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Should You Wait Until Next Year To Buy? Or Buy Now?

*Infographic & highlights from Keeping Current Matters

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Some Highlights:

  • The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
  • Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.1% by 2019.
  • CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 4.3% over the next 12 months.
  • If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!

How Real Estate Rookies Can Grow Their Client Base

*Article from Delta Media Group, 2/13/18

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Whether you’re a new real estate agent looking to make your mark or an experienced pro aiming to expand your business, there’s never a bad time to bring new clients into the fold. The most successful agents are always finding ways to grow their client base. Let’s take a closer look at the most effective methods you can use to grow your real estate business.

Growing Your Business

When it comes to adding new clients, referrals are worth their weight in gold. Online marketing provides extensive opportunities to earn referrals, and there are also plenty of steps you can take on your day-to-day travels that will help you earn new business.

Need Referrals? It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask!

For a new agent, the thought of earning referrals may seem daunting. If potential clients don’t have much data to go on, how will you convince them that you’re the right choice for their needs? When you’re just starting out, family, friends, and professional connections can all be a great source of referrals—but only if you’re willing to ask.

Both new and experienced agents can plant the seeds for referrals simply by letting people know that you’re a real estate agent. When you meet someone new, always look for an opportunity to let them know what you do for a living. As you build your real estate business, your existing clients should become one of your best sources of referrals. Look for reasons to stay in touch, and show clients that you care even after the deal is closed.

Social Media and Online Reviews

Your favorite social media sites can be a major source of new business, especially if you’re targeting clients from the Millennial generation. Your interactions and expertise are always on display with social media, so make every conversation count. Social proof, which basically means that existing clients vouch for your business on social sites, is also a major asset.

Online reviews are another form of social proof, so make sure your business has a presence on popular review sites like Google+, Facebook Reviews and Yelp. Do your part by delivering on the needs of your clients. Be sure to ask them to leave a review when the job is done.

Staying in Touch with Potential Clients

Not every potential client you meet will need a real estate agent immediately. Persistence is a huge part of earning new business, so it’s important to stay in touch without being overbearing. Calling a few potential clients each day to chat, catch up, and remind them of your services is a great habit for staying top-of-mind. When the time comes that they need the services of a real estate agent, you want them to think of you first.

No matter how you approach the process of growing your real estate client base, remember that the job is never truly done. Make sure that your online marketing looks great, and that your clients know you’re looking for new business. The most successful real estate agents know how important it is to generate new business, and put in the work necessary each day to achieve their goals.

Bringing new clients aboard is much easier when you have a real estate marketing team that truly understands the needs of both real estate agents, and clients.

February 9 Central IL Homes Guide – Online!

Want to make a quick move to a new home?
Ready to own the new home you have always dreamed of?

You can find one of these fantastic homes right here in our February 9 Central Illinois Homes Guide! Over 570 homes and properties featured in this edition.

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Why You Need To Get Testimonials From Your Clients

Why You Need to Get Testimonials from Your Clients

When you’re considering using a business, do you put more weight on advertising, or on reviews from people who have bused their services before? Most consumers rely significantly on word-of-mouth referrals when searching for new businesses. Customer testimonials have been a popular, effective marketing tool since long before the digital age. Today, it’s easier than ever to get testimonials from your customers, integrate them with your online marketing, and reap the benefits. We’ve got more details on why testimonials are important and how you can use them to grow your business.

Why Customer Testimonials and Social Proof Are Crucial for Real Estate Business

Customer testimonials are among the oldest, most proven marketing tools. We still rely on them today because consumers of all types place significant weight on the opinion of others. In the digital age, word of mouth is synonymous with the concept of social proof, which means that consumers rely heavily on feedback from their favorite social channels when making purchasing decisions.

