June 29, 2011
You cant go a day without reading about new developments in real estate. Whether it is new technology, new marketing, new regulation that will impact realtors or homebuyers/sellers or new data on the state of the market, real estate is constantly on the receiving end of new news. While all that is new in real estate can be overwhelming, you can take comfort in the fact that there is an exception- and that is enjoying a new or contemporary space.
Contemporary homes are becoming more mainstream and attractive to todays homebuyers. Often characterized by high ceilings, minimalistic detail and large, airy windows providing a portrait of the home grounds, contemporary housing departs from the traditional 2,200 brick colonial with white columns. As consumer tastes evolve towards everything that is fresh and new, contemporary homes seem to have made a place for themselves on homebuyers wish lists.
Raveis agent, Debbie Huscher talks about the beauty of a contemporary home in a piece she wrote below, first featured in the Killingworth-Durham-Middlefield Patch. Take a look.
Sometimes, it seems as though there are as many different types of homes in the world as there are people. Choosing a home is a study in psychology to be sure. It is interesting to watch a family prioritize their needs, either on paper or in their heads, and translate it to shopping for a house that defines their meaning of home. When I was a child, I admired homes in various neighborhoods, always quick to weigh in with my opinion yay or nay, or maybe, but with a little work. I was decisive. As Ive matured and changed, Ive found myself admiring houses that never drew my attention before.
And while we have a vision of ourselves living our lives in the perfect expanded cape with picket fence, or grand center hall Colonial with 3 car garage, Im reminded that houses are like people. We shouldnt always judge a house by its picture, or exterior appearance alone. Some houses surprise us. I always recommend, however, shopping with a short list of must-haves. Its not unreasonable to carve out a basic wish list including such personal must-haves as 3 bedrooms, full basement, garage, 2 baths, 2000+ square feet, more than half an acre, and a good school system. After that, have an open mind.
Sometimes even Im surprised at how much I like a home that didnt wow me at first. I often have a feeling once inside a home, or as I walk its property. The feeling is personal, and good or bad, it can be powerful. I think that people shopping for a home should listen to these feelings and be open to them. There are a number of distinctive homes among my current inventory list a few of which are more contemporary than traditional, and every one of these gives me that powerful feeling I mentioned. I feel a little lighter, and the space around me makes me feel calmer and more ordered.
Three Durham, CT homes with a contemporary feel include Evergreen, Haddam Quarter and Ernest. When you see a contemporary home, remember that the design influence is coming from a thoughtful place. For instance, enjoying contemporary spaces is often more about adopting an attitude than anything else. They often have vaulted ceilings, built-in furniture, fireplaces, decks and patios. Large and frequent windows are positioned to frame the outdoors from within, and marry the interior with its natural outdoor setting. The organic style of a contemporary home is designed to be efficient and practical, making smart use of spaces and traffic flow. They are often designed with large gathering spaces in the main living areas to keep family and friends together, with an emphasis on spaces rather than rooms. Employing quality construction details and maximizing natural light are often characteristically contemporary. Contemporary homes have much to draw you in, if you are willing.
For more information and to view additional photos of these homes, please visit my website debbiehuscher.com.
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/28/a-taste-for-contemporary/
June 25, 2011
This week in Social Juice, learn about an awesome facebook update that guides you through your Page marketing, Googles new Voice Search and its impact on real estate and Firefoxs latest iteration, Firefox 5. Read on for more!
No Lie, Its Now Easier to Maintain Your Facebook Pages
The social network we all know and love has just made some major updates to its Like Page Admin section. Now, all your burning questions about how to market a page can be answered on one page instead of engaging in a Wheres Waldo of link searching. The interface of the admin section has a new tab called Resources as you can see pictured below in the admin page of
William Raveis Real Estate.
One of the coolest features is the link to Best practices guides to make your page engaging. You can see it pictured below. Here, you get a ground to top guide on creating a page that will help build your brand and build your following.
This page even gives you tips on how to spread your content from facebook to your website and other marketing channels in the Spread Your Message portion.
Advertise on Facebook is another section to check out. Now, instead of scrolling alllll the way to the very bottom to access the nearly invisible Advertising link, you can access the wealth of ad sources right from your Like page admin. No detective skills required.
I encourage you to play around with the Resources tab-I guarantee you will walk away better informed on how to market your facebook page. And if worst comes to worst, you can access the Pages Help Center. Finally-an all-in-one guide to the ins and outs of Like Pages! Let me know what features you like most in the Resources section.
