Tag Archives: Title

#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?


#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!

Housing Recovery Benefits Title Insurance Industry: Fitch

With revenue up and the housing market showing a sustained recovery, Fitch Ratings says the outlook for the U.S. title insurance industry is “stable.”

According to the ratings agency, its stable rating outlook is based on its belief that “ratings actions for the industry will on balance approximate current levels over the next 12-18 months as financial performance has improved recently.”

The agency points to improved revenue and reduced expenses as signs of stability. Operating profit margins for Fitch’s title universe rose to 10.3 percent in the first nine months of 2012, a dramatic jump from 6.1 percent during the same period in 2011. Earnings improved for all underwriters, but the real stars were First American Financial and Fidelity National Title, which both posted pretax earnings in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

In addition, title revenues increased by more than 15 percent from January to September as refinancing activity outpaced expectations and housing markets found solid ground.

The period’s underwriting combined ratio reached 90.7 percent, a level not seen since 2006.

“The title insurance industry is benefitting from an improving housing market that is showing less home inventory and increasing home prices nationally,” Fitch says in its report.

While mortgage originations are expected to fall off somewhat in 2013, Fitch notes that the drop will mostly be driven by a decline in refinance activity, which will be offset by growing purchase originations. As the agency points out, “purchase orders typically bring in twice the revenue of refinance orders for title insurers.”

Additionally, open order counts for title underwriters were 20 percent higher at third-quarter 2012 compared with the same period in 2011. According to Fitch, the order flow should provide a “strong pipeline of activity for the first half of 2013 and a cushion against a potentially weaker second half in an uncertain economic environment.” As a result, revenue is expected to grow in 2013, though at a more modest rate than in 2012.

While capital strength varies from company to company, Fitch says it continues to view the industry as “adequately capitalized.”

The biggest threat to the industry at this point, Fitch says, is Washington’s potential failure in avoiding the fiscal cliff. If that were to occur, economic growth would fall off drastically, leading to sustained mortgage and real estate market activity declines and a “return to sizeable title insurer operating losses and capital deterioration.”

On the other hand, if the cliff can be avoided and the housing market is allowed to grow further, Fitch anticipates an improvement in industry capitalization to historical levels.

By: Tory Barringer, DSNews