Every Real Estate Connect conference is packed with plenty of hot tips, strategies and new apps. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the coolest apps and strategies from last month’s Real Estate Connect in New York City. Which of these will you implement in your business?
1. Is your website responsive?
The latest programming languages allow your website to automatically adjust to the size of the screen on which the site is being viewed (i.e., be "responsive). The software detects the device your Web visitor is using and then automatically adjusts to fit the screen. If you are considering a new website, WordPress is one of the most widely used platforms for achieving this goal.
2. Capture the flow
David Maundrell, founder of aptsandlofts.com, had a great suggestion for using video when you have a waterfront listing. His recommendation was to do a time-lapse video of the waterway. You can do this easily with one of the time-lapse apps for smartphones. Merely set your smartphone on a tripod or other secure mount and the app does the rest. (Helpful hint: Be sure to put your device on airplane mode, otherwise incoming push notifications, calls or texts will stop the time-lapse photography.)
3. Augmented reality
This is the future of real estate, especially when it comes to selling high-rises or other new developments. Augmented reality allows the user to experience what a property will be like before it’s built, including what the view would be like from within the property. In other words, augmented reality allows a buyer to see the view from the 26th story before the builder ever breaks ground.
4. Tired of explaining forms?
Katie Wethman, Realtor and managing director of the Wethman Group, had a terrific strategy that frees her up from having to explain all the contracts and forms repeatedly to different buyers. Wethman did a YouTube video explaining each form. When she first starts working with a buyer or prior to writing an offer, she asks them to view the videos. She can then answer any remaining questions that buyers may have. One of the simplest ways to create these videos is to use a screen-recording tool such as Screencast-O-Matic, QuickTime on the Mac, or a video tool such as Videolicious.com. You can also use this approach to help your buyers write more competitive multiple offers.
5. Use video for home inspection issues
One of the most frustrating inspection issues has to do with describing the exact nature of the problem. An easy way to address this issue is to shoot a quick video of the problem.
6. Use Evernote folders for hot marketing articles
If you upload your contracts and your clients’ contact information to Evernote, you can have all of these items available in one place on your phone, laptop, desktop, and/or tablet. Next, create folders for each subgroup of clients such as first-time buyers, retirees, golf course buyers, etc. Then, when you locate an article or a photo that you would like to share, all you have to do is to send them the link rather than having to create a separate email or notification for each client. Because Evernote always posts the most recent additions first, your latest "hot articles" will always be first items in the folder.
7. Identifying local market trends
An excellent tool for identifying market trends is the Federal Housing Finance Agency website, fhfa.gov. This site shows the amount of appreciation each quarter in various locations across the country. By using the metropolitan statistical area House Price Index comparisons tool, provided your city is listed, you can determine the exact amount of appreciation that your area has experienced. While the data is general, it’s an easy way to show how a specific local market is trending.
One of the best sites available for tracking what is going on economically is Economagic.com. On this site you can track a wide variety of statistics to determine what is currently happening in your local market, as well as employment rates, building permits, vacancies, median incomes and much more.
For example, the rental housing vacancy rate is at its lowest rate since 2005. Inventories are particularly tight in the West hovering in the 6 percent range. (In contrast, while vacancy rates have also declined in the South, vacancy rates are still relatively high at approximately 10.5 percent.) Couple this with a 33 percent drop in the number of vacant homes plus a nearly 70 percent drop in the number of new housing permits (as compared to 2005), and this may harbinger a severe housing shortage in the not-too-distant future.
9. Don’t wait to buy
A primary challenge that agents face are buyers who say, "It’s cheaper for us to rent." A great way to deal with this scenario is to send them to Bankrate.com. If the buyers wait six months to buy and the rates increase by as little as 1 percent, they will lose 10 percent of their buying power.
In other words, while the buyers can afford a $200,000 house today, if interest rates increase they will be able to afford only a $180,000 house. Furthermore, given the inventory shortages in many areas plus the inflationary pressures on the economy, there’s a good chance that $200,000 house may very well be selling for $220,000 in the near future.