Thursday, November 15, 2018

Lisa Gray

Lisa Gray
127 POSTS 0 COMMENTS
Lisa is an accomplished marketer with years of expertise in direct response marketing, digital marketing, data analytics and business development working with both B2C and B2B.

Based on a recent NAR survey, 77% of buyers stated home staging made it easier to visualize the property as their future home.

In fact, the majority of agents agree home staging decreases the home’s time on the market and increases the sales price (up to 15 percent).

With options from hiring a professional, to doing it yourself, here’s why more agents are choosing virtual staging.

Search the internet for virtual staging and you’ll find lots of articles on how “dishonest” the practice is and how “deceived” potential buyers feel when they visit the home and the staging they saw online isn’t there.

But, read who is writing these hit pieces – professional home stagers – and it’s easier to take them with a grain of salt. Besides, many agents are successfully using virtual home staging and have great tips to offer.

The vacant home

Regardless of the type of market or home, staging is a must for most vacant homes—even if it’s staged only for the listing photos.

But, there’s more to it than marketing. Vacant homes send a message to potential buyers: this seller is desperate.

At the very least, buyers may assume there’s an urgency on the seller’s part to get rid of the home. Hello, lowball offers!

Most buyers first view a home online. Therefore, having at least virtual staging in place avoids the “vacant home syndrome” that may lead to low offers. 

What virtual staging is, and isn’t

Virtually staging a home for sale involves digitally enhancing the home’s rooms with furniture and accessories.

Many companies offer the service and it’s quite easy to use. All you, as an agent, need to do is send high-res photos of the rooms your client wants to be staged to the staging company. Depending on the company, you can have the finished product within 48 hours to a week later.

Costs vary as well. BoxBrownie.com charges as little as $32 per photo. While other companies can charge up to $100 or more per photo.

Virtual staging isn’t a DIY project. Sure, you can purchase software, but it isn’t the same software the pros use and, without a staging background, it’s not wise. Unless, of course, you think homeowners going FSBO is wise, then, by all means, go for it.

Unlike most of the out-of-the-box virtual staging software, the professional virtual staging software doesn’t virtually remodel homes. It presents the home’s architecture as-is and design the staging around what is actually present.

The photos are high-resolution and far more realistic and professional-looking than you’ll get with consumer-oriented software.

So, how do you keep a potential buyer from feeling manipulated?

Hard feelings may ensue when what a potential buyer sees in person isn’t what was presented online. Buyers may feel deceived, or like the victim of a bait and switch type of con.

Kiawah Partners in Charleston, S.C. has a brilliant solution.

“The company shows two versions of the photos: the room as it was originally photographed and the virtually staged room with the word ‘visualization’ prominently watermarked in the corner of the image,” explains Realtormag.com’s Erica Christoffer.

“The potential home buyer can see that the kitchen currently has beautiful dark wood cabinets and dark quartzite countertops, say, but can also see what it would look like if the cabinets were painted white and the dark countertop was replaced with a white marble,” explained Tiffany Jonas, Kiawah’s advertising and marketing manager

The company also includes a disclaimer in the property’s MLS description.

At vacant properties, the empty rooms contain large photos of the virtually staged room, “mounted on foam board and sitting on easels,” according to Cristofer.

“The potential home buyer can plainly see the original, real room in front of their eyes and, in the mounted photo, how that room would look with different furnishings and finishes,” Jonas told the magazine.

Other agents who employ virtual staging have the most popular rooms staged several different ways. “To help buyers visualize, for example, how a space could serve as a study, an exercise room, or a guest room, depending on one’s needs,” according to Boston Globe correspondent Marni Elyse Katz.

What to look for in a virtual staging company

Choosing a virtual staging company is rather like choosing a professional real estate photographer—it’s all about the photos.

Of course, you’ll want to ensure that the photos are realistic. You’ll also want to ensure that they take into account all the other aspects of stunning photography. These include lighting, scale, color, and composition.

A virtual staging company should also offer experience in home décor and styling. This includes the ability to create tasteful combinations of furniture and accessories, wall colors and flooring.

Finally, consider what you get for the money you are willing to spend.

We recommend BoxBrownie.com, not only for their skills and affordability but for the extras they offer, such as professional copywriters, to really make your listing sing.


Another way to attract more buyers is to send the Still Renting postcard from the First Time Buyer/Renter Series to at least 100 renters in your area. Need a mailing list of renters? Click Here.

Always know that we are here to help you in any way we can. 

Call our support team at 866.405.3638 if you would like help creating a new mailing list or marketing materials.

Thank you to all of our amazing contestants in our March contest!

