Real Estate Tips & Tricks

5 Worst Home Improvements to make before Selling your House

It's summer time and the weather is warming up and I bet you sometimes catch yourself thinking about how great it would be to put a pool in. If you're thinking about putting your home on the market in the near future that may not be the best idea! Here are 5 of the worst home improvements you can make before listing your home according to Angie's List:

How Strong is Your Web Presence

 

Agents Need a Strong Market Presence

Gone are the days when newspaper ads and billboards were an agent or a brokers strongest advertising tools. There are two words that form the bottom line for the modern real estate professionals market exposure: online presence.

 

While you can argue that other advertising tools are not quite dead in terms of importance, an agents online presence is rapidly beating out all other types of advertising. Why? Because somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of home buyers (depending on age groups, demographics and the research source) start their search online. So, while some agents may swear by their direct-mail campaigns that they have used for decades, the modern client is changing, and so too must the modern agent.

In fact, this is one of the core principles that Andrew Mitchell & Company was founded upon. We encourage agents to evolve with the times for the best success they can experience. Past real estate practices will not result in future real estate clients. And, a lot of this boils down to a great website and a great online presence. Thats where buyers are, and thats where you must be.

Your website is, often times, your first impression to your clients. It allows them access to your information, your testimonials and the tools you have available for them. It also allows for a much wider reach.

At Andrew Mitchell this is one of our very top priorities for our agents. While agents bring their talent and experience, we give them the tools they need to boost their business and best serve their clients. To see what an Andrew Mitchell Real Estate website can offer you in terms of online presence and client tools, check out our demo site today: www.agent3.andrewmitchellco.com.

In addition to having a great website to function as your online appearance, we can also help agents bump up their site in search engine results (search engine optimization), find tons of effective online ad space (often times free) as well as analyze the specifics of your online visits (how many visitors, when, from where and for how long). So, stop living in the past and learn how you can boost your business through your online presence with Andrew Mitchell. Feel free to give us a call or send an e-mail our way.

Is Your Facebook Strategy Putting Off Potential Clients?

Its pretty difficult to find people who dont have Facebook pages, especially real estate agents who rely on networking to main their business.

But, have we really thought about how we are using our pages? Are we raking in business or possibly putting off clients with overly promotional posts?

The recent issue of Realtor magazine brought up an interesting point in their Selling on Facebook article. While there are a variety of opinions on this some love the idea, some cringe what we found interesting was that they compare Facebook to an in-person social gathering. Whether you agree or disagree, I think we can at least entertain the idea that most agents would not likely walk into a purely social cocktail party or a friends birthday gathering and start pushing their listing brochures at the guests, right? Well maybe some would but its not likely socially acceptable in most circles.

The article suggests that these two situations are not that different. When you think about, technology does have an annoying little habit of being, well, sometimes annoying think the person on his/her cell in the grocery store who is loudly having a conversation about intimate details of his/her life. Not what you likely wanted on your trip to pick up some milk and eggs, right?

So, how do we use Facebook in a way that promotes our business, attracts new clients and builds rapport without coming across as rude or inappropriate?

Below is a list of the Realtor magazine tips with our take and advice on them:

1) Show that real estate is part of you without pushing it on people. For example, assert yourself as knowledgeable about the industry by posting relevant news articles that people will find interesting. Sometimes it helps to give people something, not just try to sell them something.

2) Use Facebook as a means to show your hobbies, interests and special areas of expertise. This could spark a connection with a potential client, because clients want a real, authentic person they can relate to. You are selling your knowledge, but youre also selling your personality.

3) Dont bore your audience! Posting just plain links to listings isnt exciting. If you are going to post listings, try to limit them to open houses or interesting facts about the homes.

4) If all else fails, you can create a business page connected to your personal page to separate your business and your personal life. This way clients or other agents can see you as a person on one hand, and if they so choose, take a look at your listings by clicking over to your business page.

Written by Andrew Mitchell staff.

Rebranding

In real estate there are essentially only three ways that you can boost your annual gross commission income:

1) You sell more homes.

2) You charge more for your services.

3) You sell homes in a higher price range.

However, when you really look closely at this list, the third option is really the only feasible one among the bunch if you are already working at your full capacity and if the market conditions are anything less than desirable.

To be more specific, unless you are only a part-time agent or you still have a lot of free time, the number of transactions that you can add to your annual work load is likely minimal. Your plate is probably already full with your current number of clients, right?

And, you cant likely charge a higher commission rate for your services because then potential clients would run in the opposite direction for the hundreds of agent offering their services at the going-rate, 5%.

So, that brings us back to #3. While we agree that it is difficult to move from a comfortable lower-end market where your client base is very familiar with you to a higher clientele that may be skeptical of your new proposed higher-end knowledge and services, we think it is still within reach. And, what this boils down to is rebranding.

