Monday, December 30, 2013

Accessing Real Estate Internet Marketing Practices of the Top 50 Real Estate Companies

In December 2008 a detailed analysis of the Top 50 Real Estate Companies' Websites, recognized by Real Trends Report "The 500 Largest Brokers in the U.S. (Ranked by Closed Transactions sides for 2007)." Real Trends is a leading source of analysis and information on the residential brokerage industry.

The main objective of the analysis was to highlight the SEO practices of major Real Estate Companies as well as emphasize with real examples, the importance for all Real Estate Companies to place SEO at the top of their marketing agenda.

What is SEO?

SEO (SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION) is the process of making a website and its content highly relevant for both search engines and searchers. SEO includes technical tasks that make it easier for search engines to find and index a website for the appropriate keywords. Web SEO helps a website gain top positioning for relevant words and phrases. If a website is not found on page 1 or 2 of a search engine, then that website will not enjoy website traffic, online exposure, and online profitability.

After viewing countless websites every month, ranging from small sites to large multi-page web-sites, while doing a variety of SEO research to try to identify what's working and what's not cutting it for Real Estate websites, there were a few issues that come up frequently. These Optimization factors were divided into 7 SEO CATEGORIES.

Note: The categories that are discussed in this report only touch the surface of what is required to gain top Search engine placement. Like Real Estate, the SEO world is constantly changing and it takes a true professional to keep up with new SEO trends, tools and practices..


This study evaluates the websites of the Top 50 Real Estate Companies as recognized by a re-port published by Real Trends entitled "The Largest 500 Brokers in the U.S. - Ranked by Closed Transactions Sides for 2007"

The following factors were considered:

  • Traffic Ranking
  • Number of Search Terms a website ranked for
  • Google Page Rank
  • Number of Pages indexed by Google
  • Meta Descriptions
  • Page Titles
  • Website Validation Errors

Real Estate Landscape

Real estate is about building relationships. Nowadays, these relations start online. The need to embrace the Internet is evident in most industries, but for Brokers and agents, optimization and the Internet is paramount and a core factor for success. Having an online, visible and prominent website voice and an online platform to showcase your listings and make your services known to sellers is crucial.

According to the 2007 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 84% of all homebuyers used the Internet as an information source.An astounding 84% of ALL buyers identified the Internet as a source in their home search. This percentage amount included 87% of first-time buyers, 82% of repeat buyers, 79% of new home buyers and 85% of buyers of previously owned homes.

With a plethora of Real Estate Websites to choose from, can home buyers and sellers easily find your site?

In today's challenging market and economic downturn, every dollar spent needs to have relevance. Advertising and marketing costs are on the rise and what used to work no longer does. Media today has become fragmented and gone are the days when companies launched a campaign on TV and reached masses of consumers. Traditional media vehicles such as newspapers, magazines and TV, simply do not make the phone ring like they used to. This is because consumers today are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages every day and they have almost become immune to traditional media. People use the internet as their resource.

Studies indicate that the Internet has become the go-to source for home buyers and sellers. The Internet provides a 24/7 source of information and buyers and sellers can browse and look for WHAT they need, WHEN they need it, without having to be distracted by hordes of other irrelevant marketing messages.This means that you need to position your Company and Agents' website for top rankings in the search engines.

Top Real Estate companies have relied on name recognition, but with a host of major companies to choose from, clearly only a few would get "top-of-mind" awareness. Subsequently, even the most established companies need to optimize their websites to constantly maintain their market position.In a world dominated by the Internet, what matters most is not having concrete processes for your marketing and sales funnels but a SEO Real Estate optimized website that potential clients will find in the first place.

Real Estate Rookies Need to Work Smarter, Not Harder!

The housing boom has attracted a flood of newcomers to the real estate profession. Those that have been downsized, retirees and even people who just want a better life style see real estate careers as exciting, less stressful and offering high rewards.

But they soon discover that the real estate profession is saturated and very competitive. It is difficult to break into the market and gain a clientele. Sadly, following the standard real estate formula for new agents usually leads to several years of long hours with low compensation. Most give up and drop out, and their brokers and "established" agents gladly follow up on any leads they may have generated.

According to a recent study by the National Association of REALTORS®, rookie agents are working more but earning less. Agents who have been in real estate for two years or less earned an average of just $12,850 in 2004, and most (54 percent) reported working more than 40 hours weekly. This figure dropped from a median income of $27,973 earned in 2002. Conclusion: there are a lot more people in real estate now all competing for the same business. Trying to gain traction strictly through referrals, sitting in open houses, sending out postcards or handing out flyers is a long haul for novice REALTORS.

In today's residential real estate market, the name of the game is getting listings and buyers from all sources. Just "farming" a territory in the traditional fashion is not a practical strategy for real estate rookies. First, there are no virgin territories. Second, rookies must always overcome entrenched competition. To accelerate their success, new real estate agents need to work smarter than established colleagues by leveraging Internet marketing tactics to promote themselves, tap a broader market and to increase productivity.

Unless a newbie enters the real estate profession with a captive clientele, he or she is better off taking control of their own business strategy. And the one way that a new agent can distinguish themselves today is by coloring outside the lines. Internet marketing is a proven means of helping new agents to stand out from the crowd. Here are some strong recommendations for a new kid on the block:

1. Get you own Website, not a page or subdomain of someone else's site. Build your site to promote yourself, your talents, your listings and your services.

2. Use your Website as the focal point of all your marketing efforts. Everything you do, marketing wise, should be calculated to drive traffic to your Website.

3. Make your Website as enticing as possible. Refresh the content often with community news and relevant RSS feeds to ensure that visitors return often. Try a blog - they are easy to implement and generate interesting content. Offer meaningful articles that appeal to potential buyers and sellers (industry outlook for mortgage rates, major "must do's when selling your home, a summary of local sales, home value trends, etc.).

4. Build visibility among the major search engines, so that your site pops up on the first page when someone performs a search for agents in your locality:

a. Establish a meaningful domain name that reflects your location and market emphasis.

b. Optimize your site for search engines by choosing specific keywords based on your geographical location. Establish proper keyword density in your site content, meta tags, alt tags and internal links.

c. Set up a link-exchange program with complementary sites, such as non-competing REALTORS or real-estate-related services. Building external links adds to your search engine ranking and leads qualified traffic to your site.

d. Be sure to get listed in the major business and real estate directories.

e. Use sponsored search engine listings along with affordable "local search" listings and pay-per-click advertising to boost online visibility and acquire qualified traffic.

f. Get a listing with one or more of the popular online "Yellow Pages," like Verizon Superpages.

g. Tap into local free advertising, like Craig's List.

h. Learn how to use landing pages to capture metrics and tweak your promotional activities for optimal performance.

5. Use viral marketing tactics, such as placing a "forward to a friend" script on your site and in your newsletter, to gain clients with whom you have had no previous contact.

6. Implement marketing tactics to capture sales lead information from Website visitors:

a. Start a free monthly newsletter and offer a meaningful incentive to subscribe. Use this as a mechanism to nurture potential clients through "drip, drip, drip" marketing.

b. Write or acquire a relevant whitepaper or ebook. Use this as a giveaway to entice new newsletter subscriptions.

c. Offer a free "home valuation" service based on local comparables.

d. Place "special offers" in your newsletter that only subscribers can enjoy. This will promote viral marketing among friends and relatives.

e. Hold an online drawing for a desirable prize to acquire email addresses, and then solicit newsletter subscriptions from the entries.

f. If you can afford it, tie into your MLS database so that registered visitors can survey local listings.

7. Enhance your productivity by using an autoresponder for newsletter delivery and automated follow-up to inquiries.

In short, make your Website the destination for all marketing activities. Even off-line advertising should be designed to drive traffic to your Website. Once there, focus on selling yourself and your services to prospective clients. Differentiate yourself from competitors by presenting yourself as more attuned to today's marketing methods, tapping more modern and advanced tactics to find the best home for buyers or achieve the quickest sell at the best price for homeowners.

Compared to the "old school" of real estate marketing, Websites are 24x7 virtual storefronts promoting products, services and talents around the clock to a worldwide audience. Internet marketing makes your promotional dollars go further and helps you to stand out from the crowd. It also dramatically expands your audience, bringing in clients from around the country and even the world.

Rookie agents need to chart their own course to be successful. Don't be afraid to embrace new methods of marketing your services. Above all, don't follow the herd. Be different - take control of your real estate career and leapfrog your competitors through aggressive internet marketing!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Colors for Real Estate Marketing

I would like to think that colors are what make the world fun. It is the essence of life and gives substance to a picture. Without it the scenery can be quite dull and lifeless. The same applies when marketing real estate.

Colors can give your service an identity. They can project a specific character or an aura that gives people an idea about your service or company.

We are all admirers of colors. You'll have to think twice if you want to establish your brand when marketing real estate. This can be a game setter when marketing homes.