Ever caught yourself talking to your computer and then wondering if youd gone insane? Well, no worries- as they say, talk is cheap. That is, unless Google is involved. The company just completed another very big rollout of Google Voice Search. As you probably guessed, Google Voice Search allows you to speak your queries aloud instead of typing them into search.
I think there are some obvious potentials for real estate here. People search for properties mostly at home where they are comfortable talking about what they find. Now, they can simply say what they are looking for and Google will spit back the results. So simply speak to your computer and say looking for a 4 bedroom contemporary with pool rather than to type it in. Makes life a little easier, right?
Check out Googles Voice Search Page for more details.
Firefox 5 is Here
I feel like I just wrote about and downloaded Firefox 4 a few days ago! Well, now Firefox 5 has hit the scene in a big way. This rapid release formula firefox has undertaken to keep its users constantly up to date. In fact, according to Mashable, Mozilla expects Firefox to hit version 7 by the end of the year.
Version 5 looks identical to 4, but there are some large back-end changes, including support for web enhancements and better support for HTML5. What this essentially means is a better, faster browsing experience.
If you would like to updated to the latest Firefox, simply click on the check for updates button in the About Firefox section. Let me know what you think of it!
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/24/social-juice-week-16/
June 24, 2011
William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage Insurance carried a repeat performance this year, outranking 320 major area companies to earn a top 2 spot in Boston Business Journals coveted Best Places to Work list for 2011. The real estate company received high honors by Boston Business Journal last year, as well, ranking as the #1 Best Places to Work out of 440 companies that qualified.
These awards recognize company achievements in creating a positive work environment that attracts and retains employees through a combination of employee satisfaction, working conditions and company culture.
Equally important to our continued rapid expansion in Massachusetts is cultivating a great workplace culture as a competitive advantage, said Chris Raveis, Managing Partner/Executive Vice President of William Raveis, Massachusetts. We really strive to provide an environment conducive to success through a combined focus on cutting edge technology, a variety of marketing tools and strong support for agents, Raveis continued. Our team is particularly humbled to have received top honors from Boston Business Journal for the second year in a row! We really believe such recognition is attributed to our consistent message of treating our agents and staff as our customers.
William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage Insurance was one of over 320 companies to qualify for consideration based on a two-stage nomination process and the results of employee-satisfaction surveys taken throughout April. There were more than 18,000 employee-satisfaction surveys that were assessed with the help of market research firm Quantum Workplace. Companies were organized and evaluated by size category- small (20-100 employees), midsize (101-500 employees) and large (more than 500 employees). William Raveis was the only real estate firm to surpass such world renowned companies as Google and Microsoft in ranking.
In addition to helping the company earn Best Places to Work, committed sales associates and staff contributed to a dramatic increase in marketshare for William Raveis in the first half of 2011. The companys marketshare increased 4 times faster than area competition, jumping by 22.6% over the same time period last year. These numbers are particularly significant in a state that is experiencing a decrease in volume and has allowed William Raveis to maintain a strong growth pattern.
Since first entering the Massachusetts marketplace in 2003, William Raveis has experienced phenomenal growth. In 2007, the company opened three new offices in Marblehead, Orleans and Osterville, with statewide sales volume jumping 48% from the previous year. In 2008, the company launched four additional offices in Falmouth, Scituate, Marblehead and Hingham. In 2009, the company added new offices in Chatham, Eastham, Orleans and Natick making William Raveis Real Estate the largest independent real estate firm in Massachusetts. Between the end of 2010 through present, the company opened 7 more additional offices, including two in downtown Boston. Currently, the company has 27 offices and over 500 sales associates in Massachusetts.
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/23/best-places-to-work-2011/
June 22, 2011
If you are considering downsizing and you are anything like me, you have kept a few too many mementos of happy times around the house the kids artwork from kindergarten, homemade holiday ornaments, family photos and so much more. One day it is time to downsize and you realize all of the stuff in your house has you paralyzed.
Whether you are in the process of downsizing or just want to declutter your home, here are a few tips.
1.) My daughter Miah Browne wrote a post some months ago on tips for first time homebuyers . Once you have decluttered and are seriously considering a move, it is important for you to take advantage our information-packed site, raveis.com, which is great for all buyers whether downsizing, buying a first home, or trading up. Check out their Find A Home feature and look at sold property data and area information.
