Social Media for Real Estate Agents - Networking (Part I)

Social Media for real estate agents
Social media has become an important component of the online marketing mix of every successful business. As a real estate agent, you run your own business and you should not be stranger to strategies, tactics, and tools that can help you become more successful and get ahead of your competitors. We are going to present in this blog post more details about networking.

"It's not what you know but who you know" is as true today as it ever was. Networking and relationships are crucial for any real estate agent. From this perspective, social media is hard to beat. There is nothing more effective for building and nurturing relationships than Facebook, Youtube, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. Just imagine how much information about your potential clients is at your fingertips on social media.

Social Customer Relationship Management Tools (Social CRM)

With Nimble and you can easily become a networking super star! According to their website, "Nimble automatically pulls your contacts into one place so you can engage them across any channel (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Skype, Phone, Email) in one easy to use interface. Nimble incorporates social
Nimble - Social CRM
Nimble: Contact Management Reimagined. (C)
listening and engagement tools so you can easily follow conversations and jump in at the right time with the right message. Nimble helps you create potential customers profiles by keeping complex information well organized: you can access in one place all the information about someone's social media accounts and the exchange of messages you have had on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkeIn, all the emails you've sent or received, notes you've made to help you remember important information related to the interaction with that person, etc. Nimble comes with a set or useful widgets and add-ons so you can easily access it through Chrome, Hootsuite, Android or Apple mobile phone and even through Microsoft Office 365. Read this article on Social Media Examiner if you want to learn more about social crm.

Real estate listing social media syndicationFacebook

Facebook is great for leads generation. Many real estate agents are very knowledgeable of Facebook, yet many are still at the beginning of including it into their toolbox. Basically, the best way to generate leads with Facebook is through interaction and creative posts which encourage interaction. Unfortunately Facebook is in a constant state of change and it makes it hard to keep up with it. That doesn't mean it is not worth doing it. You should look at Facebook as an extension of your database and treat it like one and nurture it. Create a content strategy and don't push only real estate posts like your current listings for sale and nothing else. Be creative and find the right balance between selling and create interaction and engagement. Often times the best balance is 60/40 where you post 60 percent of the times messages that are not related to real estate and the other 40 percent of the time you work on the sales process.


Twitter is an effective social networking and micro blogging site and it offers a great way to make connections and establish your real estate agent brand. Confined to only 140 characters, Twitter enforces conciseness and sometimes... grammar creativity. Twitter can help you build trust through new connections and strengthen ties to the local community. Start by determining who your target audience is and what content they are eager to consume. Include relevant and newsworthy content along with inspirational and motivational tweets. Promote your next open house and tweet links to your YouTube videos. According to MSB (Maximize Social Business), your tweets should consist of:
  • Link to your own blog or website content 20%
  • Link to other people’s content 20%
  • Talk business or share your own marketing material 20%
  • The remaining 40% should consist of personal interaction, small talk, commenting and networking

We will continue our presentation of social media channels for real estate agents so don't be a stranger to this blog. Remember to be authentic on social media. Networking becomes very powerful when developed around trust. Surprise and delight your clients on a regular basis. The secret to successful marketing is simple: be likable! And don't forget: if you are looking for a home in the North Myrtle Beach area, give us a call at (888) 249-2100 or visit CENTURY 21 Thomas search page.

How Much Can You Trust the Real Estate Sales and Price Statistics?

Most people think that when a house doesn't sell, there is something wrong with the house. Not necessarily! What if there is something wrong with the way the house was marketed? What if the expectations involved in the process were unrealistic? One crucial component of successfully selling or buying a home is data. Statistics related to pricing and sales have a strong impact on all decisions made and represent the main ingredient in the recipe for a successful real estate transaction.

I never understood why so many real estate agents or brokers throw all purchased homes into a single statistical category, whether they are distressed properties or not. You cannot expect to buy a brand new car for $10,000 - the amount the dealer had to sell a repossessed car to cover the cost of that specific loan, when the actual price of such a vehicle is much higher. Distressed properties do not set generic pricing levels for all the homes on the market and such expectations from buyers are only meant to create frustrations. "The home sales figures, home price trends, and other comparative statistics released each month to the news media, treat foreclosed upon homes and short sale homes in the same realm as a paid up home seller looking to profit or needing to move," complained Dave Kohl, real estate marketing and advertising expert, the author of "8 Hours To Sell Your Home" audio book.

It is not meaningful to report "the sales are up" when counting 3 distressed homes recently sold at half their value in a community of 20 similar homes and establish that median price as a reference for someone who paid the mortgage regularly, maybe even in full, and tries to relocate and sell the house. Even worse, if three months later another distressed home in that community is sold for a little bigger amount than the previous distressed homes, false news will be spread that home sales in that community are UP 10% over three months ago. How accurate is this conclusion for a real estate investor?

