Monday, November 6, 2017

Think Before You Post Real Estate News

I certainly understand realty associations wanting to keep both the membership and consumers informed of upcoming news and trends.

However, I have a hard time with the so-called "news" story put out by the Florida Association of Realtors.

The story is about how driverless cars are "coming", which is quite possible. This story even acknowledges that this will be in the "next 10 to 20 years".

It's enough of a stretch that this "news" is even a part of the real estate feed at this moment in time. In today's "overnight delivery is too long" society, it's not as though a large percentage of readers will stop and take heed over what could be the case in 10 years. (Unless it is financial news which could impact long term, retirement, etc.)

Instead, the angle of this "news" story is really that this change could have a significant impact on commuting, suggesting that drivers could instead concentrate on their work or a form of relaxation.

While there is a point to be made in that regard, it's hardly a game changer for real estate. If the purpose of this "news" story is to combat that, it does a poor job of it.

There is actually a quote from an expert real estate consultant about how "two and three car garages are a thing of the past". The quote does not say "could be a thing of the past".

What does this have to with real estate marketing?


Both real estate professionals and the public need to be updated about real estate news and trends, especially those which can help them make decisions.

Here is a realty association wasting time on this story, when there is so much other valuable information it should be putting out.

Now we have an expert consultant saying that large garages "are a thing of the past". How much confidence does a current home owner with a two car garage have about possibly selling when they see this "expert" quote?

This does not even factor in the number of commuters who already take the train, bus, or ride share and ALREADY do not drive while traveling these long distances. It's a number which is in the millions.

Funny, but the last time I checked, many of these millions of people who already do not drive a long way to work remain a multiple vehicle household.

How about quotes from experts about what can be done to sell the thousands of properties currently on the market?

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Importance of Marketing and Advertising Listings - 2

Some real estate agents don't like it when I point these things out publicly, and I understand that. Some home owners appreciate it when we point out that agents need to monitor ALL of the advertising, marketing, and publicity they put out when representing a property.

Let's take this bungalow for sale in Salt Lake City:

As you can see when you look at the first link (from, this is a more than 100 year old bungalow with two bedrooms and one bath, including a photo spread.

The description copy, frankly, could make this property seem a lot more desirable, even though it is written more for other real estate professionals than for potential buyers. (Note the "Easy to show" at the end of the description.)

Starting a description sentence with "Garage can be used for car and storage" is a head scratcher. Show me a garage that can't! Then, it tells us that this home is "minutes from the Columbus Library".

How do those facts make this home unique?

There are a few more facts about the home, however non-distinct it appears, along with several photos which do make the property look better.

Although not exactly a standout ad in terms of appealing to potential buyers, it is far from a disaster.

However, this is what appears to someone searching by way of Another national web site,, also features this same property.

That's where the importance shows. The listing agent clearly, after 37 days listed (as of this writing) failed to monitor its appearance on

The version, even on the area search page, shows "Photo Not Available" in every one of the 12 available photo slots for this property. Although the description copy is the same, lifted from the one on, being told that "Garage can be used for car and storage" and "minutes from the library" within further edited copy make the ad a total head scratcher.

Anyone searching this area and price from anywhere in the country on probably won't even click on this ad, since it shows "Photo not available" on the search page. If someone does click on it, thinking maybe it's a brand new listing, the primary description says little about the interior or any specific selling benefits.

Yet, the page also says this listing has been on the page for 37 days (as of this writing), even though this very ad was "Most recently changed on 10/31/17".

Thus, if that change date is accurate, it means that the listing agent or someone authorized "changed" this listing ad more than a month later. Yet, there is still NO photo available??

Makes me wonder if the listing agent is too busy complaining about the lack of inventory being a reason for homes not selling.

This is why agents (and sellers!) should monitor ALL marketing and advertising - for every property!


Saturday, November 4, 2017

The Importance of Marketing and Advertising Listings - 1

Whatever happened to a simple "Coming Soon"?

I can understand that a listing agent wants to get a property up online for the public to see as soon as possible, but experience should teach that you need to be careful doing so.

On Nov. 4th, I found this listing in Bloomington IN online for the public to see: 

As of press time, the entire 19 photo spread consisted of "Facsimile" photos. Every one of them. There is no property description at all.

