Friday, March 29, 2013

Smartphone Users Check Facebook 14 Times a Day

Iphone-fb Think you use your phone to look at Facebook a lot? Unless you're doing it at least 14 times a day, you're actually below average.

That's just one of the surprising revelations in a research report by IDC released Wednesday. The study tapped 7,446 iPhone and Android users in the U.S. between 18 and 44 — representative of the 50% of the population that uses smartphones — and asked them questions about their phone usage across one week in March. 

Depending on your perspective, many of the results are either depressing or confirm what you knew all along. For example, it seems that 79% of smartphone users reach for their devices within 15 minutes of waking up. A clear majority — 62% — don't even wait 15 minutes, and grab their phones immediately. (Among 18-24 year olds, the numbers rise to 89% and 74%.)
Given that the survey was sponsored by Facebook, most of the questions focus on the social network. Which is, it seems, only the third most popular app on your smartphone, after email and the browser. Still, 70% of smartphone users are frequent Facebook visitors, with more than half of them checking it every day. 

Peak Facebook time is during the evening, just before bed. But any time's good: on average, we visit the Facebook app or the site 13.8 times during the day, for two minutes and 22 seconds each time. Our average total daily mobile time on the site — and remember, this is just via our smartphones — is half an hour. 

That's roughly a fifth of all the time we spend communicating; it's only slightly less time than we spend texting. On weekends, we check Facebook more than we text.

Any place seems to be good to check Facebook, too. Some 46% of us check it when we're shopping or running errands; 48% use it at the gym. Even preparing a meal gives 47% of us no respite from the social network. (Well, what else are you going to do while you're waiting for the microwave to ping?) 

Perhaps the most unpardonable sin: 50% of smartphone users admit to checking Facebook while at a movie. We hope they mean only during the ads.

So what are we spending all that time doing? Well, for about half of that daily half-hour on the social network, we're simply browsing our News Feed. The rest of the time is divided fairly evenly between Facebook messaging and posting updates. Half of Facebook users play games via the service on their phone a few times a day.

Does the smartphone survey ring true to you? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, franckreporter

Article courtesy of Mashable

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

#RealEstateMarketing - Google Real Estate

internet-marketing-google-real-estate-broad-approachThe internet is hugely popular, but what about older marketing strategies?  Our Google real estate series investigates.

We’ll start the second part of our “Google real estate” series with an uncontroversial claim – the Internet and real estate are highly intertwined entities. Nine out of 10 home searches today start on the Web, and it seems that with the passing of every day, a new app or technology is released to further modernize the real estate trade.
Yet, as popular as the Internet and its various technologies may be, agents should not entirely discredit older forms of real estate marketing, a fact that was further supported by the joint study by Google and the National Association of Realtors on consumers’ Internet behavior in the home search process.

Internet Searches – Inspiring Diversity

The first part of our series looked at how Google searches often inspired greater action among prospective homebuyers, and the Google/NAR report found that using the Internet also inspired consumers to use multiple sources in their home search:
  • For instance, among Internet users, 89 percent still used a real, living, breathing real estate agent.
  • Similarly, 53 percent used yard signs and 46 percent used an open house when looking for a home.
  • Even the two mediums that garnered the least attention – print newspaper advertisements and home books/magazines – attracted the attention of 28 and 19 percent of prospective homebuyers, respectively – or, nearly half of home shoppers.

‘Google Real Estate’ – a Broader Approach to Marketing

So, what does all this mean? That even among the most Web-savvy consumers, the traditional, physical components of the homebuying process (signs, open houses, ads, human beings!) still generate interest and sales.

Therefore, though you should embrace the Internet with open arms in your marketing efforts, it would be unwise to completely cut yourself off from those more traditional elements.

Landon Harper, an agent with @properties in Chicago, said that though he sees the Web as the best method for wide exposure, he still utilizes real estate’s foundational aspects.

