Selling a Home in the Winter [Infographic]

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The winter can really take a toll on businesses, especially in real estate. Surprisingly there are consumers that actually prefer buying a home in the winter. In this infographic we provide tips on selling a home in the winter, so your business doesn’t freeze.

 

Why Consumers Choose to Buy in the Winter

20% say there’s less competition between buyers.

24% say they are unable to buy in the spring/summer.

24% say home prices are better in the winter.

26% are more motivated to see in the winter.

Tips

  • Clear snow away from driveway, front walk and porches/patios
  • Open windows and air out the home a week before the showing.
  • Create a warm and cozy ambiance
  • Make sure the home is well lit
  • Add some holiday decorations.

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A Closer Look at Marketing Success Rates

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In a recent National Association of Realtors study, home buyers and sellers were surveyed on how they found their real estate agent. The results can certainly give a strong sense of what works well and what does not, in terms of real estate agent marketing efforts. In the wake of these results, however, many Realtors are quick to write off some significant aspects of their budget. Here’s a closer look at marketing success rates so that you can budget accordingly and not waste valuable resource.

First, here are the results from the NAR study-

generational trends report 1 generational trends report 2

So with this data in mind, are you wasting your marketing budget on ineffective services?

Where Does That Leave Digital?

If you skim the headlines of people looking at these new statistics, you’ll see a lot of major names claiming that digital marketing is futile. Inman News is one of these sources. However, upon further investigation, you’ll realize that such an analysis is really for the sake of a jarring headline. Inman News even made a follow up to their survey analysis to clarify that Internet business has a lot of benefits that can’t translate into such a two dimensional study.

First, let’s look at the role digital marketing plays in the survey results. Approximately 10% of clients found their agent through digital marketing – whether it be an online presence, social media, SEO, or so on. Over 5 million homes were sold in 2013, with similar figures expected for 2014. So even though 10% may seem like a low stat compared to some other methods, that accounts for 500,000 homes. Half a million customers will find you through Internet means. The agents writing off the significance of digital marketing right now are simply handing you that business!

Furthermore, digital marketing does more than just buy you some clients. You don’t develop a website and SEO just to sell your name, but to sell your actual houses. When 90% of buyers start their home search online, your digital marketing will sell homes even if it doesn’t sell you as an agent. And guess what? You get a commission check either way!

 

What About Referrals?

For buyers, 50% of customers find their agent via some form of a referral. For sellers, 46%.

If you want to make sure you’re part of the half that retains their business and gets referred to friends and family, you need to invest in staying at the forefront of past clients’ minds.

The best way to ensure referrals and repeat customers is to provide a quality service for each and every customer.

Another way to use your marketing dollars for referral business is to offer incentives. Let clients know that if they refer you as an agent, you’ll reward both parties with $100 gift cards to their favorite restaurant. Offer discounted rates or services to your most loyal customers. The list goes on and on of ways you can put your money where your mouth is in terms of retaining your favorite customers!

Beyond that, however, there have to be other ways to ensure success in this arena. The simplest method to “buy referrals” is to stay in touch with former clients. Send birthday cards and holiday greetings. Follow up occasionally with how their new house is treating them. If you stay at the forefront of their minds, they’ll be sure to refer you when a friend or loved one is on the market for a home.

Services like TIM (Total Internet Marketing) – available through HouseHunt.com – do just that. TIM helps keep a database of all prospects and customer’s personal information so that you can maintain communication accordingly. TIM offers greeting cards that you can personalize for just about every holiday or special occasion. All of these elements build your referral business.

Conclusion

Every aspect of how you spend your marketing dollars is important. Just because one form brings you immediate closings doesn’t mean that the others are ineffective. You may have to discern where exactly each of your customers are coming from, and where money is being wasted. It’s important, however, to calculate all aspects of your advertising strategy and not cut something just because it’s not as effective as something else.

It could take just one customer to change the course of your business forever. You don’t want to miss out on that customer just because a certain field didn’t generate enough immediate turnaround.


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6 Mistakes to Avoid When Blogging [Infographic]

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Blogging is very essential in real estate, but many agents make the same common mistakes. Here are a few that you should avoid when blogging.

 

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Blogging

1. Shhh… Don’t blog about your client’s private information.

Tip: Avoid mentioning client’s name or specific business transactions.

2. Bite Your Tongue-: Never trash talk  your competitors. Stay professional.

Tip: Make strong points without discrediting another business.

