Looking for a new way to give back? Try opening your home to those in need.
When it comes to giving back, most people immediately think of donating time or money to a cause. But another just as effective — and perhaps less thought of — option is sharing your home as a force for good.
Here are six ways to make a difference with your home.
1. Connect your neighbors through reading
Perhaps you’ve seen charming little structures in your neighborhood that are similar to mailboxes but filled with books. Started in 2009, the Little Free Library inspires a love for reading while building community. Purchase or build one of these book-exchange boxes to place in front of your home, and fill it with books you want to share.
2. Host a soldier for the holidays
Live near a military base? Many organizations offer the opportunity to host a soldier for a holiday meal at your home. Connect with your local U.S. Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) or Navy MWR resource office to find hosting opportunities.
3. Share your home with a cancer patient and their family
Cancer patients seeking treatment may end up at hospitals and communities far from home. While many hospitals provide lodging, there’s also an opportunity for hosts to step in and provide a homey place to stay.
Programs vary by area, so connect with your local hospital. If you’re in the greater Philadelphia area, check out Hosts for Hospitals or Boston’s Hospitality Homes.
4. Open your home to evacuees
When a natural disaster strikes, entire communities are unable to return home. Launched in 2017, Airbnb Open Homes is a program that works with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to book homes for people in need, for free. When a disaster occurs, hosts near affected areas are contacted with requests from displaced families and individuals.
5. Provide a safe place for refugees
Those forced to flee their country may not always have the connections and immediate financial resources to find shelter. A spare room or unused part of the house could be a great temporary solution for these refugees while they get on their feet.
Room for Refugees started in the United Kingdom and now works in the U.S. and Canada too. Many other refugee resettlement services offer hosting opportunities, so research the relevant needs in your area.
6. Get creative
Invite your neighbors over for dinner, or throw a progressive dinner party. Hosting a Death Over Dinner party is a great way to talk about end-of-life care for you or someone you love. Other ideas include hosting a lecture series, documentary viewing or craft night, all in an effort to build community right where you live.
The real estate industry caters to independent strategies. For every investor, there is another way to go about conducting business. Some may prefer to utilize the convenience of technology while others want to maintain personal relationships. However, for one reason or another, there remains a void between these two independent strategies. Smart investors will figure out how to incorporate technology into their business while simultaneously maintaining the personal relationships that they have worked so hard to create. Others will need to learn this before it is too late. Using the latest technology, in association with establishing lasting relationships, can go a long way in making a business successful.
Programmers, and the venture capitalists backing them, certainly want the real estate industry to be run through advancements in technology. At the same time, a number of the leading industry minds, and young entrepreneurs are dismissing technology as just another tool. So which real estate strategies will prevail over the next decade? The early adopters riding the next wave of technology? Or those taking customer relationships seriously? Perhaps both?
Tech is invading real estate, and fast. The following advancements in technology have already been incorporated into the real estate industry:
Highly controversial drones have been flying their way into mainstream real estate applications. They are now being used for enhanced photography, virtual tours, and even property management.
As the world becomes a planet of digital natives, more and more data is becoming available to the public. While big data may seem hyped up to many real estate professionals, better data means being able to pinpoint prospects with highly targeted marketing, and give them more of what they want. Theoretically, this means improved real estate marketing performance and ROI.
Curation remains a popular trend, though its value may be suffering due to larger trends, and the obvious need for originality.
Not only is technology creating more efficiency in mortgage lending, it is spawning new financing models altogether. The advantages of speed and streamlining operation technology can increase lender margins, or help keep interest rates and borrowing costs low. One of the largest new developments has been ‘buy to rent’ loans for single-family rental home investors. Crowdfunding goes even further, completely breaking from traditional mortgage lending and having to rely on banks.
Home searches haven’t necessarily benefited from new technology much. The big home listing portals haven’t changed much. The many new startup attempts at mimicking these real estate search engines haven’t appeared to gain much traction. The data shows house hunters are still far better served turning to local real estate websites.
Web design has changed significantly in the last year; both aesthetically and functionally. HTML 5 has taken over, and both responsive sizing and content is becoming the norm.
Augmented reality is rapidly gaining traction. Augmented reality and interactive ads are taking over as the top ads in print and outdoors. Google Glass is now being used on the streets by some real estate companies to coach agents and team members in real-time. Technology is also working its way into improving green building efforts.