The most important to remember when thinking about colors is that everyone likes blue. If you can't decide what to use, start with blue. Blue is also the most used color for corporate branding because it represents authority.

A good color combination for Blue is Orange. While Dark Orange can mean dull, the light (pumpkin) color can mean trendy. The websites Homes and ActiveRain should give you an idea of how Orange can blend well with Blue.

Another real estate color favorite is Green. The most common meaning for this color is nature and peace. You can take a look at Zillow and Trulia's logo if you want to see how a touch of Green can complement your brand.

So far I have discussed colors from listing websites but what about Realtors? If you're interested how realtors' brand their services, read below and enjoy.

While DukeRealty favors Black and Green, KellerWilliams and ReMax seems to favor Red. This color (Red) is most commonly associated with love. It can also mean excitement and goes well with White and / or Black.

Have you noticed that Keller Williams was using White to blend with Red? In case you're wondering, the color White usually means purity and balance.

If we look at Pulte Homes' logo we would notice the color Gray to complement their Blue text. Gray is an alternative of Silver that signifies a helping hand. It can also mean prosperity which is a good idea for a home.

Yellow is considered to represent brightness and optimism. It's not a real estate favorite but it does grab people's attention. You might consider Yellow if you want people to turn their heads and take a look at your real estate brand.

Still can't decide which colors to use? How about checking Colliers International's logo to see how they made, Blue, White, Yellow, and Red work.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Selling a Home in a Buyers Market - Real Estate Agents Tips

Today's real estate market, a buyer's market is very different from the seller's market of three to four years ago. Today: property values are depressed, there are less available buyers due to restricted credit access, there is an abundance of properties on the market, and listing prices are showing drastic cuts. So how do you increase your chances for getting a fair value when selling your home? You need a plan of action that addresses that all-important buyer's first impression. The picture a buyer gets when they see your property for the first time can make or break a deal.

It is the small things that influence a buyer's first impression of your home or property. It is all the little details that form the picture a buyer sees when they first get out of the car. It's your property's "curb appeal". For someone buying a home, that first impression will be a factor in every consideration of the deal. It can be the deciding factor in a buyer's mind when considering the desirability of your property versus another property for sale in the same price range. Enhancing your property's curb appeal can be an important step in creating a good first impression. Cosmetic details, like a freshly painted front door, and clean sidewalk, can help your potential buyer decide to consider buying your home instead of buying a house down the street, or they can make them get back in the car to look somewhere else..

Evaluating your property's curb appeal should be the first step in your plan of action. Look at your property from a buyer's point of view, as if you are seeing it for the first time. What is your home's curb appeal?

Is the lawn and landscape well maintained, or do you need to cut the grass and put down some new mulch? Is the lawn décor and furniture neatly arranged, or is it hap hazard and disorganized? Is the sidewalk or walk-way clean? Are the flowers and shrubs neat and trimmed? What about your roofline, is a gangly antenna the first thing you see? What about your side yard and outbuildings, is the trash can and junk around the garage the first thing you see? Does your front entrance need painting or sprucing up, is it cluttered with décor items that a buyer might not find appealing?

Grab a pad and pencil and walk around your neighborhood. Look at the homes from the curb, make notes about houses with things you find appealing, and also note those houses that don't look so good. What didn't you like, what looked bad from the curb, what affected your first impression? Now take those notes and stand in front of your home. Look at it honestly, as if you were a buyer seeing it for the first time. What is your first impression?

You will probably see things you had not noticed before, like the weathered and faded mulch in the flower beds. Little things that you had taken for granted or assumed weren't important. Now you can make a list of the things to do to improve a buyer's first impression. There may be a semi-major project or two, but more likely you will end up with a to-do list of smaller tasks that will only take a little time and effort, not a lot of money. You can use this list to improve your property's curb appeal so that when a buyer steps out of the car their first thought will be; "This looks nice". That first impression could help get you an offer, or perhaps even seal the deal.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Marketing Real Estate Business Using Google Places

There's a fact that is worth considering: 80% of home buyers search online while researching for a real estate and that more than 95% of them are looking for local property agents. There's been a multifold increase in Google searches in past 5 years pertaining to this sector. In other words, you can't afford not to be visible locally as these are your real consumers thus, making it imperative to take advantage of powerful Google Places. Today businesses spend tremendous amount of resources in terms of time and dollars to gain marketing advancement on real estate website design, paid search and organic search strategies while, overlooking and often underestimating Google Places.

Google Places was launched in 2009 as a free online yellow pages to facilitate businesses to create online office addresses in their native places of operation to be found on Google Maps. Using Google Places, businesses in a particular area will be ranked to appear in search results if the user is in the same general area searches for specific keywords. If a business has registered on Places with their relevant information, it will appear as a pointer when a relevant search query is entered in Google Maps.

Following are the ways to use Google Places for your real estate business:

Listing your Real Estate business: The initial step is to create your listing and presence on Google Places. This is fairly simple: Log on to Google Places with your Google account, submit pertinent information about your real estate business, facilitate the required documents to verify your business identity (like website, business card etc.), and then Google will take some time to review and approve your listing.

Optimization of your listing: Content that you write while listing your business is an important aspect and must be dealt strategically. You have to make sure that you make it relevant and use appropriate keywords. This effort will come handy to improvise on the organic search rankings for your real estate business.

Business Images: Images are very important aspect of a business listing as it adds to the business credibility, help business target right audience, gain interest of online browsers and make listing relevant. Therefore, wisely choose your business images with plenty of photographs and videos, describing your real estate business.

Reviews Matter: As you are aware that positive customer experience and reviews is the best thing that can happen to any business and such experience can't be generated only from your real estate website design. Clients usually build an opinion about a business online and hence customer reviews are a great way to promote your business. Your Google Places listing allows for your customers to write and post reviews to your space therefore, use this wisely to create a healthy environment for your real estate business.

Small Things Matter: While setting up your listing, fill out the each minute detail including company phone number, business categories, hours of operation etc. Therefore, 100% completed profile gives you added advantage and goes a long way to complement your overall marketing campaign.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Luxury Real Estate Marketing - 5 Fundamentals for Success

Luxury real estate marketing calls for a unique approach. There's more at stake financially, which leads to a longer sales process. On top of that, the average buyer of luxury real estate is well educated, Internet-savvy and detail-minded.

Combine all of these factors, and you can see the need for a unique marketing approach. Here are five fundamentals for success in luxury real estate marketing.

1. Lead Capture

One client in a hundred will call you and say, "I'm ready to buy. Where do I sign up?" The other 99% of the time, the process starts with a lead and escalates through a series of touches. But without a good lead-capturing system in place, the process is doomed from the start.

All of your marketing efforts should revolve around a central database. All marketing channels should also have a lead-capturing mechanism in place. Phone calls should be logged and added to the database. Same goes for walk-ins and emails. Internet leads should be collected and organized.

To really maximize your leads, you should incorporate information-request forms in strategic locations throughout your website. This encourages customers to request additional information via the web, at their convenience. Ideally, these submissions would be added to your database automatically, or would at least go into a queue for later review.

Make it a top priority to build lead capture into all aspects of your real estate marketing program. Without lead capture, you have no leads. Without leads, you have no business.

2. Lead Management

Lead management is just as important as lead capture. Lead management refers to the process of recording, categorizing, and taking action on a lead. It's what converts leads into prospects, and prospects into clients.

Lead management should be a "no-brainer" for you. If the process is difficult or cumbersome, you'll be less likely to adhere to it. At a minimum, your lead-management program should allow you to capture leads in a database, organize them by pre-determined criteria, and update them accordingly as a person moves through the sales process.

When setting up your lead-management system, you first need to determine your ideal sales process. How many touches do you want to make for each client? How do you want to categorize them based on purchasing timeframe or other factors? How will you track it all? A good lead-management program should address and simplify each of these things.

3. The Polish Factor

We've talked about the technical side of lead capture and management. Now let's talk about the customer-facing, aesthetic aspects of your marketing program. Let's talk about polish!

When people shop for and purchase high-end, luxury real estate, they expect certain things. They expect the sales office to be fancier than an "average real estate" office. They expect more personal treatment and finesse from their sales agent. And they expect marketing collateral with a lot of polish.

Your website, brochures and sales sheets are a direct reflection of your company, and your company directly reflects your product. People want a luxury home built with the utmost care and attention to detail. They want a home that makes them say, "Wow." Your marketing materials need to reflect this, especially when they're the first impression you make.

4. Online Visibility

People shop for real estate online before doing it any other way. It's an inescapable fact of modern real estate marketing. Statistics from a couple of year ago claimed that 84% of home buyers used the Internet for research. Today, I would imagine the number is closer to 90%.

Now here's something else to consider. If 90% of your audience is looking for luxury real estate properties online, but they can't find your website ... where does that leave you in terms of competitiveness?

In the future, real estate companies will sink or swim in large part due to their search engine visibility. So when building your marketing program, be sure you add search engine optimization (SEO) into the mix. Ask your marketing provider if they offer SEO services. If they don't, you'll need to find them elsewhere. Otherwise, you're letting a world of web surfers pass you by.

