How to Go Green in Real Estate and Make Your Home Environmentally Friendly

April 22 is Earth Day, observed all over the world. It is a day of action for individuals, companies, and organizations to build awareness and protect the environment. As residents of North Myrtle Beach, we aare very happy with the latest developments regarding the wind energy in the area. In 2012 North Myrtle Beach City Council approved a resolution in support of offshore wind energy in South Carolina and identified North Myrtle Beach as a "Wind Powered Economic Zone."

CENTURY 21 Thomas has been a supporter of these initiatives. Our real estate agents are aware of the importance of promoting a green economy. They are open to managing listings of eco-friendly homes or sustainably-built homes. CENTURY 21 Thomas real estate agents were happy to share a few ways to go green in real estate and help others take steps to make their homes environmentally friendly:

Improve the energy efficiency of your home - work on the key areas of the home that are common trouble spots and frequently contribute to a home's poor energy performance:
  • seal and insulate the outer walls, ceilings, windows, doors and floors
  • perform annual maintenance of your heating and cooling system, clean the filter, install and use a programmable thermostat
  • use geothermal energy to heat and cool your home by using a ground-source heat pump
  • use  energy efficient lighting and appliances labeled as energy star products
Reduce, reuse and recycle - decrease household waste:
  • use the food you already bought and have in the house instead of buying more
  • reuse items around the house such as rags and wipes, empty jars and mugs, party decorations, and gift wrap
  • return used car tires to retailers or wholesalers that recycle or retread them
  • mow higher and leaving the clippings (called grasscycling). Homeowners can reduce their mowing time by 30 to 40 percent by not having to bag clippings.
Buy a solar panel system for your home - Prices for solar panels have plummeted, and industry experts anticipate a continued decline. Most solar panels on the market are high-quality and will have a guaranteed output of not less than 90% after 10 years and no less than 80% after 25 years.

Compare your home's energy use to similar sized homes and climates across the country with the Home Energy Yardstick (home utility bills needed) to see how you measure up with your neighbors. Going green is not just a fad–it’s an important element in our fight to save and preserve our planet for the future.


Social Media for Real Estate Agents - LinkedIn (Part III)

Linkedin for Real Estate
LinkedIn is probably the best social media channel for testimonials and referrals. Even though little adopted by realtors, LinkedIn presents great opportunities for real estate agents. LinkedIn might not help you directly sell a home, but it will definitely help you create useful relationships.

Recent studies show that more than 70 percent of people would recommend the real estate agent they worked with. LinkedIn helps leverage this potential and makes it so much easier to get back in touch with previous clients. If most agents miss doing one important thing, that is contacting previous clients! The research shows how much those people are ready to recommend the agent, yet agents forget to reconnect with them. A good profile on LinkedIn with a good number of people in the network might be the solution.

Real estate agents can use LinkedIn to get referrals almost effortlessly. A profile on LinkedIn where you add a good presentation of yourself, with all the professional details and a good resume,  will help others discover and contact you. Your LinkedIn profile will help you expand your professional network while making it easier for people interested in your expertise and knowledge of the local real estate market learn more about you and get in touch with you.

real estate linkedin
One of the biggest strength of LinkedIn is its embedded tool for recommendations. Once you bring in some of your past clients, it is very easy for them to write a good recommendation for you and emphasize your professional qualities. These testimonials and recommendations will help you build your reputation and boost credibility. The recommendations will be posted on both your profile and the person who wrote them so this gives you exposure to your past client's network, increasing the chances for other people to want to work with you. LinkedIn is one of the best social media tools to tap into the power of peer review, the best component of effective marketing.

Here are some good articles and resources on using LinkedIn for real estate:

It is time to adopt LinkedIn, the social media channel that can best help you capitalize on testimonials and build your referral database. As always, if you are not a realtor but 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.

Social Media for Real Estate Agents - Pinterest (Part II)

The real estate market is becoming more and more competitive. New people turn real estate agents every day so you have to find ways to stay ahead or else... Social media is one of the new marketing paradigms that can be turned into an extremely powerful strategy, tactic, tool, and everything in between. We have started in our previous blog post to present various  social media channels and tools useful to real estate agents. Today we will talk about Pinterest and how real estate agents can use it to make a difference.
If you want to understand Pinterest you need to understand its three main components: Pins, boards, and repins.

Pins are images that are added to Pinterest via the Pin It button  or uploaded from your computer.

Boards are are sets of pins that real estate agents create, usually around a certain topic (interior design, cleaning and organizing ideas, elegant dinnerware, etc).

Repins means adding to one of your own boards an image you find while browsing other Pinterest accounts. It's very simple: you like the image - you click repin - you choose one of your own boards you want to put it on - it gets displayed on your Pinterest board. Repining is the way to share someone else's image on your own board. But this is also the way someone else can post YOUR images on their boards! This can give real estate agents exponential exposure.

We live in a highly visual world. Don't forget that 80 % of the signals we process are visual. That's probably why Pinterest has gained tremendous success recently and people spend more and more time browsing boards on Pinterest besides catching up gossips on Facebook. When people repin an image from your Pinterest account, that image automatically gets a link back to your board. That makes it a great way to get back links, valuable for SEO and traffic building.

Here is an example of the "Real Estate Tips" board on Century 21 Thomas' Pinterest account:

Also remember that you can add a link to any image you upload on Pinterest so people who click on your image are directed to the destination of that link. So if you post a picture with a great view of one of the properties you handle, you can drive people who click on it to your listing.

The main social media for real estate opportunity with Pinterest is to promote great real estate images of the properties you manage with the goal of having other people repin them on their own boards. This gives you exponential exposure on the internet and increased chances to build traffic to your listing.

In one of our previous blog posts we emphasized how important it is to make sure you use great photography for the properties you list. Now that you have those great pictures, why not use them on Pinterest to capture more attention and traffic to your listings? Re-purposing existing photography is one of the best ways to effectively use Pinterest for real estate.

Good luck with using Pinterest for real estate. Hopefully you found these simple recommendations helpful. As always, if you are not a realtor but 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.

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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