5 Summer Projects That Will Improve Your Home and Boost Its Value

You already know that remodeling is a great way to improve your home’s appearance and raise your property value. The question is: Which improvements are worth tackling today? Here are five that you can easily complete before the leaves start falling.

1. Add a Deck 

deck

Creating enticing outdoor living spaces is one of the hottest trends in home improvement. When it comes to outdoor living spaces, the right deck makes all the difference, and is especially important for those who prefer to spend most of their summers relaxing or entertaining outside. However, adding a deck does more than improve your yards livability, a well-designed deck improves your home’s value and is a feature that has the potential to really set your house apart. Tackling the project now ensures you’ll be able to enjoy your new deck this summer and for summers to come.

 

2. Upgrade Your Air Conditioning 

air conditionerMaybe you’re tired of paying those exorbitant utility bills. Or perhaps you’re tired of having no air conditioning whatsoever. If so, an A/C upgrade is a home improvement worth making. From lowering your bills to improving the comfort and salability of your home, installing a new high-efficiency air conditioning system is one home improvement you’ll be glad you made. Concerned about the price? Getting quotes from at least three HVAC pros will ensure you get the best price. They’ll also be able to tell you about any rebates that your local utility might be running – making your new air conditioner a lot more affordable than you expect.

3. Replace Your Siding

Siding is responsible for protecting your home from the elements. It’s no surprise then that worn out siding can really affect your home’s appearance. Equally unsurprising is that replacing your siding can greatly improve your home’s appearance and increase your property value.

When considering replacement siding, look to your environment for clues as to which choice is right for you. In the southwest, stucco offers a regional look and provides extraordinary durability; in the northeast, wood (or vinyl that looks like wood but requires less maintenance) will give your home a more classic look. However, don’t just consider your climate, consider your neighborhood, too. If every house on the block is clad in vinyl siding, would stone or brick set your house apart or make it stick out? A siding pro will be able to help you figure out the right siding solution for your needs and your budget.

4. Replace Your Roofing

roof

If your roof has been hit by severe weather or is simply at the end of its lifecycle, installing a new roof is a project best completed sooner than later (or immediately if your roof has been severely damaged and is leaking). So, what do you need to know about replacing your roof? First, talk to your insurance agent to see if the replacement is covered by insurance. Second, make sure you talk to at least three roofing pros before making the hiring decision (HomeAdvisor is here to help you find a roofing pro you can trust to get the job done right). Third, your new roof’s durability will be directly related to its cost. Asphalt is the most affordable and the quickest to wear out; tile and slate are the most durable and by far the most expensive. Metal falls somewhere in the middle; its quick installation, moderate price, and 40+ year life expectancy make it a popular choice among homeowners who want a good balance of value and durability. To find the best solution for your home and budget, we recommend talking to a roofing pro.

5. Improve Your Landscaping

landscaping

No list of remodeling projects is complete without mentioning landscaping. For good reason too, as a well-designed and properly installed landscaping plan can have a big impact on your home’s curb appeal and value. However, in many cases improving your landscaping involves more than adding plants and cutting the grass, especially if you’re looking to make significant changes or have challenging design features to work around. We recommend talking to a landscape designer or landscaping pro to figure out the best solution for your yard and your budget.

Pick Your Project and Go

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your to-do list. The key is to prioritize your list of needs and wants to focus your attention on the project that makes the most sense right now (obviously, any roofing or siding issues affecting the structural integrity of your home need to be addressed ASAP). On that note, if you’ve been considering that new deck or new air conditioner, there’s no time like the present to get started. After all, completing the project now means you get to relax and enjoy the rest of your summer.

The Key to Saving Money in Real Estate: Property Maintenance

The Key to Saving Money in Real Estate: Property Maintenance

 

 
 

For many investors, spending money on maintenance is like pulling a tooth … avoid at all costs and spend as little as possible.

However, I would argue that proper maintenance typically equates to fewer emergency repairs and less damage in the long run. The longer you leave a problem the more damage that can occur and the more money you end up spending.

Here are a list of items that should be watched closely and properly maintained in an effort to prevent more expensive future repairs.