We were thrilled to see the successful experiences everyone is having with our products and services. It is especially enjoyable to read about the experiences of so many new agents.  Remember, if your name wasn’t announced in this month’s contest, a new contest is starting soon with new opportunities to win!

Amazin Fire TV Prize Winner – John Kilpatrick

John had wonderful feedback about his experiences with ProspectsPLUS! as a new agent.

“I recently had an opportunity to use ProspectsPLUS for the first time. As a new real estate agent I ordered door hangers introducing myself to my neighbors. I placed the order and received them before the end of the week. They looked great.”

“Thank you ProspectsPLUS for your professionalism and high-quality standards.”

John Kilpatrick’s Latest Marketing Piece Purchases –  Just Sold Postcards & Door Hangers

Amazon Fire TV Prize Winner – Letterly Foster

Letterly shared her recent experiences using ProspectsPLUS! as a new agent.

“I LOVE ProspectsPLUS!!!! As a new agent, I am always looking for marketing ideas and new ways to find buyers. ProspectsPLUS has all the tools I need and more to help my business grow. I’ve ordered calendars, door hangers, neighborhood information postcards and they never disappoint. My products are shipped on time. It’s super easy to set up an account with them and reorder past marketing materials and they are affordable. The customer service representatives are out of this world.”

“They really want to see you flourish and I can appreciate that. Customer for life and I recommend ProspectsPLUS to every agent I know. I can’t thank you enough”

Letterly’s Latest Marketing Piece Purchases –  Door Hangers & Calendar Magnet Series

Join in on Letterly and John’s successful use of Door Hangers by ordering 100 Door hangers from our Door Hanger Series and have them sent to your home. Commit to hanging them on the doors of 100 homes in your Geographic Farm in April.

Always know that we are here to help you in any way we can.  Call our support team at 866.405.3638 if you would like help creating your new mailing lists or marketing materials.

When 1,500 U.S. consumers were asked what type of research they performed before hiring a real estate agent, nearly 43 percent said they seek advice from a neighbor or friend. More than 34 percent say they check the agent’s website.

When the second most popular way of finding agents is by trolling their websites, it’s critical to take a good look at your online presence. Blogging has benefits.

Listings, listings, and more listings

Here’s a “well, DUH” for you: To capture website leads you need visitors to your website. There are several ways to generate more traffic and blogging is one of the best methods.

Merely having a blog on your website will increase the site’s number of visitors, according to a Hubspot study. In fact, companies that blog receive 80 percent more visitors and small-business bloggers (which is what you are) get 126 percent more leads.

The bottom line is that if you promote your posts widely and consistently, you’ll drive more traffic to your website. 

SEO

And, if you search engine optimize your blog using long-tail keywords, you’ll be focusing on traffic that is more likely to convert.

Examples of short and long-tail keywords in real estate include:

  • Short: Lake homes
  • Long: Lake homes for sale in Madison
  • Short: Homes for sale in Phoenix
  • Long: Homes for sale in Phoenix with a pool
  • One-story homes in Las Vegas
  • One-story homes for sale in 89123 under $200,000
Real estate consumers are using longtail keywords to find you

Agent Steve Jolly of nashvillerealestatenow claims that he counted “21,050 keywords that were used to find my website” over the course of one year. More than 90 percent of those keywords were longtail.

In a nutshell: Although long tail key phrases will result in less traffic, what you do get will convert easier. And, when you think about it, are you in the traffic-generating or lead-generating business?

Finally, if you’re posting valuable, high-quality content, you may attract inbound links – the holy grail of anyone seeking to rank in Google.

If you want Google to see your site as authoritative, having high-quality inbound links is the only way to do it, according to Jayson DeMers at Search Engine Land.

Blogging helps build trust and establish expertise

The folks at Google asked real estate consumers what is important to them when choosing an agent and nearly half of them said “trust,” according to Tom Ferry.

So, how do you create trust? Through your online presence.

Blogging helps you appear human instead of as a brand. Regular blogging, on a schedule, helps people trust you as well. You show up, you are consistent – those are all qualities consumers seek in an agent. 

 A blog will help you to position yourself as an expert in your niche
 The How

Stuck for topics? Think about your clients and the questions they ask. The chances are good that others have the same questions.

There are at least a gazillion (ok, an exaggeration, maybe a bazillion) pieces of online advice about how to write blog posts. The key thing is to know your audience before you sit down to put fingers to keyboard:

  • Buyer or seller?
  • What pain point is your topic addressing?

Keep the answers to these questions in mind to remain focused as you write.

Make the post easier to read by structuring it so that it has lots of white space. Chop up overly long paragraphs and use photos, subheadings, content boxes and block quotes.

The When

How often should you post to your blog? Businesses that “published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5X more leads than companies that published between 0 – 4 monthly,” according to a Hubspot survey.