3. Don’t forget: Always share your blogs on different social media platforms.

Tip: Be consistent. For steady growth, post once a day.

4. Stay Humble: Don’t brag about how much money you make. Stay focused on real estate.

Tip: Write about the market, moving, mortgage rates, etc.

5. Keep it polished: Formatting is key. Your blog needs to be clean and appealing.

Tip: Add headlines, bullet points, images, and avoid long paragraphs.

6. Stealing: Don’t copy content from other blogs.

Tip: Produce original content, this will boost your SEO.

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7 Creative Holiday Season Marketing Ideas

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The end of the year is a relentless slew of holidays. The end of the year also happens to be a pretty slow time for real estate. With all the commotion of the season and the cyclical dip in income, it may seem a strange time to ramp up your marketing efforts, but that’s actually exactly what you need to do.

The last three months of the prior year are when a real estate agent establishes momentum through name recognition-based activities that will carry him/her through the following calendar year.

It’s true market activity slows during the holidays. But by the second week of January, the market usually explodes back to the level that will last until the bustling summer months. If you’re not working hard at marketing right now, you’re losing market value for the inevitable boom when buyers and sellers soon start thinking again about real estate.

To help make sure your next year is a success, here are some holiday season marketing ideas as we round out 2014!

holiday season marketing

Halloween

Host a Costume Contest on Your Website – This is a great idea that builds community, establishes name recognition, and drives traffic to your site/blog. Distribute flyers/postcards to your targeted neighborhoods advertising a kids’ costume contest. Have parents submit their children in their trick-or-treat gear and you announce the winner on November 1st. Prize ideas include holiday gift baskets, gift cards, a Thanksgiving turkey, or some kind of home service. Remember, the quality of the prize will drive the quantity of participants.

Maximize Your Ads – For any old school marketing tactic involving flyers or postcards (including the idea above), you should maximize the space on your distributed material. Don’t just advertise your name and website. Also include curb appeal strategies (don’t want to look like a haunted house!), ways to prep the home for winter, etc. Just like your blog should be filled with useful content marketing, your hardcopy marketing should be useful, too!

For more Halloween themed marketing ideas, click here.

 

Thanksgiving

Host a Canned Food Drive – Being an active participant in your community isn’t just about fun activities; it’s also about helping out all aspects of the town. A food drive for the needy is a great way to good around the holidays and boost your public perception as a community participant. You can even offer prizes to the biggest donator to help generate buzz. When you deliver the goods, share the experience on social media.

Give Away Pumpkin Pies – Email or mail past clients and major community players that you would like to provide their Thanksgiving dessert. No strings attached; you just want to thank them for their business/friendship. Have them register for the free treat on your website. This will generate buzz around your name and drive traffic to your website. Even if none of your past clients/associates are about to be on the market, it will ensure that you’re their default referral for friends and family.

For more Thanksgiving themed marketing ideas, click here.

 

Christmas

Decorate Your Real Estate Contest – This is a fun contest idea similar to the costume contest from Halloween. Offer a prize to the best decorated home in your neighborhood. This will make your streets look fun and festive while getting people talking about your name/company.

Decorate Your Office – People drive by your broker office every day. Do something to make them smile and draw attention. One day you can have a giant inflatable Santa and the next have giant, wrapped presents. If you have a sign where you can change the lettering, include holiday puns, a countdown to Christmas, or Scripture verses.

For more Christmas themed marketing ideas, click here.

 

New Year’s Eve

Focus on Goals – Everyone around this time of year is thinking of ways to make the next year better. Help people out by sending a postcard of tips to keep New Year’s resolutions. If they’re thinking about a profitable 2015 and see your logo, you’ll be the first to get a call when they’re ready for their goal home.

For more New Year’s themed marketing ideas, click here


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8 SEO Tips for Lead Generation

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Want your personal site or blog to rank higher on Google? Then you have to make your online presence search engine friendly. This strategy is called ‘Search Engine Optimization,’ or SEO. Considering 90% of home-buyers start their search online, great presence on Bing and Google is vital to lead generation. Here are 8 real estate-related SEO Tips for Lead Generation.

SEO Tips for Lead Generation

1.  Remember Your Name is a Keyword

Since online presence is not likely your only marketing effort, there will be plenty of prospects who may very well start their search by looking up your specific name. Your homepage, ‘About You’ tab, and more should include your name, the word ‘Realtor,’ your local community, and your specialties as an agent.

