People Lighting Sparklers for the Holidays

The Importance of Home for the Holiday Season

Happy Holidays from the Staff at Home Junction! There is a popular saying for the Holidays that reads, “At Christmas, All Roads Lead Home.” That famous phrase was coined years ago by Marjorie Holmes, a newspaper columnist and author of 134 books. Of course, you can substitute that saying for any holiday. But in December, it definitely has a special meaning.

That quote also has significance for anybody involved in the real estate profession. In fact, real estate agents and brokers might take special pride in the fact that it is their business to help people find a home where they can journey down that road and spend time with their families.

According to Statista, since 2016, more than 6 million homes on average have been sold EVERY year in the US. That’s quite a few people and families searching (with the assistance of a real estate agent), financing and closing on a home. That’s also an enormous amount of people moving into a new place of residence. Maybe a single family home, townhome, or a condo. Doesn’t matter.

Hopefully that home acquisition process was completed in time for the major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or any other important day they observe. Because at that point, these families get the unique opportunity to celebrate these festivities under a new roof. A house they worked hard to achieve.

Not only do they wrap gifts and exchange them. They decorate that precious home, to celebrate the significance, joy and importance of their domicile during the holidays as well. Yes, as Perry Como used to sing in that song written back in 1954, “There is No Place like Home for the Holidays.” And for home buyers this year, there is definitely No Place like their New Address for the Holidays.

For all you real estate agents and brokers out there, take a minute to pause and think about the significance of what you helped these families accomplish. (Not only this year, but in years past). Let’s also not forget the mortgage brokers, bankers, appraisers, home inspectors, title companies, technology companies, real estate market data aggregators etc., involved in the transaction as well.

Give yourselves a pat on the back. No one can argue, a new place to live is quite a gift for a family, perhaps the perfect gift. As that TV curmudgeon Andy Rooney once said, “One of the most glorious messes in the world is the mess created in the living room on Christmas Day.” Of course, all that wrapping paper will be gone the next day. But the joy of living in that house will last year-round.

From the staff at Home Junction, we wish all of our clients, family and friends a very happy and merry holiday season this year!

Family Moving into New Home with Sold Sign in Yard

Year-End Review: Best Cities for the Real Estate Market [2019]

The housing market is always a hot topic. As the year comes to an end, it is the perfect opportunity to look into how the 2019 real estate market performed across the country. Since the 2008 housing market crash and recession, the United States has steadily improved. With a stronger job market, lower interest rates, and increased population growth in major cities, housing demand has grown over the years. Though some worry of a real estate cooldown in the coming years, the market proved to be strong and steady in 2019.

After an analysis of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, we have calculated the best cities for real estate from 2019. Read on to see 2019’s ten hottest real estate markets.

Jump to section:

Hottest Real Estate Markets →
Takeaways & Methodology →

The 10 Hottest 2019 Real Estate Markets

 

City of Washington, DC

Washington, DC

  • Median Days on Market: 35
  • Median List Price: $625,000
  • Median Income: $85,203
  • Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.6
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8%
  • Population Growth Rate: 1.5%

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City of Austin, TX

Austin, TX

  • Median Days on Market: 223
  • Median List Price: $435,000
  • Median Income: $71,543
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.0
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
  • Population Growth: 1.8%

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City of Charlotte, NC

Charlotte, NC

  • Median Days on Market: 41
  • Median List Price: $327,000
  • Median Income: $60,764
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.7
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
  • Population Growth: 1.8%

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City of Seattle, WA

Seattle, WA

  • Median Days on Market: 53
  • Median List Price: $679,950
  • Median Income: $93,481
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.4
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3%
  • Population Growth: 2.8%

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City of Denver, CO

Denver, CO

  • Median Days on Market: 35
  • Median List Price: $515,000
  • Median Income: $$68,799
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 7.3
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
  • Population Growth: 1.8%

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City of Columbus, OH

Columbus, OH

  • Median Days on Market: 38
  • Median List Price: $182,900
  • Median Income: $52,971
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.5
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
  • Population Growth: 1.1%

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City of Nashville, TN

Nashville, TN

  • Median Days on Market: 53
  • Median List Price: $407,400
  • Median Income: $60,324
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.1
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.6%
  • Population Growth: 0.9%

