#TechTipTuesday: Are Your Listings “Smart” Enough For Your Buyers?

smart home banner

One thing that we’ve noticed recently is that the whole world is getting interconnected. First it was our computers, then our phones, and now home gadgets are getting in on the action. And it’s not just the gadgets you’d think should be hooked up, either. Here’s a list that we found scouring the internet:

  • Coffee machines
  • Washers
  • Dryers
  • Thermostats
  • Refrigerators
  • Cooking devices
  • Water purification systems
  • Light switches
  • Light bulbs
  • Home security systems
  • Vacuum cleaners
  • Garage door openers

And that’s just a small portion of the information we found. While some of them might seem silly (the light bulb one comes to mind), it’s also something to notice: more and more appliances are converting, and if your listings have them, they can become selling points just like features on a vehicle.

Convenience

These devices make life even more convenient than they were before. Instead of garage door openers that were unreliable or home alarm systems with codes, now we have Wi-Fi enabled devices that don’t miss an infrared beam or a security system that doesn’t need a complex code but a simple authentication on your phone. And the lighting and coffee? Well, imagine not needing to get out of bed to start your coffee in the morning. Convenience started this industry, and it’s not going away any time soon. Home listings can benefit because being ready for this kind of automation is a great selling point.

Security

But it’s not just convenience that keeps this trend going. It’s also a matter of security. Our mobile devices contain a lot of information about us and, because of this, we keep them closer to us than our keys. Using a mobile device to unlock doors or turn off security alarms, then, is a matter of security because we can choose when and where to unlock doors and systems—or call the police and emergency services clandestinely. There’s even a Wi-Fi enabled fire alarm that you can set up your emergency plan and it’ll notify you if you ever need to put that plan into action. It’s a safety feature that your buyers will want in your listings—and will pay more for if it’s installed.

Demand

The demand for these devices is going up. The term “internet of things” is starting to trend because the devices we all know and love are starting to network together for everyone’s benefit—including your buyers and your listings. Because of this interesting trend, we’re starting to see the potential of a smart listing making more money. People have been buzzing about it for years but the practical, affordable application of this idea is finally starting to come to fruition. Now that it is, you might consider advising your buyers to add some of these simple gadgets—if practical—or at least ensuring that they can be hooked up. Being prepared means better opportunities for both you and your listings.


Communication With Clients: Learn To Speak Digitally

iPicnic | ©JD Hancock via Flickr | CCBY
iPicnic | ©JD Hancock via Flickr | CCBY

These days, cell phones and revolutions in how we all communicate and interact mean that older methods of communication with leads and clients are not as effective as they used to be. This can be dangerous for those of us who don’t have a strong background in using these devices or who are heavily accustomed to the tried and true methods employed by professionals for many years.

text message quick response

This isn’t just a long-distance telecommunications phenomenon, either. The evolution of communication has bled into standard communication and has changed not only how we send messages to each other but how we speak, as well—and not knowing the differences can make all the difference.

Rule 1: Be Concise

We’ve noticed that people don’t pay attention to others if they’re rambling. The internet is an enormous source of knowledge, but the overload of knowledge works against it: people don’t have the time to read everything. 

NPR recently took advantage of this principle for an April Fools prank, using the photo and metadata of an article to suggest that people don’t read. Many people protested, commenting about how they do read and how it was offensive for NPR to think that way. However, if you click and read the article, it lets the reader in on the joke. The offended people commenting didn’t read the article. And there were many people offended, too.

The same is true for your clients. They don’t have the time to waste on you if you’re not providing solid information, whether that information is a blog post on your website or a listing. Say what needs said and stop.

The takeaway: speak clearly and quickly; don’t waste time.

Rule 2: Be Prompt

The expectations of communication have changed, as well. Not even 20 years ago, answering machines were common because unless we were very well off, instant replies and instant communication were not expected. 

This has changed. The internet and the ubiquitous nature of cell phones mean that your reply is expected extremely promptly—often within minutes. If you’re waiting longer than an hour to reply, even if just to let them know you’re busy, you’re most likely losing business. To the modern professional of any age, time is money and waiting for excessively long periods of time is detrimental to business.

While this might seem like it’s an invasion of your life, consider how many things you get instantly these days and how you expect quick replies from those companies who have your business. You’re no different. 

The takeaway: respond quickly with solid information—even if only to say that you’ve received the message. 