Foundation Care

The foundation of your rental property is an area that is most exposed to the possibility of water seepage and costly repairs.

It is important to watch how the land slopes in relation to the foundation and attempt to obtain as much slope away from the foundation as possible. The last thing you want is for water to drain toward the foundation wall and puddle, slowly seeping into the building.

Over time, this can cause major damage to the foundation, your basement or crawl space (not to mention mold and mildew issue as well).

 

Roof/Gutters

There are several things to watch out for when it comes to the roof.

You want to look for red flags such as missing shingles, damaged flashing and any clear signs of damage to the roof. Another thing that can cause damage to your roof over time is moisture.

You want to be sure that the roof doesn’t show any signs of moss, mold or piles of debris as this can breed moisture below and cause major damage to the roof by way of wood rot.

You also want to be sure that you have fully functioning attic vents as well as quality insulation in order to prevent your roof from experiencing excessive moisture or heat.

Gutters can also be a big source of problems if they are not utilized properly and well maintained. If the building doesn’t have any, consider installing them. This can help protect the face of the property, keep windows and other exterior items free from harm, and provide you with the means to control diverting rainwater away from the foundation.

If you have gutters you want to be sure that you have them free of debris at all times. This can typically be managed through regular gutter cleanings, especially during and after Fall.

Check over the gutters to be sure that they are fastened correctly to the building and that they have no gaps that can cause a slow down or redirection of the water flow.

Landscaping and Trees

Many people assume that landscaping is purely esthetic, but having a well landscaped property can actually protect the property as well.

Take time to look over the trees in the yard and be sure that they are not touching any of the buildings or structures. A tree can easily rub against a building, causing long term damage while limbs and leaves can cause moisture build up on the roof as well.

Not to mention the fact that large trees next to the property are always one strong storm away from falling on the residence and causing major damage.

Another thing to watch for with regard to your landscaping is the proximity of shrubs and plants are to the building itself. These can attract rodents and animals that want to live in them or use them to get to your roof and into your building.

Shrubs and bushes that are touching the building can also provide an area that is likely to retain moisture that comes from the vegetation. This can cause mold, mildew and ultimately rot. Make sure that there is no dead wood (even when used for landscaping purposes) too close to the building as this tends to attract insects (particularly termites) to the building.

Window/Siding

If you have vinyl siding on your building, you want to be sure it is in good repair with no areas that are cracked or broken – which can allow moisture and pests into the home.

You also want to take the time to make sure all wooden siding is properly sealed and painted to prevent exposure to the elements. Keep a close eye out for areas of the siding that have blistering or peeling paint. It is possible that you have some moisture or ventilation issues within the home if you spot these.

Windows are another area where you can lose significant money without proper maintenance. The windows should all be sealed properly and weatherproof sealant should be applied to any gaps around the frame.

Improperly sealed windows not only cause energy loss, but can also be a source of moisture damage.

 

Plumbing Leaks

Maintaining the plumbing in a rental property is a good way to save money as well.

Small leaks that occur on the property can very quickly turn into much bigger problems and can result in an emergency call to a plumber. By keeping an eye on any small leaks and addressing quickly, you will not only save on major repairs later, but you will be saving energy and water in the process.

HVAC

If your property has an HVAC unit, you want to make sure that you keep up on regular maintenance.

This might including having a service professional visit the unit regularly to oil all moving parts and make sure that it is running efficiently.

Simple actions such as changing out the filters in the unit can help you keep the unit running longer and save you costly repairs or even replacement later. Replacing the filters should really be done on a monthly basis but definitely not less than every 3 months.

Smoke Detectors

Every property should have properly functioning smoke detectors and perhaps carbon monoxide detectors.

As a matter of fact, many building codes require that you have these systems functioning in order to rent the property. Keeping these items maintained is easy and well worth the time.

Simply changing the battery regularly and testing the function of the devices can ensure that they are working properly. Overlooking this small maintenance item can be a huge liability for you personally as well as the house itself.

Keeping up with all of the different maintenance items on a property may seem daunting at first. I recommend creating a list of tasks, when they should be accomplished and the person responsible for the job.

This can take the difficulty out of the process and help landlords stay organized – especially if there are multiple properties to keep up with.