We arent talking about a new suit, a slight revamp of your website or even new business cards and marketing materials we are talking about a complete rebrand. In fact, many large companies that appeal to the masses have tried to slightly rebrand, trying to hit a more affluent client base by changing their logo or even adding a new name, with limited success.

One recent example that comes to mind is Comcast. While they are a big player in the TV and Internet business, and everyone knows their name, a big name only gets you so far. So, what is their real image? The company must not have felt it was very positive among high-end markets, because they chose 11 upper markets (including Boston) and rebranded themselves as Xfinity, still coupled with the Comcast name, but adding higher prices.

Despite your opinion of Comcast, I think we can all agree that the new name in front is not likely going to erase public opinion (positive or negative) about Comcast and new markets probably wont open up their arms to this mainstream provider. They are still the same brand, are they not?

The same is true for your brand in real estate. If youve spent years in a particular market developing a name for yourself and an opinion of expertise, suddenly trying to take that brand and market it to a new audience will be met with a great deal of resistance.

Despite the fact that we cant completely role out resistance (you will still be you with the same resume, of course), a complete rebrand could be just the change of image you are looking for, and Andrew Mitchell & Company can help you do that. We can give you a high-end brand to stand in front of, as well as a brand new high-end web presence and a suite of great online and mobile search and information tools to impress your clients, which will, in turn, move you up the ladder in terms of your image and your success.

Home Marketing through Story Telling

So, youre ready to put your home on the market. Youve done everything to prepare for this: youve selected a Real Estate agent with great marketing resources; youve professionally staged your home; and, along with your agent, youve researched market values in the area through a comparative market analysis. You should be good to go, right?

Not so fast. Your home might be completely market-ready, priced correctly, and your agent might be ready to go with all of their tried and true marketing techniques; however, in this tough market, there may be fifteen other homes in the area that are also beautifully staged, priced right, with aggressive agents ready to find a buyer.

The issue merely boils down to a very competitive market and an oversupply of inventory, allowing buyers to stroll along looking for the best home, the best deal, and the best timing. So, what can you do to set your home apart from the rest? Realtor Magazines Maggie Sieger brings up an interesting technique, and that is marketing your home through story telling.

Marketing is storytelling. Ask yourself what is different about the house that competitive homes cant say? I find that a house with a story draws more traffic, moves more quickly and sells for more money. -Maggie Sieger, Realtor Magazine

For example, what specifically do you love most about your house? If your walls could talk, would they have a story to tell? At Andrew Mitchell & Company we think this type of marketing speaks particularly loudly for Massachusetts and New England homes in general, where our homes are often rich with history. And, as you might know, in difficult economic times people generally take a nostalgic journey back to their roots in order to feel good about where they came from and where they are headed.

Some of Siegers tips and ideas for starting to construct your homes narrative are the following:

  • Does your home have unique architectural features?
  • Does your home allow for any unique hobbies?
  • Do you have any old photos of your house?
  • Do you have any information about the original owners?
  • What was the neighborhood like when the home was first built?
Sieger recommends creating a timeline to bring your homes story to life as well as branding the home with a unique name. She also mentions that if youre not sure where to start, libraries and history archives might be your best bet for older homes. In the end, all of this work will make your home stand out among the dozens of upgraded kitchen with granite counter tops listings overflowing MLS that everyones getting tired of seeing.

For example of a home with a lot of history and in honor of today being the beginning of Black History Month, check out the Andrew Mitchell Real Estate facebook page to learn about a Brookline home that was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

Does your home have a unique story to tell? Share it with us at info@andrewmitchellco.com.

Written by Andrew Mitchell staff; Information and quotes courtesy of Realtor Magazine.

http://www.nps.gov/nr/travel/underground/ma3.htm

Homebuyer Guidelines

At Andrew Mitchell & Company we want all homebuyers to be informed. While your sales agent can answer questions for you one-on-one, our online search features pull data from many resources to give you the data to start finding the right home and location all wrapped up in one neat package. This gives you a great head start.

We invite you to check out our comprehensive search options and complete our free registration to benefit from saved searches and other interactive features. You can begine on the home page by clicking a county or region or by using the Quick Search toolbar. You can also visit our Search Page.

From here, you can find detailed information that would likely take you searching a dozen different sites to compile. Some of the features include all of the MLS data and photos, area attractions, community demographics (average income, homes with children, marital status percentages, etc.), neighborhood schools, street views and market trends, etc. If you like what you see, you can print a flyer, save the property, schedule a showing, and even make an offer.

For more info on finding the right home for you, the National Association of REALTORSprovides these eight tips:

1. Know thyself Understand the type of home that suits your personality. Do you prefer a new or existing home? A ranch or a multistory? If youre leaning toward a fixer-upper, are you truly handy, or will you need to budget for contractors?