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City of Atlanta, GA

Atlanta, GA

  • Median Days on Market: 63
  • Median List Price: $364,948
  • Median Income: $55,881
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 5.8
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.9%
  • Population Growth: 1.9%

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City of San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

  • Median Days on Market: 84
  • Median List Price: $1,349,000
  • Median Income: $112,376
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 8.3
  • Unemployment Rate: 2.3%
  • Population Growth: 1.0%

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City of Portland, OR

Portland, OR

  • Median Days on Market: 71
  • Median Income: $73,097
  • List-Price-to-Income Ratio: 6.5
  • Unemployment Rate: 3.5%
  • Population Growth: 1.4%

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Millennial Couple Buying First Home in 2019

2019 Housing Market Takeaways

This last year, the Millennial generation was the driving force behind the 2019 housing market. According to the 2019 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report, older and younger Millennials made up 37% of homebuyers in 2019, with the Boomer generation close behind at 32%.

The Millennial influence on the housing market is expected to increase in coming years as they encounter more stable jobs with increased incomes and begin to grow their families. For those under 63, the reason for home buying was the desire to own a home of their own. For those over 63, home purchases were due to wanting to be closer to friends and family and looking to downsize for retirement.

While large cities will continue to see population growth, 2019 also began to see the shift in people moving more frequently to smaller cities with more affordable housing options. Homebuyers in 2019 were interested in finding affordable homes in smaller metro areas near a strong job market. There was also an emphasis on living in areas with appealing amenities such as shops and restaurants, recreational activities, and school systems.

So, what’s to come in 2020? Stay tuned for our 2020 housing market predictions to learn more about the real estate forecast for the next year and beyond.

Methodology

Home Junction scaled 6 variables for the 50 largest U.S. metro areas and combined them to form a score for determining the best cities for 2019 real estate. Variables include:

  • Median Days on Market and Median List Price calculating the median days on the market and list price throughout 2019 using Home Junction real estate data.
  • Median Income from Statista indicating median household income of the top 25 most populated US cities from most recent 2018 data.
  • Price-to-Income Ratio demonstrating the ratio between median list price and median household income.
  • Unemployment Rate highlighting most recent unemployment rate by city from the Bureau of Labor Statistics database.
  • Population Growth Rate indicating the population growth from the United States Census Bureau 2010 Census Data to 2019 projected populations.

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Ways to Attract Homebuyers with School Boundary Data Header

Ways to Attract Homebuyers with School Boundary Data

A real estate agent’s ability to show school boundary data can have a significant impact on home buyers… and their status as a resource in their target neighborhoods. Consider these statistics from a recent survey by Realtor.com:

  • 91% of home buyers with children said school boundaries were important or very important to them
  • 73% of home shoppers overall said school boundaries were important to them
  • Younger buyers, even without children, ages 18-34 years old, said school boundaries were a major factor for them

Naturally, people with children will be concerned about local schools. The key issue here though, is where are they going to find information about those boundaries and other relevant school data? For a local agent to add this information to their website is an effective way to gain prominence in a local marketplace. School boundary information affects all buyers. As you might imagine, that is a big task.

One challenge is that school boundary data changes. As the number of students attending a school change, or a new school is built, those boundaries will shift. In addition, those boundaries are going to be different for different grade levels. Elementary, middle and high schools will all have different parameters. Lasty, school attendance zones can shift between districts. To sum it up, keeping up with all these changes can be quite a challenge.

Then you have the school data itself. The location of the school, contact information, principal’s name, enrollment numbers, student/teacher ratios and other key information that parents want to know. Then, there is the added benefit of school information that has an impact on the overall marketplace. For example, a home located in a good school district will generally have a higher value than other districts. All home shoppers, not just those with children, will want to know this information.

In addition, a home located in a neighborhood with good schools will also do better in weathering market downturns which will inevitably take place over time. A home shopper will be relieved to know that even though they are paying X price for a property in one community, if the market dips in home prices, their property will probably be less affected than other neighborhoods. Then there is another factor that can be comforting for any buyer.

Things happen. Perhaps a couple looking for a home is worried that one of them might need to relocate in the near future because of a promotion or change in employers. An agent with relevant market data can point out how the overall school district or local schools will have a positive impact on resale value. Not only on resale value, but also on selling time frames. An agent with local market data can show how homes in this neighborhood tend to sell quicker than in other markets.

We all know Schools are a big factor in any real estate equation. Unfortunately, keeping current with school boundary data can be very challenging without the right tools.