“[The] Internet is definitely the best way to get exposure and something every agent should focus on, but we cannot forget what this business was built on,” Harper said. “Open houses and face-to-face contact is no doubt the best way to connect with your potential client, and signs are really good too. It’s our way of having product placement in our market.”

 Article courtesy of Chicago Agent Magazine

Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Home Buying Season Kicks Off Early

Home prices are rising, the number of homes for-sale is showing a slight increase, and homes are selling faster—all signs that spring is in the air in real estate, according to the latest MLS data released by®.

Nationwide, median list prices continue to tick up, reaching $189,900 in February. Inventories last month increased 1.15 percent month-over-month, after recently hitting record lows. Also, homes are selling faster with the median age of inventory at 98 days, a 9.26 percent drop from the previous month.“As we enter the busiest time of the year for home buyers and sellers, our latest housing trend data shows just how competitive the market is with a significant housing recovery well underway,” says Steve Berkowitz, chief executive officer of Move Inc. “Looking ahead, we can expect the amount of inventory to increase this spring along with higher list prices as sellers become more comfortable with the market conditions.” 

Median list prices were up 5 percent or more in 51 markets on a year-over-year basis, according to®. California markets are seeing some of the highest increases in list prices as well as some of the largest declines in for-sale inventory. Other top performing markets include Phoenix, Seattle, and Denver, according to®. 

“However, many smaller industrialized markets in the Midwest and the Northeast registered year-over-year price declines, as did Philadelphia, Chicago, and New York City,” Lexie Puckett reports in a recent® blog post. “While the number of markets experiencing year-over-year list price declines had been increasing, this pattern appears to be turning around as home list prices increased in 78 markets last month on a year-over-year basis and declined in 39.”

Source: “Spring Home Buying Season Starts Early According to’s February Trend Data,” RISMedia (March 18, 2013)

Article courtesy of Realtor Mag

Friday, March 22, 2013

#RealEstateMarketing - The Power of Local


In January, we reported on a rather startling statistic – that real estate-related searches on Google had increased by 253 percent from 2008 to the present day.

No doubt that’s an important stat, one that plainly demonstrates the overwhelming growth that e-commerce has undergone the last four years; yet, we couldn’t help but feel that the stat sold short the report it was featured in, which was titled The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate and featured dozens of fascinating findings from a collaborative study by Google and the National Association of Realtors. So, over the next couple weeks, we’ll be spotlighting the many findings of that study, all with the intent of showing you how real estate and tech – what we’re calling Google real estate – can benefit your business.

Google Real Estate: The Power of Local

It’s no mystery that the Internet is an extremely popular tool for home shoppers, and NAR’s study with Google only confirmed that relationship. Nine out of 10 of today’s homebuyers rely on the Web as their primary research source, and 52 percent use the Internet as their first step in the homebuying process. Furthermore, real estate-related searches on Google were up 22 percent from 2011 to 2012, and such searches on mobile devices were up 120 percent in the same period.

But what do these searches inspire? And what is their content? Here’s what Google and NAR found:
  • Internet shoppers perform an average of 11 searches before taking action on what the study called a “real estate brand website,” or a site for an agent and/or brokerage.
  • Interestingly, the process of searching on the Internet made a prospective homebuyer more keen to take action – the study found that shoppers who use search engines are 9 percent more likely to take action on a real estate website than those that don’t.
  • Here’s where it gets really interesting, though – 69 percent of those Internet shoppers who took action on a real estate website did so after conducting a local real estate search; so, they searched “Chicago real estate,” or “Old Town real estate,” or “Oak Park real estate,” not merely “homes for sale.”
  • And finally, 52 percent of the actions monitored on real estate sites came directly from a local real estate search.
In the end, it all comes back to what we wrote about before regarding Google searches: if you want to be seen on Google, it all comes down to content that is local, more local and the most local.

