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Tech-sess in 2018

One of the best things about technology is that it’s always changing and there’s always something new to try. This also happens to be one of the worst things about technology, as it seems as though once you’ve gotten the hang of one platform or device, it’s already outdated. Improvements in technology have paved the way for a lot of creative, interesting, and relatively easy ways to make your listings and yourself stand out from the crowd. If you’ve already covered the basics, you have social media profiles, your website is up-to-date, and you’re comfortable using smartphone apps, here are a couple of tricks to try using technology to take your business to the next level in 2018.

360° photos and video
Arguably one of the best new technologies, at least for real estate, is 360° photos and videos. Using the camera on your phone, you are able to create photos and video that allow the viewer to “move” through your picture. The photo at the top of this page is an example. If you scroll, swipe, or rotate your whole body, you can explore the room as if you were there. While this technology came about a few years ago, it is now about to hit critical mass as it is supported by streaming services, such as Youtube, as well as social media such as Facebook.
How to Use: While all smartphones have the ability to shoot 360° photos and videos, not all phones have the technology built in. The Facebook app recently unveiled this ability with a built-in feature. To do this, open the Facebook app and click on the status update area (where it says “What’s on your mind?” ) This will unfurl a variety of options from posting a status or picture, check-ins, and at the very bottom, 360 photos. Click the “360 photos” option and hold down the photo button while slowing rotating. You’ll be able to see your progress. When you have made a full 360 rotation, the app will then stitch the photo together and show you the final product. You are able to exit out of the Facebook app without posting and the photo will have saved to your phone as a 360 photo. If you’re not a Facebook user, the “Panorama 360 Camera+ Photosphere support+ VR video” app is a free alternative, and is available on iTunes and Google Play. You can use this photo in social media posts, upload onto your website, or have it hosted on an outside website and use their services to show it off.
 
Facebook Ads
Did you know Facebook has more than 2 billion worldwide users? If you’re looking to show your properties to a wider audience, you must consider Facebook as an essential advertising tool. Facebook’s ad creation platform is relatively easy to use and the ability to target specific audiences is invaluable. For example, if you have a home on a lake in northern Minnesota, you could target broadly to anyone who lives or is visiting within a certain mile radius of that property, or you could get specific down to boat owners with a net worth of $150,000 who are likely to move. This ability to target means your marketing dollars will go farther and the analytics provided will show you how to get the most for your money.
How to Use: Facebook ads can be taken out by an individual or business page. You’ll start by logging into your Facebook account on a computer (not the mobile app) and clicking on the inverted triangle in the upper right corner. Under this tab, you’ll see the “Create Ads” tab. Click on that and Facebook will guide you through the process. For each property you purchase an ad for, you are able to upload information, photos or videos, and a link to contact you or direct to a website. Once you’ve placed an ad, you’ll be able to monitor the performance and make adjustments via the Facebook Ad Manager.
 
Mobile Signature Apps
If you’re face-to-face with a client having them sign on the dotted line is no issue, but if you’re making deal remotely you don’t want to have to play the email-and-wait game. What if the contract goes to their spam folder? What if they don’t have the right programs to open it and then forget to take action? We live in a world of immediacy and waiting for the mail or printing an email just won’t cut it anymore. When you make a deal you want to get it signed and continue on, which is why mobile signature apps are so great. With these apps your contracts and agreements can be signed on a mobile device almost immediately, moving you into action.
How to Use: There are a variety of different apps that can help you capture mobile signatures. Docusign is one example and their app is available for free on the iTunes and Google Play stores, but there are many. The best way to find out which will work for you is to try out a few services and enlist a friend or colleague to test it out so you can see how it looks on both ends. One non-negotiable feature you should look for is the ability for a person to sign documents without needing to install or download anything, as needing to do so will drastically cut your response rates.
 
Online-Only Events
It used to be that when you had property to sell, you put a sign in the yard and waited for a buyer to call. Buyers tended to live near or had a connection to the place they were buying land or property. Not today. In the globalized world of 2017, buyers can come from anywhere in the world. According to CNBC, foreign buyers closed on $153 billion worth of US residential properties between April 2016 – March 2017 and this trend shows no signs of stopping. Whether from China, the UK, Canada or beyond, these buyers are serious and motivated and online-only auction events are a great way to reach them.
How to Use:  There are a variety of platforms that allow you to host an online-only event. RealtyHive is a great option as it increases global exposure of your listing, without costing you, the agent, anything. With this platform, your listing continues to be your listing and all leads are your leads. For more information on how online-only events would work for you, contact RealtyHive directly.
 
As technology changes, so do the possibilities for marketing your properties and your brand. With just a little bit of tech savvy and a willingness to try something new, you will see great results in 2018!