Where’s the Personal Touch?
Technology is great. It can make life and business a lot easier, and more profitable for real estate agents, investors, and the companies they work for. However, some entrepreneurial thought leaders and real estate commentators are increasingly highlighting the benefits of offline, and personal connections.
It all comes down to what is best for business, and enabling real estate professionals to stay in alignment with the things they really care about. Efficiency from technology is great. It gets even better when it improves service for home buyers, sellers, and renters. Done right, integrated technology can make management easier, facilitate business growth, ensure sustainability and long term competitiveness, and significantly drive up ROI and profits.
Still, it shouldn’t be a replacement for real interaction and service. Unless this is kept at the forefront of the mind, short term gains will be just that – short term. Winning customers could become far more expensive, and those with the strongest relationships will be those that retain customers and benefit from their referrals.
With this in mind, some real estate professionals and companies have been taking another look at brick and mortar storefronts. However, they are also taking the time to build real relationships. These are all good things. But, unless the same care and attention to caring for customer needs, and wowing them with great service is maintained at all levels of an organization, it may not make much difference. In fact, you might be better off with just a website, instead of allowing poor customer service reps destroy your reputation, and brand.
The latest technology has been helping to blur the lines between offline and online. Perhaps this is the best strategy for real estate companies. Meet each client where they are and interact across multiple channels for efficiency, while still providing tailored, but high quality service.
When you purchase a condominium, townhouse or another type of property in a planned development such as a leased land property or a gated community, you are obligated to join that community's homeowners' association (HOA) and pay monthly or annual HOA fees for the upkeep of common areas and the building. If you are considering purchasing one of these types of properties, you should be aware of the following nine things about homeowners' associations and how they work before you buy.
First, let's take a look at what HOAs are all about. HOA fees often range from $200 to $400 per month. The more upscale the building and the more amenities it has, the higher the homeowners' association fees are likely to be. In addition to monthly fees, if a major expense such as a new roof or a new elevator comes up and there aren't enough funds in the HOA's reserves to pay for it, the association may charge an extra assessment that can run into thousands of dollars.
Because multiple parties live in the same building or complex, all residents of condominiums and townhomes must be equally responsible for maintaining the common areas such as landscaping, elevators, swimming pools, clubhouses, parking garages, fitness rooms, sidewalks, security gates, roofing and building exteriors. Many of these types of common areas, such as pools and tennis courts, also exist in subdivisions of single family homes. Regardless of whether the HOA governs a building, such as a condo or townhome structure, or a neighborhood of individual houses, HOA fees help maintain the quality of life for the community's residents and protect property values for all owners.
In addition to maintaining common areas, HOAs also set out certain rules that all residents must follow called covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). In a common building, rules may include what color front door you may have, whether you are allowed to line dry your laundry outside, whether you can have a satellite dish, the size and type of pets permitted, and so on. In many ways, these rules are similar to the kinds of rules apartment dwellers must follow.
In a subdivision with individual homes, regulations may include what color you can paint your home, the exterior landscaping you can do, the types of vehicles you can park on the street or in your driveway (no RVs, for example), permissible type and height of fences, and restrictions on window coverings for windows facing the street. If you want to do anything that differs from these rules, you will have to convince the HOA to grant you a variance, which is probably unlikely.
No matter where you live, you are likely to be subject to city ordinances and restrictions related to the use of your property. HOAs add yet another layer of restrictions, and because their members are more likely to know what you're up to, the HOA is more likely to enforce the rules. Below, we'll take a look at some of the rules and regulations you need to know about before you decide to join one of these communities.
What You Need To Know
While there are laws governing the behavior of HOAs, these associations can still have a powerful impact on your rights as a homeowner. Before buying a property in a community that has an HOA you should:
1. Learn the HOA's rules.
You may be able to find an HOA's CC&Rs online as well as information about what happens if you violate a rule. Make sure any online information is current. If you cannot find this information online, ask your real estate agent to acquire these documents for you or contact the HOA yourself.
Pay particular attention to rules regarding fines and whether the HOA can foreclose on your property for nonpayment of HOA dues or fines resulting from CC&R violations. Also, learn about the process for changing or adding rules, and whether HOA meetings are held at a time you will be able to attend if you wish to do so. If the rules are too restrictive, consider buying elsewhere.
