August 30, 2011
When serious about buying or selling a home, it is in your best interest to seek out a real estate agent. An agent will be familiar with such particulars as the neighborhood, the safety of the area and the quality of schools. As members of the MLS (Multiple Listing Service), agents can access homes as soon as theyre on the market, saving you from endless hours of searching. And, not to be forgotten, agents are well versed in the often tricky price negotiations process.
Raveis agents are fluent in all of the above and more. And, perhaps most impressive are the stories we have received from happy homeowners or sellers on how Raveis agents have always given more importance to their clients comfort rather than closing the transaction. Below is a story from Raveis agent, Stephanie Singer, of William Raveis Lexington, on how putting her clients best interests first saved them from a purchase posing an extreme health hazard.
I had an interesting experience with a relocation buyer from Pennsylvania, who was working with me to buy a condo in Concord, Massachusetts. Before we were signing a Purchase Sales Agreement on the beautiful unit, I discovered the location was right next to a superfund site( toxic waste dump). The sellers agent had not disclosed any of this information, which I found out is required by the agents brokerage if the property is in a certain radius of an environmental hazard.
I moved to Massachusetts 7 years ago and this toxic dump was here at that time. It seems the state had started a cleanup, but it was halted for many reasons. After doing alot of research, I pulled my clients out of the deal first thing in the morning, with documented proof of danger to their health and their investment.
They were very grateful and have recommended me to many of their colleagues. One week later, they purchased another condo in a different town, and they are happy. I have informed everyone in my office to check the state superfund site before they list or sell a property out of town. Luckily, my clients and I came out winners- the Concord condo was removed from the marketplace.
I think this personal story shows how important an agent can be..
August 27, 2011
In this week Social Juice, read about Steve Jobs stepdownfrom CEO of Apple and check out some must-read email video marketing tips! Read on for more!
Steve Jobs Steps Down
Steve Jobs, the man who has arguably had the greatest influence on the moderntechnology age, has stepped down as CEO of Apple. Even if you didnt grow up with Apple products in your home, Steve Jobs and his revolutionary ideas still influenced the way you thought about technology. I read a fascinating PC Magazine article that talked about Apples early influence on other mainstream PCs and digital productsin the mid 80s. The author of the article, a passionate Atari fan, relflects on Apples significance in Atari product launches. It turns out that my beloved Atari 800, like so many products of that era, was really just another me-too response to the Apple,he stated. After seeing Apples early success, Atari switched gears and began adding computer-like features to the design, such as support for peripherals, BASIC programming, and text. And wethought Apple had become theunbeatable kid in the park only post-iPod.
Steve Jobs is not saying goodbye to Apple, oh no sir. He will serve on Apples Board as Chairman, still offering his brilliant ideas and personal touch to the companys unique products. And many would say that Jobs has embedded his DNA and thought processinto Apple. Thanks to him, Apple is synonymous with innovation, as are the companys briliant engineers andstaff. They have learned an awful lot from Jobs and arepoised to take Apple to new levels infast-developing digital eras, such as cloud computing (I, for one, am eagerly anticipating iCloud).
So what does this mean for realtors? Well, in the past few days there have been the naysayers who have written articles on how the company could fall apart without Jobs at the helm. However, a majority of the analysis I am seeing points to the company doing just fine, if not better in the post Jobs era. Tim Cook, previously the companys COO, will now serve as CEO. This is a great appointment, since Cook has essentially been running Apple since Jobs took ill with pancreatic cancer in 2004.
The long and short of this all is real estate agents will still utilize Apple products for years to come in marketing their business. As an increasingly large percentage of people conduct real estate searches through mobile phones, Apples products will become all the more indispensable. Sleep well, realtors of the world, Apple isnt going anywhere.
Spice Up Your Emails with Video
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/08/26/social-juice-week-22/
August 26, 2011
Posted by Patty McCarthy, Realtor, William Raveis Real Estate, The McCarthy Group in Closings, First Time Home Buyers, Local Housing Data, Maintaining Your Home, Market Trends, Raveis Agents, Raveis.com, Recession, Selling Your Home, housing affordability
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/08/25/short-sales-can-be-tricky/
August 24, 2011
Maybe you think the last place you should be spending money is on the house you hope to leave, as soon as you can find a buyer for it. And youre rightlet the next owners have fun with big-ticket renovations that will enhance value, over the years they enjoy living in your house. What you need to know, as you prepare for the first open house, is how to spend a little money wisely, to sell your house faster. A house that sells in a shorter time, as we all know, is a house that sells for a higher price.