Sounds a bit excessive, doesn’t it? Other than agents who outsource their blogging, who has time to write four blog posts a week? Nonetheless, the takeaway from this survey is that blogging more often results in increased lead generation.

Not only does inbound marketing work, it’s far less expensive than most other types. If done right, blogging is inbound marketing on steroids.

Another way to get more listings, send the Timing is Everything postcard from the Fence-Sitter Series to at least 100 new prospects in an area where you want more listings.

PLUS: Whenever you have a moment…here are 3 things to check out that will help you CRUSH IT in 2018!

1. The Free 2018 Real Estate Business Plan

Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan – Click Here

2. The Online ROI Calculator

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

3. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

Also…check these out 🙂

3 Click Postcards – Just snap, tap, send all from your mobile phone

MLS Mailings – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand

 

“The seventies called. They want their open houses back”

At least that’s what 49 percent of agents think. But is it true? Did open houses go out with checkered kitchen aprons? NAR statistics tell us only 3 percent of homebuyers say visiting an open house was at the top of their to-do list.

On the flip-side, however, even though it’s not their first way of locating a house, eventually 45 percent of buyers visit an open house. Interestingly, repeat buyers are more likely to show up than first-timers. And, every one of those visitors represents the possibility for two transactions, a listing, and a sale.

Read on for some thoughts on how to bring the open house process into the present.

Time is on your side 

One of the aspects of the modern open house that differs from the old-school type is agents aren’t feeling locked into a particular day or time.

While the after-work open house may not fly in a commuter-centric region, in other areas agents are having amazing results with it. Downtown condos and lofts being held open during the lunch hour are also becoming more common.

Any home with a view will sell itself if it’s held open at the appropriate time of day. Why hold a downtown penthouse open on a Sunday afternoon when the city lights are best viewed in the evening?

It’s easy to mention in your listing that the patio of the lakefront property faces west. Holding it open at sunset, however, drives home the fact far better.

Market the heck out of it

Gone are the days that agents bought a display ad in the paper to advertise an open house. Today it’s all about leveraging the power of social media and advertising online at Craigslist, Backpage.com, Zillow, Yahoo, Twitter, etc.

Don’t scrimp on the photos and the adjectives when you write the descriptions. You want people to feel that if they miss this open house they’ll regret it forever.

Digital sign in

Many agents tell us that one of the most awkward parts of the open house is getting visitors to sign the guestbook. An old trick is to keep it by the door and tell visitors that the owner has requested that, for security purposes, they sign in before touring the home.

A quick and easy way to sign people up is to use the Open Home Pro iPad or Android app or the less-pricey AM Open House. Agents who use it say open house visitors more readily sign in on an iPad than the old-school pen-and-paper.

Open house extras

From a plate of homemade chocolate chip cookies to a full-on burger bar featuring a platter of sliders, food is becoming a mainstay for the real estate open house.

Whether you serve food depends on regional customs and your tolerance level for possible litigation. A lot of agents shy away from the practice – why take a chance a kid will choke on your chocolate chip cookies?

Since courts have held brokers jointly responsible with the homeowner for injuries on the property, these agents have a point.

If you want to offer your guests something, how about bottles of water with custom labels emblazoned with your brand or a CD of your virtual tour of the home or neighborhood?

If you’re the agent that has lots of promotional items, such as pens, calendars, and pads of paper with your contact info engraved on them. Or make goody bags up — like the ones you got at birthday parties when you were a kid — and fill them with promotional items.

Mike Blaney of Limelight Marketing in Vancouver Canada suggests that you should create a package of property information for your open house guests including:

  • Photographs (or a tour CD)
  • A list of all personal property included in the sale
  • Descriptions and photos of the home’s unique features
  • List of repairs and improvements, with dates
  • A list of average monthly utility costs
  • The copy of the property survey
  • Neighborhood information (including proximity to schools, if it’s a family-type home)
The bottom line

If you crossed open houses off as not worth your time, with two potential transactions riding on it and a bunch of new ideas to test, it’s time to reconsider for 2018.

Getting ready for an open house? Send 100 Open House Postcards to the closest surrounding neighbors ten days prior to your open house!

Always know that we are here to help you in any way we can.  Call our support team at 866.405.3638 if you would like help creating your new mailing lists or marketing materials.

PLUS: Whenever you have a moment…here are 3 things to check out that will help you CRUSH IT in 2018!

1. The Free 2018 Real Estate Business Plan

Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan – Click Here

2. The Online ROI Calculator

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

3. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

Also…check these out 🙂

3 Click Postcards – Just snap, tap, send all from your mobile phone

MLS Mailings – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand

 

There’s probably little worse in your real estate business than a client who insists on buying fixer-uppers when they have little to no experience with them.