2. Make sure the home you want to buy is not already out of compliance with HOA rules.
Buying into an existing problem can be a headache, so find out what the rules are and whether you would have to make changes to the home to comply.
3. Assess environmental practices.
If environmentally friendly living is important to you, be aware that some HOAs may dictate that you use fertilizers, pesticides, sprinkler systems and whatever else it takes to keep your lawn picture-perfect. They may not allow xeriscaping (an environmentally friendly form of landscaping) and may limit the size of gardens, ban compost piles and prevent you from installing solar panels. So make sure you check the fine print first.
4. Consider your temperament.
Are you the type of person who hates being told what to do? If so, living in a community with an HOA may be a very frustrating experience for you. One of the major benefits of homeownership is the ability to customize and alter the property to suit your needs, but HOA rules can really interfere with this.
5. Find out about fees.
Fees will differ for each community. Because of this, you should make sure to ask your HOA the following questions:
Compare dues for the complex or neighborhood you are considering to the average dues in the area. Keep in mind that you will have to pay for recreational facilities whether you use them or not. Find out the hours for amenities like pools and tennis courts. Will you be around during those hours, or will you be paying for facilities you'll never be able to use? Be aware that the HOA may have rules about how many guests can use common facilities. If guest restrictions are severe, forget about that housewarming pool party you envisioned.
6. Try to get a copy of minutes from the last meeting or sit in on an HOA meeting before you buy.
The meeting minutes can be very telling about the policies of the HOA. Some questions to ask are:
Be alert for potential drama. Power trips and petty politics can be an issue in some HOAs. Talk to some of the building's current owners, if possible – preferably ones who are not on the HOA board and who have lived in the building for several years. Talk to the HOA president and get a sense for whether you want this person making decisions about what you can do with your property. If a private company manages the HOA, investigate it before you buy. Some HOAs are professionally managed, but it is common for associations to be managed by building residents who hold their positions as volunteers. Even if you like the current HOA board or management company, it can change after you move in and you may end up getting something totally different than what you expected.
7. Watch for under-management.
Not all HOAs are over-managed. The opposite problem may be an HOA where no one really cares and where no one is interested in maintaining the building, making repairs, hearing resident grievances or being on the board. Residents may simply take turns serving as HOA president or randomly appoint someone, so be prepared to serve in this role whether you want to or not if that is the case with your community's HOA.
This would also be a good time to check into any restrictions preventing you from renting out your property or that make it difficult for you to do so. If your property is being under-managed you might not have an issue, but if you've got a hyperactive manager it could be a totally different story.
8. Find out what kind of catastrophe insurance the HOA has on the building.
This is particularly important if you're considering a condo or townhouse purchase and you live in an area that is prone to floods, earthquakes, blizzards, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes or any other type of potential natural disaster – and that is virtually anywhere.
9. Consider the impact of HOA fees on your short- and long-term finances.
A condo with high HOA fees might end up costing you as much as the house you don't think you can afford.
The Bottom Line
Homeowners' associations can be your best friend when they prevent your neighbor from painting her house neon pink, but your worst enemy when they expect you to perform expensive maintenance on your home that you don't think is necessary or impose rules that you find too restrictive. Before you purchase a property subject to HOA rules and fees, make sure you know exactly what you are getting into. Then, once you've found your dream community, use a resource like a mortgage calculator to secure a favorable mortgage.
Thinking about buying? Be sure to include these five items in your calculations.
Homeownership may be a goal for some, but it’s not the right fit for many.
Renters account for 37 percent of all households in America — or just over 43.7 million homes, up more than 6.9 million since 2005. Even still, more than half of millennial and Gen Z renters consider buying, with 18 percent seriously considering it.
Both lifestyles afford their fair share of pros and cons. So before you meet with a real estate agent, consider these five costs homeowners pay that renters don’t — they could make you reconsider buying altogether.
1. Property taxes
As long as you own a home, you’ll pay property taxes. The typical U.S. homeowner pays $2,110 per year in property taxes, meaning they’re a significant — and ongoing — chunk of your budget.
Factor this expense into the equation from the get-go to avoid surprises down the road. The property tax rates vary among states, so try a mortgage calculator to estimate costs in your area.
2. Homeowners insurance
Homeowners insurance protects you against losses and damage to your home caused by perils such as fires, storms or burglary. It also covers legal costs if someone is injured in your home or on your property.