Courtesy of Chicago Agent Magazine

#RealEstateNews - US home sales rise in February

SALES UP: U.S. sales of previously owned homes rose 0.8 percent in February from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.98 million. That was the fastest sales pace since November 2009.

INVENTORY GROWS: More people are also starting to put their homes on the market, which could help sales in the coming months. The number of available homes for sale rose 10 percent last month, the first monthly gain since April.

CONFIDENCE RISING: The sales gains and increases in homes on the market suggest a growing number of Americans believe the housing recovery will strengthen.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

3 Reasons that Facebook’s Graph Search Rocks for Realtors

by Peter Ricci

Get familiar with this unfamiliar graphic; Facebook's new Graph Search tool will radically change the site's search function, which will help agents with client outreach.

Well, it’s finally happening – after years of users grappling with Facebook’s inferior search function, the mighty social media giant is finally launching a new search apparatus: the Graph Search.

Infinitely more elegant and detailed than Facebook’s original search function, the Graph Search promises to offer numerous improvements and features over the old function, many of which will be of huge benefit to real estate agents. Here are three reasons why you should be excited about the Graph Search.

Facebook’s Graph Search – 3 Reasons It Will Rock

1. Search Friends by City – Finally, Facebook will allow you to search your friends via what city AND neighborhood they live in, which will be a huge benefit to real estate agents. One scenario in particular jumps out: say you’re marketing a property in the Evanston area, and you have numerous friends, clients and acquaintances who live in Evanston; now, you can easily isolate them from your other friends, and send them information via Facebook about that property.

2. Search Friends by Industry – This will be another huge time-saver, as Graph Search will allow you to easily find all of your contacts who work in the real estate industry, from agents, to lenders, to appraisers, to attorneys, to stagers.

3. Super-Targeted Marketing – Finally, the Graph Search function will allow you to drill further down and separate your contacts by ‘likes,’ photos, you name it, which will provide you with a ridiculously easy method for understanding your clients’ motivations and interests. Think of how much better you’ll get along when you know your client loves Jimi Hendrix, or recently saw Skyfall for the fifth time?

As Katie Lance, the CEO of Katie Lance Consulting, phrased it in a RisMedia op-ed: “Remember the days when you barely knew your clients anniversary date or names of their children? This wealth of information will help you as a real estate professional take relationship building on Facebook to the next level.”

Lance also points out one more critical fact – make sure you sign up for Graph Search as soon as you can. Though the function is currently in beta, you can can visit its Web page on Facebook, scroll down to the bottom of the page and sign up for beta testing, giving you an early jumpstart to using this most exciting of technologies.

Article courtesy of Chicago Agent Magazine

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

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Obama: 'Our Housing Market is Healing'

In his annual economic report to Congress, President Obama said the housing market is bouncing back, but that some economic roadblocks may threaten the recovery.“Our housing market is healing, and consumers, patients, and home owners enjoy stronger protections than ever before,” Obama wrote in the opening pages of the report in summarizing the country’s economic state. “But there are still millions of Americans whose hard work and dedication have not yet been rewarded.” 

President Obama addressed the obstacles the economy faces, notably the looming across-the-board spending cuts (known as the “sequester”) as well as threats from a slower population growth. 

"The single largest cause of slower trend GDP growth in recent years is changing demographics," according to President Obama’s report. An aging population will require more federal assistance but—mixed with a drop in the number of people of working age—could have large scale effects on the economy, according to the president’s report. 

Source: “White House: Housing Market Is Bouncing Back,” Dow Jones Newswires (March 15, 2013)

Courtesy of Realtor Mag -

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Homebuyers Seeking Out Video on YouTube

According to the National Association of Realtors, homebuyers seek video when shopping for their new place because it allows them to find out more about a community, tour the inside of a home, compare features and understand specific features of the home or community.

Unsurprisingly, the association also found that YouTube is the top video research destination for home shoppers. So, if you’re a real estate agent or homebuilder, why wouldn’t you want to create a YouTube channel dedicated to your product? Not only are you appealing to buyers’ visual nature, but you are also creating a platform that is selling for you 24/7 and has the opportunity to go viral.

