Selling a home can be a stressful experience, and it’s critically important to be aware of prevailing trends in the real-estate market and other financial considerations to keep in mind. If you expect to put your home on the block at some point in 2016, you’ll need to address the following issues and concerns to make sure that you make the best possible deal.
It’s a seller’s market …
Homeowners remember all too well the fallout that the housing bust had on real-estate prices. Even though most investors think of the financial crisis as having hit its peak in 2008 and early 2009, it took three more years for home prices to hit bottom. Yet since early 2012, prices have climbed higher, and the Case-Shiller National Home Price Index is coming within spitting distance of matching its highs from 2006 and 2007.
Where you live is a key factor in determining just how much of a seller’s market you can expect. Hot markets like San Francisco have seen some housing-boom-era practices return to favor, with many reports of bidding wars that result in offers well above the asking price. By contrast, areas where economic prospects are less favorable have never fully recovered from the housing bust. The more lucrative a region’s economic future appears to be, the easier you can expect it to be to sell a home.
… but mortgages could get more expensive
One key factor in how much sellers receive for their homes is how much buyers can afford. Low mortgage rates have helped fuel price increases in recent years, but some now fear that with the Federal Reserve having begun a new cycle of rate increases, a move higher for mortgage rates could make homes less affordable.
So far, the tiny quarter-point boost that the Fed made in mid-December hasn’t pushed mortgage rates appreciably higher. Historically, though, tightening has generally led to increased rates on mortgage loans. Sellers need to be prepared for greater difficulty for prospective buyers trying to get financing.
Tax benefits still favor home sales
The biggest tax break for ordinary taxpayers is still the exclusion on capital gains for the sale of a personal residence. Single taxpayers can exclude up to $250,000 in gains from the sale of a home from tax, and joint filers get a double-sized exclusion of $500,000.
To qualify, you have to meet a couple of tests. First, the property in question has to be your main home. In addition, to get the full exclusion, you have to have lived in the home for at least 24 months in the past five years. You can’t have claimed a home-sale exclusion on tax returns for the previous two years. In some cases, partial exclusions are available, but getting specific tax advice from your accountant or tax professional is essential to make sure you’re aware of all the tax implications of a home sale.
Get help at the right price
Most homeowners use a real-estate agent to help market and sell their homes. Historically, the typical commission on home sales was sacrosanct, but some agents have increasingly been willing to negotiate lower commissions for their services. Flat-fee brokerages have also popped up, offering a fixed cost that sellers can count on that’s often lower than the percentage-based commission would be.
The issue raises a huge debate in the real-estate community, with full-service agents arguing that they fully earn their commissions by bringing in more potential buyers and eventually getting higher sale prices. Yet with some agencies offering incentives to buyers and sellers that reduce net commission costs, sellers should realize that they have leverage in coming up with a deal that works for them.
Selling a home is a monumental event, and it can introduce a number of complicated financial considerations. Being aware of those considerations and making a plan to deal with them will help the selling process go a lot more smooth.
Success with a search engine optimization (SEO) campaign doesn’t happen overnight. There is no magic bullet that instantly boosts your search engine rankings or gets thousands of visitors to your website. Rather, real estate SEO success requires the long-term approach: gradually optimizing your online presence, creating lots of interesting content, sharing that content across social media and email, and conducting an array of other activities.
Continue reading to learn how long it takes to set up each aspect of your real estate SEO strategy, when you can expect to see the fruits of your labor, and how to maintain and enhance your standing on search engine results pages (SERPs).
From blogging and advertising to social media and email marketing, your real estate SEO tactics are all interconnected. Done right, each of these activities can help your website get found in SERPs, guide the right people to your website, and, eventually, fill your contacts database chock-full of leads. But each of these areas takes a different amount of time and requires a different approach.
Here’s the optimal order in which to take care of the marketing tasks necessary for real estate SEO success.
This is the one real estate website SEO task that’s simply a one-time deal. Securing a responsive real estate website is paramount before conducting any other SEO maneuvers. Check out website providers to determine which site is best for your online marketing needs. Look for specific functionality in sites, like a practical navigation setup and the ability to add lead capture forms. Above all, make sure it looks and functions perfectly on mobile devices.
This is important not only because Google greatly prefers to see mobile functionality for websites (so much so it created a how-to guide to maximizing sites for mobile), but also because more and more real estate searches today take place on smartphones and tablets, as evidenced in Google’s graphic below:
Switch to a responsive website if you don’t have one, then take on the content creation, optimization, and promotion activities below. You’ll thank yourself in the long run, as mobile becomes even more vital to a successful real estate SEO scheme.
Next up on the SEO priority list is conducting thorough keyword research. This is one of the core SEO activities that takes a considerable amount of time to perform and is never complete. Long-tail keywords that are popular or weak today may be the opposite next week, meaning you have to dedicate time once every few weeks to ensure you implement popular terms and phrases in your content that will help your site get found by local buyers and sellers.
