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October 25, 2014

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Pinterest Marketing Part 4: Blog Content

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 09:00

Charlie Allred

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:

  1. Your interests: cooking, exercise, kids, etc.
  2. Real estate: this is all about helping buyers and sellers.
  3. Home related: home organization, storage, home decor or anything home related.
  4. 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.

Choosing the Right Brokerage For You

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 09:00

Brandon Doyle

By Brandon Doyle

Whether you’re new to the business or in a growth stage, at some point in your career you’ll need to pick a brokerage to associate with (or start your own). There is no “one size fits all” answer, and there are many factors that go into this major decision. It is important to understand what stage of your career you’re in, how much training, mentorship, and supervision you need. Many of the larger brokerages will have training courses available to you, either paid or unpaid. If you’re in need of more hands-on training, a company that promotes teams and mentorships may be the best route.

Brand awareness is important in the marketplace when you’re going after business outside your own sphere of influence; it lends credibility. You should choose a brand that does business in the style and niche you’re focusing on. Research the area you’ll be selling in, and see who has the most listings and sales. If relocation and out state referrals are important to you, a brand with national presence may be a better fit over a smaller shop. Ideally, your brokerage will have offices in the areas you intend on working, even if you plan to work from home.

Visit multiple brokerages to get a feel for the culture; talk to the brokers and agents. Sit in on a meeting or training if possible, that way you can put together a pros and cons list. Fee structure is important and varies by experience and annual sales volume. Oftentimes, newer agents will only get 50 percent of the commission earned, whereas experienced agents will get 90 percent or more. There are additional fees that your broker will pass along to you, and it is important to find this out before making your decision.

At the end of the day, there are great agents who will do a lot of business at any size or brand of brokerage. No one brokerage is better than the other, you just need to find the one that works for you. And don’t discount your competition, because you’ll never know who has the buyer for your next listing!

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.

Free Marketing Webinar With Guy Kawasaki

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 16:02

Bobbi Howe

By Bobbi Howe

This past July, I met Guy Kawasaki on Twitter while he was speaking at Inman Connect. Leigh Brown, broker-owner of RE/MAX Executive Realty in Concord, N.C., and I were having a conversation about our love of Canva – and he just joined in. I was completely star stuck. You may know him as Apple’s former chief evangelist who was an early adopter of Twitter. I mean, Guy can tweet! He was also an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and he has written 12 books.

Anyway, we got to talking about real estate and how he could help more agents like Leigh and myself, so he agreed to host a live webinar exclusively for YPN on how to use Canva to make visually stunning property brochures, blog and newsletter graphics, and more.

I’m hoping our YPN members will take advantage of this exciting webinar co-hosted by Guy and Peg Fitzpatrick, the social media team behind Canva. I’ve been using Canva since January for marketing my listings. The results have been phenomenal. The finished product looks like the work of a professional graphic designer, and yet, it is so easy to use. I can literally put together a property brochure in less than five minutes. I do want to note that Canva can do so much more than just real estate flyers – it includes templates to make almost anything. Also, Canva is completely free. Some graphics are $1, but most are free, and you don’t have to use any of their graphics – you can upload your own.

Here are the webinar details:

I hope you will all tune in. The webinar will be available for download and playback shortly after the event.

Bobbi Howe, CRS, is a REALTOR® with RE/MAX Professionals in St. Joseph, Mo. She currently serves as vice chair of the 2014 YPN Advisory Board. @bobbihowe

How to Avoid Legal Issues in Real Estate

Fri, 10/10/2014 - 09:00

Sammer Mudawar

By Sammer Mudawar

First, I would like to start by making it clear: I am not an attorney and nothing herein (legal word) should be construed as legal advice. This is a simple narrative on how common sense and sound business practices can help avoid some very common situations that can lead to legal problems in our profession. These opinions and observations come from my experiences as a working agent, managing broker, and active member of the grievance committee at the Pacific West Association of REALTORS®.

