On Twitter, right next to the “Retweet” button, there will be a “Buffer” button to add that tweet to your queue.

Buffer makes it easy for you to share content, no matter where you happen to be in the World Wide Web.

Mobile

In addition to ease sharing anything on the Web, they also make it easy to share no matter where you are. The mobile app is laid out exactly the same way as the website. And even though your Internet browsing apps may not come with the nifty “Add to Buffer” buttons, it’s easy to copy/paste the URL into your Buffer feed.


Have you ever used Buffer? Do you have a preference between Buffer and Hootsuite? If so, let us know what you think of the platform in the comments below! 


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5 Reasons Why You Need to Be Blogging

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We’ve written a lot about the importance of blogging, and even given tips about WordPress plugins and content ideas, but we recently came across some statistics from Hudson Fusion that really send the message home. Let the numbers prove why you need to start blogging on your real estate website—if you haven’t already—and learn about the many perks that come with having a blog!

Here are the five reasons why you need to be blogging:

First of all, did you know that companies and business professionals with blogs have 55% more website traffic? While the average monthly visitors to a site without a blog is only 1,480, that number jumps up 52% to 2,250 to company websites with blogs.

Our Monthly Visitors Since We Started Actively Blogging in September 2013
Our Monthly Visitors Since We Started Actively Blogging in September 2013

Furthermore, business websites with blogs generate 67% more leads per month. This is because blog content offers value to its readers. The more value a website has, the more people will be willing to interact with it.

Our Top Ten Posts & Pages
Our Top Ten Posts & Pages

Social media and blogging make the perfect pair. Having content gives you something other than yourself or your services to promote. By offering the value of your written content to the 5.7 billion combined users of the world’s top social networks, you’ll encourage social sharing and expand your reach.

via Hudson Fusion
via Hudson Fusion
Our Profiles on Various Social Media Sites
Our Profiles on Various Social Media Sites

Diversified blog content is crucial. Try to incorporate pictures, videos, and infographics into your blogging strategy. Blog posts with videos attract three times more inbound links than plain text posts, while visual content in general drives more engagement.

Click to Enlarge

REAL-Estate-Vocabulary      Realtor-Problems      Consumer-Confidence1

Take a tip from the experts. 78% of Chief Marketing Officers believe that custom content is the future of marketing. In fact, 93% of B2B marketers are already using content marketing, and 58% plan on increasing their content marketing budget over the next 12 months.

In short, having just a website doesn’t cut it anymore. So start blogging today if you haven’t already, and reap the many benefits of content marketing!


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5 Ways Pay-Per-Click Advertising Can Up Your Real Estate Game

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Have you wondered how you’re going to pick the best online marketing strategy for you? With options like SEO, blogging, directory listings, and the 8,745,908,153 social media sites out there (give or take a few), it can feel a little overwhelming. Where do you start? Which channels are right for you? Many of these methods require at least some level of research and understanding of your target audience before you can even hope to answer these questions. And even if done right, they can often take weeks, even months to show results. Without the proper tools in place, measuring ROI can be a nightmare.

Enter PPC Advertising.

Created in the late 90s, this robust system allows you to put customizable ads in front of would-be customers/clients in various parts of their online experience (typically when they perform a search on Google or Bing, or those little side ads on Facebook, for example). If it’s enticing enough to satisfy their curiosity or promises to solve their problems, they’ll click on your ad. Every time they click, you’re charged a small fee (hence the name “pay-per-click”) and they’re taken to a page on your website where they’ll fill out a lead form and be entered into your buying funnel.

Example Lead Capture Form
Example Lead Capture Form

Simply put, no form of online marketing provides insight to the way people search and find the services you have to offer as quickly, deeply, and measurably as PPC Advertising. Period. But the benefits don’t stop there. Let’s go over 5 highly valuable benefits to using a PPC campaign to drive leads to your front door.

1. Exposure to New Audiences

With traditional print advertising, your scope is somewhat limited to the area around you (sending information to home buyers in other states doesn’t quite make sense), and the response rate is usually around 1-2%, meaning most of those go straight into the trash.

