Category Archives: Real Estate Marketing

Photos Bomb

Each week I make a point of checking out the newest listings in my area. I do this for two reasons. First, it is important that I keep up on what the pace of my local market is I check and see what is selling, how quickly properties are selling and what the listing to sales price ratios are. This helps me to know how to best price my newest listings and to be able to give an accurate answer to any who may ask me about how is the market doing while I am out an about in the community. The second reason I do this is so that I can inform the buyers that I am working with about any new properties that have come on the market. The time that I spend at the computer searching the MLS is one of my favorite ways to get ahead of the curve in my own business.

I look at hundreds of properties in the MLS in a week. The ability to get property information as it pertains to square footage, location and price, I am also able to view the photos included in the listings. This is my least favorite part of this process. I personally use a professional photographer when I have a new listing. The first thing most potential home buyers do is look at the images. During their home search this step is often where they form a first impression about whether or not they are interested. I have had many buyers tell me that they did not want to look at a property because it looked small or dark from the photos. I usually convince them to just take a look and then decide. I have been in homes that truly looked nothing like the images that were included in the listing.

I cannot impress upon those of us who sell real estate for a living the importance of good photographs. I have read articles in the various real estate publications, read blogs and have even seen advertisements which support my position. Even after all of this prodding and informing I wonder why I still see such terrible images in listings. I am a bit of a stickler about this. Images that are poor quality and improperly composed drive me crazy. I get it, we all have camera phones and believe that we can save a few dollars by taking our own photos.

The listing is the first way that a property is marketed and it is often the most important. Hiring a professional is the best way to ensure that your property stands out among the crowd. I would guess that near 60% of the listings I view each week have terrible pictures. The photographer I use charges by the hour and is very reasonable. I am talking about basic photos of interiors, exteriors, community features or other unique details of a property. I do not need aerial photos or complicated panoramic shots to appear in the MLS. I usually spend around a hundred dollars per listing for the photos. On a high end property it may run upwards of two hundred dollars depending on the size of the property and how long it takes to shoot it. This is a drop in the bucket compared to the commission I may earn if the home sells. This is an expense that should be included in the cost of doing business. Ral estate photography is well worth the expense.Yvette Waters Photography

We all want to get any advantage that we can in a very competitive housing market. By understanding that people look with their eyes first when it comes to buying a home, we would all be wise to consider the impact that bad images can have on our bottom lines. When people are not able to get a good impression from the pictures they see they have a greater chance on missing out on what may be their next dream home. No more photo bombs please! If you live in the Orlando or Central Florida area and are in need of photographs, click here to view the website of the photographer that I use.

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Social Media and Real Estate Marketing

For the past few years I have consulted with many marketing pros about how to best use social media to promote my real estate business. Without fail, the first thing each of them have suggested is maximizing social media. This is a great idea. I have looked at each of them and shook my head in agreement. Of course social media is necessary. As a motivated agent, I have implemented many aspects of social media in to my business plan.

I attended a workshop given by Realtor.com many years ago at the onset of the social media explosion. I remember this because it was the first time I was excited by the potential and how simple it seemed to do. At the time, it was simple. The “like” button was just introduced.

Facebook was explained as a cocktail party. Those who were using updates to bombard followers were like that annoying person who kept on coming up to everyone and saying the same thing. This analogy was tremendously helpful and I learned the importance of using Facebook wisely in that moment.

I have profiles on the majority of sites and have a pretty good understanding of how these can benefit my bottom line. I have found that these avenues are superb for building a network and staying in touch with not only my sphere of influence, but also prospects. I have also found social media to be invaluable in providing information to potential buyers and sellers.

One aspect I did not fully appreciate was the ability social media has to help my branding, in other words, me. By avoiding being that obnoxious party guest I have had great success in communicating my personality on social media. You can be God’s gift to real estate, but if you are abrasive, annoying or obnoxious in how you present yourself to the public things may not go as planned.

By reposting things that let my friends, family and prospects know who I am, I am reaping the rewards. I have a business page as well as my personal page. I have found that I get more leads from my personal page than my business page. For my business page, I strictly post real estate related items and an occasional deep motivational quote along with how to get in touch with me. If I have new listings I will post photos and an occasional video as well if the property warrants it.

Much to my surprise, I am contacted more frequently by those who view my personal page. As Realtors, we are not only in the business of buying and selling homes, we are in the customer service business. We want people to contact us when they have a real estate need. If we are able to express who we are as individuals, whether funny or serious, those customers will feel a connection with us and be more apt to reach out to us.

By posting small details about what happens to be going on with my family, humor only, and by keeping my status posts positive I am confident that when I direct new potential customers to my Facebook page that they will not go running in the opposite direction.