Ready to start sharing videos? Here’s a few ways to utilize YouTube:
  • Post tours of your listings, new homes and community to provide buyers will the full tour experience from the comfort of their own home.
  • Make yourself a go-to expert on your local neighborhood, home maintenance, home decorating, the local market, industry trends or any other related topic.
  • Have a new advertising campaign? Be sure to post your videos.
  • Give buyers an “inside look” into the building process by posting video updates of a new home’s construction. If you’re designing a model home, you could also do a similar series for the design process.
  • Have happy homeowners? Recognize them with a video! The same goes for creating video testimonials, which are a powerful marketing tool.
While posting videos to your YouTube channel on a regular basis is important, it’s also important to create conversation and involvement. Seek out other home builders, real estate agents, local HBAs or related organizations, homeowners or local businesses to connect with, and then be sure to comment on their videos, share them, rate them, subscribe to their channel or add them to a playlist.

YouTube is the perfect social media network for not only finding and educating potential buyers, but also entertaining them. Now that you have the basics, it’s time to show that world what you’ve got!

Courtesy of Chicago Agent Magazine -

Monday, March 18, 2013

Social Media and Beyond: Building Your Digital Footprint

Social media has forever altered the marketing landscape, emerging as a digital gateway into social sectors [2] previously untapped by traditional marketing methods.
Envision a virtual bridge connecting consumers to nearly any product or service they seek.
Now picture a tool in which brands can respond to those wants, needs and desires in real time.
That is social media.

Now envision a space in which you can extend that virtual bridge into a more intimate online community. It is a space where brief social communications are transitioned into lengthier, more vibrant, enthusiastic and relevant conversations.
That is blogging.

While businesses actively look to shift an established reputation into a viable online currency, finding a way to build thought leadership and a voice that stands out among the noise can be challenging.

So how can you differentiate your personal brand and distinguish yourself as an industry thought leader? The answer lies within the successful convergence of multiple platforms and a willingness to go beyond social.

Embrace the Value of Social
When businesses mistake social media marketing for a one-way conversation, the true value is overlooked. What many fail to realize is that social media is not simply a dissemination tool, but rather a brand augmenter and community builder. In order to achieve community, one must actually be a part of it. Engaging, socializing, conversing and joining in the discussion.

However, while social media can foster awareness, it cannot elevate you to a thought leader on its own. In order to position yourself as an industry influencer, you must master the art of nurturing a valued community while providing irresistible content that encourages meaningful and convincing conversation.

Compelling content coupled with an active community puts the sizzle in your social! Tweet [3]
Providing consistent content [4] to your social endeavors produces a powerful mix of influence and intrigue; two qualities any thought leader must not only possess, but also command.

Creating an Extended Social Space
While a website is an essential component to building a personal brand online [5] and offline, it cannot serve as a daily conduit between business and consumer. Moreover, even though a website functions as the equivalent of yesterday’s brick and mortar business, it does not allow businesses to connect with consumers on an intimate or personal level.

Adding a blog to your marketing mix can provide a more in-depth level of communicating/interacting with subscribers, fans and followers. It gives you a portal to disseminate frequent updates on products, services, opinions and events in real-time. For those who are unable to manage a newsletter, blogging is an excellent alternative to engaging readers.

Blog Options and Tools to Get Started:
1. (a self-hosted WordPress blog) - Self-hosted blogs will require that you purchase a hosting account, install WordPress and either configure and design the site yourself or hire a web designer who can customize on your behalf. This may not be the direction you want to go if you are a first time blogger with little resources.
2. - You can set up a free account at and choose from pre-designed themes. Unfortunately you will be limited when it comes to customization and personalization.
3. Blogger - Similiar to, Blogger is a free online blog tool, but customization will be limited.
4. Typepad - TypePad is a content and blogging tool that will allow anyone to quickly and easily set up a blog. If you don’t want the techy upkeep of a self-hosted blog, Typepad might be the right option for you.