And this is still up there in DAY 4 on this site.

It would be one thing if this temporary page was visible for an hour or two in order to establish the presence on the internet, for the world to be able to see.

This property is listed at $459,900. Yet, four days later there is no information and not even a real photo. Even the "virtual tour" is taken from these Facsimile photo.

If properly advertising and promoting a new listing isn't important, what is?

Even with advertising, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Why would anyone possibly check back to see about this property?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Risking Your Home For A Package Delivery?

I'm waiting to see how the various realty associations will react to the news story about how Amazon is actually going ahead with a delivery method which will allow its delivery drivers to actually get inside homes just to make deliveries.

Here is a chance for the associations to step up on behalf of the home owners their members are representing.

Although I understand the intent of this service is a good one, having Amazon create more serious problems just to be able to have what they consider to be a more secure package delivery method is going way too far.

Real estate agents take pride in the security measures in place for agents to show properties when no one is home (usually a more ideal situation) with a lock box or other secure private entry system.

Amazon will probably argue that their method is similar. I beg to differ.

They seem to think that there won't be any problems with a clearly marked Amazon truck parking in front of a home so the driver, probably in uniform, can use a "one-time" security code and be seen entering a residence.

Just watch a local newscast on any TV station and tell me that no one would ever follow an Amazon driver into an upscale neighborhood and be "waiting" while they enter a half-million dollar home at which there is clearly no one home.

As soon as this actually happens, there goes the safety and crime rate for an upscale neighborhood, which comes right back at property values.

Let's not forget that deliveries get made in rain, snow, and other noteworthy weather conditions. You also can't tell me that drivers won't be walking into those homes, even for a few steps in and out, and not leaving footprints or possibly letting in flies, bugs, or debris.

If the driver leaves the door open for the few seconds, there is no stopping anyone else from entering someone's home. If the driver shuts the door, you have a complete stranger in "your" home, even if for a few seconds.

Are these drivers bonded? Do we know that even if and as the delivery goes smooth that they didn't take photos of a security alarm system or valuables "on display"? Or that they won't be bribed to plant a bug or a small camera?

Think about what could happen to your home, or to homes in your neighborhood and how it could impact you. All for a $50 package?

Frankly, it's Amazon's problem (and Wal-Mart and other companies looking to do this) to make sure that orders safely reach their destination. If they want people to have their packages efficiently, either schedule delivery when someone is home to receive them or make them available at their stores (or arrangements with a local retailer) to be dropped off.

The realty agents also should not overlook that this "service" would increase the number of delivery trucks in many communities.

Here you have an agent looking to sell a family home "on a quiet cul de sac" promoting it all over the place, and now you have delivery trucks on the "quiet street" every day with these drivers able to just walk in to surrounding houses.

Would you want to buy an expensive home in a community in which "anyone" can watch and see how many neighbors are not home during a given weekday?

Furthermore, we have all seen the recent stories about huge companies and web sites being severely hacked, including large retailers and even a large credit bureau.

Can you honestly assure me that the "secure method" of providing these drivers with one-time codes for entry to homes won't be hacked? You can bet the ranch that the trackers will reveal thousands of hacking attempts every second.

Personally, I'd like to see the realty associations take a stand against this on behalf of their homeowners and clients.

And, I'll point out that instead of paying extra for the "privilege" of faster delivery you could get an account at a mail drop location and not have to go through any of this.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

New School Increases Community Home Sales By 40% This Year !!

This is perhaps the best real estate news story in several weeks!!

Here is the impact of a new school in a community, which has seen a 40% rise in community home sales thus far in 2017.

What makes this even more incredible is that this community is a suburb of Houston! The sales statistics include the period through which Hurricane Harvey came through.

Nice to stop hearing concerns about inventory and mortgages and all of the other excuses.

Here is the story:

Friday, July 28, 2017

More Homes Sold In Indy Area - Even With Fewer Listings

Finally! Indianapolis area firm F C Tucker reported on home sales in that area for June, and reported a nice increase in the number of homes sold by county.

What makes this report seemingly so different and so positive is that the story also points out that this happened even though there are fewer listings on the market.