Utilizing School Boundary Data Available from National Aggregators

Fortunately, in this era of big real estate data, there are real estate data providers such as Home Junction that can provide this information to brokerages and individual agents. Agents can simply add a school data API which will feed their website with all the relevant school information a parent would want to see.

An API (Application Programming Interface) is just a few snippets of computer code that can be inserted into the structure of a website to provide this information. The agent can decide where they want this data to show. They can show this data in one section of their website called “Information About Local Schools.” They can display this data alongside each individual listing. They can promote this information in their “About Us” page, which home shoppers will review when looking for an agent.

We live in a visual age. People want to see information quickly. Images and videos are very popular with web visitors. So, a savvy agent would also integrate this boundary information into a map-based application as well. Show properties pulled from the local MLS on a map and then display schools on that same map. Use a feature that filters school by a distance radius.

In terms of marketing, providing this school boundary data gives an agent a big edge in their marketplace. Promote this information in direct mail pieces. Post a note about this information on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.

Same goes for emails. Use this school boundary data information as a way to generate email subscribers. Let your prospects know when there is a change in local schools. Or, use this data to point out how homes in a neighborhood with strong schools are selling quickly or at a higher than average levels.

An agent can point this information out in handy charts that condense the data into an easy to comprehend visual displays. Again, very powerful visual assets for any website. When it comes to listings, how impactful would it be for an agent to make a presentation to a homeowner and point out all the different ways they will promote the value of their property in relation to local schools? Any homeowner would love to see this extra effort (and powerful strategy) to promote their property.

The value of a school district and individual schools is nothing new. They have been an important factor in the real estate business since the first school was ever built. However, the ability of a local real estate agent to display vital school boundary data has changed dramatically. Now by teaming up with a data aggregator, an agent can become the local school expert and resource on this key neighborhood amenity. This allows them to compete with the large mega-portals for leads.

There’s your lesson for today. Add school boundary data to your website and immediately go to the head of the class.

How to Use a Real Estate API for Positive Online Reviews Header

How to Use a Real Estate API for Positive Online Reviews

A real estate market API can be a powerful tool in helping agents generate positive reviews in the 21st Century. Why is this important? Because in case you haven’t noticed, online reviews are the new referrals (don’t get us wrong, traditional referrals are still super valuable). But check out these statistics from BrightLocal:

  • 85% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal referrals.
  • 73% of consumers said they trust a business more if they have favorable reviews.
  • 57% will tend to visit a business’ website after reading a positive review.

When it comes to the real estate business, these numbers are incredibly significant.

First of all, those little remarks, maybe just a few sentences or two, on a website such as Yelp, Facebook or Google can have a major impact on a consumer’s decision-making. Just like a referral letter or phone call. Second, the research shows, people believe and trust those reviews. They carry weight in the mind of today’s online consumer. And we know, most consumers today start their real estate searches online. Thirdly, very importantly, if an agent has a positive review, it is very likely a consumer will visit their website.

In this day and age of hyper-competition online for the attention of visitors, that is immensely important. It takes time, money, and effort to get consumers to visit your real estate website as opposed to the mega-portals or a competitors website.

But if an agent can generate some positive reviews online, those few little sentences could just be enough for today’s consumer to visit that agent’s website. And that could result in a request to ask for help in buying a $500,000 home or listing their $650,000 property. It’s a game-changer!

This is the digital era. People gather their information differently. When we shop on Amazon, most of us check out the reviews. When we go on TripAdvisor to find a restaurant, we look at those reviews. When we need auto repairs, we check out Google Places for reviews. Why not make sure your real estate company is winning the review game as well?

Real Estate Market Data API Provides Valuable Information

 

Here are a few tips and some strategies on how you can use a real estate data API to generate favorable online comments.

A real estate data API is basically a door to a warehouse filled with hyper-local data at the neighborhoods you are farming. The beauty of this tool is that the door resides on your website. An API (Application Programming Interface) is basically just a few lines of code provided by real estate data providers such as Home Junction. When you insert that snippet on your web pages, you can establish a feed for information that a home buyer wants (and home sellers would love to see used to market their home). That information includes:

• Recent Home Sales
• Trends in Home Prices
• Boundaries
• School Data
• School Attendance Zones
• Demographic Data
• Crime Ratings
• Cost of Living Information
• And much more…

When starting a conversation, this real estate market data can be a powerful tool to attract buyers and sellers and help them make a decision. A decision we all know is one of the biggest financial decisions a person will ever make in their lifetime. We also know people will appreciate any hard, statistical facts you can bring to the table to help with that decision. That information can also help later on when asking for referrals.