Homeowners insurance is almost always required in order to get a home loan. It costs an average of $35 per month for every $100,000 of your home’s value.
If you intend to purchase a condo, you’ll need a condo insurance policy — separate from traditional homeowner’s insurance — which costs an average of $100 to $400 a year.
3. Maintenance and repairs
Don’t forget about those small repairs that you won’t be calling your landlord about anymore. Notice a tear in your window screen? Can’t get your toilet to stop running? What about those burned out light bulbs in your hallway? You get the idea.
Maintenance costs can add an additional $3,021 to the typical U.S. homeowner’s annual bill. Of course, this amount increases as your home ages.
And don’t forget about repairs. Conventional water heaters last about a decade, with a new one costing you between $500 to $1,500 on average. Air conditioning units don’t typically last much longer than 15 years, and an asphalt shingle roof won’t serve you too well after 20 years.
4. HOA fees
Sure, that monthly mortgage payment seems affordable, but don’t forget to take homeowners association (HOA) fees into account.
On average, HOA fees cost anywhere from $200 to $400 per month. They usually fund perks like your fitness center, neighborhood landscaping, community pool and other common areas.
Such amenities are usually covered as a renter, but when you own your home, you’re paying for these luxuries on top of your mortgage payment.
When you’re renting, it’s common for your apartment or landlord to cover some costs. When you own your home, you’re in charge of covering it all — water, electric, gas, internet and cable.
While many factors determine how much you’ll pay for utilities — like the size of your home and the climate you live in — the typical U.S. homeowner pays $2,953 in utility costs every year.
Ultimately, renting might be more cost-effective in the end, depending on your lifestyle, location and financial situation. As long as you crunch the numbers and factor in these costs, you’ll make the right choice for your needs.
What does it take to make a home famous? In case you’re wondering how to make YOUR home famous, there are two main routes to explore: Either become famous yourself (the more difficult of the two options) or lend your home to a film project for use in a movie or even a commercial.
Found an interesting article published March 5 in the Los Angeles Times titled “The star treatment: Want a film set in your living room?” (To access this article, registration is required). It’s all about looks, marketing and good neighbors that gives some background on how to go about getting your residence into a film. The article states that “On a big-budget Hollywood film, your house can earn anywhere from $2,000 to $20,000 a day.” Even though you have to register on the L.A. Times site, it’s definitely worth the effort if you are looking for the fast track to having a famous home (or if you just want to get paid $2k-20K per day to stay in a hotel)!
By some estimates, more than 20% of all searches are for local businesses. If you want your brick-and-mortar enterprise to attract more nearby patrons, local SEO (search engine optimization) is a must-have marketing tactic, says the pithy “Definitive Guide to Local SEO” post over at Search Engine Journal.com.
Local Means Trusted
Six in ten users trust local search results and consider them relevant. So appearing atop the list means you’re more likely to be chosen. Summarized below are some of the article’s top local SEO tips, which perfectly complement our previous Location-Based Services post:
Tip #1: Create a Google + Local Listing—But only after first reviewing Google’s quality guidelines to understand their requirements. Giving Google precisely the information it wants, in the format it most prefers, is the best (and only) way to fully leverage this powerful marketing channel.
Tip #2: Learn how to use Reviews—Positive reviews (and lots of ‘em) tell Google and customers that your business is reputable, popular and worthy of appearing higher in the search results. Ask for reviews regularly and make it easy to submit them. Include your Google + Local profile links (and request) in emails, direct mail and in-store signage. Cautionary note: deliver on every brand promise at every customer touch point or reviews could backfire and keep customers away.
Also, take time to learn about local search citations so you’re conversant when you and your marketing team or provider decide to take the local SEO plunge. Biggest takeaway: Google gladly gives citation search-love, but only if you use their preferred format consistently across the web.
Tip #3: Get your on-site SEO in order—All the same elements apply for local SEO as national SEO, says the SEJ article, with some extra considerations like: putting your company’s name, address and phone number on every page of your site (in the same format as your Google + Local listing), preferably in the footer; also include your city and state names in Title Tags, Meta descriptions and where they fit naturally into your content.
Your rehab is not finished the moment your contractor cleans up.
After the last trim is painted and the appliances are installed, you have one more crucial step that will ensure you a quick sale, STAGING.