Take real estate stats and news with a grain of salt before you make any important decision. Question data and learn the details behind the numbers. Separate foreclosures and short sales from the rest of the other homes sold. Only this way you get closer to paying or asking a fair price and match your expectations with the reality of the market.

CENTURY 21 Thomas Real Estate prides itself in building a strong team of great real estate agents aware of these aspects. Our agents are highly trained and very knowledgeable of the intricate aspects of the local market. They all strive to provide their clients with accurate data. There is no coincidence CENTURY 21 Thomas Real Estate agents won so many awards for excellence and outstanding service. You can contact us on the internet here or by phone at (888) 249-2100.

How to Prepare Your House to Sell in the Spring

Spring is in full swing in the Myrtle Beach area, despite a late start. If you are one of the home owners ready to sell your home, you want to make sure you end the process quickly and with a successful transaction. For that to happen, you need to prepare your home for the market.

Start with a to-do list for getting the home ready for listing and open house. A list will help you take care of things in the right order without missing anything important. Clean, de-clutter, repair, paint, remove any traces of pets and personal touch so potential buyers can easily personalize the home in their mind. Trim the trees and bushes so buyers can actually see the house. Don't forget the garage and the backyard. Here is a good article on our blog to help you out with cleaning the garage. Pressure-wash the driveway, front walk, house and patio and clean and paint the front door since buyers must linger at the door while they wait for the real estate agent to open the lockbox.

Clean the windows inside and out and brighten up the interior with some fresh painting. Make sure you plan a few days in between the cleaning and the first open house, to give it enough time for the smell to fade out. Get help from a professional stager so you don't leave money on the table if the value at stake is sensitive to such approach. A home inspection is also not a bad idea. Make sure you make important repairs before you list the house on the market. It's cheaper to fix things before a home inspection so now it's he best time to call a good electrician and a plumber.

The next step is to work closely with your real estate agent to get the home listed. Internet listing has become a de facto standard, since most people start looking for a new home online. You need great photos and a vibrant description to go with the listing on various websites. Start with a comparative market analysis made by a professional real estate agent. Learn more about pricing in your area and also make sure you take into consideration specific aspects of your neighborhood. It helps no one to set an unrealistic pricing level based on generic comparisons. Overpriced homes stay longer on the market and are extremely difficult to sell. The home does not exists in a void so the buyer gets also the neighborhood along with the house. You don't want to miss on opportunities provided by location or specific circumstances. A realistic price offers peace of mind and motivates the real estate agent.

This spring is one of the best time to sell your home. If you want to use a very good real estate agent to sell your house this spring pick one from our team. Visit our sales agents online or give us a call at (888) 249-2100. The time to buy low is quickly ending, creating a sense of urgency to buy now before prices rise too high or interest rates return to more historically normal levels. Buyers are ready, so the question is: are you?

Photography 101 For Real Estate - Part 3

Listing courtesy of Domaine Real Estate, LLC
Welcome to the third and last blog post in our series about real estate photography! We have covered in the previous posts the three things you need in order to take great real estate photography: a good dslr camera, a tripod, and a good picture editing software. We have also presented a few important tips on taking great real estate interior pictures.

Now it is time to wrap-up our series with a few more tips on how to end up with great real estate photography at a level that helps your listings stand out from the crowd. A picture is worth a thousand words. In real estate, you can replace "words" with "dollars" and you hit the nail on the head. The first step to selling a home is to attract people's attention. Great photography does the job, not by itself, as an insulated process, of course, but this is the topic for another blog post. Listings with better photography command higher asking prices. It is still puzzling that only 15% of listings incorporate higher-end photography, even though we have to admit, for the sake of fairness, that low-end market is more sensitive to lowering the price than to increasing the quality of the pictures.

Here's the first thing to think of when it comes to the impact good photography has on potential buyers: eye movements research of subjects who looked at online real estate listings found that more than 95% of users viewed the first photo—the one that shows the exterior of the home—for a total of 20 seconds. How's that for a first impression? You have a potential buyer sitting there for 20 long seconds looking at the picture you put in front of him. That image will trigger one of two reactions: that person will either become interested and look for more info, or move along, while you have just kissed good-bye the chance of selling that home. As simple as that! For many people, the first point of contact with a house is through the Internet. Don't lose the battle before it begins by using an average image taken with a point-and-shoot camera. So here are a few tips to help you get better pictures and increase the chances of selling more homes:

