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

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.


How To Improve Your Real Estate Listings With Video

As a real estate agent, you are continuously looking for ways to improve your listings and make them stand out from listings that other agents post. As you are probably well aware of, visual marketing is huge right. You no doubt either use a good camera to take photos of properties and houses or you hire a professional to take the photos. This is definitely one of the best ways to make your listings stand out from listings comprised of photos that an agent snagged with his cell phone or low-quality camera.

But there are other methods of visual marketing as well. If you haven't thought about adding video to your listings, you should. Many agents don't want to take the time to do it or spend the money to have someone else record video for all of their properties.

Begin the video with a good hook

The key to a good video is to get right to the good stuff. If you start your video at the driveway and walk slowly toward the house, the viewer is apt to get bored before you ever reach the house and they will just go on to another listing. If you have the ability, you should create a short intro to the video that quickly flashes through some of the best amenities or features of the property. This provides a good "hook" to keep the viewer interested enough to see the rest of the video.

Voice narration

If you have a good voice, you can provide narration for the video, explaining the features and amenities. Or you can hire someone to speak for you but a female voice is recommended. It has been proven that a female voice provides an atmosphere of trust and comfort. You can also use subtitles and other text on the screen for greater efficiency or to make certain points about the property.

Video is your marketing tool

The whole point of creating the video is to help you get the sale so you must treat the video as your best marketing tool. Tour throughout every room of the house and explain what's great about the rooms and why the customer would feel comfortable in this house. You can even take video or photos of the surrounding neighborhood, nearby schools, attractions and more- whatever you can use to sell the property. 

Create a pleasant background

If you want to take any video of yourself speaking, be sure to set up a good background. If you can stand beside a flowing stream with the house in the background, that's great. Or you can pick a room in the house that shows a little elegance, if there are any. You want to create scenes that make the viewer want to be in that house.

You can end the video however you wish, hopefully by this time you have the potential homebuyer's wife jumping up and down and screaming "honey, we HAVE to go see this house!" However, since that's not guaranteed, you may wish to create a closing statement. Again, be sure to have a photogenic background if you will be in the video and a pleasant speaking voice. If you find it's worth it, you can even outsource these video recordings to someone with a nice appearance and pleasant speaking voice. This way, you don't spend too much of your time dealing with the videos.


How Does Real Estate Fare In The Cloud?

The cloud has many benefits to offer for real estate agents and many real estate brokerages have already made the move to the cloud. Real estate agents can use cloud services for email, file sharing, web hosting, mobile apps and data storage.

Recent real estate trends

Some of the trends show that around 60% of all real estate agents had a website in 2006 and by 2012 that figure had risen to 90%. Only 9% used a smartphone daily in 2006 and around 85% used one daily in 2012. There are over 2 million real estate brokers and agents and 80% of the top performers are using cloud computing in their market.

What can the cloud offer real estate agents?

The cloud offers mobility, speed and personal service. It offers mobility by providing agents with a superior method of staying in contact with the office, clients and other business contacts. It offers speed by providing cloud tools that allow personalized transactions with contact databases, social networks, CRM systems and more. Did you know you are 7 times more likely to snag a lead if you respond to the potential homebuyer's query within one hour? And the cloud offers personal service by offering the ability to respond in a quick and efficient manner to clients and business contacts. This helps enhance your business credibility, image and builds trust with your clientele.

Paperless real estate agents

Going paperless helps the environment as well. If all real estate agents were paperless during August 2012, it would have saved 591 acres of trees in that single month alone. A typical closing uses around 460 pieces of paper. That's a lot of filing, printing costs, and storage space and costs. If all work is performed in the cloud, it saves you time, space and money. The trends show that nearly all of the top real estate salespeople utilize the many benefits of the cloud for more efficient productivity.


Cloud Computing Strategies For Real Estate

The cloud is here to stay

Many critics have suggested that the cloud is just a phase, but for most of us, we can see that the cloud is not going away any time soon. Some say the cloud is the future but the cloud is now. Already, many small businesses, companies, large enterprises and government departments have made, or are in the process of making, the move to the cloud. Do not listen to the naysayers, the cloud is how all business computing will be performed eventually and those who step out to greet it early are the one who will have a step up on everyone else.

Mobilize your mobile office

Eliminating your physical office may be something that's crossed your mind but you're not sure if it could actually be a reality. When you move to the cloud, there is no need for paper and printing costs, no need for bulky file cabinets- everything you need to do can be accomplished directly from your home or any remote location. By utilizing the powerful document suite of Google Apps, the quick and efficient sharing and storage solution of Dropbox or other useful cloud services, a real estate agent can perform all duties from their mobile device. Practically all aspects of a transaction can be performed through Evernote, including the legal signing of documents.