For those who are not familiar with STAGING, Staging is the process of creating an emotional experience that leads sellers to make buying decisions much quicker and easier. Staging is a pivotal element in your real estate investing business that does not take much effort, but yields in immense benefits. Bottom line – Staging sells your property faster, which allows you to see your profits sooner.
Staging is simple; you want the buyer walking thru the house to envision themselves living there. You want them to visualize where they would put their furniture, where they will have dinner, and enjoy a movie. Staging does not have to be complicated. You can have a lot of fun and showcase your style. Here are few tips to help stage your rehab.
Home Staging Tip #1: Clean, clean, clean!
Make sure your rehabbed house is clean from all debris, inside and out. You want the house cleaner than if your mother-in-law was coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. Make sure you don’t forget the window sills and little nooks and crannies, dry wall dust gets everywhere. Be meticulous in the kitchen and baths. You should feel comfortable eating your next meal off the floor.
Home Staging Tip #2: Bring a friend or family member
This person needs to not have an emotional connection to the house. You want an unbiased eye to help highlight the positives and distract from any negatives.
Home Staging Tip #3: Pick a Staging Point.
Go to each major room in the house (i.e. Kitchen, Bathrooms, Living room) and select an attractive part of the room to highlight. An example in the living room would be a fireplace. Simply put a mirror or painting on the mantel with some candles and a few logs in the fireplace and you just staged! It’s simple as that. Now your buyer is able to visualize enjoying a roaring fire on a chilly winter night in their new house!
Take advantage of these staging tips before putting your flip house on the market. Your goal is to enhance the “WOW” factor a buyer gets as they preview the property. This will maximize your time. Back to TIP #1 CLEAN, Make sure your contractor cleans up after themselves every night to ensure time isn’t wasted when you are ready to clean. TIP #2 Also talk to your friend or family member that you are going to involve. Tell them what your objective is, as they will be more helpful if they know your goal. TIP #3, you can save a lot of time by picking the features in advance that you want to highlight. If you are unsure of your own style, don’t be afraid to ask a store clerk or friend for help. You can accomplish half the work of staging before your project is finished. Stick to a tight time line and don’t waste a minute. Every wasted minute is narrowing your profits.
One big choice you have to make when estate planning is choosing your executor. Executors have a variety of responsibilities, so it’s important to select a person who has shown financial responsibility, stability, and honesty.
It’s best to pick someone that can avoid a conflict of interest, meaning they do not have any stake in the estate. We recommend a friend or trusted business acquaintance, but not a family member named in the will, or a business partner. Be sure the person you select understands the extent of the commitment.
Here’s a list of some of the tasks the executor performs:
The job of executor can be large, but the executor doesn’t have to do it alone. Often times an executor chooses to pay a professional to take care of most of the administration.
Ultimately, the most important advice we can give is to take the time to select someone (and a backup, if possible). Otherwise the government will choose someone for you.
Virtual Real Estate Transaction Coordinator
Can a savvy home stager be the secret to selling your home fast—and for top dollar? Many real estate experts say yes.
Home staging entails hiring an experienced professional to bring in furniture, accessories, and art that will make your house look its best and appeal to the appropriate buyer. If you’re still living in the home, a home stager will rearrange your existing furniture to wow buyers.
“The goal of a stager is to attract the largest possible number of would-be buyers and get the home sold at the highest price, all in the shortest period of time,” says Andrew Sandholm, a real estate agent at BOND in New York City.
Of course, staging requires an investment upfront. Most stagers charge $300 to $600 for an initial design consultation, and then $500 to $600 per month, per room. But staged homes sell on average 88% faster and for 20% more than non-staged homes, according to industry data.
Still, if you're going to reap those rewards, you need to find a good home stager. You can start your search by asking your real estate agent for recommendations; then meet with each. The following questions will help you determine the best home stager for the job.
1. What training have you received?
You certainly don’t need formal training to have a great eye for interior design, but being accredited by the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) means that a practitioner is held to certain standards. To become a RESA member, stagers must pass an ethics exam, have home staging business insurance, and have at least one year of staging experience.
2. How many average days were your staged homes on the market last year?
Finding an experienced stager is important, but finding a successful one is paramount. “A stager can be great at getting contracts, but if their homes don’t sell, they’re going to be a waste of money,” says Sandholm. Try to find a stager whose homes sell within 30 days, since that's usually the point at which listing agents advise clients to make a price reduction.