For example, you can still use your real estate market data API to ask for referrals after the sale. After a home buyer closes the deal and has the keys in hand, check back with them. Before you ask for them to submit an online review, experts say it’s smart to start with an open-ended question such as:

  • “How do you like your new home?”
  • “Was I able to help you find the home that you wanted?”
  • “As an agent, did I meet or exceed your expectations?”

Naturally, you want to make sure the customer was satisfied with your services before you ask for a review. Generating positive feedback helps “prime the pump” in the consumers mind to perhaps take the next step and agree to supply a review for an agent.

It’s also important to ask at the right moment. As anybody in sales knows, timing is everything. If the consumer is wrapped up at the moment moving into their new house, this might not be the best time to ask for a positive review. They are busy. Someone can tell you all day long they will write a review or provide a referral, but the timing might not be right and they could be distracted with other tasks. Make sure the window when you ask is a good one.

Next, be sure to make it easy to provide an online review. Send the customer a link. That link could be to your Google Places page or Yelp. When on Facebook, send the consumer a link on Messenger so they can conveniently click on it when they are on Facebook and easily post a review. Some experts suggest you use incentives (although the review sites do not like this). But as you know, many times you have to give something to get something.

Here’s an idea. Use the information supplied by your real estate data API to send a customer an update on market conditions. You could send them a chart showing how home prices have increased in their area. That is sure to put them in a favorable frame of mind as they realize you helped them buy at the right time. You can also use the Home Value Estimator Tool from Home Junction. Show your customers how their property now has an estimated increase in value after they purchased it. Who wouldn’t want to hear that good news!

When they receive that information, again, include a link asking for a positive online review. Because here’s one more statistic that is critical. Nearly 70% of customers who were asked to provide an online review said they would be willing to do it.

As we discussed, those online reviews are golden. They literally could be money in your bank. Don’t take them lightly. Be sure to get the right tools, such as a real estate data API, so you have every means at your disposal to get that coveted online referral.

Family Looking for a New House Online

10 Online Real Estate Marketing Tips to Boost Your Brand

For those wanting to stay relevant and visible in their market, having an online presence is crucial. With the majority of the home search process now happening online, setting up a strong digital real estate marketing strategy can help get more eyes on your brand and increase business. Read on to find real estate digital marketing tips and how to use certain data to help boost a brand and create buzz.

Real Estate Digital Marketing Ideas

 

Build a Website

An important step in reaching the right audience is building a highly convertible website that is mobile optimized and targets your niche. Using an internet data exchange (IDX) listing program for your website allows for great functionality by allowing your customers to search all available properties in the local MLS and adds SEO value to ensure your website is being found organically.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Install a lifestyle map application for interactive maps to allow searches by schools, demographics, and local businesses to increase visual appeal and engagement on site.
  • Make requesting more information easy with contact forms and clear calls to action.
  • Make properties easily shareable on social media.
  • Incorporate plenty of local images to evoke a connection with visitors right away.
  • Link to relevant moving-related services such as lawyers, movers, and home inspectors
  • Ensure your site is mobile-friendly, as majority of users use phone for home searches.
  • Cut down on clutter for an aesthetically-pleasing experience and ease of use.

Develop an Email Campaign

No matter the industry, an email nurture campaign is a valuable tool in connecting with new leads and staying relevant with past clients. Ideally, a well-rounded campaign will funnel potential clients through predetermined actions based on their buyer profile and previous engagements with you. Email campaigns can include materials such as recent real estate blog posts, new listings, and any upcoming events you may be attending or hosting.

Person on Social Media for Digital Real Estate Marketing

Engage on Social Media

Building a strong social presence is imperative for success, especially on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Share videos and photos of properties. Post tips for buyers and sellers, and highlight local hot spots to ensure there’s a constant stream of content on all platforms. Also, consider putting some of your marketing budget into social ads, which can be extremely powerful.

Establish a Niche

Buyers and sellers are looking for local experts in their price range, target neighborhoods, and property type. Focusing on a specific neighborhood, property type, and price range will allow for a more targeted real estate campaign that will reach the right audience.