5. Total Integration

Another thing to realize about marketing luxury real estate is that a single channel can rarely deliver success. Maximum results occur when several marketing channels work together in harmony, complementing and reinforcing one another.

An example of this might be a direct mail piece that leads to a landing page on your website. The landing page has an information-request form, which triggers a confirmation email (and, ultimately, a sales process and continued dialogue).

When multiple marketing channels work together as one, they dramatically increase the number of ways people can find you, talk to you, and purchase from you.

* You may republish this article online if you retain the active hyperlinks below.

Marketing Real Estate to Senior Citizen Buyers

Have you noticed? Senior citizens aren't as old as they used to be. At least some aren't. And that means you cannot market to all seniors in the same way.

Senior buyers come in two varieties. The first are those who are actually suffering from the ravages of age - and are only too happy to tell you all about it. They'll give you a list of ailments and things they can no longer do, so your job in finding them a home is a bit more straightforward.

You can openly discuss issues like stairways, counter heights, doorway widths, and space to install grab bars in the bathroom. They'll tell you what they need and want so you can go out and find it for them.

When you're selling to this group, go preview homes before you take them along.

When people are having a hard time getting around, need a wheelchair or walker, or are just unsteady on their feet, they don't need to be dragged around looking at all the wrong homes. They won't appreciate you wasting their energy by showing them homes that are obviously wrong.

So pay careful attention to their needs, and if you eliminate a house they've asked about, tell them why. It might be because the bathrooms and bedrooms are on the second floor and the laundry room is in the basement - or perhaps because of steep steps leading to the house. Maybe the garage is too narrow to allow them room to put a wheel chair in and out of the car, or the bathroom door is too narrow for the wheel chair to get through.

Do your homework, tell them the straight facts, and you'll earn their loyalty.

This segment of the senior population may be focused on living within minutes of a medical facility, and they'll probably tell you which one.

But what about the second group? What about the ones who are officially senior citizens, but have no intention of acknowledging the fact?

You'd do well not to mention the words "Senior citizen" in their presence.

Instead, find out more about them and their lives. Many are still working, so see if they want to locate near the workplace. After that, inquire about hobbies and other leisure time activities. Your new seniors may be avid golfers, they may want to hit the gym three days a week, they make require fast access to a swimming pool, or perhaps want to locate near a boarding facility where they can keep a horse.

They may even want a home with a bit of pasture so they can take care of that horse themselves.

Don't assume anything. Some seniors are anxious to leave yard care behind so they can pursue other interests, while others have been waiting for retirement to have time to landscape a yard and grow a huge garden.

Take the time to listen. Listening is important no matter who your client is, but when you're selling to senior citizens, you need to listen to the subtle hints as well as the open statements.

Remember, in the back of their minds, they're recognizing the possibility of ill-health in the future. How could they avoid it, with the television and newspapers shouting it at every turn?

They know that the day could be coming soon when they won't be able to easily navigate those stairways - and they know that a wheel chair could be a part of their future. They may even have a secret fear of living too far from a medical facility.

But many simply do not want to talk about that. So don't bring it up unless they do.

Selling to seniors isn't really all that different from selling to anyone else. Your job is to listen and pay
attention to what you hear. When you do that with each and every customer and client you'll be head and shoulders above your competition - because listening is almost a lost art.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Marketing Real Estate - Embrace the Changes, Save Money

Don't fight forces; use them. - R. Buckminster Fuller (1895 - 1983)

Are you fighting the forces of change by making the mistake of advertising "the way it's always been done?" Or are you embracing and using this change that snuck up on us over the last 10 years or so? Where do you spend your advertising dollars? If you're like most Real estate agents, you may be spending the least amount in the spot where your prospects are looking most often.

According to NAR, over 80% of all buyers look first at the internet. And while we haven't seen the results of any questionnaires, it makes sense to believe that sellers look there too - if only to see who is doing the best job of presenting their listings. And yet, the Promotions magazine I read today showed that Real estate agents and brokerages spend the least amount on internet advertising than any other medium! I was amazed. It's true that once your site is up and your prospect capture programs are in place, the cost of internet advertising is very low. But still...

Their report from Neilsen Monitor-Plus showed that Realtors spend only $6.70 on internet advertising for every $972.40 spent on print advertising. They even spend 7 times more on radio and almost 50 times more on television - 2 mediums in which your message is there one second and gone the next. Outdoor advertising, which is at least there for a longer period of time, and may serve as a sort of subliminal message to prospects who see it often, gets $110 for every $6.70 spent online.

I know, agents are fearful of leaving behind the old methods. They're afraid that if their faces don't show up in the Sunday newspaper or the homes books, people will forget about them. But will they, when 80% begin looking on line rather than in those places? The way to find out, of course, is to track where people are coming from. That means you need to ask - and you need to record the answers. You just might find that you don't need to spend all the dollars you've been spending because that's the way "it's always been done."                                                                                                     

In trying to determine why so many agents are not putting much faith in internet marketing - in spite of the NAR reports - I found something interesting. Many agents are spending large sums of money on the "look" of their sites, but leave them devoid of marketing copy. The majority of real estate sites I've visited are what I call "Chamber of Commerce" sites. They give absolutely no reason why a potential buyer or seller should call a particular agent. All they do is sell the community. Because a website gives you unlimited space in which to tell your story, it's a perfect spot to present those "reasons why." Here you can talk about the special services you offer to buyers and sellers, promote your niche, and offer free articles that show your prospects that you know what you're doing. 

I always tell agents to leave "the herd" behind if they want success. Do things that make you and your services stand out from the crowd. The beauty, of course, is that once your message is there you don't have to keep paying for it over and over again - and if you want to add new articles, announce new listings, or just tweak your marketing message, you can do it yourself- at no cost beyond your own time. So think about this. Would it make more sense for you to cut back on some of those other forms of advertising and instead make sure that your internet presence is the best that it can be? Go the extra distance to put marketing copy on your website - and then track the results.

Real Estate Marketing in a Luxury Market

As the real estate market in the U.S. slowly continues to regain its footing, many agents are looking at this time as a chance to redefine their market. With so many agents abandoning-or at least significantly cutting back-their marketing systems to save money, others are jumping in to take advantage of the marketing void. In other words, they are taking an offensive approach in order to put themselves in prime position when the market starts to upswing.

In most parts of Canada, on the other hand, the market continues to stay hot and agents are looking for the best way to grow their business. They are looking to expand the reach of their marketing and maximize income opportunities. Whether it be in the U.S. or Canada, a number of agents we are talking to believe that now is the time to make the transition into the ultra high-end market.

Traditionally, luxury real estate is one of the hardest market segments to try and break into. Why? There are a few common reasons. It might be the presence of a dominant agent already ensconced in the community or the fact that everyone already has a peer in the real estate business. It may be because the agents themselves don't have the patience to work in a generally slower-paced market (less transactions to go around, tougher competition and slower sales process). It could be that they are simply not prepared for the unique challenges a high-end market poses.

In my experience, it's usually a combination of these reasons that prevents most agents from becoming successful in luxury real estate. There are many things you need to know before you make the quantum leap into the next price range. We've put together a list of five factors that will help you decide if a move to luxury real estate is right for you.

#1. Know What You Are Getting Into

Agents often make a blind leap into luxury real estate because they think that's "where the money is." Of course, it's simple math. If you get the same split, it pays to list homes with higher selling prices. In theory, you can make more money by doing fewer transactions. On one hand, that's true, but if you go into luxury real estate with this mentality, you are probably destined to fail.

Yes, your income per transaction goes up significantly. That's great, but there is often a new set of challenges introduced when working a high-end market: the competitive stakes are much higher, social circles are much more closed, politics are different, and there are many other factors which I will detail throughout this article. In addition, marketing and servicing costs are generally more when dealing with luxury homes and clients. Both buyers and sellers expect more and demand more and the properties themselves need even more attention (marketing, staging, photography, etc.) to appeal to a more sophisticated crowd.

Carol Barkin of Toronto, Ontario has been a successful Sales Representative for 20 years, but it took her some time to build her business in her high-end markets (both in the city and in a lakefront recreational market about an hour outside Toronto). "For me, the biggest challenge was making that first connection," she says. "They already have tight social connections and know how to get what they want, so building relationships is a matter of trust. It's important to relate to clients as a friend and a helpful peer, not just present yourself as a service provider."

#2. Patience, Patience, Patience

It's clear that high-end real estate is a different animal than traditional residential markets. It tends to move much slower. Generally, there are fewer homes on the market at any given time and there are fewer buyers out there with the means to purchase such expensive properties. The stakes are higher for everyone involved. So on average, it takes significantly longer to sell one of these homes. In addition, there is a lot of competition out there for a limited number of properties, so it often requires more patience to break into the market and build a strong client base.

