How To Get Relevant Real Estate News And Info On The Competition In Your Inbox


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How do you get news to your computer or mobile device? Do you just sign up for various real estate news and blogs sites? Subscribe to forums? Follow sites on Twitter and Facebook? These are all great ideas and there is certainly nothing wrong with any of them except that you may get overwhelmed with hundreds of emails to look through every day. But there are other ways to get more specific, more relevant news to your inbox and it's completely free. 


Google Alerts for news and tracking the competition

If you're skilled at SEO, you will be great at getting what you want from Google Alerts. It's a simple process- you simply input a specific keyword and you will get alerts any time web content is published that contains your specific keyword. So if you want to know as soon as homes come on the market in Phoenix, you might put something like "home for sale phoenix" or any mix of words that are commonly used in sales ads. This way, you get the news delivered to your inbox every day and you can look through the emails on your own time. You can sign up for multiple keywords so you can get news articles, home listings or any other specifics delivered directly to your inbox. You can even keep up with what your competition is up to by creating keywords with the name of their real estate business, personal name or other information.

If you want to check out your competition's ads, now you can have them delivered straight to your inbox. Want to see their social media and forum posts? It can be delivered straight to you. Or if you just want information on any other current real estate events or happenings, a simple relevant keyword will deliver the results directly to your inbox.



 

Simple Accounting For Real Estate Agents


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Keeping up with records and expenses can be a time-consuming task and takes away from valuable time that could be better spent working with clients or attracting potential clients. Your time is extremely valuable and if you lose clients, it can cost you money. Of course you can outsource your accounting, but then you don't have as much control over what gets entered, what mistakes are made, etc. 


Some of the most common income and expenses are:
  • Commissions
  • Office expense
  • Real estate fees/dues
  • Vehicle Miles
  • Marketing/advertising
  • Real estate education
There can be more or less than these, and there may even be subcategories depending on how organized you like to keep your records. But even with these few categories, it can be a headache to deal with it every day. And if you don't deal with it every day, you end up getting slammed with a week or more of expenses and income that you will have to analyze and determine where it came from, how much you spent, how much you made for each specific transaction. This can easily turn into an all-day chore.

But I recently found a system that can help you keep track of your records daily by using less than 10 minutes per day, and allows you to keep efficient and organized records. 


The system

First, you must create a free account with Xpenser.com. Open an account and you will use their feature called "Reports." Make a name for your reports to coincide with your expenses and income listed above.

Now you make an account through Jott.com. This is an inexpensive service that allows you to choose the method that fits you best- minutes or a monthly cost. Now you simply go to the "Links" feature in Jott, and choose the Xpenser link. Xpenser will approve the link and now you can start sending messages to Jott from wherever you are.

For instance, you may send it a message stating "$5,000 commission - Fitzgerald transaction." This will be saved in your "Expenses" tab. Now the only thing you have to do is assign it to the appropriate category. Now you can remain up-to-date on all your daily records, stress-free knowing you have a great plan in place, and you can spend your time doing what you need to be doing.



 

Using SugarSync For Document Sharing And Data Backup


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SugarSync can sync all of your data from any number of computers, laptops and mobile devices. Free users get 2 GB but if that's not enough space for your real estate workings in the cloud, you can purchase their unlimited storage plan for $55 per month. SugarSync offers many functions including an admin dashboard, free live support, easy billing, collaboration on files and documents with other users, flexible sync, mobile access, 128-bit encryption and more. The remote wipe feature allows users to remotely delete files and documents from the admin dashboard. Disaster recovery offers backup, restore and sync after a hard drive crash.


SugarSync integrates with cloudHQ

For even more added security and backup options, SugarSync is compatible with cloudHQ, the leading backup and replication cloud service. CloudHQ can back up your SugarSync data to many other cloud services such as Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, Box and more. This is extremely useful if you use SugarSync for your real estate business but your client is using another cloud service such as Dropbox. All of your files (or just specific files that you choose) can be synced from SugarSync to Dropbox and vice-versa. This is also extremely helpful in case SugarSync goes down for maintenance or other reasons, as you can quickly switch over to Dropbox or whatever other cloud service you are using, and continue working uninterrupted. Once SugarSync comes back online, it will sync with Dropbox and you will be back in business. One of the best functions of cloudHQ is that it runs silently in the background, replicating your data automatically and continuously. You can use SugarSync to protect your important documents such as contracts, legal documents and transaction reports, and then use cloudHQ to ensure that you always have access to your data and to ensure that you never suffer any data loss.



