By Brandon Doyle
By now, most of us know that establishing a geo-farm can be an excellent way to gain listings over the long run. In March of this year, I posted an article titled “Geo-Farming to Build Your Business,” in which I describe strategies for identifying an area to farm and tactics for building your brand and reputation. While these methods are still tried-and-true, a new technology has emerged to make geo-farming more effective and easier than ever before.
Statically, home owners will move every seven years, on average. This is very easy to track using public tax records. This also allows us to also look up how much they paid, and mash that data up using an automated value system to get an idea of what the home might be worth now. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to market to someone who just bought their home, or someone who is completely upside down on their mortgage. We want to focus our marketing efforts on those who may be ready, willing, and able to sell.
Consider the reasons people decide to sell, whether it is a job promotion, marriage, new addition to the family, job relocation, graduation, divorce, or death – most real estate sales occur because of a major life change. If you were able to know when these events occur, in theory, you could get in front of the sellers at just the right time.
Enter the world of big data and predictive analytics. There are companies out there now that gather massive amounts of data about homes, and the people that live in those homes, and run algorithms to identify patterns and behaviors that could lead to a future listing. Sound crazy? I thought so too. After all, how can anyone know when a job loss is going to occur in the future that may require downsizing? Or, how would they know a family is growing and just ran out of bedroom space? While these companies can’t learn everything about a household by compiling data, they do know a lot. The information is out there – such as Internet searches, mailing lists, social media, and other public records – it’s just a matter of who is compiling it to make sense for us as real estate professionals.
There is one company in particular, SmartZip, which has molded its technology into a high-tech version of geo-farming. With their backbone in real estate data, they have accumulated so much information about neighborhoods and transactions that they can help real estate clients choose the most optimal area to farm based on expected turnover in the next year. You can actually look at neighborhoods side-by-side and decide which one to focus your time on. After you choose an area to farm, they call it their “SmartFarm,” you then get exclusive access to the home owners most likely to list in the next six to 12 months. The list is ranked, with the idea being that you should focus your marketing efforts on the top 20 percent.
They also offer a multichannel marketing approach, which includes post cards, hand written notes, and social media ads. The marketing is designed to drive traffic to a splash page where the home owners can get an estimated value, similar to Prime Seller Leads program.
Once you’ve identified that a home owner is curious about their value, it is your job to get in front of them. By now, you should have been marketing to them on a fairly regular basis. As with any marketing beyond your sphere group, it will take time for your campaign to be effective, and for you to earn the trust of your neighborhood. Once you’re recognized as the expert in the area, all your hard work will pay off.
Suffice to say, geo-farming just got way better.
Brandon Doyle, ABR, e-PRO, is a second-generation real estate pro with RE/MAX Results in the Twin Cities. Learn more about Brandon at www.doylerealestateteam.com.
Home owners love to decorate their homes for the holidays. But how far is too far when it comes to curb appeal with your Halloween décor? Get amused – or maybe even a little spooked – and check out this new slideshow at REALTOR® Magazine, the “Scariest (or Funniest?) Home Décor.”
By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine
Nearly three-quarters of about 1,700 home owners recently surveyed say that they use their dining rooms on a daily or weekly basis, according to the 2014 Houzz Decorating Trends Survey.
The majority of home owners surveyed say they want big tables in their dining rooms too. More specifically, rectangular tables with dark wood or glass that can seat up to six people. That is among the top requests of many remodeling home owner’s wish lists, according to the survey.
Dining Room Staging Solutions
Sandra Holmes, president of Home Staging Concepts in Weston, Fla., and president-elect of the International Association of Home Staging Professionals, had a home she staged where the existing dining table and buffet were outdating the space. What’s more, the all-white was causing the room’s potential to get overlooked.
What she did: Holmes channeled a more modern, tropical look for this Miami condo’s dining room, bringing in a glass table, modern chairs and artwork, a textured rug, and set the table to show it ready for a dinner party.
Here’s more inspiration for dining room makeovers of your listings.
Try mismatched furniture to create more appeal.
Set the table for a dinner party.
Add a centerpiece on the table, whether a bowl of bright-colored fruit or fresh flowers.
Use a slipcover the chairs to keep it simple, elegant.
Squeeze in the largest table the space can comfortably fit to show off the full entertainment space.
Dress up the walls, with artwork or a mirror.
By Charlie Allred
We have all heard the statistic that 90 percent of all home searches start online. So how do we capture this online business?
My answer to this question is always: “You need a blog; your website should be a blog.” I use the words website and blog interchangeably because a website without a blog is a static site, there is no new content added to it and it’s basically a yellow pages ad. For your website to be found by your potential client, you need to be adding new articles (blog posts) regularly.
I know this sounds daunting, you sell real estate and now you have to also write articles about selling real estate.
The goal of this post is to make your blog/website easier to manage. I know that maintaining a blog can feel very overwhelming and it’s often the last priority on your to-do list. But just think, when you need to find a location, a store, or a service provider, where is the first place you go to search? I’m sure your answer is the Internet. Real estate agents’ marketing is moving more and more to an online platform because that’s where the potential clients are searching.
In last month’s article, I emphasized the importance of keywords for your Pinterest boards. Let’s take a step back: The purpose of Pinterest is to drive traffic to your real estate website. I define “regular Pinterest users” as those who are browsing Pinterest for fun. These regular users are your potential clients and are potential traffic for your blog/website. If you are a “power Pinterest user,” you always have purpose in your pinning and your main goal is to drive traffic to your real estate website.