This is truly a case where the end usually justifies the means if you have the right understanding and commitment going in. Though listings are harder to come by and it takes longer for them to sell, the large check at the end of the transaction is worthwhile. But not all agents have the stomach to wait longer in between commission checks. Oftentimes, this is the hurdle that stops them in their tracks.

"In my experience in high-end real estate, six months on the market is nothing. On average, it's more like nine for a listing to sell," says Robin. "Also, if they are not truly motivated to sell, you will waste a lot of time and money on marketing. In some cases, I will adjust my commission rate so that the marketing costs are covered by the seller. It helps to offset the time it takes to sell. You also shouldn't go into luxury real estate without money in the bank. It's a long-term process to build your business and if you are not prepared, it can break you quickly."

#3. Know It. Live It. Keep It Exclusive.

Another reason that some agents struggle to find their footing in an ultra high-end market is that they cannot relate to the clients or communicate effectively. You're dealing with a much savvier and usually more demanding crowd who know what they want and are used to getting what they desire. Now, you don't necessarily have to live in the luxury community you are targeting, but you have to present yourself like you do. The way you dress, your ability to network within their circles, the way you communicate with these sophisticated individuals, the quality of your marketing materials-you have to be able to make a personal connection and develop a strong professional image. If they don't buy into you as a luxury home expert who's tapped into their community, they aren't as likely to do business with you.

Jack Jeffcoat III is an agent who is in the process of transitioning his market focus from high-end golf communities in Central Florida to ultra high-end waterfront properties along Florida's Space Coast. From his marketing presence to his personal presentation to his servicing strategies, everything he does is to support his image as a luxury real estate specialist. He's often bold and unwavering in his approach because he never wants to lose credibility.

Think of it like any high-end product that is in demand because of its scarcity and exclusivity. So as a real estate agent specializing in high-end properties, you, your marketing image, and the service experience itself need to reflect the utmost quality. If you look and act like the best agent around, people will aspire to work with you.

"When I take a listing presentation, I conduct an interview with the seller to make sure they are willing to follow my recommendations," Jack says. "At every opportunity, I want to remind them why they are hiring me. They know I am a luxury real estate expert that only works with an exclusive group of clients. From the beginning, they are instilled with the belief that if they want to have a successful sale, they need to follow my lead. It gives me the upper hand and keeps me positioned as the market specialist."

Also, keep in mind that high-end real estate isn't necessarily going to be the same from region to region. A waterfront community in Florida will have a different set of challenges than a mountain resort community in Colorado or a downtown high-rise in Toronto. In some places, "high-end" may be $400,000 and up. In others, prices could be in the multi-millions. So when it comes to your personal presentation and the way you market yourself, be sure to properly present your niche and look impressive.

"Always look bigger than you are," says Robin Milonakis. "You have to have exceptional marketing materials. They have to make people feel good about hiring you. It feeds their ego knowing they are working with the best."

#4. Image is Everything, Especially in Marketing

When it comes to your marketing materials, quality is key. You can't position yourself as a high-end agent if your materials look unsophisticated. A first-rate personal brochure and dynamic website are absolutely essential. Your personal brochure should take the place of your business card whenever you meet a potential client. It needs to look sharp and feel impressive at the very first glance (exceptional photography, nice glossy paper, sophisticated writing, clean design). It needs to reflect your personality, but also relate to the luxury market you are targeting. In a way, you are a representative of this lifestyle and your marketing should convey that. It shows your unique expertise and highlights the service/knowledge benefits that make you a specialist in this distinctive market.

It's very important that you don't skimp here or it will show. You simply can't fake high-end quality. You must be committed to investing the money to do the marketing right or people will see through it.

Put simply, the brochure and all other marketing materials need to be of the utmost quality. This includes your house advertising. You should at least have a tabloid-size glossy flyer/brochure that you use to promote each property. The staging must be great. The photography must be very professional. Of course, you should keep the property marketing pieces branded clearly with your personal image (logo, colors, fonts, etc.) so you don't lose your own identity.

"My brochure is quality and people associate the piece with its sender," Carol Barkin says. "I send it out prior to meeting someone to warm them up. It gives me more credibilty and shows my knowledge of the market they are concerned about."

The same is especially true when it comes to your website. It needs to reflect the quality of your brochure and other print materials. It needs to look sharp and feel representative of your luxury market. Two of the agents I spoke with-Jack Jeffcoat and Robin Milonakis-are both actually in the process of revamping their compaigns to better target their high-end clientele. Even though both of them have been highly successful with their current campaigns, they know it's worth the investment to take their marketing to the next level to promote an exclusive luxury niche.

One bold strategy Jack uses is to feature only properties above a certain price on his website. Does he take listings at lower prices? Yes, when the situation calls for it. But his image is that of a luxury real estate expert and his website is one more way to show that. "If one of my high-end prospects goes to my website and sees a bunch of low-priced listings, then it's not really helping my cause," Jack says. "Like a doctor, specialists make more money and earn more credibility, so I want to be known as a high-end listing specialist in every aspect of my marketing."

When it comes to online marketing, you also need to make sure you are very active on your web site. You cannot just put up a site-no matter how nice it looks-and expect it to generate business over the long run. You have to actively post information-links, articles, blogs, calendar events, community information etc.- to make it a resource that people want to return to on a regular basis. Your active engagement on the site will enable you to better communicate with your target market. And of course, it also boosts your SEO (search engine optimization) to help you generate more leads through all the major search engines.

#5. Be Prepared to Back It Up

In addition to making sure your marketing campaign and personal presentation are representative of your market, you must also make sure you are fully in-tune with the market itself. If you don't know everything that's happening around you, you will never be able to establish yourself as a luxury specialist. This is one area where you will not be able to fake your way through a transaction with minimal knowledge or experience. Clients will expect more and demand more from you, so you have to be able to back up your claims as an expert-in terms of both your knowledge and your service experience.

"Expectations from clients are different and, in general, they are more demanding. They want you to be available to provide answers and information," Carol Barkin says when referring to the clients she works with. "In the end, they need to make their own decisions. They are gathering advice and professional recommendations from me so they can come to their own conclusions."

That said, never underestimate the clients' need for up-to-date information. Be proactive in giving them regular updates (at least one call per week) on market activity. Always stay current with everything that is happening in the market. Word travels fast in luxury real estate, so make sure you know what's going on-what listings have sold, for how much, how long they were on the market, and so on. If you are not all over the market, your clients will be all over you. How and what you communicate will make them feel better about the experience

"No matter what, I personally call every one of my clients on Monday with a detailed market update," Jack Jeffcoat says. "I make it a point to always know what's going on in the market. If any home sells, I need to be aware of it and discuss it with each client so they know what's happening."

Then, make sure your service experience reflects your marketing image. You have to be able to deliver on your claims by making the client feel special throughout the process. Think of it as the difference between the Ritz-Carlton and the Marriott. It's a completely different experience from the moment you walk through the doors of either hotel, and it's why you pay substantially more to stay at the Ritz. Imagine your real estate service as a luxury experience. That will make you a valuable commodity in the market.

Is the Luxury Market Right for You?

Ultimately, that's for you to decide. You must be prepared for the unique challenges and tough competition found in the world of high-end real estate. You have to make sure you are patient enough to handle a slow-moving market. You need to be willing to invest the time and money it takes to not only brand yourself as a luxury specialist, but to back it up with higher standards of service and expertise. If you are ready for what the high-end market has in store, it can be a very lucrative place to do business over the long-run. And whether you are in a slow market or a hot market, right now may be the time to take the big leap!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

When A Real Estate Marketing Tool Is A Great Idea

If you are on the brink of despair and are thinking about giving up your real estate license don't do it; at least not yet. You worked too hard to get licensed and with the right tools you might be able to turn things around and have the success you dreamed about before you got licensed!

So, instead of doing the same old things for the same unsuccessful results, do something different. For starters, start with a good real estate marketing tool.

Proven Marketing Ideas.

Why reinvent the wheel when there are some pretty good marketing tools already available, and at bargain basement prices considering the money you can make using them? For example, a farming expired listing script is one of the best tools that an agent can have in their marketing tool kit! And they don't all cost a lot of money!

The right marketing tool can serve as a template for generating targeted, focused leads... one after another. The tool leads to listings, which then become sales. And once you perfect the template you can repeat the process over and over to create a profit generating machine, and almost effortlessly.

Here's why it's so important to have a good real estate marketing tool. The right tool can help you generate leads sales and listings. The more listings you have the more sales you'll make.

And the more sales you make, the more referrals you can get to secure more listings. One feeds the other and in the process generates income. And isn't that the reason you're licensed to sell real estate - to make money?

Expensive Does Not Mean Effective

Effective marketing is easier than most real estate agents make it out to be. Some make it complicated and will buy overpriced marketing tools and associate quality with cost. However, I'm sure you know, even if it's subconsciously, that just because something costs a lot of money doesn't mean it's worth the money you spent for it.