 

Google Wants You To Be Mobile


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Everyone wants the coveted top spot in Google search rankings but it can be hard to achieve this goal, especially in areas and niches with high competition. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has helped many real estate agents reach this highly sought after top spot. But even if you can't get the top spot, just getting to the first page of Google results should be a goal. Less than 10% of all users that perform searches on Google actually click to the second page. This means you have a much higher chance of getting traffic to your page if you're on the first page and of course, the higher you are on that first page, the better of a chance you have of snagging traffic from searchers. With mobile and cloud trends on the rise, the majority of searches are coming from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. 


Google announces changes in smartphone search results

Google has taken notice of all the mobile searches and released Googlebot-Mobile in 2011, a web crawler that browses and indexes websites as if it were coming from a mobile device. Of course this has led to much speculation about how Google is treating websites with and without mobile optimization. The main consensus has been that Google gives preference to sites with mobile optimization but the word didn't come from any official Google source until earlier this month on theGoogle Webmaster Central Blog which states "To improve the search experience for smartphone users and address their pain points, we plan to roll out several ranking changes in the near future that address sites that are misconfigured for smartphone users."

Webmasters should be prepared for rising mobile trends

 The new policies state that not only should your site be optimized for mobile but the mobile site must be error-free. Otherwise, your site risks being demoted in the Google search rankings. These errors can include anything from faulty redirects to smartphone-only errors, but the message is clear: Google wants your site to be properly configured and optimized for mobile users. Mobile use is expected to overtake desktop computer use within the next year and Google is obviously attempting to persuade webmasters to prepare their sites as the online computing world turns to mobile and cloud for both individual and professional use.



 

Agentfolio: Zillow's New Collaborative Tool


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When Zillow bought Buyfolio last October, we knew they had big plans to improve it. Zillow has recently introduced Agentfolio, which claims to streamline the entire home-buying process. Agentfolio offers services to both agents and homebuyers and maintains its focus on workflow, search, relationships, data, and ease-of-use. It allows homebuyers and agents to collaborate on various properties while simplifying the entire process. Agentfolio will "Easily manage communications between co-workers, husbands, wives and anyone else who is collaborating on a home search."


Social interaction and collaboration

While social networking has been essential for many real estate agents in their selling process, this is the most extensive integration of social media and home sales that is currently on the market. And it's not expensive. For Zillow Premier agents, the service is free. For all non-premier users, the service is available at $24.95 per month. This includes many amenities including

  • IDX listing data accessible to you and your buyers                    
  • Mobile apps for iPhone and Android                
  • Your branding in your buyers' folios and mobile apps                
  • Unlimited folios            
  • An advertising-free experience for you and your buyers            
  • A personal engagement page (you.agentfolio.com) for lead capture                   
  • Real-time alerts via email and mobile push notifications
As technology continues to increase, we can expect to see more social tools such as Agentfolio to help bring agent and homebuyer closer together from the very start. The remote and mobile capabilities mean that agents can operate from wherever they may be. There is no need for an office anymore; mobile agents are quickly becoming the standard in real estate sales. With Agentfolio, agents can shop, collaborate and close deals all from their computer or mobile device. Brokers can take advantage of agent branding and Agentfolio’s lead assignment and management tools.



 

How To Get It: A Source For Real Estate Agents


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Get it means just that- get it. In this article I will show you the top 4 ways to get it to help make your real estate work a bit more efficient. You want more leads, more traffic and more sales, right? There are many ways to accomplish your goals and in this article we will look at the best actions that you as a real estate agent can take to ensure that you get the sale. 


Get Local

You are probably already doing a lot to grab as much local business as possible. Flyers, signs and business cards can go a long way toward snagging local leads. But you can also market your business on real estate websites and forums, Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or other relevant sites where you can get local exposure.

Get Social

As mentioned above, you can use social networking sites to gain exposure and this exposure can be local and national. Social networks have the ability to reach hundreds, thousands or millions of potential homebuyers. If you use social networking properly, and put in the hard work required, you will find that the possibilities are endless. By the process of reposting, there is no limit to the amount of people that can potentially see your post.

Get Found

You may have a great website and you may have plenty of signs and flyers but without exposure none of this will help you. When you hang your signs, be sure they are eye level with drivers if possible. Pick intersections with a heavy flow of traffic and be sure your signs are located in places they can be seen by the drivers.

Market your website by using social media, SEO, real estate sites and forums, and any other methods that will help you gain exposure. 