Communication

Communication, or lack thereof, is by far the most common and easy mistake to avoid. It can snowball a simple problem into a mountain of chaos. Real estate transactions (especially residential) are emotionally charged and sensitive by nature. When agents fail to properly communicate with all parties, it can easily lead to frustration and make people feel hopeless, which can lead to desperate actions. Eventually, clients will feel the need to get involved or get their legal advisors involved and that is typically not a good thing. Do not avoid phone calls, e-mails, texts, or Facebook messages when there is a problem. Address the situation promptly and make sure everyone knows what is going on. Remember, bad news early is good news and most problems can be solved with open lines of communication.

Ego

It is not uncommon for real estate professionals to become personally offended when issues arise during a transaction; and they often feel the need to prove they are right or know more than the other agent, whether by knowledge or experience. Many times the battle of the egos starts with simple mistake in our choice of words. For example, instead of saying “my client” we say “I” or “me”, insinuating we actually have the ability to make choices on our clients’ behalf. Mistakes like this can create an adversarial relationship between the agents, jeopardize a transaction, lead to a lawsuit, and create liability for yourself. In theory, there really shouldn’t be issues between agents because the contract is between buyer and seller; agents should be weary to interject themselves. So don’t create unnecessary problems for yourself by letting your ego get the best of you. Remember your role in the transaction and that the issue is typically between buyer and seller not the agents.

In closing, much of our income comes from our ability to solve problems before they become legal in nature – consider it compensation for pain and suffering. Sometimes it’s better to answer that annoying and untimely phone call, let your ego suffer a bit, or not respond to an emotional text if it’s not going to move things forward or be in the best interest of your client. Lastly, there is a time for the attorneys to intervene and you and/or your broker should know when to make those recommendations to the client.

Sammer Mudawar is the owner of RE/MAX Prestige located in Anaheim Hills and Costa Mesa in Orange County, Calif. You can learn more about RE/MAX Prestige by going to www.joinremaxprestige.com and consumers can visit his personal site at www.liveoc.net.

REALTORS® Discuss Safety on Today Show

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 18:41

Tamara Suminski, 2011 California YPN chair and 2014 president of the South Bay Association of REALTORS®, appeared on Today with 2015 NAR President Chris Polychron to discuss safety precautions REALTORS® are taking in wake of the horrifying kidnapping and murder of Arkansas-based real estate practitioner Beverly Carter.

Among the changes to how Suminski conducts business, she has committed to never hosting an open house alone. “REALTORS® everywhere are having significant conversations about safety,” she told Today correspondent Hallie Jackson.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Learn more about Beverly Carter and the legacy she is leaving behind.

For broker-owners, managers, and agents looking to make safety a priority at your office, here are seven tips to create security routines and procedures. Download NAR’s agent information, agent itinerary, and prospect ID forms and adapt them for brokerage use.

To learn more on how to stay safe in the field, visit REALTOR.org/safety.

REALTOR® Recruiting and Retention: The Non-MLS Value Proposition

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 12:30

Sam DeBord

By Sam DeBord

Compulsion is the crutch that lulls our organization’s recruiting and retention capabilities to sleep. When real estate licensees are compelled to be members of a REALTOR® association because of their need for MLS services, we often fail to aggressively sell them on the broad spectrum of REALTOR® benefits, most of which lie outside of the MLS sphere.

The MLS is integral to our members’ businesses, and will continue to be important to our industry. Legal, financial, and technological shifts have significantly changed its role over time, though, and we should be prepared for the inevitability of future changes.

As a member of Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS® Board of Directors, I believe the long-term danger for REALTOR® associations is in resting on a value proposition that relies almost singularly on the benefits of compulsory MLS membership. Building apps and services that complement the MLS can reinforce the board/MLS’s value, but without member appreciation for non-MLS benefits, a REALTOR® board is putting all of its eggs in one basket.