2.  Utilize a Keyword Planner

We’ve taught before that in online marketing, content is king. Make sure that content is relevant to what people are searching. Google AdWords is the most common resource for gauging popular keywords. This will show you exactly how many times proposed keywords are searched. You want to make sure those keywords are sprinkled throughout your content. No need to be obnoxious about it; just make sure you’re on topic.

3.  Make Captivating Titles

Incorporate those aforementioned keywords into your title. Studies show that numbered lists often garner the most clicks. Captivating titles are arguably the biggest component of the success of Buzzfeed. Here are some more tips for viral titles.

4.  Target Specific Markets

The most important thing you want to do is make sure you target your local community. People will search for homes in your area, so treat your town name like the vital keyword it is.

Beyond your locale, don’t be afraid to be even more specific. Targeting a specific niche market – whether it’s a type of buyer or even a specific ethnicity – can boost your visibility online. People search for specifics.

5.  Leverage Social Media

Search engines like Google look for sites that people are clicking on organically. When you promote your own blog posts/new listings on social media, each click boosts your search engine optimization. Sometimes visuals that doesn’t mean much as a blog could go viral as a Pinterest board.

6.  Find a Useful App

Here at HouseHunt, we use a service called Yoast to check our SEO rankings for every piece of content we put out. Feedback from this blog plugin taught us the importance of transcribing our infographics, placing keywords early in the text, using subtitles, etc. Yoast is far from the only option, though. Find an app/plugin/service that works for you!

7.  Use Links

First, link to yourself. Somewhere in your blog, have a link to another post of yours that this audience may enjoy. When people click on these links, it a) keeps them on your site longer, and b) it gives your domain name more clicks, thus boosting your SEO scores.

Next, link to other sites. External links add gravitas to your webpage. Basically, Google doesn’t want you to be selfish. When you link to others, it adds credibility to your site and proves you’ve done your research.

8.  Encourage Others to Use Links, Too

Perhaps the best thing that can happen for your site’s SEO is something that’s largely out of your hands: receive backlinks. A backlink is when another site links to one of your posts/listings. Search engines see this as a demonstration of your reputability, and is great for your optimization. The more influencial the source of the backlink, the better for your score. A backlink from Joe Blow’s blog will help you out a little bit, but a backlink from Fortune Magazine will work wonders for your web presence.

Obviously when it comes to those big names like Fortune Magazine, you’ll just have to wait until you’ve written content lucky enough to be picked up. In the mean time, however, you can ask your network of Realtors to link to you. Be shameless in your requests because you will be linking to their material as well.


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Which Clients to Avoid [Infographic]

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It’s all about who you work with right? Well, this definitely applies to the real estate world. We have created an infographic so you can know which clients to avoid.

Know Which Clients to Avoid

You’re least compatible…

Rude Jude- When he walks into a home, he doesn’t act like a guest. He acts like he already owns the place.

Know-It-All-Nick- We love to hate them! Although you know best, Nick thinks he knows more than you.

Dopey Darren- Watch-out for this guy! He insists on sleeping-over before the closing, just to make sure it’s the one.

Negotiating Neal- After the deal has been closed Neal still wants negotiate. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Blamer Brad- If anything goes wrong, Brad is the type of guy that will blame you! Run while you can!

Hopping Harry- This one will use you and abuse you! He will hop from agent to agent. The typical cheater!

Advice From Our Match Maker

How to deal with a difficult relationship

1. Maintain self control

2. Don’t ask threatening questions

3. Listen to the client

4. Acknowledge the problem

5. Don’t argue

6. Apologize

7.Offer a solution

8. Continue being professional

9. Analyze the reason for the clients

10. Set limits on what you can tolerate.

Know more about how to deal with difficult clients

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Real Life Haunted Houses and Real Estate

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An unsuspecting family moves to big house to get a fresh start, only to find that their new digs are haunted by spirits. You’ve seen it in everything from Casper the Friendly Ghost to American Horror Story. Crazy as it might sound, that horror cliché might not be too far from the realm of possibility. Most states don’t require disclosure on paranormal activity when selling a property.

If you’re rolling your eyes already, let’s take a look at how even the US Supreme Court acknowledged the reality of haunted houses, and then we’ll look at how they play a role in modern real estate.

Campfire Story

Did you know the US Supreme Court has technically acknowledged the existence of haunted houses? In 1991 a home in Nyack, New York went on the market. Jeffery Stambovsky agreed to purchase the home for $650,000 and paid a down payment of $32,500.