Taking the time to make sure that your rental property is well maintained is simply part of the responsibility of owning investment property. Not only does it make good business sense, it will likely save you money in the long run.

Has neglecting property maintenance ever cost you money?

Be sure to leave your comments below!

18 Ways to Make Selling Your Home Easier

Curb appeal is that undefinable something that draws you to a home at a glance. It is a combination of visual charm, visibly good upkeep, attention paid to landscaping and, especially, an inviting entry.  If your home lacks curb appeal, many prospective buyers will reject it without looking further. You also may be unable to price it as high as an equivalent home with great exterior appeal. A small budget goes a long way, especially if you do some jobs yourself. Here are 18 ways to bump up your home’s curb appeal:

1. Bust Clutter

“Clutter,” of course, is in the eye of the beholder, so think of it this way: Buyers need to imagine your home as their own, with their possessions and their style. Go for a clean, streamlined look:

  • Remove bikes, skateboards, trash cans, garden tools and other evidence of bustling family life.
  • Circle the house with a big garbage can, tossing scraps of paper and plastic, branches, leaves, dog waste and anything else that doesn’t belong in the yard.
  • Edit your home’s exterior. Eliminate all but a few carefully chosen pots and pieces of outdoor furniture.

2. Tour the Neighborhood

Walk, bike or drive around your neighborhood for inspiration. It’s useful to see what works in the homes surrounding yours; you’ll want it to fit nicely into the neighborhood style.

Look for simple ideas you can replicate easily for landscaping, paint and plant colors, walkways and entries.

3. Freshen the Entry

  • Clean the front door and give it a couple of coats of paint. Repair, replace or remove damaged screen or storm doors.
  • Remove everything, including furniture and pots, from the porch, deck or entry and give the entire area a thorough cleaning. Include: decking or floor, around and above the door, rafters, railings, moldings and steps. Repaint or touch up where needed.
  • Consider a new or custom front door to give the home a well-tended look. Polish metal knobs and fixtures. Place a big planted pot on each side of the front door.

4. Add Front Door Color

A bright note of contrasting color can bring a home’s front door to life. The trick is to choose colors that complement your home’s exterior landscaping and colors.

House Beautiful’s slide show offers ideas for contemporary paint color choices. Better Homes & Gardens explains how to choose a front door color that works with your home.

5. Add Living Space Outdoors

If your porch, deck or garden allows, install furnishings that expand the home’s living space into the outdoors. Outdoor rooms are a trendy attraction for homebuyers. Suggestions: Add an inexpensive indoor-outdoor rug, a porch swing, deck furniture, mood lighting, dining or barbecuing areas or an outdoor bar. This Old House has 39 ideas for creating outdoor living areas on a budget.

6. Repaint the Exterior

Repainting the outside of your home isn’t a low-budget option. But if the home is ready for a paint job and you can swing it, boy, does a new coat of paint ever pump up the curb appeal. Use your neighborhood tour to research colors and shades that appeal to you and fit in with neighbors’ homes. If you see a paint color you like, ask the homeowner for the color name and brand.

7. Paint Trim

If you can’t paint the entire home, paint the trim – or just the window trim – in an accent color for plenty of pop.

8. Replace Entry Fixtures

It’s amazing how new exterior light fixtures can update a home. The old fixtures may seem dated and unappealing to a buyer.

While you’re at it, replace the house numbers, the entry door lock set and front-door mailbox with new ones in the same style. Brushed nickel gives a contemporary look, while an oiled bronze finish works well in traditional homes.

9. Power Wash

Rent a power washer if you don’t own one and clean decks, carport and pavement. If you can’t repaint, use a power washer carefully to clean and brighten the home’s siding. Power washers can damage wood if used incorrectly, so get instructions from your rental company.

10. Clean & Repair Paving

Patch and repair concrete and asphalt paving. Apply a new coat of sealer to asphalt. Spread a fresh layer of gravel on gravel drive and paths.

11. Clean the Windows

Have windows cleaned or do it yourself, but don’t put your home on the market without sparkling windows, inside and out.

12. Clean & Repair the Roof

If your roof has moss, weeds or mold, clean it until it looks great from the street. Replace missing or broken shakes or tiles. Clean the gutters.