Get Creative

Creating high-quality content about specific properties is great and takes very little effort. Live videos on social media, for instance, are a great way to showcase a property using just your cell phone. FAQs and tip videos are also a great way to keep people engaged. Buying and/or selling a home can be stressful, and providing answers to frequently asked questions or quick tips can build trust and help with a steady stream of video content. Additionally, virtual tours of a home are incredible pieces of content in a successful real estate digital marketing strategy.

Obtain Positive Reviews

More often than not, consumers turn to online reviews before making decisions about what to buy, what service providers to use, or who to work with when buying or selling a home. Ask every buyer and seller to leave a review. More positive reviews lead to more business and can help boost your local SEO performance.

Optimize for SEO

When buyers and sellers begin to search for a real estate agent, they will likely turn to Google. Showing up on page one for the top niche keywords that buyers and sellers are looking for is key. Proper website optimization, like ensuring title tags and meta descriptions are optimized, building pages for specific niche key terms, and regularly updating your blog can help with organic rankings.

Person Setting up Online Real Estate Marketing Ads

Run Remarketing Ads

Running remarketing ads on Google’s display network, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms will catch the people who have already visited a website or social page or watched a video. Consumers often spend weeks or months researching service providers, so staying top of mind is of utmost importance, and this can be accomplished with remarketing ads. Changing ads regularly to showcase new properties will keep people interested and engaged.

Use a CRM or Real Estate Marketing Platform

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a foolproof and organized way to keep notes on leads, current clients and properties. CRM software can help send automated emails for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions to keep leads and clients constantly engaged. CRM software can also be useful to sort clients by neighborhoods they’re interested in, the number of bedrooms wanted, price range, and more so you can quickly alert your pipeline of clients about new properties.

Alternatively, a real estate marketing platform can help automate things like customer lead management, monthly email reports, customized micro-websites, social media integration, and more to boost your potential for creating strong relationships and a successful real estate digital marketing campaign.

Write a Blog

A blog is a fantastic way to level-up your SEO, build a positive reputation online, and provide your clients with actionable advice on buying or selling a home or piece of property. A real estate professional’s digital marketing strategy is nothing without valuable content, whether it’s shared on your website or social media. Make sure that you regularly write content that buyers and sellers can come back to for answers to their most pressing real estate questions.

The key components to connecting with leads and contacts online are staying engaging and producing relevant material. If you provide your audience with the tools and information they need to move forward with their real estate journey, you will create a loyal and reliable network of people to help grow your business. Digital real estate is only growing in popularity, so be sure to establish your foundation sooner rather than later and have a strong presence online.

Local Real Estate Expert Showing Couple Around Neighborhood

Becoming an Expert on Your Local Real Estate Market

Becoming an expert in your local market can set you apart from everyone else in the world of real estate. Buyers and sellers want to work with someone who is knowledgeable and familiar with the area, and their confidence in your expertise can make or break a deal. Read below to find different ways to learn your market and become a respected local real estate expert, from getting involved in the community to using real estate data.

How to Become a Local Real Estate Expert

 

Where You Live

This is an easy start to becoming a local real estate expert – use your own in-depth knowledge of where you live as the base for your local expertise. As a resident of your own area, you already know the ins and outs of where you live. Buyers trust an authentic approach, and having your own history with an area gives buyers reassurance that you know what you’re talking about. Your personal experience can give you a genuine edge when selling in your community.

Town Council Meetings

Attending town hall meetings give you great insight into the community and changes taking place. While these meetings might not be the most exciting part of becoming a local real estate expert, they help you get a more comprehensive look at the ares. From schools and new businesses to potholes and construction, town council meetings address many topics your clients will be affected by. Your presence will also prove your commitment to being part of the local community.

MLS Data

Whether you’re local to the area or not, familiarize yourself with the market by studying local MLS data. Research trends such as median sale prices, average time on market, and available property types. Use this information to know what to expect in the area and become a neighborhood specialist. Once you know the data, decide on a niche to focus on, such as price range or property type, to become a true local expert.

Young Couple Enjoying Local Neighborhood Amenities

Map of Local Amenities

A neighborhood helps sell a house, and the local amenities help sell a neighborhood. Map out all the local amenities that make living in the area an enjoyable experience. From popular parks to the favorite neighborhood cafes, these amenities make your area unique. Use this knowledge for great talking points in-person and build your online engagement by providing a real estate map widget to visualize points of interest that make your area special.