Email marketing

Email is an efficient way to get the word out about listings or other real estate services. By using an email provider such as MailChimp, you can create and maintain email marketing lists. These lists can be managed within your online CRM and then imported into the email provider. This also gives you analysis and stats. By using a tool such as MailChimp, you don't have to rely on using Outlook or your CRM for your email marketing. When sending out multiple emails, you always run the risk of being blacklisted, but by using an email tool, you can protect your company from being targeted.


Communication is always important in the real estate industry and collaborating over documents or files can be a time-consuming task, especially if the people you need to collaborate with must travel to get to your office. The cloud offers a variety of excellent collaboration tools. Basecamp allows users to collaborate on files, documents and complete projects. Google Drive allows up to 50 users to collaborate on the same file simultaneously. Others include ClientLook and Real Capital Markets

Enhance your rep

Optimize your website and social media sites for more efficient marketing and exposure. Utilize the superior marketing features of Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and more. Create profiles and post interesting bios about yourself and your real estate services. Provide links to other social media sites, and especially your website. Create informative posts, don't just spam your listings over and over again.

Secure your data

Many of the files and documents that real estate agents store in the cloud are sensitive and contain confidential client data. On any cloud storage accounts that will be handling such data, the highest security measures should be taken. Strong passwords should include a mix of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers and special characters. Any additional (usually optional) security measures such as two-factor authentication should be activated as well. And it is absolutely essential that you use a cloud backup service such as cloudHQ. CloudHQ provides a secure backup of all your files and documents to a backup account. In case something happens to your main cloud account and data loss were to occur, the secondary copy of your files will remain secure in the backup account.


The Secret To Being A Highly Successful Real Estate Agent

In the highly competitive real estate market, it can be hard to become a successful real estate agent. The secret to becoming successful is not as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of hard work. Websites must be packed full of high quality content including listings with photos and videos. Websites, listings and blogs should be kept updated on a regular basis. Social networking should be used to market your listings and your website data should be securely backed up to prevent data loss. Here are the top tips to becoming a successful real estate agent.

Website enhancement

To get the most out of your real estate website, it should be optimized with prime keywords to help homebuyers searching the internet find your site and your listings.

Your listings should be high quality, with plenty of information packed into a short description. Homebuyers searching the internet may have searched through hundreds of listings before getting to yours. They are probably not going to read a description that is over a few paragraphs long.

Visual marketing

Photos included in your listings should be of the highest quality available, and there should be plenty of them. Homebuyers scouring the internet for the right home do not want to waste their time looking at grainy photos or listings that don't have photos of the complete property.

Listings should include photos that show several different angles of each room on the interior of the home, as well as outside shots of the property and any exterior buildings such as an unattached garage, storage building or other structure. Be sure to take photos of any amenities such as streams, fruit trees, flower gardens and more. Anything that will catch the potential homebuyer's eye and make them want to see more.

A video of the property is even better. Once the photos have piqued the homebuyer's interest, they will want to see more. A video is perfect for this as it allows the homebuyer to be as close to actually walking the property without stepping foot on it. By the time they've watched the video, they will have made up their mind as to whether they would like to visit the property in person.

Social networking and community groups

Social networking is the ultimate marketing tool. Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn can be used to spread the word about your listings by creating "followers." You will be able to reach these social network users by posting information related to your website and your listings. It's best to also post other generalized information about real estate just to keep your followers interested in your page.

There is a number of local community groups related to real estate that you can join or create. By getting members into these groups, you will have a community of real estate enthusiasts that can share knowledge and information. Other real estate agents can share their information to the group while potential homebuyers can join the group and check out the listings you have to offer.

Protect your website data with secure backup

Your client's information is confidential and should be treated as sensitive data. Your website also contains all the data from your listings such as descriptions, photos and videos. These files can be hard (or impossible) to replace if something happens to your data so you should employ a competent backup service such as cloudHQ. The cloudHQ service provides a backup of all your website data to a cloud storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, etc. This way, you always have access to your data no matter what happens.


Do You Have A Solid Mobile Strategy?

There are a number of actions you should take to ensure that you are getting the most from your mobile strategy. Around 90% of all homebuyers search for homes on the internet, and many of those searches come from mobile devices. Because of the rising mobile trends, you must ensure that you have a solid mobile strategy in order to more efficiently serve your mobile customers.

