Make Beautiful Photography Part of a Real Estate Marketing Plan

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Beautiful photos are often the key to grabbing a browser’s attention via social media, listing sites and even newsletters. With this in mind, real estate professionals should always consider the benefits of going that extra mile with their pictures.

What is needed?
Agents who take the actual photos should always assess and stage the layout of a home before setting up any photography equipment. This allows them to determine the most flattering angles within each room and which area may provide the best exposure to natural lighting.

Photography experts also recommend that agents invest in the right equipment, such as flash and tripods, for the perfect positioning and stance. There is even a recommended height for shooting real estate photos – five feet off the floor – so that photos look natural and aren’t in any way distorted by unexpected perspectives, such as shooting too much of a room’s ceiling or floor if the camera is tilted.

What the pros look out for
It’s important for agents who are editing their own photos before posting them online to keep an eye on a few details that might escape their notice, but could impact how attractive each picture is, according to Improve Photography. For instance, shadows can be cast when a flash bulb goes off, and being able to spot them is key. They’re most often seen around ceiling fans and light fixtures, but are also known to appear behind furniture, railings, plants and the like.

Similarly, the flash of a bulb can be reflected back to the camera from windows and mirrors, but also white walls and other surfaces.

Photographers caution that, when trying to get level photos, it’s not always easy to tell what “level” actually is. To that end, carrying a small bubble level that can be used both horizontally and vertically will help to ensure photos are keeping their lines as closely as possible.

Should agents prefer to take their own photos, rather than hiring a professional photographer, it would be wise to do a little research on tips and guidelines for beginners. With the right equipment and knowledge, their photos will stand out from the crowd.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

 

How Agents Can Boost Engagement When Clients Have Multiple Offers

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With today’s market consisting of would-be buyers garnering multiple bids, real estate professionals have an obligation to clients to help determine the best path forward, especially if the homeowners are attempting to sell their home for the first time.

It’s not necessarily true that homes “sell themselves” in today’s market. However, owners who have newly renovated and eye-catching properties for sale in desirable areas, with the guidance from an agent, are almost certainly going to see a number of interested parties coming to the table with offers, according to Realtor.com. Receiving multiple offers ultimately puts them in the driver’s seat when it comes to finding the right deal.

The available choices
Agents can and should advise their clients about how to proceed when they receive multiple offers as inexperienced sellers often think it’s wise to take the highest dollar value right away. However, if agents believe the offers aren’t collectively reflective of the local market as a whole, they may inform their clients that it may be in their best interest to counter at least some of the more serious offers.

What about bidding wars?
Homeowners may be faced with two or more parties that are willing to continually increase the value of their offer, sparking a bidding war which can go back and forth for some time, according to Max Real Estate Exposure. It is in a seller’s best interest that they should never artificially wait too long to respond to bids, and certainly shouldn’t try to drag out the process or push prices to potentially unreasonable levels.

At this point in time an agent’s expertise becomes valuable, as they are able to advise sellers on exactly which bids are favorable based on the owner’s preference and financial goals. Knowing when to step in and say when a bidding war has reached its natural conclusion is vital for agents to bring to the table.

The more agents can do to impress upon their clients with their expertise and knowledge in dealing with conditions present in today’s market, the better off they will be when it comes to being seen as a trusted advisor. This trust will also strengthen working relationships which then may ultimately lead to great referrals. 

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

6 Important Discussions Real Estate Agents Should have with Clients

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Great real estate relationships are built on trust. Agents who demonstrate knowledge, insights, expertise, and efficiency draw rave reviews from home sellers and buyers.

One of the biggest areas where real estate agents can demonstrate their trustworthiness and knowledge comes early in the relationship with clients. By providing accurate and pragmatic information, real estate agents can help clients make great decisions.

Here are 6 important discussions real estate agents should have with clients.

  1. Why Lowballing Can Backfire

Buyers can get swept up in the thrill of negotiation. If they are eyeing a property that’s been on the market for a while, they are inclined to enter a very low bid. Agents should talk early with clients about why this can often be a bad approach. Be sure buyers understand the emotional attachments, financial investments, and dignity that homeowners want to maintain when it comes to reacting to a low-ball offer.

  1. What Happens During Inspections and Afterwards

While a home inspector will discuss the process used to determine the status of the home, other structures, systems, and appliances, it’s a good idea to walk through the process with clients early. Explain to buyers what information from a home inspection report is usually better to use to provide offer adjustments and which are unlikely to sway a potential seller. This is also a good time to bring up the idea of home warranty protection.

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  1. Your Network 

Real estate agents don’t leverage the resources they have enough when it comes to demonstrating value to clients. Be sure your buyers know that while you may not know the answers to some questions, such as how much a potential repair may cost, you do have a well-educated guess based on your experience. And if you don’t know the answer, or the buyers are looking for more specifics, let them know about your extensive network of repair people, designers, and other agents that can help get them the answers they seek.

  1.  How to Sequence Purchases

The excitement about buying a new home can prompt giddy spending sprees on the part of your buyers. Talk to them about how to pace themselves when it comes to buying furniture, a new car, or other big ticket items. The potential impact on credit scores and, as a result, their loan applications and terms, often means waiting a bit before making other big purchases.