Homeowner Associations

Connect with local HOAs to brand yourself as a neighborhood expert. Taking the time to learn the rules and regulations and to attend meetings proves you are invested in the neighborhood. In addition to the time investment, you will gain valuable information on what current homeowners are interested in and what issues may be present. Bonus points if you help actually find solutions for local neighbor problems and prove your dedication to the local community.

Giving Back

Nothing wins the hearts of the local community like the act of giving back. Realtors can buy and sell homes all day, but you can set yourself apart by investing back into the community. If you care about the local area, they will care about you in return. Help organize simple events such as book drives and fundraisers or sign up to volunteer with local groups to help make the community a happier and better place for everyone.

Facebook Groups

Joining local Facebook groups are a great way to understand the real-time happenings in the local area. While we mentioned town council meetings as a way to connect, Facebook groups include more voices and at a more frequent pace. These groups can also help you learn about potential new listings on the market. Don’t use this as a marketing tactic, but instead contribute to conversations and build relationships with community members through this forum.

Real Estate Agent Meeting with Mature Couple

Demographics

Knowing the local demographics will help you properly brand yourself, connect with the community, and know who your clients are. If potential leads feel you do not connect with the local community and the social climate of the area, they may not trust in your expertise. Constantly stay in the loop for any community developments that may affect the demographics of the area and know your audience. Look for things such as average age, income, and family status to know who you may be working with.

Content for Your Real Estate Blog

Use your website to produce a real estate blog that shares insights into the community. Show you are a local real estate expert by writing articles on local events, community developments, and even simple tips on how to enjoy the area. Find the right posting schedule for yourself and make sure you are constantly adding fresh content to your site. Once blogs are live, share the links on social media and in your newsletter to increase visibility and engagement.

Area Businesses

Building relationships with businesses in your area is an important step in becoming a local real estate expert. Create partnerships with local businesses that will benefit your clients to give your clients plenty of resources and help build the local economy. Feature these partnerships on your website for an easily-accessible guide to which services to use, where to eat, and what to do to increase user experience, boost visibility for local business, and improve your local reputation.

Understanding how to study the real estate market in your area is the main step in becoming a local real estate expert. It takes more than just buying and selling houses to be part of the community, and putting in the extra effort to study data and involve yourself in the community will go a long way. Not only will you be helping yourself be the local real estate expert, but you will also be an incredible resource for clients and a big factor in the betterment of the area.

Real Estate Agent Meeting with Client

Using Listing Leader for Customer Preferences & Interests

After a real estate agent sends out an email campaign to prospects, wouldn’t be great if they had a crystal ball into what the recipients were thinking? Now with a program called Listing Leader you can. Listing Leader is not a crystal ball. It’s a software program developed by Home Junction. But that program can provide deep analytics on how your prospects react to an email campaign. Deeper analytics than your standard email statistics.

Let’s start with an overview. As we mentioned in a recent blog, Listing Leader is an automated real estate marketing program. It helps agents follow those important DRIP marketing strategies by automatically sending out email messages to prospects on a regular basis. As you may know, DRIP campaigns are super-effective on big ticket sales where there may be a long lead time.

With those types of sales, like homes sales or listings, it’s critical that a business keep constant top-of-mind awareness with their prospects. This way, when their prospect is ready to make a decision, the business is prevalent in their minds. As we explained, Listing Leader goes one step further in the DRIP process.

The program not only sends out regular emails with listings that a prospect has expressed an interest in, but also with current information supplied by a real estate market data API. That data can include Recent Home Sales, Trends in Home Prices, Inventory Updates, etc.

This constant flow of current market data will help educate prospects about current conditions.  The data can also persuade prospects to act if they see trends moving in their favor (or if they see they need to make a decision now, before they miss out on opportunities). That’s a powerful tool –  one that can send out emails on a scheduled basis for agents and pack that email with powerful, compelling content.

Real Estate Agent Showing Family a Home

How to Optimize Email Campaigns with Listing Leader

Listing Leader goes one step further than your classic email campaign. With a regular email campaign, an agent can see the standard data such as how many people opened the email and how many people clicked on links in the email. Perhaps those links go back to a particular listing or an informational page.