1000 Words 1000 Days
Nyack, NY Haunted Estate via 1000Words1000Days

What Stambovsky didn’t know at the time was that the owner of the Nyack residence, Helen Ackley, had publicly claimed the house was haunted on numerous occasions. She had even written stories about the eerie estate in publications as renowned as Reader’s Digest. Neither Ackley nor her real estate broker made mention of the alleged haunting before a contract was signed.

When Stambovsky found out about the house’s reputation, he demanded that he be released from his contract, insisting that the listing party had not properly disclosed all information. The case ended up in the US Supreme Court.

The decision on the property was that since the seller had informed the public at large about the existence of poltergeists on the premises, she was estopped to deny the existence of spirits at the time of sale. The house was deemed haunted as a matter of law!

As for the rest of that real estate transaction, Stambovsky was able to get out of his contract but was unable to retrieve his down payment. The house eventually sold to a couple and there were no subsequent reports of paranormal activity.

How to Sell a Haunted House

Selling real life haunted houses can be tricky for all the obvious reasons! If you disclose a house is haunted too early, you look crazy. If you don’t disclose it at all, there could be legal ramifications, as seen above. Here is a list of five things to consider if you’re tasked with selling a house with reported paranormal activity.

haunted house moon

1. Look for Alternatives

As the listing agent of a potentially haunted property, your first job is to check for other explanations for seemingly ghostly events. For example, your client may think a ghost is flicking the lightswitches, but you could probably figure out pretty quickly if it’s just some faulty wiring.

2. Research Disclosure Laws

Most states do not require you to disclose paranormal activity when selling a home. This is why those movie characters always wind up in haunted houses. If the state does require such disclosure, it is lumped in with ‘stigmatized properties.’ Stigmatized property laws are the same ones that require you to disclose if there was a murder or suicide in the home recently, etc. Those disclosures are considered ‘emotional defects,’ and are not usually as damaging to property value as ‘physical defects.’

3. Know When to Speak Up

Regardless of local law, it is usually best to at least mention the possibility of spirits squatting in the house. Any disclosure shortcomings, even if legally acceptable, are damaging to reputation. Furthermore, the US Supreme Court case described above proves that if you fail to disclose something, even in the gray area of paranormal dwellings, the court is likely to side with the unsuspecting buyers.

4. Have the Home Cleaned

There are services which enable you to hire experts to clean the home of any negative spirits. These people claim to communicate with the dead, and give them the direction and strength to move on from their current residence. Even if you don’t buy any of this nonsense, it could be enough to calm the fears of a tepid buyer!

5. Hope for the Best

There have been stories of agents who experience paranormal occurrences during their open houses or private showings. These experiences could range from baffling to terrifying. At the point that a haunting affects your prospects, there’s really nothing you can do. Perhaps the best thing to keep in mind is that if you see twins at the end of the hall or ‘REDRUM’ scratched in a mirror, you should probably just drop the listing and get out of there.

Whether you believe in the idea of haunted houses or not, the issue may arise more often than you would expect in real estate. Do a little bit of research so that you know how to address the matter if you should ever come across such a listing. Even if you never have to sell haunted real estate yourself, it’s still kind of fun to look up those stories around Halloween time!

If you’ve ever had a haunted real estate experience, please let us know in the comments! We’d love to help you share your story.

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Positive Perception of Real Estate for First Time since Recession

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People have a positive view of the real estate industry for the first time since the burst of the housing bubble in 2007. According to a survey out this month from Gallup, real estate scored a net positive ranking of twelve (12), up thirteen points just from the year prior.

Gallup

Net positive rankings were established by assigning point values to 5 different responses of ranging from “very positive” to “very negative.” The negative points are subtracted from the positive total. Over a thousand people were surveyed from all 50 states ranging in age from 18-50.

The banking industry, closely tied to the realty market, experienced an even more drastic improvement year-over-year recently. Banking still ranks lower than real estate overall, though.

This matters for all of the obvious reasons. First, confidence in the industry will increase the number of people willing to make a move. Second, it requires confidence in the market to be able to trust one’s Realtor; a stronger perception of real estate will lead to fewer skeptical or argumentative clients for you!

The Gallup survey patterns indicate that public perception will continue to rise. At the current rate, it’s not unreasonable to assume that public perception of real estate could be back to pre-recession optimism within just two years!

How does public perception correlate with the reality of realty? The national market is certainly strengthening, but perhaps not as quickly as these survey results would indicate. Sales for new housing have increased over the last year, although existing homes tended to sit on the market much longer.