13. Mow, Weed & Trim

Keep the lawn carefully mowed. Spend a weekend shaping, pruning and cutting back overgrown shrubs. Mow neglected and overgrown areas. Prune trees and remove limbs hanging over the house. Weed gardens thoroughly and cover beds in mulch or compost.

14. Add High-Impact Landscaping

Tasteful landscaping can define a home’s exterior. Better Homes & Gardens says, in a slide show on boosting curb appeal, “Surround a walkway with midsize shrubs and flowers; passers-by will notice plant groupings more than individual flowers, making greater streetside impact.”

Also, get instant results by installing a few trees in pots to fill holes or bare spots in the landscaping. Frame the front door or entrance with symmetrical pots holding small trees or medium-sized perennial plants. If your budget is limited, concentrate your purchases on buying plants to create a beautiful entrance.

15. Improve the Lawn

It’s hard to make a home look great when the lawn is weedy or sickly. Boost your lawn’s health:

  • Fertilize with compost or a spare application of commercial fertilizer.
  • Set mower blades high.
  • Keep the mower well maintained and the blades sharp.
  • Water once or twice a week, a total of an inch a week, in the early morning.
  • Let clippings fall onto the lawn for nourishment.
  • Replace the lawn with new sod if the damage is intensive.

16. Shrink the Lawn

Homebuyers today are all about low maintenance. Reduce the maintenance and the water bill by removing a section of lawn and replacing it with drought-tolerant landscaping.

Create new garden beds filled with low-water plantings, stone pavers and gravel paths. Another low-maintenance amenity sure to prove attractive to buyers: Install an irrigation system.

17. Install Outdoor Lighting

Path lighting is an inexpensive, high-impact upgrade. You can install it yourself. Use a low-voltage outdoor system or skip the wiring altogether and use individual solar path lights. The solar lights are less bright but path lighting doesn’t require blazing light, only visual cues for safety and attractiveness.

Another lighting upgrade: Replace or add lighting fixtures on the home or garage exterior. Again, skip glaring floodlights. They can be blinding, creating a hazard.

18. Edge the Garden

Adding a border or edging to paths and garden beds gives landscaping a clean, professional appearance and adds to curb appeal. You have a choice of many materials, including stone, concrete, manufactured stone, wood, brick and metal edging. Be wary of plastic edging. It can look cheap and flimsy, turning off buyers.

This post originally appeared on Money Talks News.

What a Real Estate Agent Won’t Tell You

 

A good real estate agent is very familiar with the neighborhoods where he or she shows properties. But because of legislation called the Fair Housing Act, the agent can’t legally share all of that information with you.

Why the restrictions? The government wants to make sure that home purchase decisions are based on a property’s fair market value and not factors such as race, religion or ethnicity. In other words, the law is meant to stop agents from steering clients toward or away from certain neighborhoods.

What can’t a real estate agent discuss with a buyer? We asked Scott Klein, an agent based in New York City, to give us a rundown on the topics that are off-limits.

The Do-Not-Ask List Neighborhood Scout, for example, you can get a description of a neighborhood’s “look, feel and character” that includes information about residents’ age, income level, ethnicity and other factors.

Household income: Wondering if a neighborhood is considered upscale? Don’t bother asking your agent. Klein says he can’t discuss economic class with prospective buyers.

But it’s relatively easy to find demographic information online, including average household income for a particular area. At

Schools: As with income level, sharing information about schools “might be perceived as steering someone into a certain neighborhood,” says Klein. “However, as a Realtor I can direct people to sources of information about education in that area.”

Here, too, the web offers prospective home buyers a wealth of information. Buyers can find useful school statistics, including enrollment, class size, and reading and math scores, at sites like School Matters and Great Schools.

Religion: The religious makeup of a neighborhood is another topic that’s off-limits for real estate agents to discuss. If a buyer wants to find out about active religious communities in a particular neighborhood, Klein directs them to local houses of worship for information.

Crime statistics: Surely an agent can answer questions about local crime statistics, right? That’s pretty public information. But it turns out that even this data is considered a sensitive topic under the Fair Housing Act.

