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.



 

Real Estate In The Cloud


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When determining whether to use cloud services for real estate, there are many services to choose from. You can use some of the most popular cloud services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, Evernote among others. You can also use social media in order to reach more people with your posts.


Evernote

Evernote can be used to handle nearly all aspects of a transaction- documents can be created, shared and stored directly from Evernote. By using Docusign, documents can even be legally signed and then transferred back to the realtor using Evernote. Evernote works best when used in conjunction with another cloud storage service such as Dropbox.

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the leading cloud storage providers and can handle much more than Evernote. Evernote has file size limits and can't be used to store large files such as videos, music and other large files. Dropbox has no file size limits and has much more efficient file-sharing capabilities. So if you use Evernote to create a document, it can then be shared using Dropbox and can even be collaborated on by both realtor and client if changes or revisions need to be made. Then if the document needs to be signed, it can be signed and transferred between realtor and client so both parties have a copy. At the end of this article, I'll show you a nifty way to sync files between Evernote, Dropbox and many other cloud services.

Social media

Social media offers real estate agents an effective method for gaining exposure, garnering leads and much more. The more people you can reach, the more of a chance you have of finding people that are looking to sell their homes.

Twitter

Twitter is one of the most effective social networks for real estate agents to use to their advantage. By gaining a large following on Twitter, you can produce posts (known as tweets) to send out to garner leads or just to spread information about your business. You can reach a virtually unlimited number of followers if your tweet keeps getting re-tweeted to other Twitter users' followers.

Facebook

Facebook is another great way to reach hundreds, thousands or even millions of followers by creating a business page. This eliminates the 5000 friend limit that is incurred on personal Facebook accounts. These posts will be sent out to all your followers who can then share the posts to all their followers and again, you could possibly reach an unlimited amount of followers. The only problem with Facebook is that now they have reduced the number of followers that your posts actually meet unless you pay per post. So, in this regard, I must recommend Twitter as a more efficient marketing method.

Using cloudHQ to sync files between cloud services

The best way to use multiple cloud services is to take advantage of the cloudHQ service. CloudHQ automatically syncs files between various cloud services in real-time, as the files are created, transferred or updated. All changes to files are updated instantly as the replication is continuous and instantaneous. So when a document is created in Evernote, it is instantly replicated to the cloud service of your choice, let's use Dropbox for our example. You can even choose whether the file should be replicated as a PDF or as a Microsoft Word file.

So if a document is created in Evernote, it is instantly transferred to Dropbox. A simple drag-and-drop process can send the file to the client's Dropbox for review. If changes are needed, the article can be collaborated on and revised with both realtor and client making revisions at the same time. The document can be legally signed using Docusign by one or both parties and then it can be saved to Dropbox where both parties will have access to it.



 

Top 4 Ways To Track Your Competition


Sign up for emails, blogs, etc.

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Your competitors more than likely have their own email lists, blogs, newsletters or other digital communications that allow users to sign up and receive information from the company. You can use this to your advantage by signing up for them and keeping up with all their blog posts and emails. Anything new that your competitor has come out with will be listed in these postings and you can keep up with it. They are most likely doing the same to your newsletters and blogs in order to ensure that you don't outdo them as well.


Google Alerts

Google Alerts is the ultimate way to keep up with anyone that uses the internet. Any time a blog post, forum post, website article or other posting is made containing the keywords you enter, you will receive an email informing you of this. You can choose to receive the emails daily so that you get a complete list of all postings containing the keywords. In this case, the keywords can be your competitor's name or brand that you wish to keep up with. You can create multiple alerts in order to keep up with multiple keywords. 

Analytics

Analytics are generally meant for you to keep track of your own site's stats and traffic, but it can be used to keep track of your competitor's stats and traffic as well. This gives you clues as to where their traffic is coming from and what's bringing them there. This way, you can change your methods if necessary in order to more closely compete with your competitor.

Social Media

Anyone who wants to be successful is using some form of social media- whether it's Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or other social networks. The benefits and probabilities of success are far too great to ignore. If your competitor is on any of these social networks, you need to follow them or befriend them in order to keep up with their posts.



 

Cloud Computing Strategies For Real Estate


The cloud is here to stay

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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.

Collaboration

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


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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.



 

How To Make The Most Out Of Social Media


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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.



 

How To Get The Most Out Of Your Real Estate Website


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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.



 

Top 3 Real Estate Technology Trends


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Technology has changed the way many realtors perform their real estate business. Advances in mobile technology, cloud computing, communication methods and many other useful features have helped make real estate agents' work easier and much more efficient.

Technology trends for the real estate agent

  • Cloud computing helps real estate agents by cutting costs in many areas such as storage, hardware costs, office space, etc. With documents stored on cloud servers, there is no need for those big, clunky file cabinets that take up so much space. There is no need for a huge paper cost as many documents can be created and even legally signed on an electronic device such as a computer laptop, tablet or smartphone.


  • Mobile technology has practically created real estate agents on the go. There is no longer even a need for an office, many agents work directly out of their homes. With devices such as smartphones and tablets, real estate agents can complete all aspects of a transaction wherever they may be. Documents can be created, edited, collaborated on, shared and legally signed directly from mobile devices. This eliminates time and travel costs of numerous trips to and from an office.


  • Communication methods such as social networking has helped in real estate marketing and in spreading  information. Facebook and Twitter have been proven to be effective methods for marketing real estate listings, as well as being a wealth of information and sources for real estate agents. The more views a listing receives, the bigger chance it has of garnering interest and being sold quickly.


As technology continues to improve, the real estate agent on the go is the agent in charge of his or her future. Less time spent on one transaction means more time spent on other transactions (for increased sales and revenue) and more time to spend with family and friends, as work no longer consumes every part of the day.

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