Home Staging for the Holidays

Home staging can be a great way to help potential buyers cross from “thats a nice house” to “I have to have that home!” As the holiday season approaches, home sellers wonder what to do with their holiday decor. Does stringing up holiday lights make your home stand out or will it turn a buyer off? Should you hang your stockings with care or keep them in storage as one less thing to have to pack? Will seasonal decorations distract a potential buyer from your granite counter tops or will it draw their eye to your Craftsman-style built-ins? 

According to REALTOR.com, 92% of realtors advise putting out some sort of decorations when trying to sell your home during the holidays, although advice runs from putting out only non-religious seasonal decor to putting out everything, including religious items. When it comes to deciding what to do for your particular home, geography and local culture can be your guide as different areas of the country have different customs and expectations when it comes to this.

Regardless of what type of decor you choose to use, here are a few tips home staging tips to make your place shine during a holiday-season open house.

Use the senses to your advantage

Scent is the sense most closely tied to memory and home sellers can use this to their advantage. Baking cookies is always a hit as it will make your kitchen smell divine. Use pre-made cookie dough so you won’t have dirty dishes to deal with and pop them in the oven just before the open house begins to really set a homey vibe. Another tip is to light some winter-scented candles. The candlelight will bring a romantic flair to your rooms while the scent will add to the experience you’re creating. If you decide to set up an artificial Christmas tree, you may want to consider using a scent stick (available here or where most holiday decorations are sold) to really drive home the holiday smells, although be cautious of going overboard with this.

Assess your outdoor lighting

While you don’t need to string up lights (although you definitely can!), because of the shorter days buyers are more likely to see your home in the dusk/dark so you want to make sure to have good lights. A good rule of thumb is to use a 60-watt bulb, although if you have two fixtures together you can get by with 40-watt bulbs. These will provide enough light to showcase your home without looking too bright or out of place. If your home is in a more remote area or you need additional light, consider using up to 120-watt bulbs in a floodlight fixture to really make your house stand out.

Showcase the features of your home

The holiday season is the perfect time to showcase the special areas and features of your home. While you wouldn’t use your fireplace in the middle of August, lighting it up in December makes perfect sense and reminds buyers how nice a warm hearth can be. Have a built-in sound system? Show it off by softly playing some seasonal music. Have a lovely formal dining room? Set the table as if you were hosting a fancy dinner party complete with place settings and wine glasses. Up the coziness factor throughout the rest of your home by placing throw blankets on the foot of beds, draped over couches, or snuggled up on bench seats. 

While conventional wisdom says that spring and summer are the best times to sell a house, people who are looking in winter are serious buyers and this bit of home staging can be all it takes to convince them that your house should be their home.

Advantages of a vacant home

Buyers don’t often think about the advantages of looking at a vacant home during their real estate search. In fact, with a blazing hot real estate market, there can even be some stigmas attached to a vacant property. Many times buyers even start to psych themselves out; Should I be worried about how long a property has been vacant? Can I still have a full inspection? At RealtyHive, we feature many types of property and  know the many advantages that a vacant home can have.

You can see it on your schedule

Unlike an occupied home where you have to coordinate schedules with current owners or tenants, vacant homes are often able to be shown at any time of the day. While the convenience factor is one benefit, there’s another reason this is so beneficial for a prospective buyer. 

Imagine you’re buying a home that is in an area you haven’t spent much time. Maybe you don’t know the area or the neighborhood too well. Depending on your location, the character of the neighborhood may change from day to night — wouldn’t it be great to find out there’s a loud and rowdy bar down the street or a school-induced traffic jam before you made your offer? Or what about a property that should have a wonderful view of the night sky, but instead has industrial lights coming from the nearby farm? Viewing a vacant house allows you to see these details (the kind you normally find out about after the fact) ahead of time. 

It’s easier to picture yourself in

It should be noted that when you’re looking for real estate, you should make it a point to look past the current tenant/owners “stuff”. Sure, you might fall in love with the current furniture and design, but more than likely you’ll find yourself thinking “Why would you chose that couch?” or “How do you live in this mess?” 

When you look at a vacant home, you don’t run into this issue. Instead, you get to see a room for it’s unchangeable features — how much space do you have, what is the configuration of walls like, what does the natural light look like? 

The sellers are probably motivated

The biggest advantage of buying a vacant home tends to be the sellers. An unoccupied property costs the owner each and every month they hold on to it, even if the property is completely paid off. 

These holding costs (everything from mortgage to taxes to utilities) can really add up and can often lead sellers to agreeing to a sale price much lower than the list price. 

Find the perfect vacant home or search through hundreds of listings at the most competitive prices on the market.