Once again, buyers have to do their own research to find out if a certain neighborhood is considered safe. Homebuyers can find crime statistics online, including where sex offenders live, by logging onto Family Watchdog.

Klein also recommends that his clients pay a visit to the local police precinct and walk around the neighborhood to get a feel for it at during different times of the day.

Environmental concerns: A buyer would want to know if, say, a home is located near a Superfund site. In general, a real estate agent isn’t going to be much help when it comes to neighborhood environmental issues. Buyers will need to figure this out on their own. One way is to visit the EPA’s web site, which includes a database of environmental information, searchable by Zip code.

The one exception to this rule is if there is an environmental problem with a specific home. “If it pertains to that particular property, and it’s something I have knowledge of, I am required to disclose that,” Klein says.

So why use an agent if you have to do so much information-gathering yourself? An agent can show you homes, guide you through the buying process from start to finish and help you negotiate the best deals with sellers.

Posted By Stacey Bradford AOL Real Estate

God Made a Realtor!

Ways To Use Social Media For Real Estate

Over the past two years, real estate professionals have found creative ways to overcome the real estate crisis, including finding innovative uses for social media. After facing drops in home sales well into 2010, real estate pros have been forced to utilize their offline skills in an increasingly social way online. By using photo and video sharing to enhance listings, along with professional networking sites to hone their sales skills, real estate veterans have made strides in moving inventory in tough times.

Agents, brokers and realtors have found successes in lead generation, sales and brand building through use of mass audience social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Meetup, and LinkedIn, as well as real estate specific platforms, like Trulia, Zillow, WellcomeMat and Architizer.

Whether they are sharing videos, listings or advice with their communities and prospective buyers or sellers, real estate pros are making progress in using social media for real results.


The core goal of real estate pros utilizing social media is to attract sellers looking to list their homes or buyers looking to purchase homes. Naturally, the 1.0 version of social media for real estate is setting up pages on social networks that fit your company’s content and audience.

The main thing real estate companies are seeing is that the quality of the referral traffic back into their main website has significantly increased. Not only are they seeing more traffic coming in, but visitors coming in from social media sites are staying longer and looking at more things — something they had also seen with search engines but not in such large numbers. Companies have generated business through both Facebook and Twitter. People engaging agents directly on Facebook in particular has been increasing significantly over the past few months.

Sharing Listings, Tours, and Showings

In the real estate world, listings, open houses and tours are the main stepping stones towards making a sale, and the digital world has made those steps much easier. While an occasional listing may be appreciated by your social media community, many experts advocate engaging your audience with industry knowledge and an expert perspective, rather than alienating users with useless information. Because there are so many factors that must align to make a listing pertinent to a single customer, such as pricing, location and size, there is a high probability that most listings do not pertain to most people in a given social media audience.

James Kimmons, real estate business expert on About.com, advises real estate pros to refrain from overwhelming their followers and connections with real estate listings. He advises,

“Promote you, your business, and your expertise in your local area real estate market. Do it with market commentary, education and statistics. Link out to your IDX search page, because a lot of your visitors will want to look at listings at some point, just not your listing du jour.”

There are many sites with specialized sections for real estate professionals to lend their expertise, such as Trulia Voices and Zillow Advice. Both sites are frequented by prospective home buyers, on the search for answer about topics ranging from pricing and relocating to financing and closing. A typical question on either site will yield quite a few answers from agents or brokers specializing in a specific geographic region or area of real estate. This type of interaction with folks on the market is a great way to build a credible reputation and build brand recognition for future consideration.

YouTube also presents a valid platform for sharing real estate tips. Maintains a YouTube channel full of videos on monthly real estate reports, real estate advice and current company events. Use this to build a base of subscribers.

If you are a real estate professional, keep an eye out ways you to showcase your expertise and local knowledge. You should start to see an increase in interaction, as you provide useful, relevant information to others.


Connecting with Other Real Estate Professionals

In order to improve upon their skills and network in the industry, real estate professionals are using social networks specific to their industry. Some of these networks include ActiveRain and The Flipping Pad. More well-known social networks, including Meetup, Flickr and LinkedIn are provide space for real estates pros to connect and learn from one another. Other group settings on social networks, such as the National Association of REALTORS on LinkedIn, or the Photography for Real Estate group on Flickr, are great places to connect with specialized professionals in the real estate industry.