Well, that was money well spent. [via vrecopark.com]
Well, that was money well spent. [via vrecopark.com]
With PPC advertising, though, those response rates are often double or triple that. This is because those ads are carefully and purposefully placed in front of the people who are specifically interested in what you have to offer, rather than sending multiple flyers out and crossing your fingers that someone will be interested. PPC means less waste, and putting your ads in front of a relevant audience. Which leads us to…

2. Control Over Who Sees Your Ads

The targeting options for PPC are tremendous. Are you selling real estate in a city with a popular name, like Springfield or Greenville? Don’t worry, you can exclude the other areas in the US so you don’t get irrelevant and costly clicks. Are some of your clients in the military? Some channels let you target ads directly to a certain demographic based on their interests or profession. You can even target based on the time of day, so you can be available for a call when a prospective client is ready to talk. How you should target isn’t always obvious from the start, though, but fortunately for you there’s an extensive amount of analytics you can use to help you fine tune your campaign.

3. Immediate Insight Into Where Your Best Leads Come From

While most of your home buyers will likely come from areas close to your properties, you may find some percentage of them are actually relocating from elsewhere in the country. PPC lets you find out which areas contain the most interested and legitimate buyers, and target accordingly. You can even learn what types of homes they’re interested in. Is your area better for condos / townhomes, rather than traditional houses? Are most of your best leads coming from people searching for luxury homes? The data that a PPC campaign generates for you allows you to create ads specifically for those buyers, so they feel you’re speaking directly to those needs.

4. Laser Targeted Message

Your potential clients do have unique needs that demand unique solutions. PPC provides a creative platform to sculpt a message specifically for those clients—one that resonates with them and inspires them to click on your ad. Let’s go back to that military audience again. Once you’ve gotten their attention, you might want to tell them your inventory is close to a nearby base. Are your homes right on the beach? Let them know there are multiple waterfront homes to choose from, and what’s close to them. This is a fantastic opportunity to use a message that is colloquial, because it provides a familiar connection with the searcher, giving you an advantage over competitors who are merely trying to sell at them rather than establish a meaningful and personal relationship with them. Trust and credibility must be present at all stages of the process. The worst thing you can do is promise one thing in an ad and deliver another once they get to your site.

History: providing useful marketing lessons since... forever.
History: providing useful marketing lessons since… forever. [via memeblender.com]

5. Measurable ROI

Last, but not least, is the ability to track your leads at every stage of the funnel, and assign a clear and accurate dollar value to them. This is crucial, because there’s nothing more unsettling than being in the dark about whether your marketing dollar is being used wisely or poorly.

ppc advertising for realtors
[via techpwn.com]
Here’s a breakdown:

Impressions are, simply put, how many people see your ad. They’re likely browsing and searching for information. What you have to offer them may or may not be relevant to them, but these give insight into potential mismatches in advertising as well as the language people use to find what you have to offer them.

Clicks show interest. They’ve seen your ad, and they think you might have the answer they’re looking for, so they’re digging a little deeper. It’s important, here, to not disappoint them, and match that ad copy with a page on your website that accurately reflects what the ad promised.

Conversions show serious interest. They’ve filled out a form, or signed up for a newsletter, or even called you directly to set up an appointment. They’re at your front door. They’re on the phone with you. It’s now time for you to do what you do best, assess their needs, and set up a meeting.

The best part? All of this is presented and readily available in the form of conversion rates and cost per lead. Meaning objective, easily measurable ROI.

Starting up a PPC campaign and having instant success is definitely possible, but most of the time it takes some momentum and learning to fine tune. Some cars go from 0 to 60 faster than others, but if done right, a PPC campaign run by knowledgeable experts can easily become your most profitable and efficient method of advertising.


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How to Build a Realtor-Lender Partnership

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HouseHunt recently hosted a webinar with Bruce LaMaster, a successful Realtor with a broker team based in El Dorado Hills, California, on how to create a profitable Realtor-Lender partnership. We learned a lot from Bruce, who’s been working with his lender-partner Brian Musket for years. Here are their tips for a successful partnership.

realtor-lender partnership

Find a Partner

To start off the webinar, Bruce named the keys to his and Brian’s success which included:

1. Partner Selection
2. Quality Lead Source
3. Following a Proven System

When choosing a partner, he suggested that Realtors avoid:

1. Know-it-all Realtors and loan officers
2. And those not TOTALLY committed to…

a. Your success as much as theirs
b. Getting you business as they would for themselves
c. Properly working your leads
d. Accountability and evaluation

Once you have an idea of who you want to partner with, your next step is to develop trust with that person. After all, as Bruce pointed out, “the degree of your success will be in direct proportion to the level of trust between the Realtor [you] and the loan officer.” Furthermore, never compromise on commitment. If you or your partner are not 100 percent committed to the business relationship, you’re in the wrong partnership.