However, with Listing Leader, when prospects clicks on those links and starts exploring listings on the agent’s website or microsites created for certain neighborhoods, the program gathers tracking data about those prospects. In this manner, an agent can gain incredible insight into their activity. Say for example, agent Sam uses Listing Leader to send out an email to his prospects. That email contains new listings but also current real estate market data.

Prospect Jane receives the email. She notices in the real estate market data that average home prices are starting to increase in a neighborhood where she has viewed several houses. Jane really wants to move into that neighborhood. The community has great schools. It’s close to Main Street. There is a big park nearby. Jane clicks on links in the email and starts exploring listings and other information. She goes back a few times in one day. She returns every day for a week. Obviously, Jane is a hot prospect. The data shows, she could be ready to make a decision.

Now, an agent might have a hundred prospects in their database. But with all the duties a typical agent has in a day, they obviously can’t reach out to all of their prospects every minute of the day. They need to prioritize. The smart strategy is to focus on those prospects lower in the sales funnel, closer to an actual sale. Listing Leader can help sort those prospects into different stages and help agents focus on the ones who need the most attention and are more likely to close a deal.

As the saying goes: time is money. An agent only has so much time in a day. The more effective agents obviously do a better job of managing their time. You want to be able to maximize your efforts into activities that produce the most revenue. There is no paycheck coming in otherwise.

Listing Leader is a valuable tool that can help agents maximize their time and focus. The program creates emails automatically with listings and adds important and appealing real estate market information. Then, the program’s back-office tracking system helps identifies which readers are more likely to result in an immediate sale – all for a very affordable monthly rate, by the way. Contact us or call 858-777-9533 to find out more information about this powerful, data driven marketing tool and find out how Listing Leader will make your life easier and your sales focus more efficient.

Key to Effective DRIP Campaigns Real Estate Market Data Header

The Key to Effective DRIP Campaigns: Real Estate Market Data

Real estate market data can help agents bust through the email clutter when it comes to creating effective DRIP campaigns. Here’s why that is so important today: According to recent data, 293.6 billion emails were sent out in 2019, and 99% of consumers check their email every day.

Now you might ask, how can that be? We still have a couple months to go in 2019. To clarify, that’s the number of emails that are sent out DAILY. That amount is truly staggering. It’s expected to grow to 347 billion daily in 2023. Here are a few other email-related facts that might boggle your mind as well:

  • The average office worker opens 120 emails per day
  • Marketers using segmented email campaigns note as much as a 760% increase in revenue
  • More that 50% of US users check their personal emails more than 10 times a day
  • 93% of B2B marketers use email
  • 59% of B2C marketers state email is their biggest ROI source
  • 5 out of 10 emails are spam

It’s easy to see that consumers today are slammed with incoming email campaigns. The news is not all negative, however. According to research, consumers like email with about 99% of consumers checking their email every day. Therefore, the average real estate agent has a challenge ahead of them.

So, how do you get consumers to read your real estate emails? And how do you maximize the efficiency of your DRIP email marketing strategies?

Real Estate Market Data for DRIP Campaign Key Content

Most agents know DRIP campaigns can be a very effective way to keep in front of prospects and existing customers. A DRIP campaign is a direct marketing tactic used for lead nurturing by sending information to prospects over long periods of time to guide them through the marketing funnel.

These automated types of campaigns are distributed on a consistent basis and were traditionally used with direct mail using snail mail. But now that email has become such a prominent delivery system in our daily lives, it is the most commonly used format for DRIP campaigns.

When it comes to big ticket items with long sale-cycles, such as homes for sale or listings, a DRIP campaign is essential. An agent absolutely must stay in front of prospects on a regular basis. People don’t buy homes or sell homes every week. But when they do, you want to be in front of them. You certainly don’t want a competitor to come in at just the right moment and take that prospect away. Especially if you have spent a considerable amount of time marketing to them.

As you can see from the numbers above, persuading consumers to see your email can be quite the challenge. That’s where you need more than fluff to succeed. That’s where an automated real estate marketing program, such as Listing Leader, can play a big role in getting those emails opened and maintaining top of mind awareness.

Person Checking Email at Work

How Big Real Estate Data Helps

Here’s the key: this is the era of big data. Big real estate data. Agents now have the ability to feature hyper-local real estate market data on their own websites. Consumers don’t need to go surfing all over the web to find trends in Property Sales or School Data (or turn to those mega real estate portals). An agent can now provide all that information… on their own website. And they can provide information about local market conditions and trends in an email campaign.