Build Rapport through Relevant Content
Blogging about niche-specific topics is an excellent way to build rapport.

Researching new trends and updates within your industry as well as community needs and market indicators is a way to build your reputation and keep your name top of mind.

Create a blogging strategy based on current content that can be re-purposed and distributed through your social channels.

For example, a blogging strategy to increase personal brand visibility while building an audience might include:
• A product (i.e., e-book) that you blog about and offer as a free download
• Holding a contest, blogging about it and encouraging existing subscribers to help spread the word
• Asking friends, family, past clients and colleagues to subscribe and provide constructive feedback

The goal is to grow an audience while retaining current subscribers as faithful followers and active participants. When readers find your content to be professionally written and highly informative, they are more receptive and trusting.
A blogging strategy to help build rapport while elevating your brand might include:
• 2 blog posts per week about the latest industry information (focus on solving a problem or challenge)
• A series of “how-to” posts that provide strategic ways to grow their business career field
• A tutorial on how to create an effective social media strategy to increase sales conversions

Combining Social Media and Blogging for Increased Expansion
Blogging combined with social media is perhaps the best way to elevate the exposure of your personal brand. Why? With billions of hits daily among Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other platforms, the sky is the limit when it comes to reaching potential clients, networking and raising awareness around your personal brand.

Even if your aim is to target local consumers or businesses primarily for the sake of selling a product or service, your following could reach others far beyond where you reside. Most blogging platforms now allow bloggers to automatically promote their content to social media/social bookmarking sites with just a push of a button. Fans/followers who find the information helpful can share your content with others if you simply embed social media icons on your blog.

An effective strategy for maximizing your potential as a thought leader with blogging and social media combined might include:
Guest posting on blogs [6] specific to your niche thereby tapping into a established community willing to share content to their social media sites
• Posting each of your blogs to multiple social media marketing, bookmarking and community based websites
• Frequenting niche-specific forums and submitting helpful information with links to your blog (when appropriate, not spammy)

Blogging with and in addition to social media is the ultimate way to promote a brand online and offline while establishing your role as thought leader.

While websites are stationary and provide static information regarding your business, blogs are far more interactive, providing a richer understanding of your brand on an ongoing basis.
Do you feel social media marketing and blogging are both necessary tools when working to position your business as thought leader? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Rebekah Radice is the Manager of Industry Engagement for Better Homes and Gardens® Real Estate and serves as “the voice” behind the brand.

Looking for powerful ways to improve your business in 2013? Subscribe to the Clean Slate Blog [7] to gain access to industry best practices, proven strategies, and the hottest technology, productivity and marketing tools used by today’s most successful agents!

Article courtesy of RISMedia -

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Friday, March 15, 2013

3 Reasons Realtors Should be Marketing on YouTube


Real estate marketing on YouTube? 

It may seem crazy, but it’s a fantastic medium for real estate agents.

The goal for any real estate agent is to find a fresh, exciting marketing platform that can render their properties and business in a new, enticing manner to potential clients, and Internet video, YouTube specifically, is a fabulous way to accomplish such a goal.

Though it may seem strange to equate “YouTube” and “business” in the same breath – this is, after all, the domain of cute cats, laughing babies and FailBlog – but YouTube really is a great medium for business, especially real estate-related business, and we’re going to list three reasons why in our first story on YouTube.

Real Estate Marketing on YouTube: 3 Reasons

Reason One: YouTube is Darned Popular
Marketing is almost always the most effective when it utilizes a popular medium, and the popularity of YouTube and Internet video on the whole is exploding. Not only is YouTube the second most popular search engine on the Internet by volume, but according to the latest numbers from Nielsen, Americans stream as much as 15 billion videos a month, and Internet video has increased in viewings by 35 percent year-over-year. And if that weren’t enough, the CISCO VNI Benchmark Report estimates that Internet video traffic will make up 54 percent of all consumer traffic by 2016. So for its popularity alone, you should be strongly considering YouTube marketing.