2.) Assess key comparables using our local housing data feature, updated in real-time. In addition, enjoy our award-winning mortgage services and working with our skilled realtors!
3.) Tackle all the items in your home by going through it one room at a time. Decide on a category for all of the items in each room. The categories may be give away to family friends, throw away, donate to charity, sell or keep for future use.
4.) When you decide what is being given to family friends, designate a day or weekend for them to come and get those items.
6.) In this economy itfeels great to give things to charity. There are so many in need. Many charities will take clothing, furniture and other items. Try the Salvation Army at http://www.use.salvationarmy.org/, Veterans of America at http://www.scheduleapickup.com/ or Big Brother Big Sister at www.bbbs.org/.
Now that spring is upon us, yard sales are a great way of getting rid of items and making some money. You can also sell items at local consignment shops.
9.) Dont forget the power of free! Many people will pick up items you place outside with free signs or you can visit www.freecycle.org to post items that you would like to give away and people will arrange to come get them.
June 17, 2011
This week in Social Juice, Im going a bit app crazy! I talk about two iPhone apps that will help you enhance your mobile marketing and also get into a big (and long overdue) Facebook announcement. Keep reading below for details!
Another interesting name for another interesting app. From what I can tell, UScape.it is Google Street View with a bit of a twist. The iPhone app allows you to stitch together 360 images (what UScape.it calls scapes) you take with your smartphone camera to create a guided tour of anything, including a home! I talked about a cool photo app in a prior Social Juice post which also allowed you to take panoramic images, but, if you didnt already catch it, UScape.it differs because of the stitching capability.
Once you have completed stitching together your scapes, you can add in guided arrows, much like you would see in Google Street View. So, for example, once you have stitched together an image of the kitchen and youre ready to move onto the living room, simply pop in a guided arrow that would follow the pathway from one room to the next.
Now, many of you rely on pricey virtual tours to create a video layout of a home. And you probably also have those tours on your website, which is wonderful. However, this app is mobile optimized, which is important as an increasingly large number of consumers are trending towards smartphone usage for their home search.
Once youre done scape-ing, share to facebook or email to your sphere with the click of a button. Easy, fast and pretty darn good. To download the app, visit their page on iTunes. Once you do so, you can also check out some of the demo scapes available to give you a better idea of what you can put together. There is even one of an apartment that shows you just how powerful the app is for real estate agents.
Heard of Zosh?
While it may sound more like the name of a figure from ancient Greek mythology, Zosh is actually a free new iPhone an iPad app that allows you to complete and sign documents with a couple screen touches. Zosh was recently acquired by a company you may have heard of, specializing in digital content delivery, YouSendIt.
What makes this app supercool is the fact that you can complete signatures with your finger, as opposed to complicated steps involved with other e-signature tools. Zosh breaks the need for the traditional fax solution and is arguably simpler to use than other e-signature devices available in the digital services market.
Once you or your client have completed the document, it can be sent in a simple pdf format. For more information on Zosh visit its download page here. Theres also a great video showing how nifty the app is to work with-check it out here.
Facebook Debuting App for iPad
Well its about time. Facebook has had a mobile app available since 2008, but has been slow to develop a tablet version. Looks like Zuckerberg finally came around. As stated by the New York Times, the new app has a slick design that has been tailored for the iPad and its touchscreen interface. In addition, it is rumored that Facebook will be revamping its Groups and Chat functionality for the iPad app, as well.
Realtors are increasingly gravitating towards mobile devices to streamline daily business activity, particularly tablets and smartphones. Facebooks iPad app will make it easier for you to stay in touch with clients, share local information and market to your virtual sphere.
Hope Ive given you enough to play with! Feel free to leave your feedback on any of the apps or updates in the comments section.
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/17/social-juice-week-15/
June 16, 2011
Analyzing the real estate market can often require extensive amounts of mental fortitude-if you arent looking at the right numbers. Some of the major market indicators that youve probably read about in newspapers and online include, average sale price, median sale price, and inventory. These are certainly important statistics to look at when assessing market temperature and the mood of buyers and sellers. However, one number that sometimes gets overlooked is the Sales to List Price Ratio. What exactly does this mean? How is it relevant when you are buying or selling a home? Raveis agent, Scott Elwell, describes the Sales to List Price Ratio below by taking a look at how it is impacting his local market, Greenwich, CT.