Given the nature of keyword research, there is no point in time where you can say, “Well, I’ve done enough to succeed with my SEO.” It’s a necessary evil in the world of real estate search engine optimization, but one that will pay dividends over the long haul.
Next up, optimize your real estate blogging strategy. Generate lots of interesting real estate blog ideas and produce posts that appeal to your target audience. For example, compile local market data for your audience, tell buyers what to look for in properties in your area, advise sellers on how to price their homes — anything that makes you stand out as the ideal agent in your community is perfect, just be sure to use your keywords in your blog posts.
Come up with a list of 10 or so terms that are highly searched by local buyers and sellers. Use one or two focus keywords for each article. Do this many times over with your content (while continuing to research new, better keywords) and you’ll begin to improve in SERPs.
Whereas long-tail terms are optimal for blog content, landing pages on your site should focus on primary keywords — ones that are consistently searched by your audience. For instance, a long-tail term for your market may be “two-floor brownstones in Bushwick Brooklyn,” but “Brooklyn homes for sale” is likely to generate more traffic due to its more general nature.
There is no right number of landing pages to create for your website. It’s better to try several options to find those that produce the best results. Identify ones you think buyers and sellers would find most useful. For example, a lifestyle page that exhibits all of the great restaurants, theaters, nightlife spots, parks, and other amenities could help drive a considerable amount of the right traffic to your site.
Many of the same keywords you utilize in your on-page real estate SEO can also be used in your real estate advertising. Become familiar with Google AdWords and the process of researching keywords for ads — which differs in some ways from keyword research for your site. Primarily, finding the right keywords for ads is based on cost per click: The more popular and competitive a keyword is, the higher it costs to bid on it and get your ads shown above others.
Mastering real estate advertising takes dedication in terms of time and effort. Regularly find and bid on new keywords for your ads — along with creating compelling copy — and you’ll be well on your way to becoming better acquainted and proficient with AdWords. Expect this process of familiarizing yourself to take a few months.
Regarding ease of set up, one SEO task that you won’t expend much energy completing is creating your real estate social media accounts. The usual suspects like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the prime places to start, since sharing your content on those sites typically yields the best results. Don’t neglect other social platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram, though — the former of which can generate lots of real estate leads, and the latter of which can bolster your brand awareness (when used correctly).
After developing your social media presence, use social scheduling and monitoring tools to automate tweets, updates, and other posts and make it simple to track the success of your online presence. The ways in which social media affects SEO are numerous: Primarily, you can build links through social and drive traffic to your site.
Home walk-throughs, updates about local market conditions, testimonials, interviews — these are just a sample of the real estate video marketing content you can create for your site and YouTube account and, gradually, better your SEO. Whether you use a mobile app or a professional camera, videos have proven to lead to significant improvements in SERPs for pros and brands of all kinds, so start recording today.
There are several great video apps for smartphones and tablets, each of which has simple filming and editing features anyone can figure out, so don’t think you need to master some fancy video camera to get professional-looking results.
The whole point of these promotional tasks is not only to drive traffic to your site, but also to build links leading back to your site. Yes, your email recipients and social media followers may share your content on their sites, but you don’t want just anyone linking to your content. Try to get big fish — those with sites that rank highly in SERPs and have a positive online reputation in the eyes of Google and Bing — to link to and mention your content.
Develop a list of notable real estate industry members, publications, blogs, and other outlets you think would be interested in your content. Then, reach out to them to let them know you’ve created some great content. Don’t just ask them to share it, though. Rather, explain the content’s value. Asking for links only comes across as desperate and rarely leads to actual external linking, so try to build relationships with these folks to raise the chances that they will share your content.
The great news is that time invested in mastering SEO for real estate pays dividends — as long as you remain committed.
Many agents initially have roadblocks to success with real estate SEO. For instance, a study by Ascend2 found more than 40 percent of professionals working with SEO cited lack of search optimization budget and know-how as the top impediments to success with their SEO campaigns. Having said that, half of these pros stated SEO effectiveness grew for their businesses year-over-year, meaning their efforts paid off the longer they stuck with their SEO strategies.
What else do you want to know to better your real estate SEO strategy? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
New real estate marketing trends emerge daily: new social media platforms, new multimedia services, new kinds of content — and new apps. Regardless of the mobile device(s) you own, there are brand-spankin’-new apps added every day that you can download and instantly use to market to your audience on your real estate website and social channels. A fast-evolving segment of the app development industry is video recording.
New tools that allow for unique filters, quick editing, and loads of other interesting features make it simple for real estate agents to record Spielberg-approved video. Below are 10 of the latest and greatest video recording apps that can transform your real estate videos into masterpieces (well, very short masterpieces anyway).