There are a plethora of other social media sites out there. I am still amazed by how social media has changed the face of real estate in such a short time. It is a very powerful tool in the Realtor toolbox. Growing comfortable with and trying new things is a challenge for those of us who may be tech resistant. It can seem overwhelming to maintain a presence on social media. Do it anyway!

Many companies now hire full time positions to handle social media only. I have found that I prefer some of them over others. I have had good experiences so far with Pinterest and Instagram. I use Twitter and Linkedin less often but remain active on both. It is not enough to just have an account. By taking the time to understand the platform, benefits and purpose of each of the social media outlets we are able to decide which ones best fit our own personal models.

 

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SEO What! I’m Still a Rockstar

SEO What! I’m Still a Rockstar

I have spent the last few weeks putting together a new website for my Real Estate Business. I had decided to move from the drop and drag format that I was using and step into the big leagues with a Word Press site. I was feeling quite confident in my ability to figure it out on my own. How hard could it be?

I quickly discovered that this was like learning a totally new language on a completely different planet. On top of learning the intricacies that is Word Press, I also had to dive in head first to this tricky little thing called SEO. I spent many hours researching other Realtor sites and found out quickly that this task would not be for the faint of heart.

I learned that Search Engine Optimization is something that many Realtors overlook when creating a website. Property search boxes and IDX feeds constituted a majority of the well ranked sites when it came to look and functionality, but the SEO was just not there. Good SEO is what helps direct home buyers, sellers or those interested in other real estate services to a site. SEO is more than just making sure that your page title includes your name or brokerage. The reality is that in today’s market most potential clients, buyer and seller alike, initiate their first searches online.

I work for a smaller local brokerage. We have a great office vibe, are hardworking and like to have fun. I often refer to myself as the “rockstar” agent in our office. Rockstar has become my superstar Realtor alter ego. Don’t judge. It works for me. We are a confident bunch and often discuss how we are going to take over the world at staff meetings. Taking over the world requires SEO. Our quest is going to fall short unless we focus on improving the online marketing of our brand. We do not benefit from the advantage that belonging to a national real estate company affords when it comes to online presence. For me, and the other agents in my office, having a website that will come up when a search for homes or a Realtor in our local area is beyond important.

After many hours of trial and errors, including a good deal of time spent trying to figure out how to get my posts to say Dawn Waters instead of my username, rockstar, I finished with a content rich, easy to use site. I chose to not include IDX right now. Baby steps. The time I invested in learning Word Press and making sure that the site would begin to rank in the major search engines will result in future potential listings and sales.

I created the site from scratch, using a theme from Word Press and did the best I could in making sure the SEO was in a great starting place. It cost me a few dollars. As Realtors, we can really be penny pinchers and when it comes to SEO and websites this is not the place to scrimp. I decided that paying a Word Press/SEO consultant to boost my site up with internal coding and keyword tracking for a few months was well worth the relatively small expense.

Using Word Press is something that I highly recommend. I am not a programmer, but know enough to be dangerous. This experience has opened up a new skill set that I can share with my fellow agents at McBride Realty Group, LLC in Debary Florida. I also have a new appreciation for those who are the real “rockstars” in the world, professional web designers and computer programmers.

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Feels like the first time.

I love first time home buyers. Many Realtors that I have spoken to pick this group as their least favorite to work with on a transaction. There is nothing more gratifying and enjoyable to me than experiencing the buying process with someone who has never gone through it before. Sure, there may be more explaining to do about every little detail and step of the sometimes long process, but the joy that you see as the keys are finally handed over makes the journey well worth the commission.

The time spent with each buyer is like a constant reminder of how important it is to communicate clearly and effectively. They may be green around the gills, but there is no more willing and interested student than a first timer. As I spend time explaining the process, my skills are being honed as not only as a real estate agent, but also as a teacher. Every buyer is different and may need a different approach. There are those who are decisive and set in what they want and there are others who really just know that they want to buy a home. Helping them navigate the process includes not only great communication, but also a very good understanding of multiple aspects of the journey to homeownership. Dealing with lenders, title companies and the sellers can be very overwhelming at times. Even as a Realtor I have had many days where it seemed like everytime I checked my phone or email there was a newly discovered issue. In fact, this is the case for most transactions and the frequency and urgency of each little fire that needs to be put out is inversely proportionate the the amount of days until the sale is scheduled to close.

As Realtors, it is so critical to remember that we were all once first time home buyers. Keeping a positive and patient approach to those new buyers is always the key to a really happy conclusion. Working with the first time buyer can be a great opportunity to grow professionally and personally. If you have not worked with one in some time I encourage you to seek some out and enjoy being a part of their special once in a lifetime event.

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