Blog :: 2013

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.

Information is Everywhere

This is an understatement. With the constant stream of online data available on your computer and even your mobile device, we have access to information at practically anytime and anywhere.

Have you ever been asked a question by a friend and responded Im not sureGoogle it. Probably. We are in a society of instant gratification where we can get information on almost any topic with a quick search.

Want a quick recipe for dinner? Google it. Want to know what that computer error is all about? Google it. Want to know if you have the common cold or the flu? Google it.

This is how we live, and real estate is no exception. The vast majority of home buyers start their property search from the comfort of their home using a wide range of property search sites and advanced IDX systems, like the one here on the Andrew Mitchell Real Estate homepage.

While some real estate agents might cringe at being bypassed. At Andrew Mitchell, we dont think this is a bad thing. It just means a shift in who holds the information. While years ago the broker held under lock and key access to market properties, now access is wide spread.

However, while clients can (and should!) get an online head start on being informed about whats out there on the market. As people who are passionate about real estate, we still think theres absolutely no replacing what a skilled and knowledgeable real estate professional can do for you. And, hey, while you might browse Web MD, you wouldnt ever want to diagnosis yourself, right? Youd want doctor with the proper training to take over where you started. Real estate is no different (well, theres fewer germs).

A real estate sales agent or broker has the full-time job of knowing whats on the market, how to price a home correctly, how to prepare a home for a showing, and how to negotiate a sale, sometimes in very difficult circumstances and difficult markets.

While people who try to sell their home on their own may think they are cutting out an agents commission from their expenses, they actually could end up spending more money. This is because going at it alone, you will have to do your own marketing, manage calls, appointments and any advertising on your own. Also, while you could be saving the sellers agent commission fees, you likely arent going to be cutting out fees from the buyers agent (this is usually a seller expense).

Money aside, the average client may not be fully ready to tread through a difficult negotiation process. Real estate contracts are tricky business. When you think about it, dont you feel you have more knowledge in your profession than an outsider? You likely do, and its probably a combination of your education, training, professional licenses, and on-the-job experience, etc.

Lastly, real estate professionals, and in particular licensed Realtors, are bound by laws and codes of ethics in terms of what they must disclosure and how they represent you.

Contact us today at Andrew Mitchell to start working with an experienced agent and see what they can offer you in terms of knowledge, resources and professionalism.

Written by Andrew Mitchell staff.

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.

Shift to Online

Its no secret that real estate has increasing moved online. With all of the vast numbers of online tools from mobile apps to online property searches to listings posted on Facebook, home buyers and sellers can now search for homes or compare home values from the comfort of their own homes or anywhere they choose from their cell phone.

In fact, in the 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Home Sellers, the National Association of REALTORS reported that 90 percent of the public used the Internet in their home search. Which indicates a growing shift in how buyers are finding their homes.

With these statistics comes an ever-increasing responsibility for brokerages and agents to make sure that online tools are designed with the homebuyer or home seller in mind, and not simply with the most eye-catching features. Because of this, Andrew Mitchell & Company is taking an active role in utilizing the wealth of website analytics programs out there to tailor our site to suit your real estate needs.

One essential tool that helps us do this is Google Analytics. With this program, we can analyze what pages of our site you spend the most time on, and which ones you leave the quickest. We can also see what aspects of our site are the most important to you. For instance, if the vast majority of people are coming to our site for our mobile tools, that is where we will direct our efforts to improve this particular service or web page. If more are interested in our property searches and neighborhood information, we can then pull our resources to give you even more features. The same is true for our paperless document options, as we can get a feel for exactly what the public likes and what they want more of.

The same is true for our social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, where we can see what articles people find the most interesting and which articles get passed by. This gives us the opportunity to bring you more of what you want, and less of what you dont want.

Additionally, if you have website comments or suggestions, feel free to e-mail us at info@andrewmitchellco.com and let us know what you think were doing right and what you think needs improvement!

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.

Too Cool for School

It seems like kids today are just born with a working knowledge of the latest technological advancement. No manuals needed, they just sort of 'get it'. If you were to hand me the manual I'd tell you it was harder to figure out then a set of Ikea instructions. So how do you bridge the learning gap?

If you don't want to employ your children as tutors there is hope. Sites like Skill Share and Grovo offer online classes ranging in a wide variety of topics. Here's a bit more about them.

Skill Share:

  • Offers hundreds of classes and lectures by people who are the top of their field.
  • Explore programs such as Adobe Photoshop, or Wordpress
  • Drill down into Digitial Photography or SEO and Digital Strategy
  • 7 day free trial period
  • $9.95 a month after that

Grovo

  • Offer over 1000+ videos on getting familiar with Online Marketing, Social Media, and Blogging.
  • Also offers focused training on popular websites and apps
  • Individual Access pass is free!
  • Team Access is a 14 day free trial with access to content more suited to group training
The best part of both sites is that all this learning can be done at your own pace and from anywhere! It's learning on your own time. So what's stopping you from taking advantage of these great tools? We've even taken some of the classes!

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.

What’s in a name?

How important is backing of a large-scale brand name?

While name national name recognition could definitely count for something, how much does it really impact public opinion, and is it always a positive impact? Is simply knowing of a company enough to sway people to use that company?

These are some questions that seem to increasingly come up in the news, especially in an era fraught with corporate scandal and consumer uncertainty.

Recently we stumbled upon an Agent Genius blog article titled Small is the New Big, and while we think there are many successful large companies out there across many fields, its worth looking into public opinion about large companies, in both the Real Estate industry and many other industries as well.

The article examines the fact that many small brokerages are going head-to-head with many big name companies, and often times with great success. They argue that many smaller brokerages have the time, resources and local talent to really connect with a market and study its ins and outs. They also argue that rolling out new technologies and the latest and the greatest is often times easier on a smaller scale than on a very large scale, which often times needs to account for a transition period simply due to sheer size.

Another interesting point the article makes is a comparison between the overall public opinion of big business versus smaller, local business. They use the restaurant analogy, bringing up the comparison between eating at the smaller, local flavor that knows its trade, or the larger, chain restaurant that market across the United States (and many times internationally) the same cookie-cutter products.

Whether you agree or disagree, this article brings up some serious food for thought about whether those big brand names are really worth the extra fees or even the often large corporate splits.

To read more on this topic, check out the article link on the Andrew Mitchell & Company Facebook page. You can also become a fan of our page to have access to relevant news feeds about the Real Estate industry, the Greater Boston market, new technology and general business tips and opinions.