This is how it should be. None of this "Low inventory hurts the market" stuff which has been damaging the market by guiding consumers to think that people are afraid to put homes on the market.

A report such as this one puts a positive slant on the market. Good for them!!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Getting The Maine Listing Info Across

As we prepare for our upcoming Chicago area advertising/marketing workshops, our focus will be on specific advertised properties and where there needs to be improvement.........

This example is a listing in Riley, Maine:

The photos in this listing ad are excellent - with one significant exception. The problem is that the exception is what shows up as the primary photo. The all important first impression.

While the description copy starts out highlighting the views and proximity to the nearby river and mountains, the primary shows mostly bare trees and bare tree shadows and nothing to indicate any of the supposedly wonderful views.

Those that stay on the page to review the remaining photos will see some very flattering interior shots, and a couple of exterior shots which do provide an idea of the surroundings.

The lesson is to make certain that the best photo available comes up as the primary photo, and that the description copy supports or reinforces the photo.

Although the need for energy and heating is important for a large sized home in Maine, this should not come in place of a more detailed description of the nice looking interior!

All the copy refers to is the "beautiful gourmet kitchen, dining area, living room", as if just that information makes this home special or appealing.

Yet, there is nothing in the description about the covered deck which appears in the primary photo.

Based on our search at press time, there were no other properties in this general price range listed in this area. I'd like to think that whoever took the two minutes to throw an advertisement together and hope someone would respond to this limited and unappealing information would have verified this is the "lowest priced home in the area with....." and listed more features. 

Sorry, but people aren't as concerned about the heating methods ahead of everything else for a nearly half-million dollar property in Maine.

In addition, this advertisement shows the listing real estate office, yet does not have the name or any information about who the listing agent is.

Not exactly the personal touch. Houses do not sell themselves. Marketing them does.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Problem Listing Ad

Just because this is a small 2 bedroom home in Salt Lake City is no reason to not put an effort into how it is advertised.

The primary photo shows how poorly the exterior is landscaped and, frankly, is not overly flattering to the building itself. The second photo in the spread shows the unit without window dressings in the living room and how very close the neighboring unit actually is.

Photo spreads are supposed to enhance the listing ad, but in this instance the first two make this home look worse instead of better. Not having window dressing is bad enough, but showing how close the neighbors are does not make for a favorable first impression.

Even though the remaining photos are reasonable, chances are that any potential buyer that looked as far as the second photo didn't stick around to pursue this home any further.

Those that do go as far as the description see the headline of "Great remodeled condo with a fabulous location.....".

That is some remodeling job when the very first photo shown of the interior doesn't include any window dressing or even highlight any ability to hang curtains or install blinds without an additional cost and/or effort on the part of the buyer. If that ad said "Needs remodeling" it would be acceptable.

In the remainder of the description, we are told that the "amenities are a hot tub and fitness center", and that the building has a "shared laundry room".

This means that none of these listed "amenities" are within this supposedly remodeled unit.

When you consider that the headline - the first copy a potential buyer sees - is about this "Great remodeled condo" goes on to have NOTHING about exactly what had been remodeled after the first two photos fail to enhance this listing.

Yet, this listing ad shows as having been updated within the most recent five days of finding this.

Sorry, but listing advertisements are supposed to contain reasons to entice a potential buyer to inquire. This one does not.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How To Sell A House During A Blizzard

Agents should not let the big snow storms which have hit the upper Midwest and (especially) the Northeast coast today totally shut down their sales efforts.

This is a time to be aggressive about selling a listing and/or generating a buyer for one while the other agents are sitting around waiting for the snow plow.

Check on your current listings. Are any (or, hopefully, all) of your listings on streets which have been plowed clear?

Suppose one of your listings is on a "cleared" street. Get over there ASAP, and take a photo from the street. Let viewers see that cars can get by on the street and that the driveway to the home is cleared. (For that matter, if you have to, spend $50 and get someone to plow the driveway to make this photo happen!)

Next, as soon as you possibly can, update your online ads and listings for the home with the new photo. Change your copy to read something along the lines of "The seller went to the grocery store twice on Tuesday!" (or whatever day it is) and show how the path is clear.

