By Sam DeBord
The National Association of REALTORS® recently voted to approve updates to its operating agreement with realtor.com® and allow more flexibility for the Web site. There has been a wide range of reactions from REALTORS®. This blog is part one of my five-part series in which I will discuss the propriety of the agreement.
Let’s start with some background: NAR does not own the Web site. It merely owns the domain name, realtor.com®, which it has licensed to Move, Inc. to operate. Many discussions center on this issue still today. This agreement started in the mid-90s. Whether or not some members liked it, it is a 20-year old moot issue. NAR only owns about 2.5 percent of Move, Inc. They are merely a marketing partner with whom REALTORS® have regulatory clout because of our ownership of the domain name.
The new agreement between NAR and realtor.com® approves four major changes:
- Display unlisted new homes and new-home communities.
- Display unlisted rentals.
- Obtain listings from entities that are not REALTOR®-owned and controlled, as well as from brokers who are not REALTORS®.
- Identify properties where a notice of default has been recorded, auctions of distressed properties, short sales, foreclosures, and bank-owned properties. (Listing brokers will have the option to opt out by calling the realtor.com® customer care center.)
Individual consumer FSBOs remain precluded from the site, and the changes will be implemented in a way that preserves realtor.com®’s accuracy advantage, according to Move executives.
NAR directors are members—not some faraway body of executives. Continue reading »
By Jason O’Neil
I do not believe that mobile is the future of online real estate search. Why you ask? Because mobile is online real estate search and consumers have already been conditioned to get the information they want from their smartphone. With the popularity of real estate apps and searches, it’s difficult to make an argument that the mobile real estate revolution hasn’t already arrived.
According to the Google/NAR Digital House Hunt Study, “36 percent of home buyers use a mobile device while watching TV.” We know that home buyers use different technology during every different phase of their home search, but as practitioners, are we reactive or proactive in how we respond, adapt, and offer technology to our clients?
In an effort to be proactive, I have spent this past year informally polling all of my buyer clients on their search habits. What I’ve discovered is that some like Trulia, some like Zillow, some like to perform a basic Google address search but a lot are using the realtor.com® app. While there are no major differences with any of these apps, my polling revealed that mobile real estate search preferences vary according to personal style and familiarity with the application or program.
Personally, I have been evaluating the realtor.com® mobile app for iPhone. So far, I think it has fairly good features not only for the agent but also for the consumer. And my clients are loving it! The real difference between this app and many others is that with the realtor.com® app, I can add my clients using my login information—much like a friend request on Facebook—and once my client accepts, we are connected. Because of this feature, there’s a collaborative aspect to this app; I can send my clients homes they may be interested in and more importantly, they can send me homes they want to see or get more information about.
For example: Last weekend, one of my clients was driving around looking at neighborhoods, saw a home, opened the realtor.com® app, and used it to get details about the home. Instantly, the details were sent to my phone, which alerted me of my client’s desire to see the property. This is a perfect example of the collaboration between home buyers and their agents that our industry has been talking about for years.
If you haven’t done so already, I encourage you to download the app and ask a few clients to do the same. They will be happy you are involving them in the home buying process and you’ll be able to check out some pretty neat technology. Mobile is not the future, mobile is now. So what are you waiting for?
Jason O’Neil is an associate broker with Encore Sotheby’s International Realty in Indianapolis. Connect with him at jasononeilrealtor.com.
By Marianne Guenther Bornhoft
A new study just released from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism indicate that half of American adults have mobile Internet access via a tablet or smartphone. This is a major shift on how we as REALTORS® might want to review how we price our listings. Now more than ever, it is important to identify how potential buyers are using new technology to find their dream home.
At the center of this growth phenomenon is the tablet computer. The report states that nearly a quarter of U.S. adults — 22 percent — now own a tablet device-double the number from a year earlier. Another 3 percent of adults regularly use a tablet owned by someone else in their home. And nearly a quarter of those who don’t have a tablet, 23 percent, plan to get one in the next six months. In addition, 44 percent of U.S. adults have smartphones, which, according to the survey, is up from 35 percent from May 2011.
Most buyers start their home search by looking at listings online, or most often, on a real estate app specifically designed for a smart phone or tablet. This search tool allows the person to search for very detailed criteria. For example, the app will prompt the buyer to select the price grid they desire. For example, on the REALTOR.com® app, a typical price starts from a no minimum amount up to $300,000 with a $25,000 price spread between the two different price brackets. Most apps follow this rule. Some are only $25,000 between the price brackets and some real estate apps use a $50,000 price spread.
So let’s say you’re a seller and you would normally price your house at $224,999, now with the specific price brackets in mind, you might want to price it at $225,000 exactly. That way it will show up in both searches. Specifically, the search criteria a buyer might pick has house prices that go up to $225,000 or some would rather start from the $225,000 price bracket and search higher.
Remember, the real estate app only gives you exactly what you ask it to produce. So a seller might actually be losing a buyer who could afford a higher price home by pricing it out of targeted range. It would have been better if they would have priced it precisely the amount of one of the specific price brackets on the desired real estate app.