Reason Two: Efficiency
Real estate is a numbers game – the price of residences, the amount of property taxes, commission rates, etc. – but it’s also a strongly sensuous field, meaning the senses play a huge role in the appeal of a property; and video is able to efficiently incorporate many different sensory details in a short span of time. Just think: In a 30-second video, you could show the image of a property and the sounds of its landscape, along with textual information about the home and even still images to further complement your video. And all that information can be edited and syndicated for not just YouTube, but iTunes, Pinterest, Flickr, Facebook and your personal website and blog.

Reason Three: The Human Touch
One of the struggles of real estate is capturing the emotion of a property, the spark that allows potential homebuyers to see themselves as the home’s new owner. Video can be a great way to capture that in how it emphasizes the human touch. You can speak on video; you can appear on camera; you can emphasize certain qualities of the property; you can play music, etc. Altogether, you can utilize a wide number of tools to fully show why a home is right for someone!

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, though, because as with any form of marketing, there are severe pitfalls to using YouTube and Internet video for your marketing needs. As Rich Brooks pointed out on Social Media Examiner, 35 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute; how can you stand out and produce great videos? That will be the focus of our next article!

Courtesy of Chicago Agent Magazine -

Thursday, March 14, 2013

No Mobile #RealEstateWebsite, No Business!

Last week, a conversation with colleagues became heated when someone challenged the well-known quote from Google’s executive chairman, “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you don’t have a future strategy,” as outdated. According to my colleague, “If you don’t have a mobile strategy, you won’t have a business.” While it’s a bold assertion, there is a ton of evidence to support this theory.

The first round of supporting arguments proposed during this debate here at the office focused on two of the biggest names in technology; Facebook and Instagram.

Instagram, the ultra-popular, photo-sharing app, which facebook purchased for $1 billion dollars in 2012 didn’t even launch their website until just recently this year. Their business was focused entirely on mobile and it’s made them pretty successful.

Facebook on the other hand, the ultra popular social network, which went public in May of 2012 was getting killed on Wall Street due mainly to analysts’ impression they were “slow to move on mobile.” 

However, as of their fourth quarter earnings, mobile now accounts for 23 percent of total revenue and their earning per share beat Wall Street predictions. Optimism for the company is back solely on the strength of their opportunity for growth in the mobile space (not traditional web) which includes 680 million monthly active unique viewers.

Facebook and Instragram present two pretty strong arguments that without a mobile strategy you may not be in business any longer, but the buck doesn’t stop there. In the real estate space, Zillow, Trulia and Angie’s List all reported blowout earnings, much of which was attributed to their mobile traffic. On Zillow’s conference call they offered some insight into their traffic, 46 million unique, of which more than half now come from mobile devices. In addition, those users on mobile devices are researching homes on the go, using GPS to identify homes near them, making them a “hot lead” that is ready to buy and thus more valuable purchase for real estate agents. Zillow now has 23 distinct mobile apps in its portfolio.

Yet another good point and supporting argument for the importance of mobile is the viability of the leads from an ROI perspective. In the real estate industry in particular, the viability of conversion for mobile leads is far greater than traditional desktop leads.

Brokers continue to struggle online with “Mickey Mouse” leads, consumers who enter fake names and information to get access to property info. Mobile has inherent ways of scrubbing leads. Text message inquires for example are 100 percent real leads, each consumer who texts in for information is using their personal cell phone number to do so directly linking them to the lead; guaranteeing a real person on the other end.

There is no denying the importance of mobile is greater than it’s ever been and will only continue to grow – the only question that remains is whether you will be in a position to capitalize on it.