What to do and where to begin? Based on my experience of the successes and disappointments of many clients, my first recommendation would be to call in a staging professional. Its impossible for you to look at your home through the eyes of the buyers who will soon be tracking dirt all over your hardwood floors. Stagers understand what will appeal to the people currently in the market for houses like yours. You dont need more decoration; you need to transform your nest and sanctuary into a product that anxious home-shoppers can connect with emotionally.
What kinds of things will a stager suggest, knowing your budget is limited? Probably that you set priorities in the following order, each one doing its bit to add to the price your home commands:
- First impressions matter most. If you do nothing else, beautify your front entrance. Paint the front door; replace tarnished door hardware with a shiny new handle, for a quick new construction update; spruce up front porch and add pots of bright flowers.
- Every buyer wants a sun-filled house. Take down heavy draperies that block the light. Have your windows professionally cleaned. Make sure all light bulbs are brightwhat do you care, at this point, about energy-savers?
- Display the beautiful bones underneath your tasteful dcor: roll up or rip out every rug that overlays hardwood floors. Making those floors gleam with polyurethane is probably the most powerful money-enhancing thing you can do. Also the messiest. No pain, no gain!
- Dont try to hide things that should work properly, but dont. Buyers scrutinize their biggest investment very carefully, and defects have a way of floating to the surface at the worst possible time. Have mechanicals and major appliances serviced and repaired as necessary. Fix leaking gutters and rotted window-frames before they appear on a building inspection report.
- Finally, remember that this house is nearing the end of its time as your familys haven. Help another family see it as their future home by packing up personal photo collections, school artwork, and Dads scruffy recliner chair. Youll be moving soon anyway, so you might as well start the work now.
Moving is a stressful experience on many levels. Careful preparation and professional advice before your home is shown will help it achieve its maximum potential in the market. Emerging from this big transition with your finances and your nerves in good shape is a goal that is within everyones reach.
August 20, 2011
If youve been following the stock market or interest rates over the past two weeks, you may feel like youve been on a bungee cord. There have been several economic reports, fears regarding the debt crisis in Europe, and continued debates around resolving the nations debt that have stirred investors emotions and created alot market volatility. The net effect? The stock market is down but so are mortgage interest rates, making it a good time to buy or refinance.
According to NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, affordability conditions this year have been the most favorable on record dating back to 1970. Also, many borrowers are refinancing their Adjustable Rate Mortgages, or turning their 30 Year fixed mortgages into 20 or 15 years so they can reduce their mortgage balance more quickly. A William Raveis Executive Mortgage Banker can advise you whether this might make sense for you.
Part of the reason for the market volatility is the end of short term government programs whose purpose was to stimulate the housing industry and overall economy, one of which is the adjustment of certain loan limits. Beware! Unless Congress Acts quickly, on September 30th the maximum loan limits in many areas will decrease for FHA, VA and conventional conforming loans. This means that it may be more difficult for some buyers to qualify and some may have to pay higher interest rates. If you are thinking about refinancing or purchasing, we would advise you to check with and Executive Mortgage Banker from William Raveis Mortgage so that s/he can identify whether you are in an area that is likely to be affected and you can act expeditiously.
For more information, visit William Raveis Mortgages website.
August 16, 2011
Some of the hottest news in real estate circles today (besides differing stories on ongoing recovery) are about technology- mobile technology, in particular. Real estate industry gurus litter their blogs with top 10 apps for realtors or the best apps for homebuyers or mobile sites that provide a wealth of real estate data at the flick of a finger. Lets face it-the real estate industry is going mobile and youll likely be missing out on some great ways to access data when making homebuying or selling decisions if you dont get on board. David Popoff, a Raveis agent in Darien, CT, talks about the power of mobile data, as offered on raveis.coms mobile site, as well as apps to help you make smart buying and selling decisions. To read more of his insight on real estate, check out his blog on activerain.
Depending on what statistics you look at, somewhere between 80% and 90% of home buyers use the internet when looking for a home to buy. (http://www.realtor.org/library/referral/howmanyhomebuyersareusingthein)
Someone once said an educated consumer is our best customer and this does apply to real estate as well. All this availability to information when considering a purchase of a home will help out in the Real Estate Recovery that North America is just beginning to see. Having statistics, town and neighborhood information, taxes, local news at your finger tips will allow the buyer to be able to make a better and more decisive decision when putting in an offer. This same information will also help sellers realize a proper asking price when marketing their homes.