Get It Done

Get it done means just that- get it done. Stay focused and do what you need to do. Don't try, just get it done. if your marketing routine is taking up too much of your time, outsource it. If you can't keep all the social networks updated on a constant basis, outsource it. Same with signs and flyers. Do what you must do to be successful. Keep a positive outlook, work hard and get it done. The rewards are well-worth it.



 

How To Effectively Drive Traffic To Your Real Estate Website


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You may have one of the flashiest, most informative websites in the real estate industry but it won't help you a bit unless you get traffic to your page. If people can't see your site, how will it help you? You need relevant traffic and lots of it. You need homebuyers and sellers that are ready to deal with someone they can trust. The right traffic is better than a rush of useless traffic. 


Know your competition

You know who your competition to beat is. You just have to go to Google and type in the keywords that best describe your business. If you live in Topeka, you can type in "real estate Topeka" and see where you rank. You can also see who the big boys are at the top of the search results because they are the ones that are stealing your sales.

Market your real estate website

Visit online forums and learn how to best market your site. I recommend Digital Point and Warrior Forum as a great place to start. You can also find top-notch copywriters at these forums that can help you if you get overwhelmed or would just rather pay someone else to help produce a site that will attract the right kind of traffic.

Your domain name can be your brand name or a generic name, but if you can get a few keywords thrown in this can help with SEO. Create social networking accounts that directly relate to your real estate business. You can attract hundreds, thousands or even millions of followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook. LinkedIn is a professional networking site that can help you gain more relevant traffic to your site. On real estate forums, you can create posts containing a link to your site. Be sure to check the forum rules to ensure that you aren't spamming when you do this.

Backlinks

Create backlinks if possible. That's a long subject but you can read more about it here. It's worth becoming knowledgeable on the subject because quality backlinks help boost your site's ranking much more efficiently than a mass of random Backlinks.



 

How To Securely Back Up Your Data In The Cloud


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The cloud offers so many benefits for individuals and companies that it's simply too hard to ignore. More efficient time-management, cost-efficiency, and project management are just a few of the benefits that can help improve your personal life and your business. For all the benefits that the cloud offers, there are still some concerns. One of the largest current concerns is data loss.


Data loss is a valid concern

Data loss is a concern for individual users because they can lose irreplaceable family photos, important documents and notes, or other important files. For companies, data loss can be even more disastrous. Important contracts, legal documents, company information, client or customer contact information and other data. Much of these documents could cost the company a lot of time if they must replace the documents. Some documents may even be irreplaceable. 

Using a cloud backup service to prevent data loss

The solution to prevent data loss is a solid cloud backup plan that backs up your data in real-time. CloudHQ is a cloud backup service that does just that. All replication is automatic, instantaneous and continuous so you get real-time synchronization. If you revise an existing file, the changes are reflected in the backup account immediately. If you add a file, it is added to your backup account instantly. And because the cloudHQ service runs in the background, it is transparent to you and allows you to perform your work uninterrupted. If your main cloud service provider goes down for maintenance or other issues, you can simply switch to the backup cloud account and continue working without delay. CloudHQ works with many of the most popular cloud services including Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, SkyDrive, Evernote and more, plus cloudHQ can even back up all your Gmail emails and attachments. Click here to get the plan that can best help your company prevent data loss.



 

Top Tips For Using Evernote To Efficiently Handle Your Real Estate Transactions


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Evernote has many uses in real estate as we have touched on before but in this article we are going to expand on these uses. As a real estate agent, you may already use Evernote in some forms but you should still check out this list to see if there are any useful functions of Evernote that you aren't currently using. 


Transactions

By using Google Voice or a similar service, you can forward voicemails to Evernote and even have them transcribed so you can read them. You also receive a link to download an MP3 of the voicemail. You can also send emails to Evernote and place them in a specific notebook along with all transaction notes, documents, voicemails and text messages. This way, you have a complete "file folder" with everything related to this transaction in it. Once the transaction has closed, you can save all notes in the folder to HTML or PDF for easy printing to a single document in the date order.

You can easily document survey corner stakes, "before and after" repair photos, electric and gas meters. You can use a shared notebook to share transaction notes and documents with the buyer.