Don’t get too self-assured yet; not everyone loves you, Realtors. In the overall scheme of things, a 12 is still a relatively low net positive ranking. Many industries were polled in the same fashion and the average response was 18. Real estate ranks along public perception with the likes of movie and TV industries. Food service and technology ranked the highest in the survey. Realtors can rest assured, however, that they’re better liked than health care, oil and gas, and federal government, all of which ranked with negative scores.

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6 Tips on How to Stage a Home

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We’re all familiar with the saying “it’s all about presentation” right? Well, that definitely comes into play when selling a home. We’ve provided 6 tips on how to stage a home the right way, so your clients are ready to make that offer!

6 Tips on How to Stage a Home

1.  Let it Shine – Whether it’s gold or silver add some metallics to the living room to make it look luxurious.

2.  Bright and Right – Smooth, white finish cabinets will modernize a kitchen. It will also brighten up the space.

3.  Make it Pop– Add a pop of color to room to liven it up! Try some blue throw pillows or even candles.

4. Light it Up– Lighting can do so much to a room! Lamps create a warmer ambiance.

5. Go Green or Go Home– “Going green” is a trend in real estate. Clients love to see elements of nature in their home.

6. Mix and DON’T match– Play with different colors and textures. It will add visual interest to a room.

Statistics

  • In 2013 staged homes sold in 45 days while non-staged homes sold in 102 days.
  • Most buyers form an opinion about a home within the first 7-10 seconds.
  • The average staging investment is between 1% and 3% of the home’s price.
  • Only 10% of home buyers can visualize the potential of a new home.

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5 Secrets to Work Life Balance

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Sometimes it seems like a career in real estate make it impossible to keep up with both your business and your personal life. There’s so much to fit into 24 hours! You may be surprised to learn that according to a recent study from GlassDoor, real estate is considered one of the top 20 careers to maintain ‘work life balance.’

Sure, you have clients that need your attention on nights and weekends. You have to maintain professionalism out and about in the community. But you also have the freedom to make your own schedules, set office hours, and prioritize what really matters in life without sacrificing your paycheck!

So how do you strike a perfect work/life balance? We’ve scoured the Web for the best tips on keeping your professional and personal priorities straight. More specifically, we sought advice specifically from and for real estate professionals.

work life balance

1.  Take a “Power Hour”

Tip from RealtorMag

Clear an hour a day to turn off social media, put away your phone, and even shut down e-mail. Knock out those tasks that litter your to-do list. Start with the least enjoyable projects and work your way to the quick, menial chores. You’ll be amazed what you can accomplish in just one hour of total focus and concentration. This will free you up to focus on the fun parts of the job such as developing relationships (or just taking a guilt-free long lunch with the kids) for the rest of your day.

2. Take Time for Yourself

Tip from Realtor.com

Most people view ‘work life balance’ as something that allows them to prioritize their family and friends without sacrificing career and ambition. But the idea of balance goes so much deeper than that. There should also be a spot in your life for relaxation, working out, and general time to yourself. Jumping straight from a meeting to a family dinner is not balance. If you want to thrive with colleagues and family, you should also take some time to be alone.

3. Focus More on Prospects

Tip from Best Reno Agents

This is imperative! We talk about nurturing your leads all the time on this blog and this is why! The highs and lows of the industry take a toll on agents and brokers. If you want to be a step ahead of the housing market, you should be prospecting at least an hour per (work)day. If you always have leads in the pipeline, you remove the main stressor from your office and can spend more time on your personal life.

4. Leverage Technology Appropriately

Tip from DotLoop

Technology is there to help! You can get organized, delegate responsibilities, cut middle-men in every aspect of your career (and sometimes even your home life) if you properly utilize the technology in your very pocket. We’ve written a list of 55 tools to help your business. We also liked this list of apps that TED Talks staff endorse.

5. Accept Work/Life Balance is NOT Work/Life Separation

Tip from 99u 

People always try to prioritize their lives in list format. Instead of thinking of the arenas in your life as first priority, second priority, etc., view them as intertwining facets that can be sustained simultaneously. View your personal life as “center” rather than “first.” Your own health will always be the focus, even in business-related decisions. For example, if your family knows that they factor into everything you do, they won’t be fazed if you take a business call while you’re out with them.

 

These are our five favorite tips for work life balance after from our real estate network. If applied, they can give you a fresh perspective on what it means to stay healthy both professionally and personally. What have you found works for YOU? Let us know in the comments below.

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