Let your fingers do the walking
With smartphones becoming more and more popular there are numerous mobile sites and apps available for homebuyers to use on the go. Raveis.coms award-winning mobile site will help you:
- Find a Home
- Open Houses
- Rate Watch
- Find An Agent
There are also several well known and helpful apps out there for homebuyers, including Zillow, Realtor, Trulia and ZipRealty.
Along with these real estate apps are other helpful apps to help you with neighborhood selection, walk ability to area stores, crime stats and more.
Google Earth Worlds geographic information and maps.
Family Watchdog Safety information on products and National Sex Offender Registry.
Walk Score How close you are to the local community, calculates the walk ability of any address.
Around Me finds information about your surroundings.
Photo Measure easiest way to take measurements with a photo.
Mortgage Calculator ~ almost every real estate, mortgage and bank app has it
Real Estate 114 Apartment prices and trends
QR codes ~ many apps available for QR codes and links.
Craigs List browser makes it easy to find on Craigs List.
Color Smart BEHR pick your color while you are house touring.
Green Map is mapping of communities worldwide of green living, nature and cultural resources.
August 12, 2011
In this weeks Social Juice, learn about an awesome app to assist with your home remodeling, called Houzz and read about how to get more traffic to your blog-the eternal question!
Does Your Houzz Look This Good?
Your clients are ready to purchase that new home, but they are desperately searching for decorating and remodeling ideas! What do you recommend to them (besides your own expertise, of course)? Well, you could suggest using Houzz. Houzz is an iPad and iPhone app that helps homebuyers and homeowners search for remodeling tips. The app features over 150,000 inspiring photographs of every room imaginable in a house, so you can assemble ideas on how to remodel.
You can create what the app calls Ideabooks-batches of photos that you want to store for later use when you are ready to find someone to remodel and redecorate your home. As an additional source of inspiration, you can sift through over 500,000 ideabooks that have been created by other Houzz users!
Once you have found a design you really like and think would work in your home, tap into Houzzs database of designers, filtered by local area. This is a wonderful app that is a must for anyone interested in remodeling a home! Check out Houzzs YouTube video for more information. http://www.houzz.com/iphone
Tips for Getting More Traffic to Your Blog
It is an oft asked and oft answered (though not always correctly) question-how do I get more traffic to my blog? It is a well known fact that there is no elbow room online-everyone (especially those annoyingly tech-savvy 15 year olds!) is vying for top ranking on search engines. So how can you give all the thought provoking content you produce about the real estate market the exposure it deserves? Here are some tips:
1) Update your About page-this is really important, but often overlooked. The About page is one of the most trafficked sections of a blog or website. It is a reflection of the company and can help humanize its mission. Everyone wants to know the face behind the brilliant company or website you have a created, so give them a peek. Keep this short and simple, however. Use no more than 2 paragraphs to give an honest look into the company. In fact, you may want to opt for video-sit behind the camera and give a quick 2 minute overview of the purpose of your blog and company.
2) Link to Other Blogs-Link building is extremely valuable on the web. It is one of the best ways to give your site credibility and authority. If you link to a respected real estate blog, the blogger will be notified by what is known as a pingback. This opens the door for the blogger to link back to you and the linking has begun! Google looks favorably on sites that are linked to by well known sites.example-imagine if the New York Times Real Estate section referenced your listingthat would be some pretty powerful exposure, right? If a well known blog links to your growing blog, this will automatically give it some SEO muscle.
3) Being Social-Your 4th grade teacher used to yell at you for disrupting class by doing this, but then again, she probably didnt really understand you were practicing to be a future SEO ninja. It is extremely important to socialize your blog posts by making sure you place them on your facebook, twitter and linkedin pages, as these sites can help boost your placement in organic search. This is the domino effect at work. Do something once and have it multiply. Write a blog entry once and multiply its exposure by posting it on your social network accounts. If you have 100 blog readers, 250 facebook Likes, 300 twitter followers and 300 Linkedin followers, thats 950 potentials to read your glorious thoughts. There are several tools out there that can streamline this process, such as Hoosuite and Publicize (if youre a wordpress user). Check them out when you get a chance.