3. What’s the typical price range of the homes you stage?
You want someone who specializes in staging homes that are similar to yours. For example, “If you’re selling a starter home, you wouldn’t want to hire a stager who specializes in luxury homes,” says Sandholm.
4. How do you stay on top of interior design trends?
The person you hire should be able to explain how he or she keeps up with the furnishings and decor trends that make buyers come running. Do they attend conferences? Do they actively preview new listings? Do they hobnob regularly with other stagers and decorators to learn about the latest and the greatest?
5. Can I see photos from your three most recently staged homes?
You can ask a stager to see their portfolio, but it may not be an accurate representation of their work. “They’re only going to show you their best work,” says Sandholm. But, looking at stagers’ most recently staged homes will give you a better idea of the quality of their work.
6. What are your rates?
Most stagers charge a monthly fee, but some charge a flat fee per room for the duration of the listing, says Chris Dossman, a real estate agent with Century 21 Scheetz in Indianapolis, IN. You'll want to get quotes so that you can budget appropriately. If you’re tight on cash, consider only staging a few rooms, especially the living room, kitchen, and master bedroom—which make the greatest impression on home buyers, according to a recent National Association of Realtors survey.
Know that staging costs can vary depending on where you live. If your home is vacant, and you want the entire house staged, prices can range from as little as $975 a month (Indiana) to $5,500 a month (California), according to RESA. If the home has some furniture, you’re looking at between $700 (Iowa) and $4,800 (California) a month for a two-month staging contract.
7. How much time will it take you to stage my home?
“Usually, it only takes one to two days to stage a home, but good stagers are busy,” says Dossman. Availability may wind up being a determining factor in who you hire. If a stager says it’s going to take a week or longer, find out why. “If the person plans to stage your home with furniture that’s tied up in another listing, that’s a red flag,” says Dossman.
8. Is your business covered by insurance?
There’s a chance your home could get damaged when the stager moves furniture in and out, so make sure the business has insurance to ensure you’re protected. For due diligence, ask to see proof of coverage.
9. What can I tackle myself?
A reliable stager will be honest with you about what projects you can do yourself to save money. For example, if only one room needs a fresh coat of paint, that’s something you can take on. Once hired, a good stager will also offer tips on little things that you can purchase to make your home more inviting, such as candles and fluffy towels for the bathrooms.
10. What style would you recommend for my home?
This is a bit of a trick question, but it’s worth asking. “You want a neutral stager, since you’re trying to cast the widest net possible,” says Sandholm. In other words, you don’t want to hire someone who has an overly narrow design aesthetic.
Marketing collateral is an umbrella term that refers to the collection of printed media used to make the sales effort easier and more effective. Whether you hand it out, mail it, or it is picked up from a counter-top or trade show booth, collateral is meant to educate a potential customer by providing details about the products and services you sell. Collateral material should also serve to promote your company by featuring your logo and other branding elements, and include contact information to make it easy for someone to buy from you.
Generally speaking, collateral is tangible media, such as the following (although more and more companies are employing digital collateral):
Brochures: Whether a tri-fold or a fancy multi-colored catalog, a brochure can be handed out to prospective customers, used in a direct mailing, placed on a counter to be picked up or sent out when people want more information.
Business Cards: Every businessperson should have one, and it should include all contact information: your name, company name, address, telephone number, fax number, website and email address.
Newsletters and e-newsletters: Newsletters help keep your company’s name in your customers’ minds when sent on a regular basis. Avoid the hard sell by providing relevant information so your customers look forward to reading it.
Fliers: These “one-pagers” generally have less descriptive text than brochures, but include special offers and/or promotional pricing along with a call-to-action.
Sell Sheets: Sell sheets are similar to fliers, but instead of offers, they are meant to quickly and efficiently impart facts about your product or service.
If you’re going to go to the trouble of creating collateral to promote your company and its products/services, make sure each piece represents your company in as professional a manner as possible. When produced well, marketing collateral can help drive your sales. When poorly produced, it sends a negative message about your company (and often ends up in the trash).
Many people live in smart homes, drive smart cars and use smart phones. REALTORS® should be no different, especially with all the tech tools at their disposal nowadays.