  1. Being Reasonable

Buyers who are unreasonable with their offers, their post-inspection negotiations, their demands to see the home, and other requests can cause problems later. Talk with your clients about what’s reasonable and when there can be one too many, “I just want my dad/friend/coworker to see the new digs” requests.

  1. Protecting the Investment

It’s never too early to discuss the opportunities that can help protect the big investment. Help your buyers understand the differences between home insurance and home warranties.

 Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com

How will the Market change in 2018 sales season?

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Projections for how the national housing market will shift over the course of 2018 are already starting to come to fruition, and real estate professionals will have to keep a close eye on changing data and market conditions in their regions. This may be especially true when it comes to the start of the spring buying season, which is just weeks away for a number of metro areas.

Perhaps the most pressing concern for would-be homeowners at this time of year is how home prices are likely to rise in the months ahead, according to Nerdwallet. Certainly, prices have been rising – for some time now – at well above the rates considered historically normal in the 3 percent range. And while that’s likely to be the case again over the course of 2018, prices will probably only rise about 4.1 percent, down from at least 6 percent in each of the previous two years.

That will likely be driven by an increase in the available housing inventory in a lot of markets – of all sizes. As a result of market pressures that led to the historically significant increases in home prices, homebuilders are finally responding, with more of a focus on putting up lower-cost homes as a means of opening housing options up to first-time buyers who typically have lower-end housing needs. Starter homes, in particular, have largely been absent from housing inventory, getting scooped up quickly when they do go on the market. If builders can address that concern in the months ahead, it could portend a lot more activity for agents.

That, in turn, is likely to lead to at least a small increase in year-over-year home sales, while new home sales are expected to surge by as much as 7 percent.

What about sellers?
Meanwhile, another reason that prices have increased so sharply in recent years is that many current homeowners just haven’t been putting their houses up for sale in the past several months at least, but that could start to change in 2018 as well, according to U.S. News and World Report. With prices continuing to rise and mortgage rates moderating – but still staying below historical and pre-recession norms – there could be even greater incentive for some owners – particularly older ones – to sell as demand remains high.

While a relatively small number of people currently think they’re going to be in a position to sell their homes in the year ahead, any increase over 2017’s rate of existing homes being put up for sale would likely be a boon to many markets.

And while home prices in and immediately around larger urban areas will likely remain quite high, the growing inventory of both new and existing houses for sale in outlying areas will likely make the dream of homeownership reasonable for both would-be buyers and current owners looking to make lateral moves or trade down on the sizes of their properties.

The effects of the changing economy
The housing market and the broader economy are inextricably intertwined, each having massive effects on each other on a continual basis. One way in which this may be most apparent to would-be buyers and sellers alike is in the form of mortgage rate changes, and the general expectation is that these rates will rise slowly over the course of 2018, according to Inman. Of course, it’s always difficult to project even a few months out where rates will end up landing; many projections at the start of 2017 showed that rates could climb as high as 4.5 percent or more, but in fact closed the year under 4 percent once again.

Nonetheless, experts once again believe 4.5 percent is a reasonable average benchmark for the market as a whole for 2018, and approaching 5 percent before the year comes to a close. That will likely come over the course of the whole year, as the Federal Reserve Board plans to incrementally raise basis interest rates at a number of points throughout the year. As a consequence, rates should remain well below that mark at the start of the spring buying and selling season, helping to ensure everyone can continue to lock in historically affordable rates that.

Svenja Gudell, chief economist at Zillow, told Inman that even given today’s higher home prices (which at this point are at all-time record peaks in many markets), rates would likely need to crest 6 percent before they started to become unaffordable in comparison to historical norms. Given that projections to this point are largely targeted for the mid-4 percent range, that helps to ensure high-level affordability for some time to come.

Emerging trends
While inventory is likely to be a major issue in many metro regions, there are some where the changing market forces are likely to have a big impact, The Washington Post reported. For instance, cities where inventory has been tight but construction efforts are likely to loosen things up considerably over the course of the year include major population centers like Boston, Philadelphia and Nashville.

Meanwhile, a number of big Southern markets are probably going to see more robust sales growth as they become attractive destinations for would-be buyers. These include Dallas, Charlotte and Tulsa, among others.

However, the tax reform bill that recently became law and applies to the 2018 tax year could have an impact on sales as well. For instance, homeowners are no longer allowed to write off certain state and local taxes, meaning that states with high property levies – including California, New York, Massachusetts and so on – could end up seeing a more muted growth as would-be buyers start their shopping elsewhere in an effort to save on their tax bills.

With rates rising and more inventory becoming available, it’s likely the market will continue to shift toward being dominated by purchases, rather than the refinances that have made up at least half of the market for most of the last several years. That trend, too, could affect the number of homes for sale, as owners start to see fewer financial reasons to refinance their existing home loans, and potentially seek ways to find more long-term savings through a home sale.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Agents Can Use the Winter Months to Re-Hone Important Skills.

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Though veteran real estate professionals may feel as though they know all the ins and outs of their business and local markets, it never hurts to hone the skills that lead to long-term success. Winter may be the perfect time to revisit those efforts.

