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.
Here are the top resources for great content for Realtors:
One thing to note – never, ever repost content and claim it as yours. Make sure you quote any content you use OR link directly to it! Don’t forget, some of the BEST content are your own stories and experiences!
How do you generate great content? I would love your ideas – please post your feedback!
Sources for this post were gleaned from an article written by: Katie Lance, Marketing Manager, Inman News
At a recent gathering of real estate professionals of which I was a part, a rather interesting question was posed. “Do people choose an individual real estate agent, or do they choose the brokerage for which they work?”
What really matters to our customers and clients? What really matters to you?
The broker you chose should take the approach that everything matters. Everything is important. They are only as strong as their weakest link. They must take great care to hire only the best agents. I don’t just mean those who make lots of sales or who bring in business to their offices. When I say “best”, I mean those agents who continually set higher standards for their work, to embrace innovation. I mean those who are willing to go the extra mile (and further, if necessary) for their clients and customers.
While many brokerages see fit to hire anyone with a pulse, many have no interest in merely filling their offices with bodies. They realize their agents are the ambassadors of their brand. They carry their name out into the field and their actions, good or bad, polish or tarnish their brand accordingly. Their skill, caring, and expertise are a direct reflection on the sort of business they endeavor to run.
You might ask yourself, “If I have a great agent, why should it matter to me whom he or she works for?” On the surface, that question makes sense. But scratch just below it, and it makes no sense at all.
Why does it matter? It matters because, when push comes to shove, you want someone who is backed up by resources. There are plenty of real estate brokerages who hire agents (more to the point, who collect fees from agents and do very little else) and send them on their merry way with a few yard signs, never to give them another thought. Is that the sort of company that you want representing you?
Some do things differently. Some stand behind every one of their real estate professionals. They put the strongest resources and best technology behind them. They want everyone to know that they stand for quality, not just a stable of relatively warm bodies that are doing the bare minimum. Their agents deserve their support, and their clients most certainly do as well.
When you’re embarking on what is, arguably, one of the most important decisions — financial or otherwise — of your life, why would you settle for anything less?
What do you think?
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.’
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!
Have you always wanted to write or express your opinions publicly but don’t have the time to create your own blog? Well, here’s your chance to be heard. If you would like to be a contributing writer and publish articles under your own name on the Being Bob blog please post a comment on this page.
We will contact you immediately via email with instructions how to make it happen. We’re hoping for a variety of writers and you can write about any topic that’s important to you. Let’s make it happen.
Although many may not believe it, the real estate industry is actually one of the most tech savvy industries around today. The necessity to cover numerous territories and the demand to provide all inclusive services makes the real estate professional almost dependent on the technologies available to them.
This dependency has pushed many real estate professionals to jump on new technologies and quickly become familiar with the various ways to maximize their time and build their businesses by attracting new buyers, sellers and investors. The bi-product of this trend has been a strong demand from the real estate industry for technology companies to continue pushing the envelope to build faster, more efficient and more effective real estate marketing technologies.
Technology for the real estate industry has evolved so quickly over the past 10-20 years. We can still remember pagers being ‘high-tech’. Every Realtor seemed to have had one as it allowed them to be even more accessible than most real estate professionals probably intended. These types of technologies changed the way we thought of and worked with a Realtor. Now, our real estate agent is more accessible than ever, which leaves them with less time in the day to focus on important aspects of their business, like marketing their business and their clients’ properties.
Welcome new marketing technologies that make a real estate agent’s job more about inbound lead generation and less about call volume and how many business cards can be passed out in one day.
Real Estate Technology Goes Local
Chris Thorman, who blogs about property management software at Software Advice recently posted a very interesting article titled Searching for Real Estate Made Easy: Geo-Fences and Mobile Phones. This article sparked us to look deeper into new marketing technologies and share them with our audience. We feel that technologies like the one we’re about to mention will help to change the way real estate is marketed and discovered by prospective buyers, sellers and investors.
The real estate technology market has been flooded in recent years with “location-based” applications to help buyers find properties in their area. With little variation, they all work in about the same way:
What if a prospective real estate buyer didn’t have to initiate an application to get real estate data? What if the data just came to their phone automatically?
Sound far-fetched? Well it isn’t. Advertising company, Placecast, has developed a service called ShopAlerts and we think it has very interesting implications for the real estate industry. ShopAlerts allows users to opt in to receive marketing messages on their phone from retail stores that are nearby. For example, a person would sign up for alerts from Old Navy and would automatically receive tailored text message marketing notifications each time they were close to an Old Navy store.
This could work in the same manner for the real estate industry. Users could opt in to receive alerts about specific types of properties. And when they near those properties, they cross a “geo-fence” which prompts an automatic notification to be sent to their mobile phone.
Essentially, a person lives their life and in the meantime, receives notifications about properties they’re close to that match what they want. Is this ideal marketing or what?
Where Is Real Estate Marketing Technology Headed?
The way we see it, real estate marketing is going to continue to evolve and improve to a point where just about every step of the marketing process becomes so automated that a Realtor can literally start and complete an effective marketing campaign in minutes from their phone or computer. We are a long way off from this currently, but with the addition of new technologies like the one mentioned above it will not be long before homes start marketing themselves.
We would love to get your take on these burning questions as you are the pulse of the industry. Simply drop us a comment below with your take on all of this. We will do our best to provide you with some useful insight on how to use the majority of these technologies to your advantage and how to leverage them going into the coming years and real estate market trends.
Gleaned from an article by Vinny LaBarbera