From connecting with buyers and sellers to networking with industry peers and lending expert advice, there are many ways to utilize social media as a real estate professional.

What are your tips for using social media in the real estate industry?

How do you talk with your parents about moving?

Here’s my very best advice.

Don’t. As least not yet. (For my REALTOR friends reading this…No, I’m not crazy).


Before you sit down and have one of those discussions with your aging parents, I would ask you to walk through this exercise and see if you really do need to have that discussion.

First, ask yourself, why do you want your parents to move?

a) I want my parents to move closer to me so I don’t have to drive so far to visit.

b) My parents call me numerous times during the week to ask me to do things for them, and I’m just too busy. They would not have to call me as much if they were in a building where other’s could help them.

c) My parents are no longer able to take care of the house. They seem to be doing okay otherwise, but the house needs a lot of fixing up.

d) I’m worried about my parent’s safety.

Here are some thoughts you might consider.  If you answered:

A. It can be nerve wracking to worry about your parents and not be able to be with them as often as you like. Unless your parent has told you they would like to be closer to you and/or the grandchildren, this is NOT the reason to have a conversation about your parent moving. If the concern is really a lack of a support system for your parent, check with the County, and local block nurse programs to see if you can arrange for companionship for your parent. There are also companies that provide companion care, be sure you check for references before you hire anyone.

B. Are your parents: lonely? or do they REALLY need your help?

There are two things we all need to get along in life. First, we all need a sense of community; a support system, to know that we matter to someone. Are you getting frequent calls because your parent’s friends have all moved out of the neighborhood and there’s no one else for them to call?

Second, we all need safety and security. These phone calls could be due to a sense of insecurity due to being alone, or there could be some items around the house that really do need to be taken care of to make sure your parent is safe in their home. When my parents call me to come over to set the time on the VCR, I know they feel like it’s been too long since my last visit (even it it’s only been a few days). Spend some time thinking about this because one requires a hug, and one requires a handyman.

c) If your parents want to stay in the home, and they have the means to take care of the items that need to be fixed for the house to be safe, why shouldn’t they stay?  Sometimes, however, seniors stay too long in their homes.

d) If the safety concerns are about your parent being alone, check into some companion care. If the safety concerns are about the decline of the neighborhood or your parents attention to details or their balance, perhaps in home health care or a move make more sense.

It’s easy for our emotions to get in the way when we are dealing with family members and loved ones.  Try to remember your parents really only owe you one thing…that’s piece of mind. As long as they have put measures in place to provide for their safety, whether they move or not should be THEIR decision.

Any thoughts or expertise in this area would be welcome here. Leave a comment please.

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Posted in All Posts & Comments Stuff by Being BOB. No Comments

Building Your Personal Brand

Nobody likes someone who is an ego-maniac.  However, a lot of real estate agents get a bad rap, because some agents think that to build a great personal brand, they need to talk about how great they are.  This is very put offish for many people – especially your Gen X and Gen Y clients who are slow to trust and quick to judge anyone who calls themselves an ‘expert.’

Personal branding – the art of packaging and presenting yourself has become so vital to both career and business development – especially as a real estate agent.

 

Here are some simple strategies that real estate agents can use to instantly set themselves apart from the pack:

 

 

 

 Craft a Compelling Pitch

You need to be able to clearly define yourself, and sum up precisely what it is you do, in 30 seconds or less. When in doubt, make a simple bullet point list of the skills you excel at. Ask yourself: How do I see myself? Your pitch needs to be brief, to the point.

Take Control of Your Your Name

Input your name or your business’s name in Google, and see what comes up. It’s vital that the majority of results that appear – especially the first ones, all speak to the same clear message. You should not only own a website with your personal name as the domain (a given, right?!) – you should also have profiles on all major social networking services (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn) under the same name. Even if you plan to do nothing else on social media – as a minimum – set up your profile.