The organization’s reputation has to be built on more than just transactional services.

Political advocacy, legal protection, corporate partnership benefits, and education are all services that can and should be relayed to members regularly to create a more consistent and broad picture of the value derived from membership.

NAR has made a significant investment this year to define the REALTOR® Value Proposition, and our local boards nationwide could benefit greatly by sharing our successful strategies with one another. YPN members who serve on their local or state REALTOR® board, take note: More collaboration between REALTOR® boards could streamline the identification of the most effective messaging strategies to be leveraged in membership-building campaigns across the country.

I’ve had the opportunity to chair a communications task force for Seattle King County REALTORS®, and we’d like to share our first steps in reinventing our value proposition.  Our president, executive committee, staff, and creative agencies have been working for over a year to audit our communications and messaging strategies. This is our first concrete value proposition piece, which going out this week to members alongside the annual dues invoice.

The annual bill is the single piece of communication between boards and members that will be delivered without fail. We’ve added our benefits brochure this year, with the front giving a quick visual highlight of most concrete REALTOR® tools available from NAR, the state board, and local board. The back side highlights timely advocacy issues and the specific financial ramifications for the member’s bottom line.

This is the most poignant moment to clarify member benefits. Educating members on the wide range of protections and services we provide should happen year-round, but we should be especially vocal on the day that we ask our members to recommit another year of financing for the organization which supports their businesses.

The impetus for Seattle King County REALTORS® to create this kind of messaging was greater than most boards would have – our regional MLS is not REALTOR®-owned.  Our local licensees have to find enough value in non-MLS services to justify REALTOR® membership. Despite that challenge, our board continues to retain the majority of local full-time agents within our membership, and our members do the bulk of the total sales in our market.

This kind of messaging, with a few local tweaks, should be applicable to nearly any board and a great complement to those providing MLS services as well.  We will be redesigning our entire platform of communication this year to make certain we’re contacting our members with timely, engaging, and useful information every chance we get.  We’ll be sharing more as the process moves along, and we’d invite you to invest in the development of the REALTOR® Value Proposition by sharing your most successful communications campaigns as well.

Sam DeBord is a director for Washington REALTORS® and Seattle King County REALTORS®, and managing broker with Coldwell Banker Danforth. Connect with his team, Seattle Homes Group, at SeattleHome.com and SeattleCondo.com.

Prosperity or Perdition? My First Year in Real Estate

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 13:38

Elizabeth Mackay

By Elizabeth Mackay

I had the fairytale notion I was so well suited to real estate that I somehow would transcend all odds to rise to stardom in a matter of months.  I thought, naively, that I would visualize and affirm my way to $100,000 in commission in my first year.  Well how could I not, I’m a decent photographer, have a fair command of the English language, I’m a people person, detail-oriented, and reliable.

Imagine my dismay after six months, with a whopping $600, long spent, to my glory. It’s about that time that my first year goal went from $100,000 in commission to “I will not quit!”. When my visualizing and affirming became – DON’T GIVE UP! NEVER GIVE IN! – it was in the following months that I came to accept that real estate would give me something a thousand times more meaningful than money; that if I could hang in there real estate would transform me.

And it has. Real estate doesn’t care about comparisons. It doesn’t care who knows more people, who’s more eloquent or even, shockingly, more affable. It doesn’t care who’s on the most social media platforms, who has a blog, a newsletter, and a mailing list. Real estate laughs in the face of those who think that page one of Google is the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the real estate rainbow. If you don’t know how to leverage it, page one of Google can be a colossal waste of time in getting there and a bigger waste of time in fielding questions and sending information to those who are only looking for information – after all, isn’t that what Google is for?

All your admirable qualities and tech savvy will serve you well in the end, but in the beginning, real estate only cares about who has the guts and the will to stick it out. The determination to keep going in the face of all evidence to the contrary, when the entire world seems to be conspiring to prove to you that all your lofty ideals and fantastic qualities are essentially meaningless. Real estate cares who can take disappointment after disappointment, defeat after defeat and get up the next day and do it all over again, broken heart or not.  It cares about who can rise above deception and declare “I will not fail. I do not care how many people say no. I do not care how many people lie to me. I will not quit!”