Rethinking how we expose the listings to the public is crucial as technology becomes more advanced and different ways to search for a house develop. We must learn to adapt to this change or be left behind.
Marianne Guenther Bornhoft is a broker at Windermere Manito in Spokane, Wash. Connect with her at www.SpokaneHouse.com , on Facebook at www.facebook.com/marianneguentherbornhoft or on Twitter @spokanehouse or www.linkedin.com/in/marianneguentherbornhoft.
By Stefanie Hahn
I hope that your SocialBios is the last About Me page you will have to complete now that REALTOR.com and SocialBios have fully launched the Hyper-Social(TM) Agent Profile Pages and Hyper-Social(TM) Agent Recommendations. Presented at the Young Professional Network Sub-Committee Midyear meeting yesterday in Washington, D.C., you must understand that this is no ordinary About Me page. Your SocialBios page is an information-packed, link-loaded, update-sharing, recommendation-engine of awesomeness that you can take with you via the handy personalized link or by grabbing a bit of code for your website. Set up your SocialBios page today at www.socialbios.com/create!
Stefanie Hahn is the education director for Coldwell Banker Hearthside, REALTORS® in Collegeville, Pa. Visit her Web site: www.StefanieHahn.com.
By Subhi Gharbieh
Have you ever thought about some things you can incorporate into your listing presentation that will really juice it up? Here are a few tips to help you get your listing presentation looking like Barry Bonds.
1. Graphs, Charts, Tables of Market Data. Comps, recent sales, and anything that can be explained with numbers, make it visual! (If you’re a Mac user, I strongly recommend Numbers for Mac.
Very easy to use and make your numbers “pop.”)
2. Marketing. Show them your property flyers with your amazing photos. Show them your blog, videos, advertisements, postcards, etc. They want to see what you have done in the past and what you will do for them now.
3. Social Media. Show them your Facebook business page. Twitter. Show them the different avenues you use to reach out to your following and how you market your listings on those networks.
4. Technology. If you have an iPad, make or upload your listing presentation in Keynote (Hands down, best Mac program to use when making presentations.) Bring an actual binded, professional looking listing presentation to the appointment, and bring your iPad also. Hand the iPad to the Seller and let them flip through the presentation on there while you go through the paper version. That alone will sell them. Continue reading »
By Dawn Miller
If you’re a new REALTOR® or if you’ve been in business awhile and re-evaluate your budget every year, I am here to reassure you there are only five tools you need to start or maintain your real estate business.
I’ve complied a short list of the must-have’s for those REALTORS® newer to the business who are questioning advertisements’ promising leads, great return on investment, and more. Hopefully I will re-energize other REALTORS® who have been in the business awhile to “get back to basics” and understand what we really need to make the best use out of the tools we have or how to do as much as possible with just a few good programs.
1. Contact Database
Whether you use MS Outlook, Excel (gasp), Top Producer, or even the contact manager through your MLS system, you really need some place besides your notebook or bar napkin to store contacts. I recommend a database that will do many functions, like Top Producer. It is a small investment that provides so many different tools, from e-mail programs, to drip e-mail campaigns, and more.
Notice I did not say website. Many REALTORS® are using their WordPress blogs as their main Web presence and even having IDX feeds so consumers can search homes. Get a free WordPress account today, or pay a little extra each month for additional features. Consumers are asking for hyper-local content and information. Blogging allows you to be the expert in your neighborhood.
3. Virtual Tour Program
There are many programs that are free, less than $10 a month, or charge per-tour. There is one that stands out among the rest–Visualtour.com. For $30/month, you can create unlimited virtual tours, advertise your listings on dozens of websites, and use the program to self-promote. Take still pictures and turn them into panoramic shots and video through their software. If you use this program right, it serves so many functions you might just have to cancel other programs or advertising you are paying for now. Check out a virtual tour I did while on an real estate trip in Dominican Republic: http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?t=2038675&prt=10003
4. Realtor.com Advertising
For $11 a month, I tell prospective sellers their homes will show up every 8-9 pages of homes as a featured listing on Realtor.com versus one time in the 350+ pages of homes for sale. That’s powerful! New REALTORS® sign up for showcase advertising while they have few listings to save money–as the monthly charge is based on the number of listings you carry in a 12-month period. Then call sellers to tell them they will have a “premium advertisement” on the number one real estate website.
There are “riches in niches.” How do you set yourself apart from the other REALTORS®? Take the time in 2010 to educate yourself through a REALTOR® designation. Analyze your market, your past business, and what makes you tick to discover how to set yourself apart. If you’re reading this, you already have a niche. Remember, NAR statistics show the average age of a first-time homebuyer is 30 years old. As a YPN member, you may be in the position to relate to and communicate with that first-time buyer.
Dawn Miller is a REALTOR® from Virginia Beach, Va., and chair of her local YPN chapter. Visit her Web site: www.DawnMillerHomes.com.