Even agents who have been in the industry for years may still have a thing or two to learn about the best practices in the modern real estate market, whether that means doing research on some of the changes taking place in their regions over the past year or how best to communicate with clients, according to Skills You Need. These areas are usually the tools in any agent’s utility belt that make them stand out from the competition, and with business a little slower at this time of year, a bit of work to make sure everything is up to snuff can go a long way in the spring and summer.

Where to begin
One area where many veteran agents may be able to start their winter research is to see if any state or local rules and regulations have changed in the past year because that review is just the sort of thing that can go by the wayside in spring or summer, when sales activity is far more hectic. Small changes in this regard can end up having a big impact on an agent’s sales efforts going forward, so learning the ins and outs of whatever may have shifted is a great way to kick-start the re-training effort.

After that, additional effort to brush up on some of the finer points of social media communications or make connections with the owners of new local businesses could help to lay the groundwork for a successful spring and summer.

A focus on social
For some agents, there hasn’t yet been a huge shift to marketing on social media, but experts say finding footing on those platforms is a great idea at this point, according to McKissock Learning. That’s because the average American spends 40 minutes on Facebook alone every day, and social sites tend to drive a huge percentage of all web traffic. To that end, it’s a smart step for agents to learn how to market themselves on the site with both organic efforts and paid ads. Even if the latter isn’t used heavily, it’s still wise to know the best practices for developing effective ads.

Moreover, any agents who haven’t set up their own professional accounts, and have instead been using their agency’s page or personal accounts, might want to build an individual professional page. That’s another great way for would-be clients to start putting a face to a name and differentiate an agent’s personal life from their professional pursuits.

Even the most seasoned professionals can always stand to learn a little more about how to succeed in their fields. That fact may be especially true in a sector like real estate sales, because so much is changing all the time.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

Social Media Ad Marketing in Winter

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Agents may take the slower winter months to ramp up their social media marketing and planning, but that work should include trying to determine what has been most effective in the past and what hasn’t. Certainly, the extra time many real estate professionals have in December, January and even February gives them flexibility to not only maintain and construct creative eye-catching social posts, but also brush up on some emerging industry-recommended best practices.

There’s no real trick to making social media posts stand out in winter versus spring, summer or fall: The same principles that apply then are still in play now, according to Inman. That fact means mixing attractive photos with vibrant descriptions of available listings and adding in some local expertise whenever possible. However, that’s also the sort of thing that most agents do at this point, so a little more might have to be done to truly make a listing stand out.

A smarter path
Instead of trying to appeal broadly to a wide variety of would-be buyers with a listing, it might be wiser to home in on specific demographics, and fortunately most social media platforms allow for that laser-focus. For instance, Facebook ads may allow you to target users by age, location and a number of other different specifications, and that functionality can increase the likelihood that an ad resonates with an intended target.

Indeed, by focusing on particular groups of Facebook users (or those on other platforms), the actual content of the ad itself can be tailored more specifically to those groups so that there’s an even greater chance of success. The difference between these ads and more general ones could be likened to fishing with a spear versus simply dropping a baited hook in the water and hoping for the best.

Getting this specific also allows agents to highlight other parts of a home that may be particularly attractive to the demographics they’re targeting. Along those lines, it’s wise to include not just one picture in an ad, but at least a few, to show off more features per ad; that approach provides a little extra bang for the advertising buck.

A strategy for success
There are likely millions of pages online explaining the best ways to draw eyes with social media ads, but agents likely know from experience that people have largely trained themselves to gloss over any ad they come across online, according to RESAAS. As such, it might be wise at this time to look inward and examine past social advertising efforts. Which ads have worked well? Which haven’t? What do the big performers have in common, and what sets them apart from those that fell short of expectations? That kind of knowledge can shape future advertising efforts, as well as those that are still underway in winter.

Generally speaking, agents can boost their engagement with past and future clients through social media to a significant extent, but the key to ensuring an ongoing online relationship is providing people with what they want or need. Also, regularly revisiting that question can go a long way.

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click www.hmsnational.com.

HUFF Realty Toy Drive!

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For 19 years, HUFF Realty has held a toy drive for Shriners Hospitals for Children. Each year, HUFF Realty agents and employees are able to provide both monetary and toy donations to this great cause.

HUFF Realty encourages members of the community to drop off donations at one of their local offices. Monetary and toy donations are accepted.

The Cincinnati Shriners Hospital is a 30-bed hospital dedicated to the treatment of pediatric burns as well as specializing in plastic and reconstructive conditions such as cleft lip and palate. All care is provided regardless of the families’ ability to pay.

Upon admission, every child receives several toys that provide entertainment and comfort during their treatment.

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Shriners Hospitals for Children is changing lives every day through innovative pediatric specialty care, world-class research and outstanding medical education. Their 22 facilities, located in the United States, Canada and Mexico, provide advanced care for children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate. Shriners Hospitals for Children is a nonprofit organization and relies on the generosity of donors to continue improving the lives of children.

For more information and drop off locations visit http://www.huff.com/shriners-toy-drive.aspx.