Article courtesy of RIS Media -

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Social Media Marketing for Real Estate Agents

Social Media Marketing for Real Estate Agents

When someone wants to buy or sell their home, they want help from someone that they know, like and trust. Many real estate agents will join local business networking organizations and chambers of commerce to help create and foster those kinds of connections. What if there was an easier way to connect with local customers?

Real estate agents everywhere are realizing that social media could possibly be their best marketing medium. Instead of bus benches and newspaper ads, agents can use social media to create a steady stream of inbound marketing leads. Here are eight aspects of social media marketing that real estate agents need to keep in mind.

Real Estate is Local

As a real estate agent, part of your role is to introduce potential residents to their new neighborhood. This includes educating them on utilities and school districts, but it can also include telling them where to go to get the best Chinese takeout or a great deal on dry cleaning. This is where social media can really excel. You can regularly share tips and information from your neck of the woods that your social network followers will really appreciate.

Agents can also look for local online groups and communities to participate in on Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. St. Louis area real estate agents, for instance, can join one of several LinkedIn Groups that are specific to the St. Louis area. They can also monitor Twitter hashtags like #STL or whatever might be appropriate for their geographic area.

Be Consistent

This is true for every business: be consistent in your social media activity. This means being active every day, at a level that you can commit to. If someone visits your Twitter profile and it has been two weeks since your last tweet, why would they want to follow you?

Consistency also applies to the kinds of content you decide to share. While it's OK to experiment with different kinds of posts and content to find what works, when your statistics tell you that a particular style of post was successful, stick with it.

Be Responsive

By the same token, it is very important to be responsive on your social networks. On average, companies tend to respond to just 5% of questions posed to them using social media. This means that most businesses are missing out on a tremendous number of opportunities to impress publicly.

When someone asks a question on Facebook or Twitter, make it a goal to answer within 24 hours or faster, and do so in a positive and constructive way. Remember that other potential customers will be able to see not only what your answer is, but how you responded to the question as well.

Be Relevant and Applicable

Put yourself in your client's shoes and think about what information they might most find helpful. Make sure that the content you're sharing is interesting and relevant to your clients.

I was at a networking meeting some time ago, and a member real estate agent had an opportunity to present to the group. She chose to talk for 20 minutes on the recent growth in home sales in our county, primarily reciting from a recent statistical report. She completely failed to realize that no one else in the room cared about how many houses she and her colleagues had sold last month. Instead of engaging her audience and providing information that was of real value, she bored us and told us nothing that we could take away from the meeting. She might have at least tried to explain why the data might be important to a regular home buyer or seller. Or, better yet, she could have chosen a topic that would have been far more applicable and interesting to her audience.

Have a Content Marketing Strategy

As with every aspect of your business, it is important to have a strategy. Your Internet marketing strategy should consist of a great website and blog as your hub, surrounded by social networks and other content distribution channels. As you create and publish content to your site, it gets pushed out to appropriate channels so that your fans and followers can stay informed and engaged. This method also ensures that your website remains the focus of your business for search engines. After all, if someone in your area is looking for a real estate agent, you want them to end up on your website, right?

Careful thought should be given to the kinds of content you create, as well as the topics you cover, in order to provide optimum value and visibility to local residents.

The kinds of content you should be creating include Blogs and Videos. These should be further broken down into guides, resources and information about you and your business.

Here are some ideas for content topics:
  • Introduce local resources and events
  • Educate on the home searching and buying process
  • Provide tips and information useful to home buyers
  • Commentary on local news topics
  • Home maintenance and decorating advice
  • New listings and developments

Utilize Multiple Networks

Your buyers aren't only on Facebook, so you should't be either. Make sure that you're taking advantage of the benefits and opportunities offered by each of the major social networks.

Utilize a personal Facebook account for yourself and any other agents in your agency. Have a single Facebook Page for the agency as a whole. The same is true for Google+.
Each agent should have their own Twitter account.

On LinkedIn, every real estate agent should have a complete and optimized personal profile, and be part of a Company that represents your agency.