4) Get Ideas from Your Followers- I mentioned the word humanize in tip #1. I think this is one of social medias greatest assets. In a world that has developed extreme distrust of businesses large and small, social media has given companies a carrot by offering a chance to humanize their image. As a business person, one of the best ways to put this phenomenon into practice is to ask your followers for advice. Ask your facebook and twitter followers what they would like to see on your blogwhat they would recommend you write about this week! Once you take their suggestions, that will make them feel listened to and will guarantee repeat visitors to your blog.
How are you getting more traffic to your blog?
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/08/12/social-juice-week-21/
August 9, 2011
We have been raised to believe that change is, more often than not, a good thing. Changing a menu order at your favorite restaurant, changing solutions to solve a problem at work, changing politicians, changing employees or even changing hair color are decisions people make frequently to move forward in life.
But, in a society that espouses change as a means of progress, it is ironic to see how slowly the real estate industry is catching on to one of the biggest technology changes it has encountered since MLS listings migrated from hard copy to the internet. The traditional real estate brokerage is being redefined as we know it.
The WAV Group, a leader in real estate consulting services, recently released a report discussing this major shift. WAV defines it as a shift from the brick and mortar real estate company to one that offers technology tools to enable complete mobility for agents. As the report states, successful real estate companies may not have any offices at all. We believe what they will do is provide a central point of integration for agents. Technology will be the new glue of the real estate industry. Rather than accessing data from multiple applications, agents need a single point of entry to an entire database of marketing, real estate statistics and contact management to help manage their business.
Though few brokerages understand just how important this change is, William Raveis has already helped lead the industry through this transformation with the January release of its simplified, single source mobile application, Agent Dashboard. Agent Dashboard is the first free-to-agent CRM, marketing and business management tool in the nation.
Agent Dashboard offers mobile syncing for the most critical parts of an agents business. Calendars, contacts and email updated on a mobile device, including iPhone, Android and iPad, are automatically synced on a desktop and vice versa. Agents can receive automatic alerts to stay aware of clients needs at all times. For instance, an agent can instantly receive an alert via email, on Agent Dashboard homepage or by text message if a client is interested in a property, changes search criteria or various other actionable items. Agents can even select the time of day they would like to receive text message alerts.
In addition, a single interface offers extensive property town data, comprehensive marketing plans, social media management, robust contact management, full MLS integration and listing notifications spanning multiple states, cities and towns.
Due to a focus on maintaining a culture of innovation during this transitional phase in real estate, William Raveis was recognized at the 2011 Inman Innovator Awards as the Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise and placed as a finalist for Most Innovative Website or Web Service for the creation of Agent Dashboard.
We believe change and who will be able to keep up with it is what will fuel this industry in coming years. Were excited for what will happen next!
August 5, 2011
A Thank You to Inman News
I would like to start this weeks Social Juice with a big thank you to Inman News for recognizing us as The Most Innovative Real Estate Brokerage/Franchise at the 2011 Innovator Awards in San Francisco. I feel it is only appropriate to thank them within this series of posts, because the preface of Social Juice is to encourage agent innovation-to serve as a catalyst for an aha moment when the agent decides on altering the tried and true to new and bold ways of doing business in this rapidly changing industry.
This could be your moment.
Were All Going Mocial
Though I love the northeast-raised in CT and upstate NY and lived in Nyc-I have to say that I sometimes feel awfully behind when it comes to the digital/mobile/social information race. Why is that? Well, though us noreasterners hate to admit it, most of the tech advancements come from the valley of perpetual sunshine-Silicon Valley, CA. And for me, this latest one does not even have to do with a new social network, a shiny new app, or a tablet thats 20 percent thinner than the iPad 2. It has to do with a tweet I saw from someone I follow from, yes, Silicon Valley. The tweet talked about the power of mocial. I had heard this term being tossed around the web, but figured it was just a spontaneous play on words from a blogger hoping to initiate a new social morpheme. But, now I was sucked in.
Mocial refers to the combination of social and mobile marketing. The reason the word really caught my attention is due to the astronomical usage of mobile to access the internet and social networks. According to a TechCrunch article, 81% of people browse the Internet and 77% search on their smartphones. Nine out of ten smartphone searchers have taken action as a result of a mobile search, with over half (53%) leading to a purchase.
According to Mark Zuckerberg, there are now 750 million active users on Facebook. Twitter averages approximately 600,000 new accounts per day and recently set a record for 7,196 tweets-gasp!- per second during the womens World Cup Final between Japan and the United States. Google+ has hit 25 million users in barely a month of operation. My point here is social networks are an integral part of peoples daily lives-not just for social purposes, but for commerce, as well.
