Posts Tagged as property websites

Could You Be Stealing Stock Photos?

Lawyers and artists are on the lookout for stock photos users who don’t pay for the photos on their blogs and websites. Could you be stealing stock photos?

I’m part of a couple of different business groups, and in the last two months, a serious but surprising topic has come up among the group members three times: My professional peers were contacted by lawyers telling them that they’d used an image on their blog without paying for it or citing its source. If this is something you’ve ever done, say, scrolled through Google images to find what looks like a great pic to include with your latest blog article, you could be the next facing legal action. So, I have to ask – who took the photo in your blog post? And did you pay for it? Could you be stealing stock photos?

“Come on,” I can practically hear you saying, “I don’t want to/can’t afford to buy a new image every single time I post a new article to my blog.”

Well, I have two responses to that. 1) It’s a lot more affordable than you might think (and a LOT more affordable than legal fines), and you can rest easy knowing you’re covered, if you do purchase all your images; but, 2) There actually are many free resources for images that you can use safely.

Designmodo recently published a Carrie Cousins’ article on great places to source free stock photography. Titled 16 Places to Find the Best Free Stock Photos, it’s just that – a comprehensive and fabulous list of 16 separate sources of free stock imagery.

Cousins’ selections include:

1. Raumrot
2. Unsplash
3. Little Visuals
4. Gratisography
5. Free Refe
6. Jay Mantri
7. Magdeleine
8. Foodies Feed
9. Picography
10. Im Free
11. Death to the Stock Photo
12. New Old Stock
13. SuperFamous
14. Public Domain Archive
15. Picjumbo
16. The Pattern Library

I’ve personally used Death to the Stock Photo ever since I heard about the photo sharing site months ago. I look forward to trying some of these other options, too. Tell me, where are your favorite stock photography sources?

The Zillow-Trulia Merger & Your Real Estate Business

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will a Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

Last week, Zillow revealed publicly its intent to buy Trulia for $3.5 billion. Obviously this news (and the rumors we’ve been hearing for some time) are hot topics of conversation in the real estate world. The consolidation will allegedly take place whilst still maintaining the distinct identities of both Zillow and Trulia. Only time will tell. But what will the Zillow-Trulia merger mean for your real estate business?

On July 28th, Zillow announced via a press release that “it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Trulia, Inc. … in a stock-for-stock transaction. The Boards of Directors of both companies have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in 2015.”

Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow, stated: “Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals. Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships, but it’s still early days in the world of real estate advertising on mobile and Web. This is a tremendous opportunity to combine our resources and achieve even more impressive innovation that will benefit consumers and the real estate industry.”

Pete Flint, Trulia’s CEO, then commented: “Trulia and Zillow have a shared mission and vision of empowering consumers while helping real estate agents, brokerages and franchisors benefit from technological innovation. By working together, we will be able to create even more value for home buyers, sellers, and renters, as well as create a robust marketing platform that will help our industry partners connect with potential clients and grow their businesses even more efficiently. Our two companies share complementary employee cultures with innovative, consumer-first philosophies and a deep commitment to create the best products and services for our industry partners.”

By the (self-reported) numbers:
• Zillow reported a record 83 million unique users across mobile and Web in June 2014.
• Trulia reported a record 54 million monthly unique users across its sites and mobile apps in June 2014.
• Approximately half of Trulia.com’s monthly visitors do not visit Zillow.com
• Approximately two-thirds of Zillow.com’s monthly visitors across all devices do not use Trulia.com.
• “Maintaining the two distinct consumer brands will allow the combined company to continue to offer differentiated products and user experiences, attract more users and maximize the distribution of free content across multiple platforms, apps and channels.”

The Zillow-Trulia merger might not create the “pricing power” juggernaut that many people fear. We’ve been reading comments by agents and brokers all over the web, and the fact is that many MLS boards and independent agents are starting to pull their listings – they simply don’t want to have to pay to advertise next to their own listings. There are also frequent rumblings about the data and Zestimates on Zillow being inaccurate.

Citron Research cites a deal struck between Realogy and Zillow/Trulia. Realogy—the world’s largest real estate agency, comprising Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s, ERA, Century 21 and Better Homes—secured a lucrative deal for its agents that “prohibits all other agencies from advertising on their listings” at a cost of less than 95% what any other agency pays. What’s more, Realogy is aggressively pursuing their own online offering that will compete head-to-head with Zillow-Trulia in the consumer-focused online real estate space, with a new product expected sometime in 2015.