For example, have you ever gone to a clothing store to buy a suit and decided not to because you felt it was overpriced, only to see the same suit in the same store offered a week later for half price?

Well, the same thing applies to effective real estate marketing tools. Expensive does not necessarily mean good and effective!

The Lazy Agents Way To Unprecedented Success

When I was actively selling real estate I fully embraced any tool, or strategy that I could comprehend that would make me more successful. In that respect I figured out a way to market to 10-20 prospects a day in an hour or so, and did it 5 days a week. In a years time I prospected to more sellers than most agents did in a life time.

Although I thought of it as a lazy way to get business I wasn't lazy, but very focused, determined and driven to do it in the least possible amount of time.

I realized early on that looking and being busy was not the same as being focused and productive. And with my particular real estate marketing tool, which was an expired listing system, I took my business to the next level and averaged more listings in a month than many of my peers did in a year.

You too can take your business to the next level, but only if you have the right tools for the job. Want listings? Learn how to get them with a listing system! Want to close on more leads. Brush up on your closing skills with a tool that helps you improve that particular skill.

In the end it will be the simple things that make the difference.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Five Changes The Real Estate Industry Needs To Make Immediately

"We are stuck in the dark ages, I have great confidence that we will have the best record company in the industry, but the reality is, in today's world, we might have the best dinosaur. Until a new model is agreed upon and rolling, we can be the best at the existing paradigm, but until the paradigm shifts, it's going to be a declining business. This model is done."

Rick Rubin, Chairman of Columbia Records

As chairman of one of the biggest record companies in the world, Rubin realized that the music industry needed a complete overhaul. To say that Rubin has been successful is an understatement. Rubin has won 6 Grammy awards, produced hundreds of albums, been responsible for the career success of a veritable who's who of the music industry having worked with everybody from Johnny Cash to U2. MTV has called Rubin the most influential person in the music industry in the last 20 years.

From behind the scenes, Rubin has seen it all and he knows a change is desperately needed for the record industry. The downhill slide in music began in 1999. Its demise was a child. A young technologically advanced young man. His muse was called Napster.

Napster was founded in May 1999 by Shawn Fanning, a high school student that developed a program for people to share music files over the Internet. This technological advancement caught on with such popularity and grew so fast that the music industry was caught with its pants down. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with no way to stop what was going on decided to at first try to ignore the technology and when that did not work they began suing their customers. We all know how that turned out.

If that wasn't bad enough, on October 23, 2001, just a month after the 9/11 terrorist attack, Apple computers basically put the final nail in the coffin of the music industry as we used to know it. They launched the iPod. Fast forward to January 2007, when Apple reported record quarterly revenue of US$7.1 billion, of which 48% was made from iPod sales alone. On April 9, 2007, it was announced that Apple had sold its one-hundred millionth iPod, making it the biggest selling digital music player of all time.

In 8 short years, the recording industry was turned upside down. They were ignorant to the value of technology, their governing body did nothing to react to the technology and now sales have been in a free fall decline ever since. Sort of like the housing industry.

So what can be learned from history so as it does not repeat itself? I believe it is too late for many agents, as in my opinion the real estate agent business model is obsolete and has even worse leadership. But that's an article and opinion that has already been voiced.

1. Toss out the baby with the bath water.

In the past, a bath was simply a tub of standing water in which every member of the family bathed in the same bathwater. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water". Whether or not this was true, the idiom remains. Real Estate is dirty. The landscape is murky and littered with sub par performers who are stinking up the joint. The industry is led by Brokers who in some instances are less knowledgeable than their rookie agents. It's time to change and realize that the bath water, and all those lurking in the dirty water be thrown out so the real performers can start fresh and clean

Make it harder for new agents to enter the business. Embrace technology. Educate yourself with many techniques to get a deal done and most importantly understand there is NO business that can be successful without understanding the value of marketing and personal investment. MARKETING IS EVERYTHING!

2. Put the trophies away.

John Wooden was arguably the best college basketball coach of all time. The Wizard of Westwood as he is affectionately called won 10 national championships. Unbelievably his teams won 7 national championships in a row from 1967 to 1973. His UCLA teams also had a record winning streak of 88 consecutive games, four perfect 30-0 seasons, and won 38 straight games in NCAA Tournaments.

Wooden writes in his autobiography that after winning his 10th and last championship in 1975 that he was walking off the court and a fan came up to congratulate him. Wooden recounts that the fan said these resounding words to him, "Great win coach, this makes up for letting us down last year". How strong is the legacy of THE Coach? Steve Lavin (fired from UCLA in 2003), has called this post-Wooden phenomenon a "pathology," and believes that every basketball coach will eventually be fired or forced out from UCLA.

Just because you experienced success doing something one way, does not mean you can count on being successful tomorrow or the day after. Set aside your laurels, re-tool and play the game with today's rules. Success did not last at UCLA and it will not, and has not, lasted in real estate. Change your gameplan right now. Don't have one, create one. Don't let the success of the boom years be your "pathology".

3. Supplication in business breeds HUGE profits.

When is the last time you completely humbled yourself in front of a client? I mean actually show yourself as being completely and utterly undeserving of their business and that you would be honored for them to just to be speaking with you?

With all of the picturesque business cards with all of the alphabets on the cards with all of the brochures selling YOU...when was the last time you begged humbly for someone's business? In this market, you had better learn!

Here's a novel idea to follow. The customer is king. What is more important in today's market is the realization that they may even be more knowledgeable than you. Not sure? Well, you better go into the deal expecting as much. In today's market you had better understand that the appointment that you go on today is an informed prospect. Know your client and ask for the permission to SERVE him.

Permission to do business with the client IS what you are trying to have bestowed upon you. Permission marketing is what will save the real estate industry. In today's digital world you have the ability to communicate with your client and your prospects in a way that you never have before. From their computer, anywhere in the world they should be able to find you and communicate with you, on their terms. But you must have permission. Permission marketing is effective because the client or prospect is contacting you and giving you the stated privilege to do business with them.

Imagine having a stream of qualified, interested prospects calling you. Imagine having had a month of dialogue with a client before you have even met them. Think you could close more business? Let them know you value their permission.

4. Go to War!

No, I am not saying join the Army and go to Iraq. I am talking about taking the gloves off with the media and going to war to combat the onslaught of doom and gloom. The market is not bad. There are deals to be had. There are tons of buyers out there. You are just not armed. David may have slayed a giant with a slingshot but in today's reality, the slingshot just is not going to cut it. You need to be armed with the new and improved slingshot. The cyber-slingshot. Able to slay giants anywhere and anytime. Have I mentioned the importance of technology? Are you getting it yet? Here's a hint, an autoresponder or spam filter is not an adequate use of technology. Your client or prospect may be afraid. People who are afraid, don't buy...unless of course you utilize the aforementioned permission to provide them with information to support their buying decision.

5. Sell the iPod. Be the iPod.

Can you imagine selling a product that everybody HAD to have? Can you imagine BEING the product everyone HAD to have? Now imagine being both. Kind of wild isn't it? Let's agree, selling real estate is not and has not been traditionally sexy. No sizzle. In fact you are in the least prestigious "profession" known to man. Are you simply going to accept that? Become a something remarkable. Don't go outside the box, stomp on it and kick it to the curb!

Earlier I spoke about the iPod. Here is a product that did not exist 8 years ago and now it is a must have. Like Fed Ex before it, how many products or services are created and then become something you can't do without. Be the iPod! Re-Brand yourself as someone we NEED to do business with and someone we MUST do business with. People who learn to capture notoriety generate profits. What are you doing that will make you a rockstar in your community? You need to generate massive exposure and personal celebrity. At a minimum you need to try.

This would just be a starting point. A true roadmap needs to be developed by the individual. As an agent who truly wants to succeed in today's market and beyond, there has to be a concerted effort to reward change and to embrace technology.

I had an agent email me this morning and say angrily that all I keep talking about is marketing and technology. He said I knew nothing about real estate or marketing and that I was an idiot. I asked him how he heard about us. Angrily he said he was reading our blog. And I'm the idiot. Marketing is everything!

Change, while not easy, is constant and quite fulfilling if you are prepared for it.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Do You Worry About Real Estate Discounters?

The real estate industry is an ever changing one. Many companies try to come up with innovative ways to capture more market share. In many other industries a popular way of doing this is to lower prices or discount their service. This is a method that some have tried to use in the real estate industry and has others very concerned. Here's why I wouldn't worry about it.

There is an old saying; you get what you pay for and this is no different when it comes to real estate services. Many agents are worried that discount brokerages will destroy the market as they know it and cause them to lose their income. But what you may not realize is that with those reduced prices, comes a reduced level of service.

If you take the time to research the discount brokerages, you will see that they don't provide the same level of service as a full service agency. This is why they can discount it. It's not an "apples to apples" comparison. Some advertise one percent listings, but they fail to tell you that it doesn't include the sales side of the commission. When you put it in the MLS you must offer a commission to a cooperating broker if you are to expect anyone to seriously consider showing the house. They usually have an escalating scale that comes very close to the same as what everyone else is charging.