2. Research before you look List the features you most want in a home and identify which are necessities and which are extras. Identify three to four neighborhoods youd like to live in based on commute time, schools, recreation, crime and price. Prioritize your wants and needs so you can add in and weed out properties from the inventory youd like to view.

3. Get your finances in order Generally, lenders say you can afford a home priced two to three times your gross income. Create a budget so you know how much youre comfortable spending each month. Dont wait until youve found a home and made an offer.Gather your financial records and meet with a lender to get a prequalification letter spelling out how much youre eligible to borrow. The lender wont necessarily consider the extra fees youll pay when you purchase or your plans to begin a family or purchase a new car, so shop in a comfortable price range. Also, presenting an offer contingent on financing will make your bid less attractive to sellers.

4. Set a moving timeline Do you have blemishes on your credit that will take time to clear up? If you already own, have you sold your current home? If not, youll need to factor in the time needed to sell. If you rent, when is your lease up? Do you expect interest rates to jump anytime soon?

5. Think long term Your future plans may dictate the type of home youll buy. Are you looking for a starter house with plans to move up in a few years, or do you hope to stay in the home for five to 10 years? With a starter, you may need to adjust your expectations. If you plan to nest, be sure your priority list helps you identify a home youll still love years from now.

6. Work with a REALTOR Ask people you trust for referrals to a real estate professional they trust. Interview agents to determine which have expertise in the neighborhoods and type of homes youre interested in. Because home buying triggers many emotions, consider whether an agents style meshes with your personality.Also ask if the agent specializes in buyer representation. Unlike listing agents, whose first duty is to the seller, buyers reps work only for you even though theyre typically paid by the seller. Finally, check whether agents are REALTORS, which means theyre members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS. NAR has been a champion of homeownership rights for more than a century.

7. Be realistic Its OK to be picky, but dont be close-minded, unrealistic, or blinded by minor imperfections. If you insist on living in a cul-de-sac, you may miss out on great homes on streets that are just as quiet.On the flip side, dont be so swayed by a wow feature that you forget about other issueslike noise levelsthat can impact your life. Use your priority list to evaluate each property, remembering theres no such thing as the perfect home.

8. Limit the opinions you solicit Its natural to seek reassurance when making a big financial decision. But you know that saying about too many cooks in the kitchen. If you need a second opinion, select one or two people. But remain true to your list of wants and needs so the final decision is based on criteria youve identified as important.

Copyright National Association of REALTORS. Reprinted with Permission.

SEO Tips

You may have noticed several posts in recent Andrew Mitchell blogs about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), and that is because we believe a strong online presence is key for modern real estate agents to successfully grow their businesses. But, as we mentioned in a recent blog about Googles new search engine algorithms, having a great website is only the first piece of the puzzle you must also be noticed.

So, from Googles recent changes and the plethora of articles and discussions that followed these changes, you may already know that original content is a key player in climbing the search engine ladder. True, but thats not all there is to it.

Here are some other tips that will help bump your real estate website up in terms of search engine optimization:

  • Use lots of keywords that are unique to you and your business in your blog and in your website content.
  • Create meta tags for your web pages. Meta tags are tagged words used to identify web pages to search engine spiders.
  • Give all your photos and images alternative (alt) text tags. These alt tags are used for the visually impaired, but also for search engines that cannot categorize images without a text description.
  • Localize your content. For instance, if you are a Concord real estate agent, you will want to use local town names and language as much as possible to attract clients looking for properties in that specific area, as opposed to areas you do not specialize in.

Stay Ahead of the Curve

Two major, ongoing technology trends present a huge opportunity to market your listings and strengthen your professional brand:

1) the rapid shift toward Mobile

2) the exponential growth of video usage.

On average, videos generate41%better click-through rates than static messaging. Surprisingly, however, only2%of real estate agents and brokerages are using video in their day-to-day business. Weve put together some tips and tricks to help get you started using quality video in your business.

After surveying a group of sellers, NAR reported that73%would list with an agent who used video to market their property. That should not be a big surprise given that51%of home buyers are now including YouTube in their home searches. Furthermore, visitors will spend an average of 48 seconds on site with no video, while they spend close to 6 minutes on a site with video content. Quality videos help promote a lifestyle and emotional appeal that still shots just cant match.

There are a few ways to incorporate video into your marketing plan:

  • Agent Bios
    • Video biographies allow your personality, passion, and experience to shine through and connect on an emotional level. Buyers and sellers want to work with agents they like and trust, making video a vastly superior choice when compared to a static write-up on a web site or brochure.
  • Testimonials
    • Similar to agent bios, video testimonials connect personal recommendations and experiences directly to you, adding strength, credibility, and the power of word-of-mouth recommendations.
  • Neighborhood Tours
    • Highlight a few hotspots in the area where your listings are located; buyers value the sense of community and that video provides, helping them see themselves in your listing.