“We believe that there is a space in there that we can compete in. It will have features like Zillow and Trulia. It will have features that you wouldn’t put on a real estate brokerage website. An example of that would be Zestimate that Zillow uses. There are certain features that we believe we can effectively do and be able to cast a net outcome, a consumer-oriented facing website arena and be able to capture leads, reviewing [scrub then] as I described, and then put them in the hands of our sales associates so we create the business opportunity,” NRT CEO and President Bruce Zipf is quoted as saying on May 9th during a Realogy Investor Day Q&A.

Rascoff, Zillow’s CEO, has been quoted as saying, “It ought to be quite clear to a listing agent or a broker that it behooves their seller to have their listing displayed on Zillow and Trulia or sites that Zillow powers.”

Indeed, Zillow powers some of the internet’s major property search engines, and together with Trulia will indeed have a massive reach. But for how long, with competitors like Realogy making such significant strides, technologically and on behalf of its agents at the bargaining table? And how long before Keller Williams, Remax, Berkshire Hathaway, or other agencies demand and negotiate the same deals Zillow-Trulia have granted Realogy?

Many real estate professionals feel a loss of power in the face of the deal, which cements a growing resentment at having to pay Zillow to advertise their listings. Online forums reveal many of these agents calling for boycotts, while still others agree there isn’t another viable option.

Inman News contributing writer Joseph Rand writes in his Op-ed “Why Zulia doesn’t mean checkmate,” that: “The bottom line is that Zillow needs listings more than listings need Zillow. Which means that Zillow needs the people (brokers and agents) who take those listings more than they need Zillow.” I’d venture that he is bang on with that assessment.

Where does your business fit in? Do you use Zillow to obtain leads? One thing I can say with certainty is that this isn’t over, and we’ll be talking about the Zillow-Trulia merger for some time to come. How do you feel about all of this? I’d love to hear your thoughts from the proverbial trenches.

Selling Homes in Today’s Market Requires Online Approach

I saw a great blog article today from Dave Ramsey’s website that asks, “Are You Using Outdated Methods to Sell Your Home”? You may be familiar with Dave already, as a result of his status and reputation as a financial guru. But he also has some smart stuff to say about real estate outside the financial context, and it turns out it’s the same stuff we’ve been telling you all along. Selling a home in today’s market requires an online approach. It’s as simple—and as complicated—as that.

I saw a great blog article today from Dave Ramsey’s website that asks, “Are You Using Outdated Methods to Sell Your Home”? You may be familiar with Dave already, as a result of his status and reputation as a financial guru. But he also has some smart stuff to say about real estate outside the financial context, and it turns out it’s the same stuff we’ve been telling you all along. Selling a home in today’s market requires an online approach. It’s as simple—and as complicated—as that.

Dave Ramsey’s first tip is to “Go Where the Buyers Are and Give Them What They Want.”

Yes, indeed.

In one of our older posts “How to Establish Yourself as a Real Estate Expert,” we talk about just that same thing. You need to be present where the buyers are. And they are online, in increasingly overwhelming numbers.

Greater than 90% of home buyers are searching for their new houses online, according to NAR. We know what home buyers are looking for. They’re using the Internet as the most significant part of their home search process. It is within your power to give them EXACTLY what they want when they’re there.

What happens when they get to your listing online? Well, quite frankly, they should find a professional and complete single property website showcasing the home and property.

That leads me to another important statistic: 84% of surveyed home buyers told NAR that they consider photos “very useful” to their decision making and willingness to check out a home online. Detailed property info came next in importance at 82%, followed closely by virtual tours at 63%.

Dave Ramsey quotes an agent who says that a seller has just six seconds to make an impression when showing a house. You probably have even less time when presenting your listing on the Internet. Now is not the time to mess around with shoddy photos. Great real estate photos make good first impressions on buyers. And they’re not as hard to achieve as you might think.

And yet more timely advice from Dave: “Part of your agent’s job is to determine the right price for your home so you won’t waste time with a price that’s too high or lose money with one that’s too low. Agents have their own sources of information they use to calculate prices, and those aren’t always available to online pricing websites.”