Mobile device and social network creators are ahead of the curve. They know people depend on them-and for good reason. So, they went ahead and started making people even more dependent by combining offerings. Mobile Marketing Universe, a blog covering mobile apps and html5 developments, stated that 91% of mobile internet access is to socialize. And with most viable social networks offering a mobile app, this makes sense. One third of Facebook posts and half of all tweets are coming from mobile phones. Mobile and Social arent just having an affair, theyve exchanged vows. Mocial is in full effect.
As a realtor, you should be aware of the various ways you can use mocial marketing for your business. Update your social sphere from your mobile phone using facebook and twitter. Start a check-in campaign using the foursquare app to drive people to open houses (providing an incentive, such as a giftcard, helps!). Utilize built- in features such as Google maps to show buyers around a neighborhood. Utilize QR codes for lead generation. And the list goes on and on.
We are only scratching the surface of mocial possibilities for real estate to help you work smarter and faster.
Video is essential in real estate. Period. Youve heard this statement many times if youre a realtor, but youve probably dismissed it just as many times. And thats because video editing is not cake. It takes some time and effort. Luckily, there are web-based platforms that are becoming increasingly available to help streamline the process. One such platform is called Stupeflix.
Stupeflix is cool because it is built right into YouTube. There are pre-made themes you can use so you are not starting right from scratch. Then add images or video clips as you see fit. Adding titles on top of your video is super easy and you can even add music tracks-either right from your computer or from youtube. An added plus-you can add in a pinpoint location of a property from Google maps, instantly giving potential homebuyers a visual of where the home is. Oh yea, this service is also FREE.
Check out Stupeflixs website and test out the waters for yourself! http://www.stupeflix.com/
Article source: http://blog.raveis.com/2011/08/05/social-juice-week-20/
August 2, 2011
Last Thursday afternoon was a surreal moment for William Raveis Real Estate, Mortgage Insurance. The company was announced as the Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise at Inman News 2011 Innovator Awards, held in the beautiful Hilton San Francisco.
Inmans Annual Innovator Awards recognize exceptional national achievements in real estate technology and marketing. To give a simple analogy-winning an Innovator Award is akin to winning an Oscar at the Academy Awards. Every year, the real estate glitterati, from world renowned brokerages to Silicon Valley startups-gone-mainstream, gather in San Francisco and New York to talk about what they see in the industrys future. Its sort of a big deal.
About 10 days prior, we had been informed that we had made the coveted list of Finalists for two critical categories in Inmans 2011 Innovator Awards- Most Innovative Brokerage or Franchise and Most Innovative Website or Service for our multipurpose CRM, William Raveis Agent Dashboard . We were honored to be named among such forward thinking companies as Zillow, Trulia, Better Homes Gardens and SpatialMatch.com.
This has been a remarkable year for William Raveis Real Estate. In addition to winning several accolades over the past few years from highly regarded real estate organizations, the company has been named as a Best Place to Work by the prestigious Boston Business Journal and as The Best Residential Real Estate Company by Banker Tradesman, a subsidiary of The Warren Group.
We launched William Raveis Agent Dashboard (announced by Inman), an enterprise CRM, marketing and business management solution, free to our agents. Agent Dashboard enables sales associates to be mobile, conducting business from their smartphones.
We won a Gold Award from the American Advertising Federation for our custom mobile version of raveis.com, offering access to 300,000 listings from the convenience of a smartphone or tablet.
We continue to push forward our Exceptional Properties Digital Magazine, featuring some of our standout luxury listings and the latest news on the luxury market.
We continue to add to our library of agent education through our Career Development Division-offering over 200 classes per year on topics ranging from targeted marketing with social media to mobile strategies for increasing lead generation.
We engage with clients and the public in new ways, particularly with social and new media. Weve added enhanced functionality and access to listings on our facebook page and ask our followers for their feedback on the condition of the real estate market in their area. We utilize twitter, linkedin, youtube and foursquare to run contests and encourage participation from our virtual SOI. Its their feedback that helps us continue to refine our social media initiatives.
Our company continues to grow despite a challenging economy. In fact, William Raveis Mortgage had a record-breaking year, closing over $900 million in loans and William Raveis Real Estate is expanding its footprint throughout the northeast, opening new offices in Massachusetts and New York.
We thank Inman News for recognizing our efforts on a national scale. And, of course, we thank our sales associates, staff and management team for their incredible efforts. Its your vision and dedication that help this company lead and innovate. Heres to you and what you come up with next!