Create Strong Branding Platforms

Personal branding is about establishing yourself as someone that brings unique, indispensable real estate services and skills to the table. You need to create platforms (blogs, Facebook pages, online video channels, etc.) that can help broadcast your skills and experience to as many people as possible. All of these platforms should also be stamped with your signature name, logo and imagery. Once built, it pays to pump out content through them that illustrates your expertise.

Be Generous with Your Time

Acts of kindness and generosity serve to generate goodwill and help build invaluable relationships and contacts that can pay off immeasurably. Charitable work presents great opportunities to establish trust, grow your personal/professional network and make a positive impact – you never know when it might lead to a vital mention or referral. Go above and beyond the call of duty. It doesn’t just speak to personal values and work ethic. It also presents a prime opportunity to demonstrate your expertise.

Accessibility is the Name of the Game

Whether using blog posts, tweets or your professional Facebook page, accessibility is the name of the game. Not only do people need to know you’re out there – they also need to know where and how to reach you, that you’re available to connect as needed and will respond to requests for outreach in a timely fashion. This doesn’t mean having to broadcast your personal information to the world or staying up until 3 a.m. responding to 200 e-mails . But it does necessitate that you not build too many layers of insulation between yourself and incoming queries, and be respectful of acknowledging people’s questions and feedback (even if it’s just through a series of blog posts).

 

The bottom line: If you want to be a go-to real estate agent, you’ve got to earn people’s trust. That means being genuine, listening and responding quickly!

Bonus tip #1: At some point you will want to work with a professional designer or your broker’s marketing department to help create your brand for you – i.e. your look, logo, imagery, etc. Don’t take a short-cut! Using their expertise will help save you time and money in the long-haul!

Bonus tip #2: Be respectful of your brokerage’s brand and image. Although you are independent, pay attention to style guides and/or branding standards your brokerage has published. There are so many ways to differentiate and brand yourself but still stay within your brokerage branding guidelines.
Would love your comments and feedback – please leave me a comment below!


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Want my best real estate marketing tip?

Want a real estate marketing tip?


Use real world client testimonials.

Adding testimonials can add credibility to a real estate marketing program. When the testimonial comes from a known source, like a neighbor, that power increases tenfold. So how do you go about using testimonials?


An easy but effective formula:

  1. Place a testimonial at the top of your piece, in headline fashion.
  2. Followed up with your message, giving specifics of the transaction — the number of interested buyers that came through, the time it took to get a contract.
  3. Then offer to help the reader in the same way.
  4. End with your offer and call-to-action.

Create a testimonial “harvesting” system:

The easier your testimonial gathering system is, the more likely you’ll do it on a regular basis. Put something down on paper. Map it out. Make it a point to solicit a testimonial from each client, a number of days after the transaction.

Follow your timeline consistently. And be sure you make it clear how you will use the testimonial (simply by using the phrase “in my marketing efforts”).

Use your client’s full name and address whenever possible. When you write a testimonial-request email or letter (or call them on the phone), ask if you can include their full name and address. Explain that it makes the testimonial more believable than something signed by “B. K. from Liverpool”

For example, if you lived at 344 Elm Street, Syracuse, NY, which of the following testimonials would capture more of your attention:

One signed by J. Riley, Syracuse, NY?

Or one signed by John and Beth Riley, 357 Elm Street, Syracuse, NY?

Send thank-you cards or a small gift to testimonial providers. This will boost your referral rate. Besides, it’s just plain nice (and there’s plenty of room for nice in today’s business world).

Use the complete testimonial:

Open your newspaper up to the movies section and you’ll see testimonials that look like this:

“…great…”

“…superb…”

“…astounding…”

Besides the fact that these snippets are worthless, what’s the first thing they bring to mind? If you’re like me, you might say they look like they’ve been taken out of context by a tricky writer. Use the full testimonial, or at least the full sections that are most applicable.

Testimonials carry more power than anything you might say about yourself. Create a simple harvesting system and follow it consistently. Be honest about your intentions. Send a thank-you card or small gift.



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Avoid House Marketing Mistakes When Selling in a Slow Market

When real estate markets cool down, typically inventory increases and the number of buyers decrease. Slowing market conditions make it more difficult to sell homes, yet some homes still sell. So, why do some homes gets offers and others sit on the market? The answer has very little to do with the home itself, as I’ve heard real estate agents claim. More likely it lies within the poor quality of the marketing efforts. Here are mistakes I see sellers and their agents repeat over and over. Don’t let it happen to you.