Strategize

Once you’ve found the one, make sure you and your partner have a plan in place instead of just jumping in. Sync up and automate your pipelines so that as soon as a lead comes in, you both receive it. Create daily schedules for yourselves and your employees detailing what leads need to be called and what number call you will be making.

By having both partners receive the leads, you’ll keep yourself and your partner accountable for following up with new business. Once the Realtor hands off the client to the lender, the lender will know exactly when the individual became a lead as well as when and how many times the Realtor has spoken to him/her and about what.

Promote

On your website, suggest that potential clients use your partner’s services. On Bruce LaMaster’s site, prospective buyers have access to a Home Buyer’s Guide. Included in this guide is an overview of the approval and buying process. The first step in the guide states “From the time you make your first contact with our lender you are five to seven days to full approval.” Below this is a flowchart; the first step is “interview with Brian at Secure Funding Group.”

Bruce continues to tout his partner’s skills in the next section of the guide titled “Does Your Mortgage Lender Really Matter?” In these pages Bruce explains why he thinks Brian is the most qualified lender and why clients should use his services.

We have been using the services of Secure Funding Group and Brian Musket for years. The reason? His integrity, his experience and his ability to treat each and every client as they should be treated—with the respect they deserve and the individualized attention to detail that is so rare in our world today.

He continues by reassuring clients that picking a lender is still their choice; but he strongly encourages them to use his partner. Bruce also continues to offer value to his clients by providing information on his site about the differences between being pre-qualified, pre-approved, and full underwriting approval. Lastly, Bruce gives prospective home buyers a step-by-step process to becoming pre-approved with Brian.

Conclusion

By finding a partner you are truly compatible with, have complete trust in, and are 100 percent committed to, by strategizing with your partner in order to work leads more efficiently, and by promoting your partner’s services from your own website, you will have the foundation for an incredibly lucrative business relationship.


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How to Invest in Your Real Estate Business Online

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how to invest in your real estate business online

 

We recently spoke to successful and social media savvy Realtor Bill Gassett, based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, to find out how he invests in his real estate business online. If you don’t know Bill, he’s a top producing agent with 26 years of real estate experience. He’s also the owner of both the Google+ Real Estate Community (which boasts over 9,000 members) and the Pinterest Real Estate Group Board.

 

Bill is an online guru, which is why we went to him when it came to online real estate business investments. Without further ado, let’s hear from Bill:

 

Over the years one of the best tools I have found to increase my business is having a well optimized blog. A blog does a number of things for you including allowing you to share your expertise around subject matter that home buyers and sellers could be searching for. When a consumer likes what you have to say and recognizes you as a local expert, your chances of getting business increase exponentially. People search online all the time for help. If you are able to provide that help as a Realtor, often times it is the gateway to new business.

One of the best examples I can give you is when I helped people that were looking for financial advice during the real estate downturn of the past six or seven years. During this time so many homeowners were in jeopardy of losing their homes because of tough financial circumstances. Using my blog, I started writing about short sales in order to help many of these people who needed to sell their home but were underwater. The articles were designed to answer questions surrounding the short sale process. Since the articles were well-written, numerous parties would call me and ask for my advice. Many of them ended up listing their homes for sale with me because they recognized me as an expert in short sales.

Another side benefit was that people from other states would call or email me for help. While I could not help them sell their homes in other states, I ended up getting quite a referral stream by referring business to other agents who shared my short sale expertise. I was making money from just picking up the phone and referring business to another real estate agent. The blog was paying for itself tenfold! This is just one good example of how a real estate agent can use a blog to show the world they have knowledge surrounding a certain topic.

Just like any other part of real estate marketing, you should see a blog as a means of promoting your business. In order to do it right you should invest money into your blog just like other facets of your business. For example, one of the things any good blogger will do is provide exceptional visuals to go along with their articles. There is no question that good graphics can cause someone to stop and pay more attention to your content. The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” couldn’t be more true when it comes to having a successful blog. A real estate agent should not be afraid to invest money into their blog by paying to have good graphics. While you can certainly pick up images for free on the internet, a great blog will distinguish itself from the pack by not doing what everyone else does.

If you look at blogging like any other facet of your business, you should not be afraid to spend a few thousand dollars a year on your site. Picking a good theme, having a good hosting company, and promoting your content are things that can make a difference in the success of your site. To take your blog a step further, I recommend having an integrated IDX where potential clients can access homes for sale. Once you have captured a consumer with content you have written, it is always nice to have other goodies that will keep them engaged on your site.