While some brokers still use paper documents, fax machines and push button lock boxes, mobile and connected agents can manage deals from their car using their iPad or other tech tools in their arsenal.
If you’re looking for an entry point into the connected world, here are the Top 10 tech tools to help you become more productive, efficient, and current.
1. Yesware. This is an email tracking add-on. It alerts you when the emails you sent have been opened. The mobile version of the software provides push notifications alerting you when an email you sent was opened. Yesware works with Gmail, but it’s also compatible with Top Producer® CRM, so you can track emails to groups.
2. Market Snapshot®. Create “Just Sold” and “New Listing” alerts for current, future, and past clients with this tool that works within Top Producer® CRM. Designed for mobile, Market Snapshot® sends agent-branded email alerts to deliver timely and accurate information, with your name and logo prominently featured.
3. HelloSign. This app targets those who want to go paperless. It lets your clients sign documents electronically. You can then send them to the co-op agent without ever printing, scanning or faxing a piece of paper. It works seamlessly with Gmail and Google docs. There’s even an option to create a form you can host on your website or send via email.
4. Vidcaboodle. Creates a video channel for your website from your phone. All videos can be displayed in one place fully integrated into your website. Video drives traffic to your site, not to YouTube.
5. EasilyDo. This is your personal assistant without the monthly expense. This free app accesses your digital life, finds the most important stuff and surfaces it for you. It gives you a daily snapshot of important reminders: flight information, order confirmations, and appointments. It even scans your social media presence to let you know when past clients have a job change, get married, or have a life event you can use to reconnect with them.
6. Ginger. Never send another email loaded with misspellings or misused auto-corrections. Ginger is an app following you online while you type and automatically spell checks everything. It makes you look smarter, because your text messages and emails will be corrected for grammar, synonyms, definitions, re-phrasings, and punctuation.
7. Mailboxapp.com. Designed for Gmail and iCloud accounts, the Mailbox app redesigns your mobile inbox to make email easier to use on the go. Swipe to hide a message from view, snooze messages you will get to later, and organize all of your confirmations to list. Mailbox learns from your swipes and organizes your inbox—leaving you with more time to prospect.
8. Sitegeist. For those pesky questions you can’t answer due to Fair Housing laws, direct your clients to Sitegeist. They can discover local demographics, school data and bevy of other interesting tidbits. Referring your client to an app shows you’re not just an authority on local real estate activity—but you’re plugged into resources they can depend on for useful information, as well.
9. MileIQ. Make tax time easy. This app knows tracks your auto mileage automatically. It separates business trips from personal trips—all you need to do is just scroll left or right to file your trip under the appropriate heading. At the end of the year, print your custom mileage expense report and hand it to your accountant—your mileage is done.
10. Rapportive. This Gmail extension allows agents to quickly identify who is emailing them. With Rapportive, every email address is linked to the sender’s social media accounts. Instantly, you see what city they’re in, their job title, employer and their Twitter, Facebook and Google+ accounts. Rapportive allows agents to see who is emailing them and have a face to look for when a client requests a showing.
In an age of e-this and social-that, it’s easy to forget that many businesses still rely on traditional printed materials to market their products and services.
True, websites have become today’s de-facto marketing medium. And flashy new pad-style computers can invigorate even the most pedestrian sales presentation.
But in the trenches, today’s sales pros still use brochures, sell sheets, direct mail and other key marketing and sales support materials to land, close and nurture new accounts.
Of course, those who routinely use printed materials continually seek ways to create and produce them better, faster and more efficiently—which may explain why companies large and small are leveraging the benefits of online storefronts.
Web to Print
An online storefront (aka Web to Print) is a browser-based Web application that links digital, print-ready versions of company marketing collateral to a pre-determined print-production and delivery environment. Typically, your team (or your printer’s) will design and upload material templates, which can then be accessed, edited and output on-demand by authorized users to a nearby printing facility. The technology even allows for personalized variable output.
Coming into its Own…Again
When online storefronts came onto the scene a few years ago, print buyers and marketers were all atwitter, knowing that it was the all-in-one printing-marketing-personalization solution they’d been waiting for. And, more recently enthusiasm has spiked, largely because more and more vendors and businesses are clearer on the technology’s considerable upside, which includes:
An experienced print-service provider can help you tailor a customized, cost-effective online storefront for a range of printed/integrated marketing materials, such as:
Have you ever used an online storefront for your business?
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