How to Use Social Media in Real Estate

One of the two most common questions I get asked are, “How do I use social media to help propel my real estate business?”, and “Does it work?”.  To answer your questions, I’ve found an excellent post written by Tierra Wilson for New Media 4 Agents that outlines the four major ways that you can use social media for your real estate business.

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[Originally published on New Media 4 Agents.com on February 16, 2012: Click Here]

How to Use Social Media in Real Estate

Post Written by Tierra Wilson

At first, social media was just a way to connect with classmates, friends or family. Then it became a way to network with people you have met and keep in touch with them. Now, it has become the marketing life source of our business, a life source that we are required to keep up with.

It’s hard. We know! That’s why we started New Media 4 Agents, to help real estate professionals manage it all. But we didn’t want to just sell our services; we also wanted to be a resource for real estate professionals.  More than any other professional, the real estate professional has it the hardest. You have to find your own business, close the deal, write the contracts, network, maintain clients, abide by serious laws, market yourself, become a neighborhood expert… well, you know. Throw in social media in real estate and it can be really scary, especially when 90% of all home buyers and home sellers start looking for their real estate needs online. Let’s be honest, if you haven’t embraced online marketing, SEO and blogging, you are missing out on a huge piece of the lead generation pie.

Anyway, enough with our soap opera, let’s get down to why you ended up on this post in the first place. How can you use social media in real estate?

1. Use social media to establish a real estate brand

Branding is the most powerful tool in your real estate marketing toolbox. When you establish a consistent, beautiful and well thought out brand across all of your online (social media, email marketing and websites) and offline (direct mail, post cards and flyer) you immediately gain an edge against your competition. Hiring a professional real estate creative marketing agency to develop that brand is worth the investment.

2. Use social media to establish yourself as a real estate expert

Before social media, marketing establishing yourself as a real estate expert was expensive and time-consuming. It included a public relations campaign for print placement, speaking at colleges/conferences and writing/publishing books. Today, print placement means guest blogging for a popular real estate blog, speaking at colleges and conferences means developing podcasts and YouTube videos and publishing books means writing eBooks for your targeted audience. You have the power to be an expert with little or no investment.

3. Use social media to target more relevant and interested clients

Social media  in real estate has the ability for you to find real estate clients that need what you are offering. By strategically following and interacting with people in your targeted audience you can create a valuable database and resource of potential clients for your business. That means being a social media “snob”. Being a social media snob means only following and interacting with those who will eventually benefit your business. If you are questioning this, just think… would you put a billboard in an area where your clients don’t exist?

3. Use social media to keep in touch with past clients

One huge benefit of social media in real estate  is the ability to keep in touch with your clients. If you take the time to add your real estate clients to your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts, you will always be in their face, every single day, and you can even get rid of expensive mail campaigns. You can update your blog and social media accounts with closing announcement, new products, homes for sale and more. Just think of the opportunities if use it correctly!

4. Use social media to save money and cut real estate operating costs

Finally, social media in real estate can help you as a real estate agent save money and cut operating costs. Social media is free, it builds your business in a paperless and effective environment. Combine that with cloud based solutions and you can cut your operating costs by 40%.

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Very Interesting Read…

[Originally published in The Wall Street Journal on August 3, 2011: Click Here]

DIY Guru Gets Broker Help

By Josh Barbanel

A founder of a website dedicated to direct sales of homes by their owners has sold his two-bedroom apartment in Chelsea for $2.15 million—with the help of a real-estate broker and a standard 6% commission.

Colby Sambrotto, a founder and former chief operating officer of ForSalebyOwner.com, a large website for owner sales, spent six months trying to sell his condominium himself through online listings and classified ads, before turning over the listing of the 2,000-square-foot apartment to a broker at Bond New York in November.

The broker, Jesse Buckler, said he told Mr. Sambrotto the apartment in the Lion’s Head building on West 19th Street near Sixth Avenue was priced too low and wasn’t drawing the right buyers.

By May, it went into contract, he said, after attracting multiple offers. It closed in the last few days for $150,000 more than the original asking price.

“At first he wouldn’t let me increase the price,” Mr. Buckler said. “I told him I know what I am doing—the market is picking up.”

The sale is likely to add some fuel to debate over whether direct for-sale-by-owner deals, known as FSBOs in the trade, are workable in the higher end of the Manhattan market, where many brokers try to hold the line on commissions and resist discounting.

There have been a handful of extremely expensive sales that closed in the last few years, without the help of broker. In 2007, Edgar Bronfman Jr., the chief executive of Warner Music Group, sold a townhouse on East 64th Street for $50 million without a broker. Last month, a townhouse on East 69th Street off Fifth Avenue was sold for $48 million, also without a broker commission.

ForSaleByOwner.com was founded in 1999 and sold to Tribune Co. in 2006 in the midst of the real-estate boom. Mr. Sambrotto left the company when it was sold, and in 2007 paid $2 million for a second-floor apartment at the Lion’s Head, a successful condominium conversion where buyers lined up for a chance to buy in 2005.

Mr. Sambrotto confirmed the details of the transaction with Mr. Buckler as the broker. He said he is still active in real estate and still believed in owner sales and discounted commissions.

Looking to move his family to the suburbs, he said he carefully staged his apartment for sale himself, and put it on the market. But after using a mix of websites to publicize his apartment, he said he had only “middling success” and switched to a broker because many buyers were so reliant on brokers.

“The apartment market in Manhattan was tightly controlled by agents,” he said. “So many buyers don’t even bother to do a search online.”