What this tells a potential buyer is that even during extreme weather conditions, if they owned (or lived in) this property - they could get out and make it to work, school, shopping, etc. when others can't.

Call any potential buyers you have shown the property to or who have expressed an interest in the property to let them know that the driveway and street are clear for coming and going at this property.

And if you noticed that other homes on the same block have not yet had their driveways plowed, point it out!

Of course, this doesn't even tap the potential of putting the photo and the "all clear" notice out via your social media and/or e-mailing to your entire database!

What if you don't have a listing which has been cleared? That's still no reason to sit around. You can do one of two things.

You can pick up the phone and pay someone to plow it clear as soon as possible so that you can perform the steps described above and push for the sale. Or, you can find a home or row of homes which can get out from the snow, and offer to bring potential buyers to see the home(s) that very day. Let them know that you can get them into a property which does not get stopped by the weather.

If nothing else, having your property listing advertisements up to date within the week shows how both you (as an agent) and the sellers are motivated and updating as you need to. After all, the ad for the home for sale down that same block has a photo with no snow on it. That's not how the property looks at the moment. Your ads and postings reflect this.

It's your choice. You can have potential clients think that you are hiding out waiting for the storm to end. Or, you can have them all thinking about how you are working with sellers and buyers no matter what in order to get the job done.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Hiding The Better News

Here we go again. The realty association announces that home sales are down while sale prices are up more than 5% from a year ago.

It figures. The media story leads with home sales being down. The reader/viewer that glances at the headline and doesn't read the story accepts this as a downer for the local real estate market and moves on.

If only the association had ONLY reported that home prices in the Pioneer Valley were up more than 5% from last year. Consumers seeing that information, whether they read the article or not, come away thinking that local property values are going up.

That's a reason to look into selling or buying in that area.

No one is forcing the local realty association to publish "negative" news.

Friday, February 24, 2017

95 Days Is Average?

Here we go again. It's the story about how local home sales went up again for the month of January in a rural area southwest of Chicago. That's good news.

However, the local realty association also "reports" that the "average" home sale took 95 days, which is one week less than a year ago.

Why can't they simply tell us all how many homes were sold, and if sales are up, report that, and be done with it?

Ninety-five days as "average"? This is still February (at press time). This would tell me, as a homeowner, that if I decided to sell and picked up the phone today, that my home would sell sometime in June. And that's if it takes the "average" amount of time.


Had the association report focused only on the rise in local home sales, it would leave area residents with a  positive spin.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Nashville Home Sales Should Be Music To Our Ears, But.....

The Nashville area received great news with the announcement that the month of January set a home sales record for the area.

Yet, for some reason, the story gets treated like one of those TV commercials for medications with side effects that are worse than taking the drug.

Perhaps in the medical community, doing the "good" and then the "bad" is necessary. But in real estate, it doesn't need to happen.

This story about it is typical. The first paragraph gives the great news, before the very next paragraph expresses concern. This takes a consumer right back down.

If this story didn't tell people that "inventory is down 10%", chances are the typical consumer would have no idea. The writer might as well have told them "But it won't last!".

Just let the word get out that the past month was a home sales record. I'm confident that knowing this would get more people to consider the sale of their home if conditions are good. Expressing an immediate concern keeps doubt in their minds.

Keep this "low inventory" stuff a secret. If you must tell someone, alert your doctor if the inventory is still low after 4 hours.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Keep the Dallas to Houston Train On Track

We still have people on both sides of the tracks in Texas between Dallas and Houston. Literally.

Having a high speed train allowing for passengers to get from one of those cities to the other in roughly 90 minutes makes solid business sense.

However, there is the "not in my back yard" aspect to it.

Here is a suggestion for those who don't want it. Make a request. "If you come through this town, put a station stop in it."

Even if it takes two hours, instead of 90 minutes, to get to/from Houston to/from Dallas this is still a huge benefit over driving through traffic and rain storms. That "extra" half hour (or less!) could be because of stops along the way.

If you research property values near a major train station around the country, you'll see why. Businesses can prosper with a prime location with a captive audience. Home sales benefit from people who could easily commute by walking to the train station.

Not to mention all of the jobs created by such a project.

This is something that should happen!