Let’s get the big players out of the way. Instagram added its video function in 2013, and it’s safe to say it’s a widely used feature among Instagrammers everywhere. In fact, there were 5 million Instagram videos published within its first 24 hours of operation. Use the app’s three-to-15-second length to highlight the main attributes of your listings and include them on your real estate website. What’s made video even more appealing for the app’s users is the recent introduction of Hyperlapse: time-lapse videos for those who don’t have the $4,000 equipment necessary to create professional-looking lapse recordings. While it’s unclear how agents can take advantage of this tool, it’s still worth playing around with to develop ideas for your real estate marketing. (Note: You need to download the separate Hyperlapse app to use it — the regular Instagram app doesn’t support it.)
What can you do with six seconds? A lot, actually, as proven by the innumerable Vine users worldwide. Data from June 2013 shows Vine videos were found in nine tweets every second. It’s clear the app’s proponents keep finding new, interesting ways to use the app — particulalry brands and professionals. Just as noted for Instagram video, consider showing off homes for sale with Vine. Also consider using the app to show off your personality, like joking with fellow agents at your brokerage or enjoying a property tour with some clients. Nobody wants a stuffy real estate agent, so showing off your lighter side could put you in a more positive light with leads and real estate website visitors.
Now onto the lesser-known options. First up is Camera Plus, which offers several distinct features — chief of which is the AirSnap function. This allows users to connect two iOS devices: one to use as a remote control while the other device operates the app. So if you want to get a shot of you and your buyers right after you’ve closed a deal, set up your iPad on a tripod and use your iPhone to snap the pic from several feet away. You could end up with some snazzy shots to add your real estate website homepage. And that’s not all. You can also:
Back when music videos aired on MTV, many viewers aspired to emulate the videos of their favorite musicians. Magisto is just about as close as many of these people will come to creating high-quality music videos. The app is unique in that, when you’re done recording video and upload it to the Magisto website, its algorithms influence the final product’s development. The makers behind Magisto created Emotion Sense Technology, as they’ve branded it, which helps identify emotions of those in the video and, in turn, edits it accordingly to strike the right mood users desire — visually and audibly. While Magisto adds appropriate effects to your recording, you get to choose a song to play in your “movie.”
Bottom line: This app is ideal for real estate agents who want to tell stories about their clients and their enjoyable experiences working with them to find the home of their dreams.
You get the best of both worlds with ProCam, which offers users clear navigation for its photo and video features. The app allows you to record video and snap shots while doing so. Once you’re done, use the myriad editing components to make your multimedia stand out. ProCam offers, well, pro features, including steady-cam which prevents shaky shots, spot focus and lock to accurately record your video subject, and the ability to create time-lapse and slow-motion videos. If you’re looking for a fully loaded video app that takes mere minutes to learn and use, you’ve found it.
Arguably the most social app listed here, Viddy affords users the chance to record 30-second long videos, with the stop-and-start editing (a la Vine), and edit them accordingly for color, brightness, scene order, and aspect ratio, among other things. Then, users can share their recordings on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in seconds and even add in a hashtag or two to increase their findability. Ideally, this app could help you show off your listings or even provide short, to-the-point advice for your audience. Want to quickly express your thoughts about your local market, the national real estate industry, or a how-to tip buyers and sellers would enjoy? Record yourself with Viddy on the go. Who says you need a script for real estate video production?
Multiple high-resolution displays, a sharp zoom-in feature, an adjustable frame rate tool, and video stabilization make Videon an optimal real estate video app for agents. It works with iPhone 4 and up, though the app-maker Lucky Clan notes many of its features tend to work best on the most recent iOS devices. Regardless of which device version you own, though, Videon offers plenty to help your craft professional-looking real estate video marketing collateral to post on YouTube, your website, and on social media.
You can’t go wrong with an app that was just purchased by Google and is joining forces with YouTube. Directr is becoming well-known for allowing small companies and solo professionals to produce stunning videos — short films, really — that effectively promote their businesses. Record as much video as you need with Directr and trim, slice, and modify your audio and video accordingly with just a few swipes. And if you’re worried about keeping your videos saved and organized (aside from use on your real estate website), you’re in luck: Directr keeps its users’ videos stored in the cloud.
When you’ve won a video app of the year award from two different esteemed organizations, it’s a crystal clear indication that app is pretty good. The “Pro” in its title may give some the impression this app is difficult to master. That’s not the case, though. A clean interface that aptly displays all of the app’s numerous functions — including 4-times zoom, audio metering, and three different shooting modes — makes recording real estate video on FiLMiC Pro a walk in the park. The second you finish your mini film, you can share it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Vimeo. Cinegenix, the app’s creator, even has aneducational and entertaining blog that shows recording tips, advice for video gear to use, and use cases of its app in action.
Last and most definitely not least is Spark Camera, a fantastic video recording app from award-winning global design firm Ideo. The company’s Toy Lab, which developed the app, has even gone so far to call it “the first app we’ve built purposely for adults.” The app automatically edits clips together, has an easy-to-upload functionality for social media, and allows for musical soundtracks, making it an agent’s dream. Real estate branding becomes painless and even enjoyable thanks to Spark Camera. No fuss, no muss — the app makes real estate video marketing uncomplicated.
How do you use video in your real estate marketing? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.