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Five Ways To Add Unique Photos To Your Real Estate Listings

A picture is worth a thousand words. The importance of the photographs in a real estate listing can’t be underestimated. The primary image must stand out among the page after page of listings a potential home buyer is likely browsing through, and the additional photos must motivate them to schedule an appointment to see the house in person. Images help make that emotional connection and make a property look like “home”.

Here are a few ideas to make your listing photos unique, and hopefully get the attention of home shoppers:

  1. Highlight Details. Does the home have a beautiful custom sink in the kitchen, architectural detail in an archway, or gorgeous drapery that stays with the home? They could be missed in a shot of the entire room. Take close up photos of the most special details in a home.
  2. Night Lights. If the property is well lit in the evening try a picture at dusk or even after dark. The glow of landscape lighting can be beautiful and something home shoppers would miss if viewing the home during the day.
  3. Include The View. Pictures of the view from a deck or porch are common when they include water, mountains, or city skylines, but think about showcasing even a less remarkable view. Can you see a nice garden, the lovely homes across the street, or attractive greenery? The more positives you can show a home shopper the more likely they are to put the home on his or her short list.
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Posted by: Anna Platz on February 11th, 2011 under Best Practices

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2010 – Your Year In Review

Now that you’ve got a few weeks of 2011 under your belt take a few minutes to look back at your business in 2010. Did you accomplish what you hoped to? Which items are still on your to-do list? Which goals are still ahead of you? It’s important to pause and reflect; recognize your past achievements, and refocus on what lies ahead.

Examine your business in a few different, but measurable ways such as the number of homes you sold or mortgage loans you originated, the number of leads you handled, the amount you earned, and where you stacked up against your peers. Look back at the strategies you tried throughout the year and think about what worked, and what didn’t? Come up with three new ideas to increase your business in 2011 and develop a plan for putting them into action.

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Posted by: Anna Platz on February 4th, 2011 under HomeGain

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Highlight “Green” Aspects of Your Listings

Visit the website of just about any builder or new home community and you will see a list of the environmentally friendly attributes of the homes. Going green, making sustainable choices, reducing our carbon footprint and environmental impact – these aren’t just buzz words – they are extremely important to today’s consumers, to our communities, and our planet. Don’t let the new home builders get all the credit for their eco-friendly policies. It doesn’t matter how many ENERGY STAR® appliances they put in a home, it will almost always be better for the environment to buy an existing home than to build a new one.

Environmentally friendly features are likely to save home owners money as well, as they are often related to energy savings. The financial benefit is especially great when the green elements are already in the home – there are no up front costs such as replacing existing appliances or light bulbs, or installing new systems such as solar panels.

Appeal to conscious home shoppers by highlighting the green aspects of your listings. Be on the lookout for items such as these that may be already present or easily and inexpensively added:

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Posted by: Anna Platz on January 31st, 2011 under Green Real Estate

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Should A Home For Sale Be Decorated For The Holidays?

Home stagers will tell you to keep your home attractive but neutral when hoping to sell quickly. It should be appealing to potential buyers and also allow them to envision themselves, their style, and their possessions in the home. How does that translate to holiday decorations?

Do wreaths, lights, trees, and holiday figurines have a place in a well staged home? How should you advise your clients when listing their homes around the holidays?

From a practical standpoint if your client is hoping for a quick sale, holiday decorations are one more thing to pack when it’s time to move. This helped me make the decision to leave everything tucked away in the attic when we sold our house this time last year. It helped that we were traveling for Christmas and my daughter still got to enjoy decorating the tree with Grandma. Someone who will be home for the holidays might prefer to keep up the annual traditions to minimize the disruption the family is likely experiencing with a house on the market.

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Posted by: Anna Platz on December 16th, 2010 under Home Staging, HomeGain

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3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Going Part-Time

The economic downturn and housing crisis have been tough on many Americans, and some real estate professionals have been hit especially hard. I have talked to many real estate agents, appraisers, and mortgage professionals who went from busy to super slow in a matter of months.