So I haven’t earned $100,000 in commission yet, but what I have earned is infinitely more meaningful. I’ve earned my self-respect. Not the surface self-respect we often have – the type that makes us say goodbye to the bad boyfriend and amen when we leave the lousy job. I’m talking about the kind of self-respect that produces humility, perseverance, self confidence, and a sense of security and belonging in the world; the knowledge that you will never be a failure unless you declare yourself so; the courage that comes with knowing you have risen above sensitivity to rejection.

If you don’t quit, you will eventually come to that place where you know that the best is before you. And now, one year after I set out on what I thought was my road to financial freedom, I can say that real estate is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’ve had to stand on my own two feet and walk my personal road to perdition. In all likelihood you will walk yours too, so hang in there, never give in and most important: “Don’t let it be about the money, let it be about being great.

Elizabeth Mackay, MBA, is a salesperson with CA Christie Real Estate in The Bahamas. Connect with Mackay at livelifebahamas.com or liz@livelifebahamas.com.

The Common Denominator of Prospecting: Finding ‘The Why’

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:16

Alex Cavelli

By Alex Cavelli

Prospecting is either the most embraced or most avoided activity for real estate professionals. While some see it as an opportunity to earn business right now, the majority of us don’t feel that the juice is worth the squeeze. Facing rejection and looking stupid is far more painful than not hitting our business goals.

No matter the sentiment, let’s take the pressure off ourselves and see prospecting for what it really is: Talking with people about their lives.

To frame our approach, let’s look at two ways to track the source of your business:

  1. Where they come from.
  2. Why they came.

If you look at your last five transactions, you can certainly identify those both sources.  The more important component is to take step and ask, “What life change was going on?” Your results may look something like this:

Source

“The Where”

“The Why”/

Life Change

Open House

Getting married

FSBO

Kids are all gone

Open House

Getting married

Expired

Retiring to Florida

Sphere

Job Promotion

Notice the insignificance of “The Where” in comparison to “The Why”? While one just tells you where you met your clients, the other has everything to do with their dreams, goals, and life ambitions. When prospecting, which would you rather focus on?

A mentor of mine correctly boiled real estate prospecting down to three questions:

  1. What life change is coming up?
  2. Is real estate connected to that change?
  3. Is there an opportunity to do business?

So, let’s take the pressure of determining how we will meet our future clients off ourselves, and instead, keep those three core questions in the back of our minds. As long as we’re connecting with people, “The Where” just doesn’t matter. It’s all about “The Why.”

 Alex Cavelli is a REALTOR® with Howard Hanna in Greater Cleveland. Connect with Alex via www.linkedin.com/in/cavelli or Alex@thecrockettteam.com.

Keywords for Pinterest (Part 3)

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 09:00

Charlie Allred

By Charlie Allred

We all know keywords are important to your online presence, but did you know that keywords are important in Pinterest too?  In my last two Pinterest articles, I’ve discussed best practices for your Pinterest profile and Pinterest boards. Once you’ve got these first two steps completed it’s time to start considering keywords.

It can be very overwhelming when you begin to market your real estate business online. I recently spoke with a successful real estate agent and blogger, and I asked her about her online marketing strategy. She said that she wanted to be everywhere online. But what should you do first? What’s most important? Keywords will help you determine your initial path and niche.

Let’s start by talking about the benefit of keywords:

Generally, the goal of your website is to appear in search engines results organically through a set of keywords that describe your market or niche. These keywords should help prospects find you online, thus helping you gain more real estate business.

For instance, while coaching a real estate agent here in Phoenix, I was helping her find the best keywords for the downtown Phoenix historic district, which is her niche. By using tools like Google AdWords Keyword Planner, I did the keyword research for the downtown Phoenix historic district and found that the top keywords searched in order of highest searched volume are:

  • Phoenix real estate
  • Phoenix homes
  • Phoenix homes for sale
  • Downtown Phoenix
  • Historic Phoenix

This is not a comprehensive list, but it’s close enough for purposes of this article. So in all your website content, such as blog articles, videos, etc., you want to include the best keywords, for searchability purposes. In the case of the downtown Phoenix real estate agent, if I were her, I’d include “downtown Phoenix” and “historic Phoenix” in every article, because they describe her niche perfectly. I wouldn’t concentrate on using the keyword phrases “Phoenix real estate,” “Phoenix homes,” or “Phoenix homes for sale” as much, only because they are very broad and used often by real estate agents in Phoenix. The goal is to find the best keywords for your niche to attract serious prospects interested in what you have to offer.

Why do keywords matter in Pinterest?

All pins are now indexed by Google, so use of keywords will impact the overall SEO of your website. Each time you pin something, you should be using keywords to maximize your efforts in Pinterest.

Keywords should be used in:

  • Your Pinterest profile
  • Your board titles
  • Your board descriptions
  • Your pin descriptions

This may sound like a lot of work, but if you are pinning to your top boards regularly, it’s worth the effort to look up the keywords for those board at least once, and then keep them handy so you can reference them. Once you have your top 12 Pinterest boards, as discussed in last month’s article, look up the keywords for a few boards at a time, so it’s less time consuming.

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.

When I meet with real estate agents, they often tell me they’re concerned because they built a really pretty website, but it isn’t getting them any new business or leads. Next month, I will discuss your website – specifically, how to simplify your website and blog content while promoting your site to gain more real estate business.

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.

 

 

 

3 Tips for Preparing Buyers

Fri, 08/29/2014 - 09:00

Andrew Janos

By Andrew Janos

As the real estate market continues to be fast-paced, the need to prepare your buyers is growing exponentially. Making sure buyers have a grasp on the market conditions and purchase process will allow you to manage expectations through the entire purchase. Here are three tips:

Get pre-approval: Preparing a buyer financially ensures that they do not fall in love with something they can’t have. In order to even put in an offer, the buyer needs a current and accurate pre-approval. Routinely, buyers push to see houses without a pre-approval, but you must resist the urge to show them without it. Your client’s buying power might be lower once a loan originator runs through all of the qualifying questions. In our fast-paced environment, one buyer could lose to another while obtaining approval to buy the house of their dreams if the other party is already prepared. It’s tough to turn down the opportunity to take clients out that call, but its important to screen them and make sure they are ready to purchase. After talking to them a bit, you might find out that they should wait until next year based on their situation. It’s not just about the type of house they are interested in, but also the right fit for their life goals and current situation.

Educate them on the market: We all know that real estate is location, location, location, but the other important ingredient is education. Take the time to explain current market conditions and what your clients can expect. They should be informed about current sales frequency and volume in conjunction with prices of sold homes. If your buyer drags their feet, they may miss out while inventory and mortgage rates are low. If a home is priced competitively, there could potentially be multiple offers made. Making sure your buyers are comfortable with the purchase process will allow for a smoother transaction.

Set the stage for first-time buyers: You are the one repeatedly facilitating sales, and if you are working with a first time buyer, they have no idea what to expect. This could be as simple as explaining the importance of mortgage contingencies and home inspections. It could also be managing expectations for counter offers on a low bid. Either way, the more that your client knows, the less stress you feel and the buyer will have more trust in you.

In the end, make sure you are following our No. 1 rule as REALTORS®: to protect your client’s best interest and allow them to have an exciting purchase. They are, after all, buying a home, which is one of the biggest decisions they will make in their life.

Andrew Janon is a vice president and salesperson with U S Spaces in Philadelphia. Connect with Andrew at andrewjanos.com.