Now Mr. Sambrotto said he plans to use his condo-selling experience with a new sale-by-owner website, USRealty.com, that he plans to launch in a few weeks after a non-compete agreement expires. Owner-sellers on the site will have the option of offering commissions to brokers who bring in buyers.

Matt Brown, director of business development for ForSaleByOwner.com, said selling without a broker “is definitely not for everybody.”

“It is a time-intensive process that can save you a ton of money,” he said. But even so, “In the high-end market the sellers might not have the time to dedicate to selling” their homes themselves, he said.

Bruno Ricciotti, a founder and principal broker at Bond, had a different perspective. “FSBOs are a significant source of leads for us,” he said, since brokers are trained to use the owner listings to sign up new customers.

After looking for houses across the region, Mr. Sambrotto said he and his wife had decided to stay in the city, and to buy a second home on the East End of Long Island.

What to Expect in 2012

According to TREB, prices will continue to grow in 2012.  TREB’s Market Watch publications now include an MOI (Months of Inventory) indicator, which shows how long it would take to sell all actively listed homes, on average, assuming an unchanged level of sales and no additional homes being listed. It is calculated by dividing the 12-month moving average of active listings by the 12-month moving average of sales.  A shrinking MOI is an indication of a tightening market with fewer listings, ultimately creating competition among buyers and rising prices.

The average MOI was 2.3 months over the last 2 years, according to TREB.  During years 2000 through 2007 (leading up to the recession) it was 3.0 months.  “The low months of inventory over the past two years resulted from very strong sales relative to the number of homes listed.  In 2011 in particular, there was a shortage of listings in the GTA.  We continue to experience tight market conditions and considerable upward pressure on the average selling price,” said TREB President Richard Silver.

TREB expects the average price to continue rising in 2012 by approximately 4-percent to around $485,000 based on the current tightness of the market and the continued positive affordability thanks to low mortgage rates.  A more moderate price increased compared to the 8-percent spike in 2011.

January 2012 So Far

The results of the first two weeks of January are in.  Already, we’re seeing increases and the year has barely begun.  GTA Realtors reported 1,506 sales during the first two weeks of 2012, representing a 6-percent increase compared to the same period in 2011.  New listings were also up, by 3.7-percent, which could be a sign of a balancing market but not quite yet, as the market continues to lean toward sellers’ market conditions.

The average price for the first two weeks was $444,473, an 8.5-percent increase compared to the same period of 2011.  Can’t wait to see what the rest of 2012 brings!

November 2011 Market

According to the Toronto Real Estate Board’s Market Watch, the Fall market  continued to display vitality throughout the month of November.  GTA transactions were up 11-percent from November 2010, from 6,384 to 7,092.  As well, new listings were up 14% year over year.  The average price was $480,421, a 10-percent increase year over year.

It is expected that the New Year will bring with it a more balanced real estate market, with more listings entering the market hopefully stabilizing the fast growth pace of average prices experienced so far in 2011.

Year over Year Overview

2011 2012 % Change
Sales 7,092 6,384 11.1%
New Listings 9,786 8,586 14.0%
Active Listings 15,551 15,813 -1.7%
Average Price $480,421 $437,494 9.8%
Average DOM 29 34 -14.9%

GTA Condo Sales in Q3 2011

Condominium sales in the GTA were responsible were about a quarter of all resale transactions in Q3 this year. This is expected to increase to even more in the upcoming year. Not surprising, considering there are new condo buildings going up on almost every other block!

GTA reported 5,770 condo apartment transactions in Q3 2011, a 24% increase compared to Q3 2010. The average selling price was $333,352 which represents a 9% increase from the same period last year. Condominium apartment completions have been high so far this year. Usually, by the time these projects are completed, investors’ and owners’ needs change causing them to sell or rent, which could account for a large number of the condo transactions.

According to Jason Mercer, TREB’s Senior Manager of Market Analysis, “The average annual rate of price growth remained strong in the third quarter, despite the upward trend in completions and active listings. This is because the pace of sales remained brisk, keeping sellers’ market conditions in place.”

           Condo Apartment Market Overview

2011

2010

Sales

Avg Price Sales Avg Price
Total TREB 5,770 $333,352 4,648

$306,134

Halton Region

88 $296,067 62 $255,024

Peel Region

875 $253,246 744

$229,831

City of Toronto 4,156 $356,182 3,298

$329,917

York Region

539 $319,399 445 $287,337
Durham Region 101 $201,503 84

$201,978

Other Areas 11 $272,455 15

$213,703

Click Here for the Full TREB Condo Market Report

September and October 2011: Strong Third Quarter!

Real Estate CartoonGTA Realtors reported 7,658 transactions through the Toronto MLS system in September 2011, representing a 25% increase compared to September 2010. In the first three quarters of 2011, we have seen 70,588 real estate transactions, a 2.6% increase compared to the first three quarters of 2010.

However, the shortage of listings experienced so far this year has improved only slightly. Competition continues between home buyers, leading to even higher home prices—by close to 10% year-over-year. October 2011 witnessed 3,477 transactions during the first two weeks, an increase of 20% compared to the same period last year. The average selling price for the first two weeks of October was $475,743, a 7.5% year-over-year increase. Thankfully, the interest rates are still at a record-low, helping to balance out the high prices.

All in all, this year has thus far been the second best year for sales under the current TREB market area. As the market becomes “better supplied”, we should see a more balanced market in 2012. So far in October, we’re already seeing more listings—a 21% increase in new listings compared to the first two weeks of October 2010 beat the growth of sales for the same year-over-year comparison by 1%.

Based on reports from the Toronto Real Estate Board.

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