Tips for improving your mobile strategy

It's important that every listing be on a mobile-friendly site in order to be viewed in mobile format by potential clients. Be sure to include the link to this mobile enhanced site on all your printed material such as brochures, flyers, signs and business cards, and include it any digital material as well, such as social media posts, website landing pages, emails and other content.

You should include a QR (Quick Response) Code on all printed material as well. This allows potential clients to scan the code with their mobile device, and then they will be sent to page which can provide them with more information about the listing. You can also create a listing card and send it to all residents in a particular area.

Back up your important client data

Your client data is confidential and they entrust you with this data. You probably have this data stored on cloud servers in order to access the data easily from your mobile device, in case you need to access it while you are traveling. But there are instances that data loss can occur, such as a malicious hacking of your account, accidental deletion by you or someone else in your office, or other situations in which data loss occurs. This is why you need a cloud backup service like cloudHQ.

The cloudHQ service provides continuous replication of all your data from one cloud service account to a backup cloud service account. This ensures that if data loss occurs, you retain a secondary copy of all data in the backup account where it can be easily and quickly restored. If your cloud storage provider's servers go down for maintenance or for other reasons, you can simply switch to the backup cloud account and continue working with your data uninterrupted. Your clients depend on you to keep their data secure and cloudHQ can help.


How To Make The Most Out Of Social Media

Social media has taken marketing to a whole new level. Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the perfect outlet to showcase your business and your listings. The key to marketing through social networks is to produce quality content and update it frequently. As 90% of all homebuyers use the internet when searching for homes, a social network is a great way to reach out to many potential clients.

Formulate a plan

The first step is to make an outline and create a plan. You need to determine the type of friends and followers you want to attract, how much time you can spend maintaining the sites and determining what makes you different from other realtors. 

Make informative posts

When posting updates, your posts should be informative and provide a unique look at interesting content. Don't just post links to your listings but also other real estate-related posts containing information about real estate transactions that buyers are interested in reading, even posts that have a little light humor to them. Anything that is engaging to your readers and keeps them returning to your page to read more.

Interact and expand

Interact with your followers by replying to their posts, answering any questions they may post on your page, replying to comments they may leave on your posts and replying to and sending direct messages. Expand your social network to include local community groups and professional real estate groups on the social networking sites. This can help you spread information and increase your reputation.

Build up a local reputation

Be sure to build up your reputation in your local area. By joining local community real estate groups you can meet others who are interested in real estate, whether they are selling or buying homes. This enables you to grow your contacts- other real estate agents can provide you with information, photographers that can help with your listings, inspectors that can help with your transactions and homebuyers that may become your clients.


Best Uses Of Evernote For Real Estate Agents

Evernote is one of the most popular cloud services, and one of the best text and document cloud apps on the web. It has many uses in real estate, and actually most (if not all) aspects of a transaction can be handled directly from Evernote. This makes it possible for a real estate agent to go completely paperless and perform all real estate business from mobile locations. There is no necessity for an office anymore.

Evernote has features that allow real estate agents to quickly jot down important notes either by typing or by audio, which can be useful if you are driving down the road and need to jot down a thought, idea or memo that you may not remember later.

Create, edit and legally sign documents within Evernote

Documents can be created directly within Evernote or they can be transferred from another cloud service such as Google Docs in Google Drive. These documents can then be shared directly with your client if they have Evernote, or you can share the documents by using Dropbox or some other cloud service. By using Docusign, documents can be legally signed by yourself and the client without making unnecessary trips to and from an office or place of business. This saves much time and money and helps speed up transaction completion times.

Easily share documents and files with clients

For even more efficiency, you can use a cloud synchronization and backup service such as cloudHQ to sync your data from Evernote to other cloud services so that the documents can be shared with clients much faster. For instance, by using cloudHQ to automatically sync your files from Evernote to Dropbox , you will have a copy in Dropbox immediately which can then be shared with the client by simply dragging and dropping the file into a Dropbox folder that you are sharing with the client.

Backup is essential

By having a sync set up between Evernote and Dropbox (or other cloud service of your choice), you will also have a complete database of all files for easy searching. If you have files stored in Dropbox, Documents stored in Evernote and Google Drive, and more files stored in Box and SkyDrive, you may have a hard time searching for all of your files. But if you set up cloudHQ to sync all of these cloud services to one backup cloud account, you will have a complete, searchable database of all files. It's very important that you keep a backup of all files anyways- in case something happens and you experience data loss in one of your other cloud accounts, you will still have a complete secondary copy of all files and it can easily be restored.