But let's look at it from another perspective. I assume you are in this for the look haul. You are not just trying to make a quick buck and move on. The long haul requires you to build relationships with your clients so that you can get their repeat business and their referrals. When you close on a house with a client, it should be the beginning of a relationship, not the end.

As long as there is any kind of business, there will always be someone trying to do it cheaper. However, I don't ever recommend this as a business strategy because any client you get because of a low price, you will lose when there is a lower price. No loyalty, no relationship.

Walmart is able to do this because they offer the exact same products you can by elsewhere for less money. You would have to be foolish to spend more for them. However, in real estate, the service you provide is uniquely yours, no one else can provide you but you. Your job as a real estate marketer is to show your clients why it is better for them to work with you then someone else. You have to provide more value to them which translates into prices. Think of it this way. If all that people bought were low prices, than we wouldn't have so many different kinds of cars. We would only have the cheapest ones. But this isn't so because people will pay more for a car if you give them a good reason to do so. The same applies to real estate services.

Invoices Are Valuable Marketing Real Estate

Is your customer invoice a part of your marketing plan? Why not? I mean, really. After all, it's a repeat point of contact with someone who already has decided to do business with you.

Presumably they are already happy with your services. So what better time to make another offer or to upsell your services than right now, while they have their hand on their wallet, thinking about paying you.

So, what exactly should be on your invoices? Well, of course all the normal business stuff. You know, the date of service, description of what you did, an amount to pay, etc. But have you ever thought about including any of these on your invoices:

--Method of Contact --

Yes, you need to constantly provide multiple ways for your customer to reach you. Sure you know all your phone numbers and website, but your customer has probably lost your business card by now. That's why all your contact information needs to be on every invoice. It's like a new business card every week, and your phone number is there at precisely the moment they are thinking about you.

You should include all your business phone numbers (including cell phone), your mailing address, your email address, your website addresses, infolines if you use them( you know,"call for free recorded information about your lawn."), and any other way your customer can get in touch with you or your services.

--Method of Payments--

Let your customers know how easy it is to do business with you. If you accept any form of payment other than cash or checks, you gotta let them know. Do you have a merchant account to accept credit cards? Do some research to find out if you can afford this. Know this... your bank isn't the only way to get one of these. What about accepting payment through PayPal on your website? An awful lot of people in your target demographic use Paypal. What about offering a payment plan to break up 9 months of service into a 12 month payment plan.

--Timely Notes--

How about a short note concerning what services would be appropriate at this time of the year. Your customer may not be aware that a related product or service exists, much less that you offer it. Is it time for aeration? Let your customer know, while they are paying their invoice, what aeration will do for their lawn. You can come up with additional services at any time of the year. Put a short note on the invoices instead of sending out an entirely new mailing.

--PR Campaign Notice--

Are you using the PR tool to build free publicity? Bring attention to it in your invoices. Something like "Read an interview with me in the local paper tomorrow." Or "See our Fall Plantings Tips in this month's Real Estate News available at retailers everywhere." Maximize your PR efforts.


Make an offer in your invoice for reduced cost services, or print coupons for something like "One Free Tree with the purchase of Three." If you have a historically slow month coming up ( you can know this if you have marketing calendars from previous years) you can drum up extra business for those periods by running specials for your existing customers.


Use some space on that invoice to reprint testimonials (which you have solicited from other customers.) Be sure to describe the service performed which elicited those testimonials - it may be something which other customers didn't know you could do.


Print a survey or questionnaire on the bottom half of the invoice and include an incentive of some sort for your customer to take the time to respond to it.

This is a great way to find out what your customers actually want, not what you think they want. What better market research could you have than this? Have you been wondering what would make customers be loyal to you rather than switch to the next cheaper guy? Ask them(I'll bet it's not price either.) Are you struggling with what services to offer next? Put some choices in a survey and let your customers tell you what they want.

--Newsletter Invitation--

Offer a way for your customers to join your online newsletter. This will give you another inexpensive method to promote your services. It will give you unlimited opportunity to show your customers what your company can do.

As you can see, your invoices are actually VALUABLE real estate. Don't waste it by sending just another bill. Be creative and make it work for you.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Real Estate Agent Marketing That Generates Transactions

In every market there are new real estate agents getting into the market and agents that want to change their marketing to generate more business. For most agents that means starting off with a strategy that is based around them and their "image". After all, people are "buying into you" when they are buying a home right?

The misconception that your brand is all about you is what leads people to create postcards, magazine ads, and websites with huge pictures of themselves. Sadly as home buyers and sellers rush to the market in cities all across the country, they aren't saying "Wow, I hope I can find an agent with a huge picture who is honest and has integrity". It doesn't happen!

To embrace real estate agent marketing efforts should be focused on lead generation by meeting the customers' needs. A focus on the number of leads that you can generate from each marketing piece will keep your costs low and allow you to cut your budget should one of your campaigns not result in new business.

Now that you have abandoned branding as a form of marketing, where should one focus to get results? The first step to getting more leads that turn into transactions comes in deciding on your marketing message.

A Marketing Message Generates Calls Monthly
A marketing message is NOT a slogan. A slogan is something like "Everything I Touch Turns To Sold" or "Honest Service for 22 years". These messages aren't compelling and certainly won't get anyone to pick up the phone. No one is out there looking for a dishonest real estate professional, so stating that you are "honest" isn't making a statement at all!

A marketing message is a statement that saves someone time or money (sometimes both). It is best to have buyer messages and seller messages as they have different needs. These messages can be included on any real estate agent marketing and should be prominent to compel a total stranger to pick up the phone and want to get more information.

Take the following seller marketing message:

I Sell Homes 21 Days Faster And For 2.1% More Money Than The Average Agent

That marketing message saves someone time and money! Put this on a post card and watch your phone ring. This message is specific and will work in any market because it saves someone money (2.1% more in the seller's pocket) and it saves someone time (21 days faster). You could easily test this postcard and your traditional "slogan" card by sending them both out to the same group of people and see which one generates more phone calls. Keep the card that generates the most calls and keep running it.

Effective real estate agent marketing generates calls every month. Every six months the needs of the markets so take time to track the number of calls and the transactions you are closing from each of your marketing pieces.

Marketing Real Estate To Property Investors

The biggest difference when selling a property to an investor is keeping in mind you are not selling to a consumer but to another business. When selling the house you can often increase the price by making it aesthetically charming to the possible buyer. But that all changes if the buyer is an investor as they are not looking at the appeal of the house, rather that they are looking at how much income they can make out of it. The figures, for example rent, is more often than not more imperative than the building.

As an investor there are lots of ways you can raise rental income and below are a few ideas.

  1. Do your research - look around at rental homes that are similar to the building you want to rent and find out how much rent is being asked for. Compare your charges to theirs; if you are charging less then you could reasonably raise the rent without losing tenants.
  2. Though finishing a basement to code may involve significant investment, it may pay off in the long run.
  3. Listen to what tenants want, the more you listen the more the you can make a home more attractive on the rental market. Laundry facilities, in fact all kitchen appliances, could make the house more rentable and bring in higher rental fees.
  4. Can you update the insulation to lower the heating costs or switch to a high-efficiency furnace that will save on heating expenses?

Putting together a marketing plan, which will paint your property in a good light to investors, needs to be put in place once you have worked out and understand the financial worth of your home.

You are nearly ready to market your Calgary real estate property, before you do take a look at some final points that will conceivably make things run a little better:

  • You may even have tenants, keep them informed about the decisions you make and what is going to happen. It is extremely disrespectful and unfair on existing tenants if you don't.
  • Take the chance to listen to your tenants concerns, after all they are going to be worried that they will lose their home. The closing date is going to be crucial to rent payers so try and give them a rough idea when it will be.
  • Even though property investors are more interested in the financial ramifications of the property, this doesn't mean you don't need to stage it properly; the property still needs to look its best.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Online Investing and Stock Market Leverage - They're Still No Match For Real Estate!

In the last year or so we've seen the real estate market tank while most other types of investments have done alright, with the exception of a recent bump in the stock market road. Still, when we compare our investment options, it's pretty hard to dismiss real estate!

Let's take a look at some ways small investors may be able to create wealth and see how they stack up against real estate.

The stock market

Stockbrokers, online and otherwise, allow their clients to use leverage by buying stocks on margin. This means if you want to buy $1,000 worth of stock, your broker will lend you $1,000 more so you can buy twice as much. Therefore, if your stocks double in price, they are worth $4,000, and since you have only $1,000 of your money invested and $1,000 belongs to your broker, you have tripled your $1,000 to $3,000! So, buying on margin makes stock market investing attractive.

Commodities futures trading

Commodity brokers allow their clients to make money by buying on margin. For about $1,500 you can control 5,000 bushels, or about $30,000 worth of soybeans. Here, if the price of the soybeans rises 10%, you make a profit of $3,000. Of course, it can go the other way, too, and if it does, you lose big. Still, fortunes have been made in commodities futures trading and it is a superb example of using leverage.