 

So what are the takeaways? Invest in your real estate business online by investing in a blog. Choose a good hosting company, pick a clean, appealing design/theme, incorporate exceptional visuals, and promote your written content around the web. Not only will a blog help you connect with potential clients, it can lead to a developed referral network. By being the local expert online, you’ll be the local Realtor of choice offline!

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One HouseHunt Lead Turns Into Another

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michael hoke

Last month we received a great success story from one of our agents, Michael Hoke of California Sunset Realty based in Canyon Lake concerning his latest deal with a HouseHunt buyer. He got in touch with his sales rep, Bruce Brockmeier, to let him know of the good news and here’s what he shared with Bruce:

“I received a HouseHunt lead a couple of months ago from a potential buyer from Switzerland. He wanted to buy a ‘ranch’ type property in the $200-$300K range. Long story short, their bank in Switzerland would not loan them money for a US property even though they have significant assets, etc., so the ranch deal would not work and they scaled back to vacant land in the $20-$30K range.

“I found a couple of lots and they agreed to pay me separate commission for my efforts. The buyer then asked about vacant lots on either side of the lots he wanted: were they also available for sale? I found the owner of one of [the lots] and called him. We ended up making a deal on a third lot with separate commission to us.

“A couple of days later, the seller whom I cold called for his lot, called and said he wanted me to list his $1 million lake view home on a 5-acre lot!

“You just never know where the deals are going to come from, but had I not been willing to make the phone call about the other lot, I would never have had the opportunity to list their million dollar property!

“As always, you guys are great!!!!”

We couldn’t agree more with Michael—you really don’t know where your next deal is going to come from unless you go out there and take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself. Great job, Michael!

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How to Use PicMonkey to Drive Traffic to Your Site

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Have you seen any of these graphics on our site lately?

Client loyalty

 

They’ve gotten more pins and likes than plain images on Pinterest, more interaction on Facebook and Google+, and they look cute to boot!

So, how can you alter lack-luster photos to make them more eye-catching to users, generating more traffic to your website? Enter PicMonkey.

I wrote about PicMonkey briefly in “Top 55 Real Estate Tools for Agents” but think that it’s so beneficial it deserves its own article. So, here’s how to use PicMonkey to drive traffic to your site.

First of all, PicMonkey is a free, online photo editing tool that allows you to edit, touch up, design, and create collages with images. You can touch up photos you’ve taken yourself or glam up photos from services like Shutterstock, iStock, or Getty Images.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to alter and add text to a plain ol’ stock photo to transform it into something people want to share!

Step 1: Upload a Photo to PicMonkey

Head on over to PicMonkey and select “Edit,” then select which photo you would like to alter. Your first options (accessible when you hit the crop symbol) will be to crop, rotate, change the exposure, etc. Use these features as needed.

step 1

Step 2: Play with Different Features

Check out the effects feature (accessible when you hit the wand symbol) to change the feel of your photo, hit the lipstick symbol to touch up photos with people in it, use the text feature to add text (more on that in a bit), the butterfly to add an overlay, the frame symbol to add a frame, the crosshatch to add texture, and the apple to use a premade theme.

side bar

Step 3: Add Text

It’s a great idea to use photos to promote your written content. Therefore, the text feature is crucial in order to let others know what content the picture links to. After you choose a font, color, and size, you can add a banner or box to make the text stand out (these can be found under the overlays or butterfly tool).

picmonkey add box

You may notice that some of the fonts and other features have little crowns next to them; this means that they are only available to Royale customers—in other words, you have to pay for them.

Step 4: Add Your Logo

If you want to use your personal or your brokerage’s logo, you can upload it under the overlays feature. Select “Your Own” at the top and choose which photo you would like to import. Size the logo and place it where desired (we like it in the bottom right corner).

Step 5: Finish Up!

Add any final touches you’d like (I added a drop shadow frame), then hit save. You can choose to save your masterpiece to your computer or Dropbox in three different sizes/qualities.

Here’s what our picture looked like before:

simple design

And here’s our finished product!

picmonkey article example

Pretty simple, right? And the best part is it’s all for free! You can also make collages like this:

save money

Simply play around and see what style fits the feel of your blog and content best.

We hope to see your PicMonkey creations around, and that you reap the benefits of increased traffic to your site!

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