  • Spend ten times as much time in choosing an exterior photo than you do the rest of the home shots, because that's the hook that will get buyers to look at the rest of the photos. Place the exterior pictures on the top-left corner since that is the point most people start with when looking at a listing.
  • Use secondary exterior shots to emphasize a home's strongest point. As a realtor you know what people are interested in and you can easily discover a strong point of that particular point to match that interest.
  • Take exterior shots at sunset, with all the interior lights turned on. These twilight shots stand out from the crowd for sure. 
  • Remove any traces of pets in your real estate photography. Don't leave cat food dishes on the counter when taking pictures. Pets might be associated by some people with bad smells, allergens and patchy yards.
  • Invest time in image post-processing. As mentioned in a previous blog post, shoot pictures in raw format. This will allow for great post-processing opportunities. It is oftentimes cheaper and less time consuming to brighten up a picture in post-process that it is to find ways to physically add more light to the scene. Here is a great video on how to brighten up interior pictures:

It is worth mentioning again that no matter how great the photography is, setting the right price is even more important. No photography in the world will ever sell a highly overpriced home. Snapping a few shots with a mobile phone or a point-and-shoot camera doesn't cut it anymore in real estate. Upgrade to DSLR and use the smart tips we have presented in our blog post series to get potential buyers into the home. Quality photography is your doorway into that home.

List of sources used to create this "Photography 101 For Real Estate" blog post series:
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Photography 101 For Real Estate - Part 2

photography 101 for real estate
Welcome to our new blog post about real estate photography! We have already presented the three things you need to start taking pictures for your real estate listings: a good camera, a tripod, and a good picture editing software.  Let's continue our real estate photography series with more details on how to take great interior pictures.

Home owners and real estate agents are dependent on high quality images to sell their properties. The better the pictures, the better the property looks online and the more people get interested in that property. Oftentimes real estate agents or home owners have little control over the external environment of a home, but there is much more control over the details of the interior. You can pick the light, the shooting angles, and you can even move smaller pieces of furniture around to get better views of the rooms. So let's go over a few tips and tricks for better real estate interior photography:
  • Use natural light as much as possible - nothing puts things in a better perspective than natural light. Human eye is capable of interpreting and adjusting for artificial light but image sensors on cameras are not that good at that. The more natural light you can bring in through the windows the better pictures you will be able to take. If you don't get much natural light in the room don't despair: this is where a good dslr camera and a tripod gets to play their part. Set the camera on a tripod to avoid any movement that would blur your pictures and slow the shutter speed. The lower the light in the room the more time you need to give your camera to absorb that light. Adjust the ISO too, but don't set it too high or the images will look "dusty". Try to fight the temptation of using a flash light since that would create sharp edges and dark shadows. Natural light helps emphasizing colors and reduces the post-production time needed to improve the image.
  • Always shoot raw  - this is another reason to use a good dslr camera. Unlike point-and-shoot cameras that save the images directly in jpeg format, dslr cameras can be set to shoot in raw format. This allows you more opportunities to improve the image if you did not set the best options at the moment of taking the picture. This is also the time a good picture editing software plays its role. You can use Photoshop to process raw images or you can rely on the software that came with your camera. Remember, if you take pictures in jpeg format you minimize the post-production editing capabilities of the pictures you take. Raw format gives you the best chances to end up with a great picture even in less-than-perfect shooting conditions.
photography 101 for real estate - align with the grid
  • When in doubt, shoot straight on - point the camera so that it aligns with one of the longer walls. Use the viewfinder on your camera to align the horizontal and vertical lines of the room with the grid on your camera. Some people have more artistic talent than others. You can sometimes take great pictures with interesting angles, creating a good dramatic effect. Make sure, though, that everyone will interpret the image the way you intended. The more artistic you shoot, the greater chances for other people to dislike the images. So when in doubt, shoot straight on.
photography 101 for real estate - small room - shoot through the door
  • Change the environment - the rule especially applies to small rooms, when getting a good shooting angle puts you with your back at the wall - literally. When shooting in small rooms you have two options: you either use wide-angle lenses or you move stuff around to allow you getting a better view. Wide-angle lenses might not be the best choice since they also create a fish-eye effect and distort the images. So you may end up having to shoot through the door or move small pieces of furniture around to make room for you to get a good shot.
  • Set up the space - you can easily improve the content of an image by simply adjusting a few things in the room. Re-arrange small furniture, add a few magazines on a coffee table, a laptop on the desk, or add more color with a few flowers in a vase. It might even be a good idea to add a few magazines, a laptop, and some flower to the list of props you regularly carry with you when going out to shoot for your real estate listings.
Always keep an open mind when taking real estate photography. Experiment with your images and make sure you take plenty of pictures. This way you give yourself a chance to get great images and make your listings stand out from the crowd. We'll continue our photography 101 for real estate series with some other great tips and tricks. In the meantime, happy shooting!