The Power of Color

We all know that getting a home market-ready is a lot of hard work and usually a lot of money. But, sprucing up a home for an open house doesnt have to be all about expensive furniture rentals and remodeling projects. In fact, according to Realtor magazine and Debbie Zimmer from the Paint Quality Institute in Philadelphia, paint colors can powerfully alter the mood of a room.

And, according to the institutes website, paint can not only freshen the look of a room, but also change the perception of size and temperature as well as alter a persons state of mind and physiology. This can be a lot more powerful than you might think. Below are the effects of various colors on a persons physiology:

  • Purple: Stimulates brain activity.
  • Blue: Slows pulse rate and lowers body temperature.
  • Green: Has a soothing effect as well as represents renewal, youth and vigor.
  • Yellow: Imparts happiness and optimism and causes the brain to release more serotonin.
  • Orange: Exudes energy and warmth.
  • Red: Presents energy, excitement and cause the heart to beat faster.
Whether you buy into these theories or not, color therapy is not a new trend. In fact, the ancient Egyptians, Native Americans and many other historic cultures have used color to heal.

But, if you are looking for new trends, the Paint Quality Institute asserts that in 2011 homeowners are looking for comfortable, serene spaces that come from casual neutrals and pastel hues. However, the institute also says that like a good, comfortably worn pair of jeans, the full spectrum of calming blues is still a painting staple to create stress-free environments. And, if you are a bit more daring, paints with a higher sheens, metallic finishes and a bit of sparkle are also on the radar for this year.

Written by Andrew Mitchell staff.

What is IDX?

So, it seems the buzz word in real estate right now seems to be IDX. With all the acronyms and abbreviations in technology and information systems these days, you might be left scratching your head. We dont blame you.

To sum it up, IDX stands for Internet Data Display, and, according to Realtor.org, it is a policy that allows brokers to exchange consent to display one anothers property listings on the Internet. However, the National Association of Realtors points out that you may know it by another name: Internet Data Display or Broker Reciprocity.

This is obviously a great marketing tool for real estate agents because it exponentially grows the reach of their listings. This includes both other real estate agents sites (like our Andrew Mitchell Real Estate property search), but also other property search sites like Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, Yahoo! Real Estate

While many MLS systems were doing this for years, in 2002 NAR mandated that all MLS systems must offer their participants a way to display the listings of others on their own websites. What makes this news 9 years later is the technological capabilities that increase this reach and blur the lines with quick and easy access to information in a variety of ways. Below are some frequently asked questions and answers provided by the National Association of Realtors:

Q. How is Internet Data Exchange accomplished?

A. Other brokers' listings can be displayed either by downloading data from the MLS compilation and publishing it on your Web site or by framing the MLS's publicly accessible Web site (if such a site exists).

Q. Do I have to allow other Participants to display my listings on their Web sites?

A. No, Participants are free to withhold authority for such display - either on a blanket or on a listing-by-listing basis.

Q. What happens if I won't allow other Participants to display my listings on their Web sites?

A. If you prohibit the display of your listings by other Participants, you may not display their listings on your Web site pursuant to the IDX program. Other Participants may give you permission to display their listings but that permission would have to be sought and obtained separately from each Participant.

Q. Can I authorize some, but not all, Participants to display my listings on the Internet?

A. If you consent to the display of your listings by other Participants under the IDX program, then any other Participant in the MLS may display your listings. If you prefer to authorize some, but not all, Participants to display your listings, this can be accomplished - though not under the IDX program. Separate consents would have to be granted to each Participant authorized to display your listings. As noted in an earlier question, MLSs may, but are not required, to transmit your listings to any destination you authorize. The decisions as to whether an MLS will provide such a service, and the related charges (if any) are matters to be determined locally.

Q. Does IDX mean that confidential information will now be available to the public?

A. No. IDX permits MLSs to prohibit display (by either downloading or by framing) of information intended exclusively for other real estate professionals and not for consumers.

Q. Can listing information be modified when it is displayed on other Participants' Web sites?

A. This, too, is a matter of local determination, although any authorized modification must comply with the "true picture" mandate of Article 12 of the Code of Ethics.

Q. Does IDX conflict with license law or the Code of Ethics?

A. Implementation of IDX must be consistent with state law. NAR's IDX policy statement is consistent with the Code of Ethics since no display of other Participants' listings can occur without their consent. Consent, though, can be assumed unless affirmatively withheld by the listing Participant.

Q. Why should we let our listings be displayed on our competitors' Web site?

A. Letting other Participants display listings on the Internet is a business decision each Participant must make, taking into account their duty to promote the best interests of their clients; to cooperate with other REALTORS; and the opportunity to use the Internet to better serve their clients and customers.

For a complete list of NARs FAQ, visit the link on our Facebook Page.