  • Reading Reviews – When was the last time you bought a new product from a major online retailer without checking the reviews first? Whether you’re shopping for a new home or a new washing machine, there’s a good chance you’ll want to see feedback from shoppers who have been in your shoes before. Consumers place significant weight on the opinions of other consumers, so earning positive reviews is a great way to grow your business online.
  • Social Proof – Your social media pages aren’t just a place for you to talk about your business. They’re also a great place to get customers talking about you! Visit the social page of any brand that maintains an active presence, and you’re likely to find a wealth of customer testimonials. Many consumers, especially from younger generations, rely heavily on social customer testimonials when making purchasing decisions.
  • Names and Faces – An anonymous quote has value, but your audience is more likely to trust a testimonial that comes with a name and face attached. They want to know that the testimonial came from a real person which is another reason why social and video testimonials have so much marketing value.
  • Connecting with Current Customers – In addition to the potential marketing benefits for new customers, asking your current customers for testimonials is a great way to keep those relationships strong. Customers value the opportunity to provide feedback for their peers, and will often jump at the chance if you’re willing to ask.
  • A Reliable Source of Referrals – Word-of-mouth referrals are more valuable than ever in the marketing world, so making it easy to find customer testimonials is a great way to earn more referrals for your real estate business. Your testimonials are working to grow your business, whenever someone visits your website, reads a review, or engages with your social presence.

Earning customer testimonials is often easier than you might think because in many cases all you really have to do is ask. Maintaining an active online marketing presence is also crucial because it allows customers to leave testimonials at their own leisure. By encouraging customers to provide testimonials, you’re showing that you value their feedback while also earning a powerful marketing tool for your real estate business.

The Downside of Zillow

*From Sarah D’Hondt via lightersideofrealestate.com

Let me just go ahead and say it bluntly: stop listening to Zillow.

Zillow itself even encourages buyers, sellers and homeowners to conduct other research such as “getting a comparative market analysis (CMA) from a real estate agent” and “getting an appraisal from a professional appraiser.”

Sure, Zillow’s Zestimates® are quick, easy, and free. The point? Just let a local real estate professional (who will actually see your home’s unique features in person) determine its fair market value.

Let’s dive in a bit further, shall we?

First, I don’t believe that Zillow is inherently evil. In other words, they don’t set out to intentionally mislead the general public. In fact, they do have their positive points. Nevertheless, what is the net effect when buyers and sellers use Zillow? They often get inaccurate information, rely on it (even swear by it), thus causing migraines for REALTORS and agents everywhere.

See, for those of you not working in the real estate industry, you assume that Zillow is a trusted resource to find out what your property is worth. You assume the information is factual, based on homes that have sold in your area (also known as comparables or “comps”), and therefore are to be considered true market value. I’m here to explain to you why this website is feeding you misinformation and why it should not be trusted.

To put it simply…

The fine folks at Zillow don’t have the slightest clue about your market. There are approximately 43,000 zip codes in the United States, and each one has variables that affect property values, such as: school district, knowledge of declining or flourishing areas, property taxes, proximity to interstates, hospitals, attractions and shopping, and bodies of water to name a few.

Let’s pretend that you live in a 3 bedroom, brick ranch with a basement in “Perfect Town, USA”. When you plug your address into the search bar on Zillow, you will see a bunch of dots near your home. Those dots represent other homes that have sold, have foreclosed, or that are for sale or for rent. When you click on the dots, it will show you what the home sold for and the dot on your own home is just an average (also known as a “Zestimate”) of what all the others sold for, regardless of how it compares to yours.

Let’s say that half of those homes are colonials, are vinyl sided and not made of brick, don’t have a basement, or have 4 bedrooms or more, or are on the water, while yours is across the street from the water. Those are huge differences in the world of real estate, and especially to the appraiser who will seal the fate of what your home will inevitably sell for.

Zillow does not account for the condition of your home.

Your home may have been recently remodeled and has as updated kitchen and bathrooms, a new roof, new windows, new furnace, etc… and some of the homes being used as comps are stuck in the 1980’s.