Multilevel marketing businesses

Another area where people can gain a large amount of leverage is through multilevel marketing. With multilevel marketing a person signs people into his down line. These people recruit and sell products for him, thus giving him the ability to make money from their time and effort.

Buying a new house

Probably, the most ubiquitous form of leverage happens when you put $40,000 down to buy a $200,000 house. Sooner or later most families make a similar investment. A mortgage allows you to control an asset that is 5 times as big as the investment you have made.

Should the price of your $200,000 property double, not at all an unheard of event in real estate, you will have made $200,000 on your $40,000 investment, or a return of 500%! Now that's leverage! It's no wonder people like to invest in real estate!

Risk vs. reward

All these examples show ways a small investor can make money, even a lot of money. However, they all come with a potential downside. Certainly, investing in stocks is a great thing to do, but the market has its ups and downs and buying on margin in the stock market isn't normally what one thinks of as very strong leverage.

There is a lot of leverage in commodities futures trading, but there is also an abnormal amount of risk. When first trading commodities futures, the investor should use strategies, which will define the risk. These strategies include buying options, or spreads. The latter is the way Forex, which is an online investor favorite, is traded. Spread trading tends to make commodity investing a lot less volatile.Multilevel marketing isn't recommended for everyone. Though many success stories have been written because of multilevel marketing, it is a type of business that many people never find success with.

Everybody needs a place to live

Buying a house on the other hand, is recommended for everyone, even if it is bought only to provide a place for someone to live. The price of real estate doesn't always go up, however. In the area I live and invest in, real estate had a major slump between 1988 and 1993. In this time frame, real estate lost value drastically. Now in 2008, many parts of the country are experiencing the same phenomenon.

Buy and hold

However, anyone who bought real estate before, or better yet, during the late 80's slump was richly rewarded if he held on. With real estate, it always seems that you'll come out ahead and make money if you don't give up. Though buying at the wrong time can severely slow down your ascent to wealth, experience tells us if you hold on tight, there will be a turn around sooner or later.

So far, throughout history, real estate prices have always broken sharply upwards when coming out of slumps. If you are able to weather a real estate down cycle until the market turns around, it will be well worth your perseverance because as the price climbs, you will gain the leverage you need to make a lot of money in a real hurry.

So, if you are thinking of buying, don't let the recent downturn deter you. History tells us that buying during downturns is an excellent strategy. If you already bought and are now losing equity, take heart, though real estate prices sometimes fall, its overall direction is up. This why more fortunes have been in real estate than any other commodity.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Real Estate Marketing - Make the Most of Your Marketing Dollars

"I know half of my advertising dollars are wasted...I just don't know which half."

This famous observation attributed to department store pioneer John Wanamaker could still apply to many of today's real estate agents. It's easy to become confused at the number of available options. Should you invest in websites, call capture systems, landing pages, postcards, car signs, newsletters or magazines?

To make the most of your marketing dollars, agents can use a simple spreadsheet tool to calculate their spending and return on marketing investment. A tracking tool can be very useful in determining where you're getting a return on your marketing dollars and where you're not - and improving those results throughout the year. It's also easy to use and requires a minimal investment of time each quarter and at year-end.

Typical marketing channels include any activity that brings you prospects, clients and sales - referrals, direct mail, open houses, Internet leads. The cost of items like yard signs, business cards, and thank you gifts should also be included.

To keep things simple, you might want to track only hard dollar costs. If you also want to include activities without hard costs that take hours of your time, you can estimate an hourly wage - $50 or $100 per hour, or whatever you feel your time is worth. Remember, the goal is not to measure dollars or hours precisely, but to help you make the most of the limited marketing resources at your disposal.

By the way, if you already know your hourly compensation as a real estate professional, congratulations. Considering the hours some agents put in, some of us may not really want to know this figure. There are a few examples on here to get you started, but you will want to adjust it to reflect marketing activities for your own practice.

To keep things manageable, you might simply track the number of:

- Prospects

- Clients

- Sales Commissions ($)

It's helpful - and sometimes surprising - to see your marketing expenditures laid out in one place.

The return on some of these activities may be hard to calculate, which means they should be reviewed -can you tie any sales back to that bus bench ad? This doesn't mean hard-to-measure activities should be eliminated. If you're known for giving your buyers terrific thank-you gifts, that's not something you want to cut.

One of author and motivational guru Stephen Covey's success habits is "begin with the end in mind." So, imagine we have arrived at the end of 2007. Let's take a look at our totals. We know the total number of Prospects and Clients we've attracted through our marketing efforts. We know how many dollars we have in annual sales, and we know our annual marketing spend. If you already know these figures for your business, congratulations! You're already running your business more effectively than the majority of real estate professionals out there.

As everyone knows, the bottom line here is ROI, but that's not the end of the story. If you have followed your spending and results, quarter-by-quarter, you probably have a good idea where to optimize your marketing spending. No one has unlimited time and resources to spend on marketing, so knowing how to optimize these activities can provide a real competitive advantage.

Working the sales funnel

Why work the sales funnel - particularly the top of the funnel, where prospects may not be ready to buy or sell? Because most of your competitors don't. It's easier to focus further down, where core real estate transaction skills come into play. But if you step outside your comfort zone and master the top of the funnel, you will do better at the bottom - and at the bottom line. What you are really doing at the top of the funnel is creating opportunities to sell at the lower levels.

The NAR estimates 50 percent of consumer emails to real estate professionals are ignored. Ignoring prospects until they are ready to buy or sell can be a costly practice. In a tough market, you can't wait for selling opportunities to simply appear, or the market controls your earnings. No real estate professional wants his or her earnings to be dependent on changing market conditions.

Mastering top-of-the-funnel activities also means that you get better at developing qualified leads. In time, you begin to ask better questions, evaluate prospects better and move more quickly toward the sale. You will also be able to key in on high-return prospects and activities and not waste time on filling your funnel with low-return "suspects."

Lots of real estate pros get tripped up in these top layers and prefer to focus further down the funnel. After all, prospecting takes time and resources and it's disappointing when leads don't work out.

If you don't take the time to prospect and farm, you miss out on ownership potential. You will be dependent on someone else - brokers, referrals, third-party vendors - for your leads. Since the home selling process takes 9+ months and the buying process takes more than 16 months, you may have to consider a longer time horizon than you're using in current business practices.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Two Keys to a Successful Real Estate Career

It doesn't matter how you enter the real estate game, whether you are a broker, agent, or investor, the two keys to success are the same. You need to be able to market yourself both online and offline. So let me give you the basics of both.

Becoming Successful in Online Real Estate

I've found that many agents out there simply aren't able to make it because they don't have enough leads to work. Nowadays, there are some 82% of people looking for new property online as a first initiative, not calling a real estate professional first.

So the key to effective online promotion is more than having a website, you need to have one that has a vast selection of properties, as well as any easy way for users to find those listings. Using IDX technology can give you an easy way to include this information online. But make sure that you give your visitors an easy way to search through this information, or you will lose them quickly.

Now that you have a site with lots of available properties, you need to focus on real estate internet marketing. The easiest way to start is to get a Facebook and twitter account, and begin make friends and publishing helpful articles to your website. Then, start reaching out to other websites in this niche, and offer to write great content for them. Include a link back to your site, and you will start getting traffic and building authority.

Success in Offline Real Estate Marketing

The second key to success in this market is taking leads that you get from your internet and other marketing campaigns and converting them into sales. That job isn't so easy, but the key to it is to give your prospects what they want - ask them about their dream house, and then do everything in your power to deliver that to them.

Don't try to convince them to compromise, but rather give them the closest listings that match their desired home. The bottom line is, if you can be helpful to them, and they believe that you will deliver to them their desired benefit, the odds of you closing a deal with them goes up exponentially.

So to sum it up, you need to focus on two things, building up your presence online, and then working hard to give your prospects what they want. If you can master those two things, you'll be primed for maximum results.

Effective Real Estate Marketing - Realtors Buckle Up & Get Ready to Explode Your Commissions

Real estate marketing is very important if you want to get the word out about what is offered. One word of real estate marketing advice that you need to pay attention to is using multiple streams of it. Don't rely upon one particular type to get your information recognized. There are plenty of places online where realtors can turn to for real estate related materials. Try to implement as many of them as you possibly can.

Some real estate agents have the assumption that real estate marketing has to be expensive. However, that doesn't have to be the case. You can use both online and offline methods to make it work for you. If you are in the real estate business then it does make sense to have your own website in place. This way you can continue to update listings and new ones to that same location.

If you are only using real estate marketing to sale one piece of property now and then you will want to post it on other sites. The fees associated with them are very affordable. You will be able to get many hits to generate too if you use those sites that are very popular. Do a couple of searches with various search engines and see what seems to come up often.