He’s right, you know. And if you’ve been around long enough, you’ll have seen it come up many times. In fact, you can read 5 Good Reasons to use a Real Estate Agent on our blog, as well as Why Not FSBO?

I love seeing someone with as much influence and integrity as Dave Ramsey weighing in on a subject so close to our hearts, especially when everything he’s said is so sound. It’s good to have someone at the top of his game be on the same page we are at Properties Online. So, thanks Dave and team – you’ve impressed us again!

And if any of you would like to read more of what Dave Ramsey has to say about real estate agents, click HERE.

Promote Yourself by Video to Increase Exposure and Sales

Mobile Technology for Real Estate Agents

Mobile technology is particularly exciting for real estate, because it allows the agent or broker to operate in real time, providing top notch service and response.

Real estate professionals have never been, as a whole, early adopters of technology, despite proven benefits. But falling behind when it comes to applicable technology can cost you money, and a lot of it. Mobile technology for real estate agents is a hot, growing field. What do you know about it?

The average real estate agent is in his or her mid-50s (57, to be exact). This is a contributing factor to the prevalent use of outdated technology in the business. But realtors are adopting mobile technology. Smartphones are commonplace. Tablets and iPads are growing in popularity. These devices enable location aware applications at very reasonable price points, designed for use on systems most people are already familiar with. It’s win-win-win-win!

Mobile technology is particularly exciting for real estate, because it allows the agent or broker to operate in real time, providing top notch service and response.

Handy SMS mobile tools like Smart Lead Capture allow real estate professionals to market their listings and capture leads over mobile devices. With smart lead capture, agents and brokers can capture leads by offering their clients the ability to “text for more information” about a property listed for sale or rent. The system stores and displays all of the property information and displays it to the prospects in a manner that best fits the user’s mobile phone. Information can be sent as a text message or over the internet via a mobile browser.

You can also ensure you never miss a text lead by setting up SMS Auto-Responder technology. Similar to email auto-responders, SMS Auto-Responders allow you to send an automated response via text message as soon as a prospect utilizes your text for information service provided by Smart Lead Capture. You can write custom messages for each of your listings, and they’ll be sent automatically.

Over half of prospects (56%) expect to be contacted within 30 minutes of expressing interest in a property, according to NAR statistics. This kind of high expectation leaves no margin for error. Taking advantage of the many affordable mobile technology tools now available to real estate professionals helps you close the gap, more and more.

Mobile applications like Lead Alert send instant leads via SMS (text) message, so that follow-up can happen in real time. Respond while a prospective buyer’s interest is at its peak – while they’re standing in front of the property or clicking through its individual property website.

We could spend weeks covering mobile technology for real estate professionals (and maybe we will!), but this is a great place to start. There is no shortage of awesome applications and new developments. Just a little investment will take you and your real estate business a long way.

Leverage Facebook Messenger for Lead Generation and Conversion

Easy Social Media Posting from Single Property Websites

Individual property websites are a great way to showcase listings – they tell both the seller and potential buyer that the home or property has worth and value. They’re also incredibly easy to set up and maintain. And easy social media posting from single property websites is one of their most useful features. The ability to quickly and easily add your listing to social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, makes sharing your individual listing websites a breeze.

Promoting your single property websites through social media allows you to market online in a streamlined way, right where your local buyers and sellers are.

“Essentially, social media marketing is a lot like old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing, but it is done on a much larger scale, thanks to the wide reach of the internet,” clarifies Amanda Cornelius, co-founder and CEO of Properties Online.

Each time you post a listing to your Facebook page, for example, you open the opportunity for someone to pass that listing on. As the housing market bounces back, you’ll find more and more of your “marketing” can be done this way – organic sharing, through real people.

The great thing about the social media and single property websites connection is just how easy it is. For clients of Listing Domains – one of the leading individual listings web products available – posting to Facebook, for example, can be done on an automated basis via an app that allows the agent to add all of his or her listings to Facebook, without any effort whatsoever.

Once listings are added through the app, the agent’s Facebook profile will dynamically update as he or she adds, edits or removes properties from Listing Domains.

If you want to start by promoting your listings is the best possible way, and finish by marketing them through a simple but extremely effective method, you need to be using individual property websites. And you need to be taking advantage of the fabulous benefits they offer – such as social media syncing.

Get started now!