Photography 101 For Real Estate - Part 1

Real Estate Photography
Real Estate Photography
Photography, writing or decorating are by definition areas free of rules. Nobody can or should tell you how to write or how to decorate your home and "looking good" is usually a label you are in charge with setting for your creations. That being said, it doesn't mean that you should not be considerate and pay attention to what "other people" like and think it looks good. After all, real estate is not so much an art as it is business and in business you have clients. It is the all-mighty client who now has the power to label something as "good" or dismiss it.

When it comes to real estate photography you need three things. Don't mind those who say you only need a camera. A smart phone with a camera is only as good as the average pictures you will take.  If average pictures are good enough for you then you may stop reading and move to something else. I wish you good luck with making a living as a real estate agent in today's highly competitive market where "average" is synonym with "out of business." Let's get back now to those three things you need for good real estate photography: a camera, a tripod, and a photo editing software.

Let's start with the reason you need a good camera, a tripod and a good picture editing software. We strongly recommend using a dslr camera. It might be true that smart phones nowadays come with good cameras, but none of them is good at taking pictures without natural light, like interior pictures. You can use a good smart phone camera for outside pictures in sun light, but you need a dslr camera that you can play with to adjust the right settings for interior pictures. You also need a tripod so your pictures are not blurry. They may not look bad on the small screen, but often times you will see how crappy and blurry the pictures really look like after you download them on a computer. The best solution is to use a tripod.

After you end up with the pictures on your computer, you have to open them with a good software and edit them. I have yet to meet a photographer who does not use Photoshop or a similar software to edit his or her pictures before making them available to their clients. Nobody takes perfect pictures. You can always improve the contrast or the brightness of a picture, or make its colors more vibrant. Taking the picture is only the first step on the path to great images. If you don't know how to use a picture editing software you can either learn or outsource it to someone knowledgeable.

We have learned in this first part of our real estate photography 101 series about the three things we really need to get a good start. We will cover in our next blog post a few tips and tricks on how to get great interior pictures. Until next time: happy shooting!

The Unwritten Rules of Buying and Selling a Home

Home For Sale - Sold
Every major endeavor we start requires thoughtful planning and careful execution. Those actions that have an impact on others or on society in general are regulated. Besides written rules, buying or selling a home is also guided by unwritten ones. ​As Chris Burk wrote in an article published on Market Watch, "while there aren't hard-core 'rules' to follow, there are absolutely best practices and proven precepts that you should carefully consider."

These best practices have been drawn in time and are based on common sense. The problem is that times have changed, we seem to be governed by new market forces and the 'sense' is no longer as common as it used to be. That being said, here are a few unwritten rules of real estate:

1. Use a real estate agent - most people prefer to make decisions by themselves when it comes to important aspects of their life, but buying or selling a home is no easy task. It's better to have to blame yourself in case of a wrong decision or a mistake, yet it is even better not to get in that position. Good real estate agents are trained specialists ready to put their knowledge of local markets and legislation at your disposal, assisting you during this lengthy and complex process.

2. Show that you are serious - put down the customary 1-2% deposit known as earnest money if you plan on making an offer. This is where a good real estate agent wold help you make sure you include contingencies in the sales contract to recoup your money if the deal dies out.

3. Add personality and soul to your offer - people love stories, especially those told well. Bring your own personality in the game so instead of just submitting an offer and crossing your fingers, convey a story and a personal message to the owner.  Write a letter, get your real estate agent to express your admiration for the property along with your plans for the future that include family members and make sure you add emotion to it. Remember the movie Mr. Popper's Penguins? The old lady owner of the last privately-owned restaurant in Central Park was not interested in the amount of money offered, but in the person who makes the offer.

4. Ask the right price - some real estate agents will list your home at the asking price you set, but the good ones will work with you to figure out the right price. You may be in a hurry or not very knowledgeable of the new developments in the area and ask too little, or - most often - your asking price reflects your hopes and desire more than the reality in the field.

5. Use technology but see it with your own eyes - many listings include virtual tours, high-definition videos and great pictures. Technology is great, but nothing is better than seeing it with your own eyes. No high-def image can replace the smell, the feeling, the vibe you get standing right there, in the middle of the room.

6. Get pre-approved before you make an offer - few things are worse than finding the home of your dreams and not being able to put the money where your mouth is. Add confidence to your offer and portray yourself as a qualified buyer by including a pre-approval letter.

7. Prep the home before you put it on the market - staging a home correctly makes the process more effective and works toward your advantage. Help people make the home you sell a part of their dream for themselves and for their family. This is much easier to accomplish with a clean, uncluttered home that smells and looks great.

Times change, people change and future seems to come over us at a faster pace than we have imagined. Technology plays a bigger role in our life in general and in real estate in particular. Common sense though is still pretty much the same and it is still the backbone of the unwritten rules governing real estate transactions. Follow these rules and you will enjoy a smooth ride through the complex process of buying or selling a home.