 

BAD MARKETING: Uploading Badly Shot Photographs Online

Pictures speak volumes and are noticed before the written word. Since it’s the first thing a potential buyer will see, why leave a bad first impression? The job of a photo is to entice the buyer to want to see more of the home in person. It should not give the buyer a reason to cross the home off her list. Don’t publish photos like these:

Pictures too dark with drapes / blinds closed

Photos turned sideways

Photos of cluttered rooms

Uncropped photos with unnecessary elements in the pictures

Photos of pets sleeping on the sofa

Not submitting enough photos — or uploading only one unflattering photo of the front of the house

High resolution photos without adjusting pixels for the Internet

 

BAD MARKETING: Withholding Important Information or Descriptive Comments

When there are tons of homes on the market, simply tossing out a property address while noting the numbers of bedrooms and baths is insufficient information for a home buyer. It doesn’t tell a buyer why she should make an appointment to see the home. Good marketing tells a buyer why this particular home is better than the dozens of others on the market. Sellers should focus on:

 

GOOD MARKETING

What makes the home unique?

What was the motivating factor that made the seller buy the home in the first place?

How can a negative factor be addressed that will accentuate its positive attributes?

 

BAD MARKETING: Underestimating the Importance of Broker / Agent Previews

Just like buyers, agents don’t have the time to look at every home on the market. So, what can you do to entice them to come see yours? Because agents are more likely to sell a house they have toured, sellers need to attract selling agents.

 GOOD MARKETING

Catered lunches. Go beyond the ordinary sandwiches and bottled water. Food motivates, and don’t let anybody kid you about this. Be creative with culinary selections.

Offer drawings for small gifts or gift certificates.

Give online certificates  that can be immediately e-mailed.

 

BAD MARKETING: Restricting Access for Showings

If an agent can’t easily show your home, she is going to show another agent’s listing instead. Don’t give an agent a reason to pass up your home. Any of these can hamper showings:

No lockbox on the property

Restricted hours to show

24-hour notice

By appointment only

 GOOD MARKETING

Call first, lock box

 

BAD MARKETING: Offering Less Commission Than Other Listings

It’s not that agents are greedy creatures who show only high-fee listings–which is against the law, although some are highly motivated solely by income–but agents tend to view lower-commissioned listings as those in which the seller isn’t very motivated to sell.

If the seller isn’t motivated, it could mean the seller isn’t willing to negotiate on price.

In slow moving markets, buyers expect to negotiate.

Agents whose buyers want to negotiate will show only listings where negotiation is possible.

 

BAD MARKETING: Not Including Buyer Incentives

Some multi-million-dollar listings offer sports cars as a home buyer incentive, but it doesn’t have to be anything that expensive. An incentive doesn’t even need to cost the seller if the home price is structured to account for the discount. Here are typical incentives:

 GOOD MARKETING

$$ credit toward the buyer’s closing costs

Home protection plan

Pre-paid homeowner association fees for a year

Buy-down mortgage interest rate

Weekend getaway for two

 

BAD MARKETING: Saying No to Social Networking Advertising

You can’t keep your home sale a secret and expect to sell it. Whether you pay for advertising or your agent does, you need to let everyone know it is for sale.  An effective way to advertise for FREE is on social networks like Facebook.

 GOOD MARKETING

Post your listings on your Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Use Pictures in all your ads either in print or on the web.

 

BAD MARKETING: Saying No to Virtual or Guided Tours

Buyers today begin their home searches online. There is no better way to initially view a home than in the comfort of one’s own pajamas at home in front of the computer, looking at a 360-degree or narrated tour. Some buyers won’t even consider a property listing if it doesn’t include a  tour.  

 GOOD MARKETING

Minimum of four high resolution photos that buyers can also print themselves.

Ability to download tours so buyers can e-mail the pictures or links to the tours to friends / family.

 

I’m sure I have let out many great ideas. If you know of other mistakes and or great ideas, please share them here.

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Posted in Listings Real Estate Technology by Being BOB. No Comments

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