Working incredibly hard for a payday that may not happen isn’t exactly what you signed up for, but there it is.

Experienced buyers may know full well what they’re getting themselves into while first-timers— or those who haven’t been in the market for some time—typically have no idea what to expect.

Sure, they may have heard the fixer-upper horror stories but it isn’t until they’re knee-deep in the process that reality sets in. Most likely, though, they’re Chip and Joanna Gaines fans and can’t wait to get into a process that looks all too easy on TV.

It’s up to you, their professional real estate advisor, to ensure that your clients are prepared.

  1. Yes, location is still important

Counsel your fixer-upper client to consider, carefully, the home’s location.

If you aren’t familiar with the neighborhood, check recent sold prices and look for anything else that might recommend the neighborhood. Is there a Whole Foods or Walmart planned? Those are both indications that the area might be a good investment.

What are the schools like? As much as the current political climate in the nation would like to downplay this aspect of a neighborhood’s desirability, it is still quite pertinent with homebuyers.

Explain to your client how difficult it will be to recoup the money spent to rehab the house if the work increases its value beyond that of other neighborhood homes.

  1. It’s important to know the cost before making an offer

Real estate consumers aren’t privy to your depth of knowledge about everything involved in buying a home and it’s important to be constantly reminding yourself of this.

For instance, how many of your buyers think that the home inspection is the definitive diagnosis of what may be wrong with the home?

The answer to that is, probably, “most of them.”

What many don’t understand is that the inspector only inspects visible areas of the home. Who knows what might be lurking behind the walls or under the kitchen vinyl?

As you know, when buying a fixer, the home inspection is even more important as is the client’s willingness to order extra inspections, if needed.

Get as much information as possible from the inspector, especially about the condition of the home’s major systems and the priciest items to fix (foundation, roof and structure issues).

Because you’ll want to be able to counsel your client on how much to offer for the home, both of you will need to consult with a contractor and obtain a written estimate of how much it will cost to get the home up to snuff (including the price of permits).

Then, tack on some extra.

“Plan for at least one budget-buster by adding an extra 12% to your renovation estimate,” cautions the experts at daveramsey.com.

And, again, if the home, after renovation, is valued higher than similar homes on the block, you and I both know it’s a lousy investment.

  1. Paying for the work

There are a number of ways to finance the purchase of a fixer-upper and which to choose typically rests on the amount of work required. Among the more popular options is Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle Renovation loan.

Your client will need a credit score of at least 620 and a minimum 5 percent down payment, but, similar to FHA’s 203(k) program, it combines the cost of the renovation with the cost of the home, so there will be only one loan.

While your client may be familiar with these programs, the loans aren’t as easy to work with as they may believe. The FHA loan, for instance, requires hiring a “qualified 203(k) consultant to oversee every step of the work, from plans to the finished product,” according to Robin Saks Frankel at bankrate.com.

To get approved for the HomeStyle loan, your client will have to hire a contractor to put together a detailed cost estimate.

Then, there are a number of other tedious hoops to jump through during the rehab process. Ensure that your client knows all there is to know about his or her preferred financing method.

For buyers on a budget, a fixer can mean being able to buy a larger home, for others, it’s a chance to purchase something that they can customize to their tastes and lifestyle.

Walk them through the process to help ensure they know what they’re getting into so there are no surprises down the line.Move up market real estate postcards

Send the 6 Move-Up Mistakes Postcard from the Move-up Market Series to at least 100 prospects in an area where you would like more buyers.

PLUS: Whenever you have a moment…here are 3 things to check out that will help you CRUSH IT in 2018!

1. The Free 2018 Real Estate Business Plan

Treat your business like a business it is vital to long-term success in this industry. Some agents may put together elaborate business plans, yet there’s something powerful about keeping it simple. Check out our one page Online Real Estate Business Plan – Click Here

2. The Online ROI Calculator

Consistency and automation are the keys to success. Discover how effective direct mail marketing can dramatically increase your bottom line. Enter your statistics in our Free online ROI Calculator and click the ‘CALCULATE MY ROI’ button to see your results instantly! – Click Here

3. The 12 Month Done-For-You Strategic Marketing Plan

The Real Estate Marketing Planner is a powerful 12-Month-Guide that strategically defines what marketing to do when. Four key market segments are included, Niche Marketing, Listing Inventory, Geographic Farming, and Sphere of Influence – Click Here

Also…check these out 🙂

3 Click Postcards – Just snap, tap, send all from your mobile phone

MLS Mailings – Automated Just Listed, Just Sold Postcards

Market Dominator System – Become a neighborhood brand