Rule 3: Be Mindful

The differences that the market faces can seem insurmountable, especially when it deals with changing the way that you do business and how those social expectations have shifted with little warning. But, learning to speak “digitally” in what used to be an analog world isn’t too terribly difficult—just keep your clients in mind, how they operate, and how they define the relationship. If you work to define it your way, you’ll get clients who think like you do—and that number is on the decrease.

Don’t just assume that one way of doing business is best because that’s the way it always worked. Remember, 20 years ago print ads and billboards were more effective than this thing called the internet. Now, computer monitors and phones are the billboards. Things change—and so must we if we want to keep getting business. 

The takeaway: pay attention and adapt.


#TechTipTuesday: Instagram and Real Estate

Instagram Glyph
Instagram glyph

Instagram remains one of the most popular social media networks because of the gimmick it uses to get attention: the entire network is based on photography, both artistic and commercial. This seems like it should lend well to real estate (and we think that it does), but here in Tampa as well as in a lot of places it lacks a lot of agents. Considering that data is showing lower ages for new homebuyers (a demographic that’s also more likely to use Instagram), the opportunity to reach out to home buyers on Instagram is huge.

Instagram and Your Listings

The most obvious use of Instagram’s services is to photograph and detail your listings. While there may be some concern about filters and other modifications to photos of listings, you can add a disclaimer that they’re modified photos—not to mention that it’s expected in the medium. And the reach you’ll get if you use the social medium to find leads is huge—especially if you find some people with follows to boost your posts with likes and, if you’re lucky, sharing it with their friends.

There’s no “re-instagram” button, so you have to build your network the old-fashioned way: by reaching out to clients and people with captivating photos. (There also those pesky hashtags, but as long as they’re descriptive people will find you.) And we know that some of your listings have great curb appeal—why not show it off? There’s enough food and selfies to last all of us for a while.

Instagram and Your Business

It’s not just about listings, either. Instagram is a social network, meaning you’ll have to talk to people. While your listings should be prominent, it shouldn’t be the only thing you post. If you find yourself taking a lot of photos at events and while out and about, you can build your following by showing off who you are when you’re not “on the clock.” 

Reaching out to others is easier when you’re connecting on a personal level. Remember the new world we’re living in is profession second, person first. No matter what kind of business you do, people want someone they can trust. Is your professional image a carefully manufactured and curated cardboard cutout, or is it your personality shining through the professional armor? Take some shots of your next outing, live a little, and gain followers—and possibly leads.

Instagram and You

Finally, we need to mention that the point of Instagram is to share photos and videos of amazing and interesting things, whether they’re listings, events, or even what you had for dinner. But, like any other passion or outlet, mediation is key. If you’re always on Instagram posting images and other distractions, you’re (1) taking away from your ability to do work and (2) overloading what followers you do have with photos. Be smart about how you use your photos and Instagram might be the untapped market you’re looking for!

Below are some examples for great photos for real estate on Instagram:


#WellnessWednesday: Staying Healthy Behind a Desk

It can easily be said that being healthy is easier said than done for most of us who end up behind a desk all day. While there are great days that will get you out of the office and on the move, more often than not your 9 to 5 is spent staring at a computer monitor and sitting in a relatively (un)comfortable office chair researching, chasing leads, and processing documents for your clients. But, just because you’re trapped in a chair doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stay unhealthy. There are ways to overcome it, and we’ve got a few tips here for you as well.

Extreme Desk Wellness (Don't try this at work)
Extreme Desk Wellness (Don’t try this at work)

Staying Physically Healthy

While you’re not going to be doing chin-ups and crunches at the desk, there are ways to stay fit while sitting at your desk. Taking a break to stretch every hour or so for 5 minutes can help keep you limber. Resistance bands (sold at sporting goods stores) can be attached to the arms of an office chair and can give you some “weights” to push around during your day. Designating an area away from your desk (if possible) that you do some kinds of work at force you to get up and move, if even a little bit. Every small bit helps (and that exercise can even help you stay more alert).

Staying Mentally Healthy

Health isn’t just about the 6-pack most of us (don’t) have. It’s about your cognitive abilities, too. Small doses of puzzles or other small mental activities can help keep us well and healthy. A simple algebra problem, a document on your desk that has a problem requiring a decision, even just a simple change of direction for a short while can all bring your mind back into full steam. While it might not seem “productive,” neither are the coffee breaks you’re taking either. Small changes can have big effects, and those big effects might be the difference between a regular 2pm slump or sustained productivity.