In a previous post, I mentioned the four categories of Pinterest boards you should include in your top 12 boards. These categories are:
- Your interests: cooking, exercise, kids, etc.
- Real estate: this is all about helping buyers and sellers.
- Home related: home organization, storage, home decor or anything home related.
- Community: this is everything local. You can, of course, niche it down to “Scottsdale parks,” “Scottsdale festivals,” “Scottsdale kids,” – anything related to community events that bring value to your potential clients.
Once, you’ve done your keyword research for your Pinterest boards, you will have a ton of keywords that can all be used on your blog too. Keep a list of these keywords at your desk to refer to when you’re writing your blog posts.
It’s best to choose four or five topics that you will cover each month on your blog. If you write one article a week, you will cover each topic once a month.
Make sure your real estate blog topics are very similar to your Pinterest boards. If you are regularly pinning to your top 12 boards, you will notice some pins are more popular than others, these popular pins should become blog topics for your blog. Here are some examples:
- Local real estate: I write a Phoenix and Scottsdale market report each month.
- Community/Local happenings: An agent that I coach in Pinterest marketing writes about upcoming neighborhood restaurants in her area.
- Your interests: Utilize your pins that perform well as the topic.
- Home Related: Another area where you can utilize pins that are heavily shared.
If you use a pin topic that is popular to create a blog post, the best part is you can send traffic from Pinterest to your blog post. This creates instant traffic to your website and that particular blog article.
The next step is keeping the potential client on your website.
For example, if a potential client came to my website from a “Scottsdale restaurants” pin and it went to my blog post on the “5 Best Restaurants in Old Town Scottsdale,” I could then direct the visitor with a link to my post, “Districts of Old Town Scottsdale,” or “Top 7 Restaurant Patios in Scottsdale.” These other articles will likely be of interest to this potential client. Since you are writing on the same four or five topics each month, you can link to previous articles on the same topic within your blog.
For a quick starter guide to keywords, you can head to Pinnable Real Estate and download a free list of my favorite keywords in three topic areas (all home related categories): home staging, home organization, and home decor. These top six to eight keywords in each topic will give you a good starting point for using keywords on Pinterest.
If you want to learn more about Pinterest for your real estate business, head to Pinnable Real Estate to register for the Newbie Pinterest Online Course or the Advanced Pinterest Online Course (both are free).
Next month, I plan go more in depth on the topic of blogging. I’d love to hear your struggles and successes in blogging as well.
Charlie Allred is a Phoenix-based designated broker for Secure Real Estate and author of the book “Pinnable Real Estate: Pinterest for Real Estate Agents.” She is a Pinterest expert coaching agents on how to gain more leads, followers, and clients by using Pinterest. Learn more at her blog: www.PinnableRealEstate.com.
By Patti Stern, Principal PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating
After making a desperate $50,000 price reduction on her parent’s well-maintained home a “Today Show” viewer asked real estate expert, Barbara Corcoran, if she should remove the dated furnishings. Corcoran’s advice: Never list a home without furniture. Stage it!
Vacant homes aren’t memorable and won’t stand out to buyers particularly in online listings where the majority of buyers begin their home search.
These three different vacant properties, pictured below, are a great example of how unfurnished homes can often look the same in the listing photos and get lost in a buyer’s search. Without furnishings, buyers can’t distinguish one home from another. None of the homes stand out or make it onto their “must see” list.
Regardless of price point, staging vacant homes is important to initially capture buyer interest and take them from the online listing to the front door. Once there, a well-staged home will help buyers emotionally connect to the property, ultimately taking their interest to the next level with an offer.
Our team staged this 1930, $2 million plus historic mansion. Our goal was to showcase the incredible architectural detail of the home — from the crown molding, wainscoting, windows and hardwood floors, to the fireplaces, and more.
“This grand home has a beautiful interior with stunning details,” says Joanne and John Hoye of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in West Hartford, Conn., the listing agents for the Hartford home. “However, most of the time buyers don’t have the vision to see what a room can look like. Larger vacant homes in particular can discourage buyers, who may think they don’t have enough pieces to furnish the home. A professional stager knows how to appropriately furnish a home, selecting the right sized pieces, colors and fabrics. Buyers see an inviting home, rather than a large vacant space, and get ideas on how they can arrange their furniture in the home. Ultimately it [staging] makes the home more saleable.”
Still need convincing or help convincing your sellers? Keep these insights in mind.
· It will sell faster. A vacant property can take up to 78 percent more time to sell than comparable furnished homes, according to the Real Estate Staging Association.
· Buyers will see it as their home. Only a few buyers can visualize a vacant room decorated and furnished. The majority of buyers, on the other hand, cannot envision how they will live in the home or use a room.
· They’ll stay longer. During a showing of a vacant home, I’ve found that buyers unable to connect with the space will only stay on average 5 minutes, compared to an average 40 minutes in a furnished home.
· Their furniture will fit. Empty rooms look smaller to buyers, who more often than not will think their favorite sectional or king-sized bed is too big. In larger homes, buyers will question if they have enough furniture. Either way they’ll be calculating the additional cost of new furniture rather than focusing on the home.
· Details stand out. Architectural details and key features can stand out when a home is professionally styled and staged whereas empty rooms put a spotlight on flaws or needed repairs.
See more examples of vacant home staging at www.PJStagingDecorating.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Patti Stern is a principal of PJ & Company Staging and Interior Decorating, and an interior decorator and accredited home stager. She and her team offer decorating and home staging services for individuals, real estate professionals, builders, and others in the industry. For more information visit pjstagingdecorating.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.