Complete Participation

Since we are recommending that every agent have a personal account on each the major networks, that means that we are also recommending that every agent be active on those networks.

Each agent should actively work to add more connections and friends on each of the networks, as these connections may represent current or future customers.

Real estate agents can also get enormous value out of LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities as we mentioned above. Just like attending local networking events, agents can join and participate in local online groups where they will have an opportunity to connect with other local residents and provide interesting information. Individual agents and the agency as a whole can focus on different groups and communities to spread their influence and participation.

Of course, agents need to be active and consistent on their personal accounts just like we've outlined above for the company as a whole. There's no reason though why agents can't share company blogs and articles, and similar posts to other agents. Agents should work together to pool resources and share sources for great information and content.

Measure Your Successes

It's very important that every real estate agent make sure that they have mechanisms in place to measure their activity and the results of that activity. How many likes and comments did you receive last week? What was your most popular post? What times of day for posting have been the most successful for you?

The agency website must have Google Analytics integrated for site wide statistics and visitor measurement. Furthermore, the agency and each agent should strongly consider using a tool like HootSuite which can not only help them manage multiple networks, but also provide valuable metrics on the success of their activity.
Social media can be an extremely powerful tool for real estate agents to connect with customers. Trust can be engendered and expertise demonstrated. Make sure that you and your agents are taking advantage of these opportunities today!

Courtesy of The Social Media Hat -

Friday, March 1, 2013

Real Estate News: 2012’s home-price gain best in seven years

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. home prices rose in December, as 2012 saw the best calendar-year growth in seven years, according to a closely followed index released Tuesday.
The S&P/Case-Shiller 20-city composite index posted a 0.2% increase in December, following a 0.1% decline in November. After seasonal adjustment, home prices rose 0.9% in December.
“Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains,” said David Blitzer, index committee chairman at S&P Dow Jones Indices. 

Stock futures SPH3 -0.45%  held on to gains early Tuesday after the data’s release. 

Looking at longer-term trends, December’s prices were up 6.8% from the same period in the prior year, with increases in 19 of 20 cities. That’s the best calendar year gain since a 15.5% jump in 2005. 

New York was the only city with a year-over-year decrease, falling 0.5%.
“The improvement over varying parts of the country suggests that portions of the country which were previously lagging on the home price recovery front have joined in the improvement,” wrote Gennadiy Goldberg, a strategist at TD Securities. “Recovering home values will likely continue to help holders of underwater mortgages, with more homeowners becoming eligible for refinancing at lower mortgage rates. This in turn, will allow more money to be freed up for spending by consumers — a positive for the economy going forward.” 

Despite gains, prices remain about 29% below a bubble peak in 2006, according to Case-Shiller data.
Low inventories and increasing demand have supported prices over the past year. While the housing market remains far below peak levels, home construction, sales and confidence among builders have all been trending higher, according to recent data reports. 

Still, looking forward, price growth may slow down, Blitzer said. 

“Housing is on the upswing; some of the strongest numbers may have already been seen,” Blitzer said.
He cited other recent housing data that show moderating growth. For example, a recent report on confidence among home builders showed large gains from the prior year, but a monthly decline due to lighter prospective-buyer traffic and lower sales of single-family homes. Read more about builder confidence.
Elsewhere Tuesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that its own gauge of home prices showed growth of a seasonally adjusted 0.6% in December, and an annual gain of 5.5%. Read more about FHFA’s home-price gauge.
Another provider, CoreLogic, said prices were 8.3% stronger in 2012. These indexes vary slightly in composition and methodology. Read St. Louis Fed article explaining differences.
The U.S. Department of Commerce reported Tuesday that sales of new U.S. homes rose almost 16% in January. Read more about new-home sales.
Ruth Mantell is a MarketWatch reporter based in Washington. Follow her on Twitter @RuthMantell.

Courtesy of Wall Street Journal: