Posts in Internet

Starter moves for real estate agent

Show Me the House

The first and most obvious thing I think the real estate world can (and should) be doing is buying video cameras and shooting their own walkthroughs. You don’t have to be a pro. You DO have to know how not to make something look horrible, but that comes with trial and error.

Pick up a Video Camera

If you don’t already own a video camera, two ends of the spectrum that I’d recommend for realtors are:

The Xacti is a higher end picture. The Flip is YouTube quality. Honestly, the Flip is the camera for the job, but some folks want the best, so it’s up to you. Me? I’d buy the Flip. (Personally, I use a digital camera’s movie setting to shoot most of my stuff).

Editing

Now, to actually do it, you have two options: learn how to edit things easily in iMovie (Mac) or Windows Media Maker (PC), or pay someone to edit what you shoot. Benefits of A are that you can do it when you need it and your time is all you pay. Benefits of B are that the editor will be good at what they do, will save you time, and will know what to do next. Drawback of B is that it costs and you have no control of when you get back your files, depending on how professional your person is.

Posting the Video

Last step to putting a video up is to find hosting for the video so that you can then embed it on your blog. YouTube makes sense for two reasons. One, it’s easy and most people can navigate it. Two, it becomes a second market for your homes if you’ve added captions at the end that show how to contact you.

If you want a different look and feel from YouTube, you can try Blip.tv, Brightcove, Vimeo and a gazillion other companies who host video and have a nifty player.

I could probably write a series on just how to add video to your world, but I’m in the middle of another series, so let’s leave it there for now. If you want helping DOING any of this, let me know and I’ll point you to the right resources.

Ways Your Blog Will Help

First, blogging about certain properties you’re hoping to move will give you an obvious potential return, but that might be limited. Instead, think of what buyers and sellers might need to know, and what they might need to know about you. You’re likely going to weigh this information heavily on the sell side, and that’s okay, so make your website a great place to learn about things like “curb appeal” and how to declutter a home for better show-ability. Give people ideas that have added thousands back to the sale price of your clients’ homes.

Testimonials

People are so itchy about asking for testimonials. Don’t be. Ask. Ask your clients with whom you’ve had a great business experience to comment. Want to get really edgy? Be willing to post someone’s negative comments about your business with them, and don’t be defensive. Instead, just thank them.

The Secret Sauce

As a media maker, you can do things that will add to one’s impressions of a potential new home. You can shoot video of the general neighborhood, add Flickr photos of some selling points of the town, record audio reports of people’s general feelings of the town. Can you imagine the impact that might make? You could potentially take a “normal looking” house and demonstrate the value of the home’s setting through media.

3 common mistakes

As you all know, simply creating an account on Facebook or Twitter rarely equates to being plugged in. The most common reason for not spending time on developing a social media strategy is that real estate agents and brokers fear there will be little to no return on investment – and that frankly ‘it’s just too much work’ or ‘I don’t have the time.’

Here are 3 common mistakes that real estate agents and brokers do all the time:

1. Doing too much at once. For people in real estate, it’s often best to start with a small social media presence. Check out LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter – which one appeals to you the most? The one that makes the most sense to you should be your starting point. Start there and then set goals for when you will branch out onto other channels.

2. Giving it to the intern. Too often, social media responsibilities will be piled on the most inexperienced assistants or worse, someone who detests social media. If you are going to hire someone to help you manage your social media, make sure you hire someone who is not only savvy in communcation, but comfortable with exposure to the public. Social media needs a personal touch and someone who is aggressive and strategic.

3. Making conversations one-way. Too many real estate agents and brokers just see social media tools as just another way to push out information. Bombarding people with listings won’t earn many followers, there has to be a dialogue that keeps the audience engaged. Remember, less about you and more about the people receiving the information – always ask yourself, ‘what’s in it for them?’

So, now what? How do you know if your successful or not? One of the easiest things to do is to monitor your web site and blog traffic. Make sure you have Google Analytics set up on your site and that once a week you are looking at where your traffic is coming from.

Connecting with Other Real Estate Professionals

In order to improve upon their skills and network in the industry, real estate professionals are using social networks specific to their industry. Some of these networks include ActiveRain and The Flipping Pad.

Although it is in beta testing, Architizer is the largest crowd-sourced database of architecture online, with over 10,000 finished and proposed projects posted from fans, owners and architects that are easily searchable. The site provides a networking space for real estate developers and architects, where developers can search for architects and architects can upload their projects. This type of social network is allowing developers to get a better grasp of the talent options on the market, while also giving architects a better chance at being discovered.

CEO and Co-Founder Marc Kushner, also an architect, explains that, “The old model revolved around magazines, in which architects had to make it into certain issues. So, say that a developer picks up the November issue of a certain architecture magazine. The only way that the architect would have the chance of being discovered by the developer was if he happened to be in that November issue.” Architizer simplifies the connecting process by bringing architects and developers together in one place.

More well-known social networks, including Meetup, Flickr and LinkedIn are provided spaces for real estates pros to connect and learn from one another. Some examples of active Meetup groups include Chicago Real Estate Group and New Jersey Real Estate Social Network. Both Meetups are ranked highly and have received favorable feedback from attendees. For example, Loan Officer Lorna Roberts, said that the New Jersey Real Estate Social Network Meetup, is an “excellent way to network and learn more about what is affecting the community and businesses.” For more information on how to get a real estate Meetup started in your community, check out our tips on organizing a successful Meetup.

Other group settings on social networks, such as the National Association of REALTORS on LinkedIn, or the Photography for Real Estate group on Flickr, are great places to connect with specialized professionals in the real estate industry.

From connecting with buyers and sellers to networking with industry peers and lending expert advice, there are many ways to utilize social media as a real estate professional. What are your tips for using social media in the real estate industry?

Landing experts advice

While an occasional listing may be appreciated by your social media community, many experts advocate engaging your audience with industry knowledge and an expert perspective, rather than alienating users with useless information. Because there are so many factors that must align to make a listing pertinent to a single customer, such as pricing, location and size, there is a high probability that most listings do not pertain to most people in a given social media audience.

James Kimmons, real estate business expert on About.com, advises real estate pros to refrain from overwhelming their followers and connections with real estate listings. He advises,

“Promote you, your business, and your expertise in your local area real estate market. Do it with market commentary, education and statistics. Link out to your IDX search page, because a lot of your visitors will want to look at listings at some point, just not your listing du jour.”

There are many sites with specialized sections for real estate professionals to lend their expertise, such as Trulia Voices and Zillow Advice. Both sites are frequented by prospective home buyers, on the search for answer about topics ranging from pricing and relocating to financing and closing. A typical question on either site will yield quite a few answers from agents or brokers specializing in a specific geographic region or area of real estate. This type of interaction with folks on the market is a great way to build a credible reputation and build brand recognition for future consideration.

YouTube also presents a valid platform for sharing real estate tips. For example, Keller Williams Realty International, a real estate franchise company, maintains a YouTube channel full of videos on monthly real estate reports, real estate advice and current company events. Keller Williams boasts nearly 400,000 video views, 100,000 channel views and 2,000 subscribers. Those are numbers worth celebrating.

If you are a real estate professional, keep an eye out ways you to showcase your expertise and local knowledge. You should start to see an increase in interaction, as you provide useful, relevant information to others.

Real estate using social media

Over the past two years, real estate professionals have found creative ways to overcome the real estate crisis, including finding innovative uses for social media. After facing drops in home sales well into 2010, real estate pros have been forced to utilize their offline skills in an increasingly social way online. By using photo and video sharing to enhance listings, along with professional networking sites to hone their sales skills, real estate veterans have made strides in moving inventory in tough times.

Agents, brokers and realtors have found successes in lead generation, sales and brand building through use of mass audience social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Meetup, and LinkedIn, as well as real estate specific platforms, like Trulia, Zillow, WellcomeMat and Architizer.

Whether they are sharing videos, listings or advice with their communities and prospective buyers or sellers, real estate pros are making progress in using social media for real results. The core goal of real estate pros utilizing social media is to attract sellers looking to list their homes or buyers looking to purchase homes. Naturally, the 1.0 version of social media for real estate is setting up pages on social networks that fit your company’s content and audience.

Corcoran Group, the largest residential real estate firm in New York City, is a fitting example of how real estate agencies are going above and beyond to make themselves available for buyers and sellers. Corcoran differentiates itself by simply being available and open. The “Do More” tab on their Facebook page says it all — you can find them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Foursquare, and Gowalla, among other sites. And if you need more, you can download their iPhone app, where you can find nearby homes for sale or rent and open houses. The app also promotes their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. If you dig a little deeper, you can also find Corcoran on Tumblr, Blip.tv and Vimeo. Simply put, Corcoran has found a way to be everywhere for its clients. This is the first step to converting fans and followers into buyers and sellers.

The core goal of real estate pros utilizing social media is to attract sellers looking to list their homes or buyers looking to purchase homes. Naturally, the 1.0 version of social media for real estate is setting up pages on social networks that fit your company’s content and audience.

Corcoran Group, the largest residential real estate firm in New York City, is a fitting example of how real estate agencies are going above and beyond to make themselves available for buyers and sellers. Corcoran differentiates itself by simply being available and open. The “Do More” tab on their Facebook page says it all — you can find them on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Foursquare, and Gowalla, among other sites. And if you need more, you can download their iPhone app, where you can find nearby homes for sale or rent and open houses. The app also promotes their Twitter, Facebook and YouTube pages. If you dig a little deeper, you can also find Corcoran on Tumblr, Blip.tv and Vimeo. Simply put, Corcoran has found a way to be everywhere for its clients. This is the first step to converting fans and followers into buyers and sellers.