One area of the market that isnt talked about too frequently is the Sales to List Price Ratio. This number represents where a house trades in respect to its asking price. If you are looking at a large group of houses (say a couple hundred) I think this can be a fairly telling data point. That being said, for small groups of sales, this number can be fairly deceiving as one sale can have a fairly significant affect. With that thought I am going to ignore the ratio numbers in the one-month comparison, but focus on the numbers in the year to date comparison.
As you can see we have dropped from a 92.3% sales to list price last year to 91.2%. This one percent drop can mean a lot of things. It could mean that people are now willing to take less for their house, or that they are in fact pricing the houses higher and taking the same amount. All in all, a 1.2% variance is not that significant and should not warrant much concern. I like talking about this number since it can be read so many different ways. Residential real estate is not an exact science and just like macroeconomics people with fairly different opinions can all be right.
June 10, 2011
In this weeks Social Juice, we will be taking a look at new developments from the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) and how they will impact your day-to-to usage of mobile devices and computer operating systems.
The Apple WWDC, whose importance totech geeksis akinto the G8s stature for political leaders, has traditionally been veiled in secrecy until the actual day of the event. However, this year the WWDC in Moscone Center, San Francisco, was home to rumors swirling about Apples expected release of iCloud and its next generation iOS. Below are descriptions of these latest developments and how they are noteworthy for realtors.
Deep Twitter Integration
In what many view as a blow to facebook, Apples new iOS 5 will offer deep integration with twitter. In other words, by configuring your account settings on your iPhone with twitter, you will be able to automatically send tweets out to your followers and access twitter from other apps you may use without having to logon. This will make it easier for you to use twitter in unique ways to reach out to your sphere via your iPhone, iPad or iTouch.
Any news site you opened up to this week probably had mention of Apples iCloud. The beauty of this feature is you can use your iOS device as a computerno more syncing to get files. iCloud had received plenty of media attention for its iTunes streaming capability, but it doesnt end there. You can access books, documents, photographs, appspretty much your whole work and personal life from your iOS device. So, if you want to send listing specs to clients, you can store the document in iCloud and, voila, send it anytime, anywhere. Should impress the socks off your clients.
These are just a few of the updates from WWDC I thought I would share. All for this week-enjoy the weekend!
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/10/social-juice-week-14/
June 9, 2011
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/09/windows-for-homes/
June 7, 2011
Lets be frank, the homebuying process can often be lengthy and complex. However, a perfect storm of low interest rates, low home prices and high affordability have created a market rife with opportunity for homebuyers. Something to remember, though- todays real estate market is still stabilizing, so it is important to make sure you are asking the right questions before purchasing a home. Evan Walsh, an agent with the Walsh Team of William Raveis, Wellesley, gives the green light if the criteria below are met.
Knowledge and experience are the keys to successful real estate transactions. The Internet is an enormous library of valuable real estate related information. Doing your research to gather knowledge as well as working with local REALTORS, whose expertise and experience can interpret and guide you through the information, can be essential to your success in buying a home that is right for you.
Planning is one of the keys to making the home buying process easier and more understandable. With research and planning, youll be able to anticipate requests from lenders, lawyers and other professionals, and youll move more easily through the home buying process.
Do You Know What You Want in a Home?
Whether or not you are a first-time home buyer, you need to ask why you want to buy.
Do you need to move, or is buying an option and not a requirement? What property features do you want that you do not have now? Do you have a purchasing time frame?
Whatever your answers, the more you know about the real estate marketplace, the more likely you are to effectively define and achieve your real estate goals.
Once you get an idea of what you want in a home, it is very helpful and practical to talk to an experienced REALTOR who knows the local markets, current market conditions and the many facets of the complex business of real estate. An agent can answer your questions, give you a realistic picture of the market and help you clarify your real estate goals.
Do You Have the Finances to Buy a Home?
It is important to get pre-qualified for a mortgage before you begin your house hunting quest. This way, you will only view homes you can afford and get excited about.
Homes and financing are closely intertwined. Financing is the difference between the purchase price and the down payment and is commonly referred to as debt or the mortgage. There are a many different kinds of mortgages and different lenders, so be sure to shop around to make sure you get the mortgage that best meets your needs and at the best price.
In addition to a down payment, purchasers also need cash for closing costs (the final costs associated with completing the transaction). Some mortgage programs not only allow the purchase of a home with no money down, but also underwrite closing costs.