Communication

Evernote can be used to communicate with the buyer and other sources that you deal with during the transaction. Notes can be emailed directly from Evernote or shared through Evernote sharing. Photos of plats, legal documents or records, and other photos can be uploaded and sent while mobile. If you are dealing with new home construction, you can document the progress step by step with documentation and photos and send them by email. Evernote Clipper can be used to snag articles, excerpts, photos and PDFs directly from the web and they can be saved to a specific notebook and shared. From your smartphone, you can text in coordinates to an Evernote note by using your phone's GPS. 

Office/Accounting

You can use Assistant Notebook to share notes and instructions with an assistant and for brokers, the same can be accomplished with Agent Notebook. You can text notes to assistants or other agents remotely, so that you always have documentation of everything. Photos of checks and receipts can be shared or stored. Evernote even allows you to search photos for text so you can make all your documentation searchable. Evernote also has functions to allow you to monitor and auto-sync with folders on your computer in order to copy documents to notes easily and efficiently.

Listings

Evernote Clipper allows you clip property listings directly from real estate sites like Realtor.com, Trulia and others, which can then be shared directly with the buyer/seller. Any feedback from other realtors, whether by text, email or voicemail, can be saved to a notebook and then sent to the buyer/seller. Utility bills can be scanned or photographed for verification of account numbers and utility costs. You can create a notebook for each listing so you can keep a record of all activity with that specific listing. 

Marketing

Notebooks can be shared directly with your newspaper advertising representative and collaborated on to share ideas and make revisions. Business cards can be photographed and saved to Evernote - no need to scan, remember Evernote has searchable text in photos. You can set up Evernote to send out tweets by using a special command. This enables you to keep records of relevant Twitter activity and interactions.

Evernote has incredible searching capabilities, so use it to your advantage. Use tags and keywords on notes, photos and documents so that when you search for them later, you can easily find them. Searching for text in photos makes it simple to keep records without the need for scanning or creating digital documents. Photos can be taken directly from the Evernote app and can be taken while you are working remotely.



 

How To Send Voicemails To Evernote Using Google Voice


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For real estate agents on the go, cloud services have greatly improved the way transactions are handled. With the superior document creation and editing features of Google Drive to the top sharing capabilities of Dropbox and many more useful cloud service features, a real estate agent has an entire suite of real estate tools in order to more efficiently perform their business.

Evernote is one of the top cloud services that real estate agents use because it incorporates a wide array of the features needed to complete transactions. Another necessary tool for real estate agents is a smartphone. You probably use your phone a lot. And for whatever reason, you will miss calls at times. And sometimes you will just not be in the mood to answer your phone. The voicemails are important but you aren't always available to make a call and listen to your voicemail. I'm going to show you an easy way to send your voicemails to Evernote by using Google Voice.


Why you should use Google Voice to send voicemails to Evernote

If you use Google Voice to forward your voicemails to Evernote, you get instant access to the voicemail without making a call. You get a transcription of the voicemail in text so you never have to access your voicemail- perfect for times when you are in meetings or otherwise unable to make calls from your phone. Another great feature is that the voicemail will be stored in both Google Voice and Evernote so you always have access to it, even in areas where your phone and internet don't work. In case you or your phone carrier delete the voicemail, it will remain in storage and available to you.

Google Voice is useful for more than just voicemails. If you want to record a call, just press the "4" key during the call. It should be noted that Google Voice does alert the other caller that the call is being recorded. This works perfect for interviews or for professional calls with an employer, associate or client where you need the ability to recall specifics that are discussed during the call. So if a client needs to give instructions on what needs to be added to a contract or other document, you can record the call to give you and the client clarity and protection in case an issue were to later arise.

How to set up Google Voice and Evernote

To set up Google Voice and Evernote, go to Google Voice and click on "Settings." Now go to "Voicemail & Text." You will see a checkbox beside "Voicemail Notifications - Alert me when I have new voicemails. Email the message to: (your current email address)." Beside that you will see "Add a new email address," so click on that. Now go to Evernote and find the email address that Evernote gave you in order to forward emails. You can find this quickly by clicking on "Usage" in the upper right-hand corner of Evernote. Add that email address to your Google account and go back to voicemail settings in Google Voice. Now you will see the Evernote address as an option for the voicemail to be emailed to. Save your settings and that's it. Now all voicemails will be sent to Evernote. In the Google Voice voicemail settings, be sure that "Transcribe Voicemails" is checked so that you will receive a text of the voicemail to your Evernote notebook.

Now you can easily search your voicemails and you can tag them with keywords for even easier searching. In the email body you receive, there is also a link so you can play the voicemail on your computer or device, or you can download it as an MP3 file to your computer or device.