There have been bright spots with sales motivated by the first time home buyer tax credit and a recent uptick in refinances due to record low mortgage rates, but the past couple of years have not been kind to many smart, driven, hard working, and experienced individuals in the real estate industry. Recently I have heard of more and more professionals say they have decided to or are considering scaling back their real estate work to part time and finding another part time job to help them stay afloat.

While I understand the thinking behind this, and admire the willingness to be flexible, I think it is important to really think through the following issues before wholly or partially giving up a profession you love and have seen success in.

3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Becoming a Part-Time Realtor in a Tough Economy

  1. Will I be able to serve my customers well as a part-time agent?
    If not why would you ask a buyer or seller to stay with you? In this market you need something that sets you apart from everyone else – for the better. If another part time job means not returning phone calls or emails promptly, being unable to accommodate a client’s schedule for showings, and not giving 100% to the homes you have listed for sale and the home search for your buyers it’s not fair to you or your clients. It will also only mean more stress and anxiety for you as you feel that you are letting people down.
  2. Will I be poised to reenter the market full force when it improves?
    Most of us in the industry believe real estate values will begin to rise again, and that the market will pick up before too long. Call it the American spirit…or crazy optimism. When the market does rebound will you want to be right back in the thick of things? If you take a step back what will you do to keep your skills sharp, and to stay up to date on the market? How will you stay in front of your client and referral base so they know who to turn to when it’s time to buy or sell a home?
  3. Will my income be higher with two part time jobs?
    Sometimes the allure of a steady paycheck doesn’t translate to an actual increase in income. Consider what the part time position pays per hour. Do you see any opportunity to make some changes to your current business that would allow you to increase your income or decrease your expenses by that amount? Sometimes some creative thinking or focused effort will pay off more than moonlighting as a bartender.

If after thinking it through it makes the most sense for you to seek another position, first see if you can find something that is still related to the real estate industry. Your existing skill set will make you a great candidate potentially allowing you to bypass entry level jobs, and it will help you stay connected to real estate. Some examples include leasing consultant or property manager at an apartment or office complex, sales agent for a new home builder, relocation specialist for a large corporation, or even receptionist or administrative assistant for a real estate brokerage.

If you do set your sights outside the industry watch out for employment scams that are especially prevalent in this tough economy. Be wary of any position that requires you to make an up front investment.

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Posted by: Anna Platz on November 19th, 2010 under Realtor

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6 “Smart” Uses Of Your Smartphone

Maybe you got one because you liked the idea of staying connected even while out of the office. Maybe you were drawn in by all the exciting “apps.” Or maybe it was the best deal when it came time to upgrade your cell phone. Whatever the reason for its purchase, if you have a smartphone (one that offers more advanced computing fuctions) are you making the best use of it to help your business?

Real estate professionals are especially likely to be aided by a smartphone. Rarely are they tied to a desk all day, and even more rarely do they work a “normal” 9 to 5 schedule.

Here are 6 functions that might make your job a bit easier:

  1. Email – Having mobile access to email is often one of the primary attractions of a smartphone. If your company email doesn’t support mobile phone use you may be able to log into your webmail account using the internet browser on your phone. Alternatively you may be able to auto forward a copy of each email to a gmail or other personal address that you will be able to receive on your phone. Check with your company to be sure this is permitted.
  2. The MLS – Stay on top of new listings by keeping the MLS at your fingertips. Access it through your web browser or through one of the many available MLS Applications. A company called Smarter Agent has even created an MLS App you can customize with your name and logo and offer to your clients.
  3. Social Networking – If you are using Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, or any other social networking platforms in order to stay in front of your clients you are probably aware that these tools are only successful when you continue to provide current and interesting content. Stay connected using your smartphone and you can update your status or weigh in on a conversation on the go. Continue reading this post
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Posted by: Anna Platz on November 12th, 2010 under Guest Bloggers, Technology

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