Take photos directly from Evernote

Photos can be taken directly through the Evernote app on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. If you have a decent camera on your device, this makes it easy to flip on the Evernote app and start taking snapshots of a property, which are then automatically saved to the Evernote notebook of your choice. Even if you don't have a decent camera on your phone but you have a good stand-alone camera, you can take your high-quality photos with your camera, send them to Dropbox, and, using cloudHQ, sync them to Evernote so you have all of your listing and transaction files organized in the same area.


Most Popular Real Estate Keywords For SEO

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for real estate agents is important because you must utilize the keywords that homebuyers are searching for in order to ensure that your listings are seen. And, since a recent study showed that 90% of all homebuyers use the internet when searching for a home, it becomes even more important.

Point2Homes recently performed a study to find out what most popular keywords are being used in order to sell homes most efficiently. The study was performed using 300,000 property listings in the United States. The most popular buzzwords for descriptions included words like "spacious," "beautiful," "stainless steel appliances" and "hardwood floors."

Most popular 2012 SEO keywords for real estate

Keywords seem to vary depending on the price of the home. For instance, "beautiful" is the top-ranking keyword for homes listed under $1 million. Homes that are listed between $1-5 million saw better exposure from keywords such as "stainless steel appliances," "pool," and "hardwood floors." Homes listed above $5 million saw top keywords such as "private," "guest house" and "wall of windows."

Keywords varied by region as well. Homebuyers on the East Coast searched for homes using keywords such as "move-in ready" and "renovated." Homebuyers on the West Coast were more swayed by words such as "mountain view," "ocean view" and "beautiful."

In NYC, homebuyers searched for "city view," "sunny," soaking tub," "closet space," "oversized windows" and "open kitchen." By utilizing keywords related to amenities that are hard to find in NYC, such as space, light and city view, real estate agents were able to sell homes much faster than the 180 day average that most homes are on the market for.

Mentioning top brand names also had a favorable effect as many homebuyers looking to buy upper-end homes are concerned about the quality of appliances and fixtures. Here, names such as Viking, Sub Zero and Miele gained favorable reactions from wealthy homebuyers.


How To Get The Most Out Of Your Real Estate Website

Your real estate website can be the lifeblood of your business as most potential buyers use the internet when searching for a home. You need a website that will reach out and connect with relevant people that could turn into clients and hopefully will lead to a transaction. In this article we will examine the benefits of a real estate website and how to best utilize it for more efficient real estate business.

Keep your home page simple but informative

This may seem basic, but be sure to have contact information where it is plainly visible on all website pages. Be sure to include your name, phone and email address, as well as any links to your social media accounts such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

You should absolutely have an "About" page that describes a brief summary of your business, how it's gotten to where it's at or your vision of where it's going if you're just starting out. You should add anything that sets you apart from other realtors in the area, what do you do different that should make homebuyers come to you?

Your home page should be simple and yet catchy, just enough to make the homebuyer want to see more. Keep a few of your best listings on the homepage, and have clearly labeled links so the homebuyer knows where to click to see more listings once the few listings on the home page have him interested. You can add other information such as interesting news, informative links and more to your home page, just don't overdo it. If it has a "spammy" look to it, homebuyers will more than likely go to a more professional page.

Be sure to include seller and buyer information. Let them both know exactly what you can do for them- go into detail about the list of services you will provide for them during the entire transaction. 

Photos can sell your property before the buyer even sets foot on it

Photos are one of the most important aspects of the marketing process. A listing with no photos stands very little chance of gaining interest. A listing with poor photos also won't fare too well. A listing with high-quality, close-up photos will garner much more interest and the more photos, the better. Prospective buyers want to see everything before they actually go "see" it in person and photos or even high-quality video are the perfect way to showcase a home. Slide-shows are a great way to save space on your page and show off multiple photos of the property.

Be sure to speak (and type) with confidence, make sure your client sees you as an expert in your field and very knowledgeable about the area and property you are trying to sell. Every time you sell a home, ask the buyer to give you a testimonial so your website will be full of raving reviews from previous buyers. Photos of your customers standing in front of their newly-purchased home just adds a bit more and if you can get in the photo with a smiling customer, even better.

Keep your site updated with fresh content. A blog is perfect for this, just keep updated content coming in and your site will rise through the search rankings. Be sure to check your site for expired/broken links and eliminate them. Don't pack your pages with too much information, keep it simple but keep enough information to keep people interested and wanting to see more.