Make Your Listing Stand Out

However, so real estate marketing advice to consider here is that there will be plenty of other people listing on those sites to. You need to make your listing stand out above and beyond that of the competition. Make sure you have plenty of valuable information to share as well as pictures of the property you have for sale.

The newspaper still makes a very valuable real estate marketing tool. You can look for open houses to go see in your area. You can also list what you have for sale. If it is also advertised online then make sure you include the URL to it. That way people can have multiple methods for checking out what you are selling.

You will find that when the economy is in a rut like it is now there are fewer people buying homes. Therefore you may assume it should take six months to a year for you to sell it. However, if you know how to go about real estate marketing it shouldn't take you that long. The trends out there shift all the time so you need to stay on top of them. You can find out what is talking place in the market by reading articles and talking to others in the real estate business or by reading industry news.

That is because even with the market being slow people always need a home. They may be purchasing their first one, upgrading to a larger home, or down sizing due to their family dynamics changing. Babies are born and older children move out all the time. It is due to these types of changes that paying close attention to the real estate marketing advice out there will help you. If you want to take your real estate business to the next level please read below.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Are You Using All of Your Marketing Real Estate?

When planning a marketing strategy, it's easy to get caught up in the major pieces of the puzzle and overlook some of the smaller, but equally impactful, ways to communicate your message AND build your database. Certainly your website, blog, logo, letterhead, overall branding look and feel are going to command the most attention from your clients and prospects, but below are a few of the smaller pieces of marketing real estate worth trying. Whenever possible, even in your printed materials, be sure to have a link back to an online lead- capturing mechanism, or an opt-in form so that you are always building your database of interested prospects. Here are 10 hidden gems:

- Your email signature.
Don't just sign off with your name and title; be sure to add your carefully crafted tagline, and a link to your ezine sign-up page.

- Back of your business card.
Print two-sided biz cards, and use the backside to ask a few "pull" questions that draw your prospect in to YOU (or your product or your services) as the solution to their problem. Provide a Web link on the front or the back of the card to that same registration link.

- Author's block.
To maximize search-engine "findability" in every article, white paper, and printed collateral you publish, be sure to provide an "author's block" of text with not only your company name, contact info, and tagline but also a link to a registration form. This could be for a specific white paper or article that is appropriate to the subject matter of the article, or to your ezine sign-up.

- Your Social Media profiles.
Fill out all your online profiles carefully, using your strongest keywords for maximum "findability" and a link to (you guessed it) your registration page.

- Your LinkedIn profile.
You are allowed three URL options in your "Website" area. Use them well, pointing to your website (where you have your main marketing message), your blog, and some other informational page. All of these should have a sign-up opportunity; it may not be the same one on each, but don't miss an opportunity to capture a name.

- "Direct Message" on Twitter.
If you use an automated Direct Message (DM) back to people who have connected to you, invite your followers to sign up for your ezine, and provide a link.

- Four-color postcard.
in addition to a biz card, how about having a 4-color postcard printed with your photo, or your company logo and details about a specific offer or event, and a link to your website. It will definitely stand out!

- Voicemail greeting.
On your voicemail outgoing message, provide your name and company name, and also give the listener the Web link to your content-rich newsletter, with valuable information on whatever problems you solve.

- Company stationery.
Put your message on your letterhead, envelopes, forms, even invoices (you never know!)

- So is it tchotchke, or tchachke, or chochke?
On any branded promotional items that you give away, include your logo and a link to you.

I'm sure there are many more examples. Don't overlook small but valuable locations to tell your message and build your list.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Search Results

Real estate professionals are generally searching for new ways to improve their marketing strength while minimizing their hard work. Electronic flyers using SMS texting could be the strategy to use. SMS marketing is positioned to realize ten-fold development throughout 2010 as well as a three digit growth in 2012, based on data provided by some researchers. As of such, this type of mobile marketing could be advantageous if agents utilize special keywords and short codes with the use of this technology in order to deliver in-depth property information to potential clients.

As a result of embedding a small website link in text messages, agents can easily send out links to the actual MLS listing or even a customized landing page without hassles or added expense to print thousands of brochures. In addition, the SMS will not use any kind of natural sources, this means agents will utilize green solution in the marketing campaigns and this could easily be sent to the purchaser's significant other, friend as well as buying agent.

The existing green methods are presented through voice recordings or radio broadcasts over short distances, but these advertising methods come with the following disadvantages:

  • They never enable the prospective purchaser to save property information
  • No pictures will be provided
  • Agents are not able to obtain the purchaser's contact details

However with real estate mobile text message marketing, agents can benefit from the following:

Constantly working: This system will continue to work for agents even while they are eating, sleeping or even closing other sales

Detailed information: SMS will deliver links to complete MLS listing as well as customized digital flyer

Collecting data: The system will collect mobile numbers from every user to be able to respond to them directly

Cost effective: This is much more economical compared to printing multiple flyers

Generally speaking, these methods of text message promotions are just breaking ground and are expected to be quite successful. Similar to how the internet was a game-changer in previous marketing campaigns; all real estate companies will definitely need to integrate mobile marketing in their comprehensive marketing plans.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Selling Your Real Estate in a Buyer's Market

Home buyers now have the advantage in today's real estate market, as millions of "for sale" signs rust away in front yards of what once used to be fast selling neighborhoods. This isn't a real estate market that has a steady stream of willing and able buyers like you had a year and a half ago, where prospects were waiting in line for the opportunity to purchase the house of their dreams. For sellers, the cyclical return to a buyer's market means that it's important to choose the right broker / agent. If you're selling your house in a buyer's market, you need to find a good real estate agent and price the house competitively.

Listed below are 5 basic rules of strategy for you to use to receive top dollar for yourhome in a buyer's housing market.

1. Find and interview potential agents. The first thing to do is find and interview at least a couple of candidates for the job. You might want to start by calling an agent who has been "farming" the neighborhood by mailing postcards every few weeks or giving away magnetic calendars to stick on the refrigerator. The one drawback is that just because this agent chose your neighborhood, doesn't necessarily mean you should choose that agent. I would suggest calling a reputable real estate brokerage and asking for the relocation director.

2. Assess candidates' knowledge and experience. After you have identified two or more prospective agents, you have to conduct the job interviews. First up: assess their knowledge and experience. Ask for some hard facts that a good agent should know about the current market in your area such as the average time that property has been on the market in your neighborhood and in the metro area, and the average time that agent's houses have been on the market. The other thing I would ask is: Tell me about your track record. What kind of transactions have you had? Tell me about what you've sold. Experience is subjective, it's not always about how much real estate the agent has sold, but their ability and willingness to step up and get the job done.

3. Get a communicator. On the other hand, a good agent will be honest. If they don't know the answer to something they will say, I don't know, but I'll get back to you soon with an answer. When people bluff, they tend to get into trouble. You want an agent who will communicate with you on a regular basis. When interviewing agents, tell them how often, and how you want to be contacted, e-mail, cell phone etc.. Some agents can't be called directly, but only through a switchboard -- like a doctor after office hours. There are two basic reasons for an agent to contact you. One is to let you know that the agent is still alive and working. The other is to set up showings, relay offers and counteroffers, and to pass along feed-back from potential buyers. An alert agent will tell you quickly if, buyers consistently object to a specific item in the property, such as the paint color in the family room, so you'll know to repaint it.

4. Check the marketing plan. When you're interviewing a prospective real estate agent, the most important questions have to do with marketing the real estate and pricing it correctly. Ask to see the marketing plan for your property, and what do you have or can do that's different or better than the next agent I'm going to call? Let the agent know if you expect an ad in the newspaper every Sunday. Will the agent prepare a brochure? If so, who do the brochures go to, other agents, or potential buyers, or both? "Get specifics, ask to see an example of the kind of brochure the agent is going to do, the kind of Web page, the virtual tour, etc...-- all of that. Experts say that about 70 percent of real estate searches begin on the Internet. For that reason, agents need to have complete comfort and experience on the Internet, not only that they do a little e-mail communication and they check it once a day. You want someone who knows the technology and is completely comfortable with it -- an agent who can take photos that make the house look good online and prepare a descriptive, immersive Web page. Ask where the listing will go online. The answer you want to hear is, the broker's Web site, and the local Multiple Listing Service site, and that all other brokers will be allowed to add the listing to their Web sites.

5. Determine the correct asking price. Don't base your choice on an agent who tells you the house is worth the most. The worst thing you can do is to price your home too high. Potential willing and able buyers will ignore the house or they won't even notice it at all if they're searching on the Web by price range and your house is priced artificially above their upper limits. How do you know which is the right asking price? You can never know for sure. A good agent will prepare a detailed "Competitive Market Analysis" (CMA), that will show real estate currently listed for sale and all the property that has sold recently within the past 6 months to a year including how long has the real estate been on the market. The CMA will indicate the probable list price that your home should be at to compete in your local market area. When you look at all that detailed information; the right list price becomes very evident.