While some people purchase with little or no money down, it means higher monthly mortgage payments, so most homebuyers choose to put down some cash.
As for closing costs, in buyers markets, it may be possible to negotiate an offer that requires the owner to pay some or all of your settlement expenses. Speak with a REALTOR for details.
Get Your Financial House in Order Establish Your Credit
You need good credit to get a mortgage. For at least one year prior to purchasing a home, you should assure that every credit card bill, rent check, car payment and other debt is paid in full and on time.
Prepare yourself for the complex adventure of buying a home: do your research, work with a REALTOR, plan ahead, know what you want, what you can afford and establish your credit. This will make your real estate experience run more smoothly.
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/07/can-i-buy-a-house/
June 3, 2011
This week has been a bit grueling, so Im more than happy to indulge in some social media awareness. Social Juice is just the answerThree things I will talk about today- Twitters new native photosharing tool, how Googles Search Suggest can pump up your SEO muscle and the power of Facebook Badges.
Google is arguably the most recognizable internet name in the world (fervent facebookers, please keep your anger in check). It has also been named as the most valuable brand in the world by Brand Z, a brand equity database. Sure, facebook may have creeped up on the internet behemoth, beating it out as the most visited site in 2010, but there are still tools Google offers that are second to none.
Googles specialty is, of course, search. Just think about how many times a day you use the search engine to find answers to any of your burning questions. Heck, you could probably learn the ins and outs of protein engineering through some persistent Googling. You can also fine tune your own site and increase its search engine ranking with a little help from dear Google.
One of the simplest, yet often evasive tips to help you rank higher in Googles search engine is to use the keywords Google suggests! If you try searching for a term right now, you will notice that Google will provide a drop down of words and or phrases that it thinks youre searching for. This is Googles suggest terms. They are influenced by the popularity of keywords on the web.
So, for example, say youre searching for real estate Fairfield. Check out the search query here to see what keywords Google produces for you. real estate Fairfield ct, real estate Fairfield county ct are two of the top ones. So, these are two highly trafficked terms when it comes to Fairfield, ct real estate. Lets also say that you are creating a website devoted to your real estate services and you cater to the Fairfield market. You would probably want to consider using realestatefairfieldct as your domain name, if available.
Lets do a similar example with Newport summer-as soon as you type that phrase in, look at the suggested keywords Google gives back. You may want to use the term Newport summer share, either as a domain name or in some of the keywords on your site to help boost traffic. As a realtor, you may want to check the results typing in your own name will bring back in google and use one of those phrases as a domain name.
Using this simple strategy can have a huge impact on your site traffic numbers and, eventually, your bottom line.
At Last, Twitter has Photosharing
While I absolutely love twitter and its benefits for a real estate agent, I occasionally utter an expletive or two with how many third party applications I have to use in order to take full advantage of the site. From url shortening, to finding an expansive list of who to follow, there are just an overwhelming supply of third party twitter sites available. However, twitter announced it would remedy one of its third party pitfalls-photosharing. The social network will launch a native photosharing experience within the next few weeks.
What this essentially means, is photos and videos will be directly connected to tweets. No opening another website. If you use twitter on the go from your smartphone, the app will also allow you to upload and share photos from within its interface. This will make sharing those property listing images and virtual tours soooo much easier. Below is twitters official video introduction to its photosharing tool. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmB15ER3LUQfeature=player_embedded
Dont Mean to Badge-r You
Lets take a minute to talk about the Facebook Badge. Youve taken the time
to setup a great website and its starting to filter in some tangible traffic. Youve also setup a Facebook Page to help build your brand and promote you as a local area expert. However, you feel like your facebook numbers are weak. Does this scenario sound familiar? Well, heres a solution. Why not convert your website visitors into fans of your facebook page?
One of the best ways to do this is to place a facebook badge on your website. Badges look something like what you see here. Their greatest benefit is visitors to your site can click on the Like button within the badge and they will become a fan directly from your website. Cant be easier than that!
In order to get a badge for your own website, simply visit http://www.facebook.com/badges/ and click on Like Badge. From here, select the facebook page (if you have more than one) youd like to create a badge for, then copy and paste the code into the backend of your site. Its that simple!
One more thing you should probably know.(warning: this will likely not contribute to the growth of your business).today is National Donut Day! So go ahead and indulge in their sugar-laden deliciousness. We did.
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/06/03/social-juice-week-13/