Staying Nutritionally Healthy

Your snacking habits can defeat you, too. Remember last Thanksgiving? We all do, usually bad memories of eating too much and wanting to sleep. Well, that works on a smaller scale too. If your work snack or lunch is really big, greasy, or starchy, you might end up in the same kind of slump that’ll make you want to fall asleep at your desk. When eating at the desk, remember to snack light and healthily—and avoid the potato chips and fried snacks! They’ll slow you down more than you know.

Even with all these tips, there are still more to be found. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all, and we’re always looking for new ways to stay healthy even if we can’t really leave the desk (even though AirBnb’s joke about AirBrb sounds like a great idea to us). What options have you considered to stay healthy at your desk?

 


Hillsborough Title and CornerStone Title Join Forces

Hillsborough Title and CornerStone Title Join Forces- April2014

 

CornerStone Title Joins Hillsborough Title Family of Companies

“Familiar Faces, Increased Resources, Shared Passion for Excellence”

 

LAKEWOOD RANCH, FLORIDA – Aaron M. Davis, President and CEO of Hillsborough Title, is proud to announce the acquisition of CornerStone Title in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. This is the fourth acquisition in four months for the Tampa Bay-based title agency, marking its strategic expansion into the Sarasota-Bradenton area. 

Mary Howard, founder of CornerStone Title, will continue to serve as Relationship Manager for the local operation, which will retain the CornerStone Title name. 

“We are excited to join forces with Hillsborough Title,” Howard said. “The firm’s focus on customer service, best practices, and the highest professional standards is a perfect fit for us. We will continue to provide the personalized service of a ‘Main Street’ company, with the additional support, resources and stability of a larger network. ” 

“Cornerstone Title has a great reputation,” said Davis. “In my investigation of the Sarasota/Manatee County area, CornerStone Title’s name kept coming up as one of the premier agencies. Its quality of service, agency marketing, and moral and ethical values are in perfect alignment with our agency’s core values. Cornerstone Title has a strong foothold in the Lakewood Ranch area, and is a strategically placed office for the convenience of our Realtor and builder clients.” 

Founded in 1984, Hillsborough Title is a locally owned and operated full service title agency in the Tampa Bay area. Resources include in-house legal counsel with three real estate attorneys on staff, a dedicated short sales department, ongoing training, a choice of seven of the top title insurance underwriters in the nation, and advanced title software and systems facilitating Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) compliance, data security and best practices.

With the CornerStone Title acquisition, the growing company currently has 14 locations in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco and Manatee counties, virtual offices throughout Florida, and a staff of more than 110. Hillsborough Title is ranked the No. 1 title company by number of closings by the Tampa Bay Business Journal and is among the top 1 percent of all the title agencies in the state, according to CoreLogic. 

The merger will be a seamless transition for CornerStone Title. “Very little will change in our day-to-day operation,” said Howard. “All of the familiar faces and treasured aspects of Cornerstone will remain the same. However, our clients will immediately recognize and be able to take advantage of all of the additional resources, begin to utilize the attorneys on staff and very soon see their business positively affected due to this partnership.”

CornerStone Title will continue to operate from its Lakewood Ranch location at 11061 Gatewood Dr, Suite 101, Bradenton, Florida 34211. Telephone: (941) 708-0300. Website: www.CornerStoneTitle.biz.


#TechTipTuesday: Google Goggles Saves You Time

Far be it from us to shill for another company, but Google makes some really interesting gizmos, from good software for telephones to the hands-down best email system that’s ever existed. But, there’s a nifty tool embedded in the Google Search apps on iPhone and Android as well as through their web interface: Google Goggles.

google goggles
Google Goggles logo

If you see something that you’re curious as to what it is—like a strange-looking bug outside a home or a nifty looking decoration—you can just point your smartphone’s camera at it and Google will do its best to find what you’re looking for.

While it might seem pointless at first, imagine how much easier finding something could be if, while you can’t exactly describe it, you can just take a picture of it? It’s especially handy if you’re showing a home and a client asks what something is—it might not be your home but if Google can find out, why not use it?

There are other benefits, as well. The Goggles search links to the regular Google search page for it so not only can you identify something, but also do research on it. If your client wants to know how good a certain appliance is, you can pull it up without knowing about it and get the information they want in real time. If you want to know how trustworthy a company is, snap a picture of their logo and check the reviews.

We know that you’re busy people, so we figure that having a tool like that in your pocket might help you be more efficient (and, therefore, more successful in your showings). If the only limiting factor that you have is not having the information, changing that is as simple as pulling out your smartphone and taking a picture. Happy Tuesday!