It could also be the opposite and you may see an inflated value put on your home because others in the area have sold for more because they are new construction or have been renovated. Just because your neighbors’ homes sold for $500K doesn’t mean yours will too.

Appraisers need to compare apples to apples, so unless you live in a neighborhood where all the homes are identical cookie cutter houses, don’t ever expect to sell for what your neighbors sold for. Values change with every season, and the only true indicator of what your home is worth is the buyer. A REALTOR can run a thorough comparative market analysis (CMA) for you and give you a pretty accurate value and suggested listing price, but what a buyer is willing to offer you is ultimately what your home is worth.

What a buyer is willing to pay is based on many variables too, including the location, the updates and amenities your house includes and how much competition you have. If you live in an area where it’s a sellers’ market, it means you have little competition and more buyers in the area than homes for sale. This is when you want to list your home, and can expect top dollar, as indicated by the buyer!

This doesn’t mean you ask an outrageous amount, because anything over-priced will not sell. If you live in an area that is a buyer’s market, then you need to compete with many other homes for sale and can expect your home to sit on the market longer. No matter what city you live in or how the market is in your area, one thing remains the same:

Zillow is not correct and you need to call your REALTOR today to find out the value of your home! It takes a few minutes, it’s FREE and, most importantly, it will be accurate!

Why Are So Many Marketers Ignoring The Power Of Print?

* From Jenna Bruce, mediaspacesolutions.com, 1/15/18

What makes a good print marketing campaign?

Here are a few things I will never understand:

  • The ending to “The Matrix Reloaded.”
  • Why people like baked beans.
  • Why so many marketers are still throwing their entire marketing budgets at digital channels like social media and mobile marketing, while completely ignoring the power of print.

While digital channels definitely have their place, they simply can’t do what print does: deliver tangible content that lives within trusted publications. Print marketing is more personal in nature and studies have shown that quality print campaigns can absolutely influence purchasing decision.

And since we’re on the subject, what is it exactly that makes a good print marketing campaign? I’m glad you asked, because I happen to have compiled some of the key elements.

Knowing Your Goals

Solid print campaigns aren’t slapped together willy-nilly; they are crafted around very specific business goals. Before you create and launch a campaign, you’ll first need to determine your goal. What is it you want this particular campaign to achieve? You may want to generate new leads or build your email subscriber list by 10%. Be specific. How will you measure your campaign’s success? What sort of campaign milestones or markers will you put in place? The more specific you are, the better able you’ll be to create a campaign that reaches its goals.

Set a Realistic Budget

Most campaigns fail because not enough ad spend was allocated in the first place. That’s like trying to drive from Detroit to Newark on only half a tank of gas. You’ll get to a destination, it just won’t be the one you were hoping for.

Know Thy Customers!

You need to know as much as you can about who you are targeting with your print campaign.  What is their age, income, and gender? What sorts of hobbies do they have, and what are their purchasing habits? Remember, the success of your campaign depends on your ability to engage and convert these people.

Keep It Simple Sally

When it comes to having your offer be heard, less is more. Stick to just one clear, compelling message within your campaign. Readers won’t take the time to figure out a convoluted message – they’ll just move on. One goal – one message – that’s it.

Lead with Benefits

Customers want to know what’s in it for them. They don’t really care about the features of your product or service, so much as HOW those features will benefit their lives. Don’t list features in your ad, and certainly don’t tell your audience how long you’ve been in business, trust me, they really don’t care. Craft copy that focuses on how you can help THEM.

Frequency

In order for your ad to make an impression, it needs to run frequently enough. Consumers will generally need to see an ad at least three times before they become aware of your ad and offer.

Track Your Results

As I mentioned a bit ago, it’s important that you know exactly how you are going to track your campaign’s performance. You could use unique phone numbers, QR codes, special URL addresses, or printed coupons. All of these will help you determine which messages and channels are performing best.

These key ingredients will ensure your print campaigns deliver the ROI you intend. And, to be clear, you certainly don’t have to abandon digital marketing. In fact, print and digital can make powerful allies.