In fact, with Listing Leader, the program will not only send out an email on a pre-scheduled, consistent basis, it will also provide readers with updates and current real estate market data. If someone is looking for a home, they are going to be very, very interested in seeing in which direction the market is going.

Are home sales slowing down? Are home prices picking up? What are the median prices? Average days in inventory? Etc. With a purchase the size of a house, those trends are extremely important to consumers. Because of that, those emails should have a very high open rate.

What’s even better, for those consumers to read about local market conditions, they have to return to the agent’s website (or micro-sites that can be created for specific neighborhoods). That creates a great lead nurturing opportunity. Maybe a phone call. If anything, it also helps build brand recognition and implants in the consumer’s mind that this agent truly possesses hyper-local knowledge about the neighborhoods they are farming.

Use Real Estate Market Data for Social Campaigns, Too

In this age where social media is such a dominant force, the DRIP strategy can be applied to this medium as well. (And, what’s even better, social media is FREE). But just like email, there are a massive number of social media posts out there all battling for the attention of consumers. It’s certainly not a vacuum. Other marketers, including competing real estate firms, love to reach out to prospects on social media as well.

As the old saying goes, constant repetition yields results. Listing Leader can send out pre-programmed, automated social media posts on a regular basis. And more importantly, it can supply real estate market data in those social media posts. That’s the powerful real estate market data that will catch the attention of people looking to invest in a $500,000 home or contemplating the sale of their $1 million-plus property.

The incredible benefit of real estate marketing automation today is that at this point in time, it is not very expensive. An agent doesn’t need to hire a programmer to create an automated program. They don’t need to hire an editor to fill those emails and social media posts with content. There are companies out there, such as Home Junction, that have developed software programs which already provide automated real estate marketing services. At an incredibly low monthly rate.

This is the 21st century. There are tools out there that can help agents stay engaged with their customers. But the competition for people’s attention is fierce. By combining hyper-local real estate market data with automated tools and sending out consistent DRIP emails and social posts, an agent can rise above the fray and provide prospects with information they want, need and will read.

Real Estate Map API Helps Agents Highlight Key Amenities

When an agent adds a real estate map search widget to their website, in a way it’s like adding another person to their team to help them increase sales and listings. As a real estate agent once pointed out, you can always change a house, but you can’t change a neighborhood.

Every neighborhood has its high points. Great restaurants. Fun parks. Popular golf courses. Those points of interest can play a major influence on a home buyer’s decision. After all, if you don’t like the paint in a living room, or if the kitchen cabinets look dated, that can be changed. But if the neighborhood has some great amenities, well, an agent can let a home buyer know they certainly don’t want to miss out on them. Time to make an offer on this property. (Conversely, if a homeowner has a property that needs renovations, an agent can point out how those neighborhood amenities can position that home in a better light).

Highlight a Neighborhood with a Real Estate Map API

So as an agent, how well do you sell the neighborhood? Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a software program that sold the amenities near a home for you? Home Junction offers one of the best real estate map search widgets on the market developed by our team. We are a real estate technology company with decades of experience in this vertical.

As you know, visuals have an impact. When it comes to amenities, showing those amenities alongside a map will have a major impact on home buyers. And, showing a homeowner how you are going to promote those amenities will certainly go far in convincing them to list with you.

In a recent article in Forbes about how agents sell their neighborhoods, you can see how those agents delighted in specific, unique peculiarities about their area that frankly, only people in tune with the community would know.

One pointed out their favorite bakery and their favorite pastry that is served there. Another pointed out how a convenient subway stop was right around the corner. Then there was the Zagat-rated restaurant down the street. Or, how about the active community center that schedules a bunch of fun events every year for everybody from children to adults.

All of those little details about unique restaurants, stores, fitness centers, community centers, etc. can add tremendous charm to a home. Those amenities add value to a home perhaps in need of repair. Those hotspots help justify a higher than average sales price. Those amenities can also be the item that generates multiple offers. For that reason, you don’t want to take the features of a neighborhood lightly.

Real Estate Map API from Home Junction

The Benefits of Real Estate Map Widgets for Neighborhoods

Add a real estate map search widget tool to your website. These widgets are basically snippets of code that can easily be inserted into any website. The real estate map search widget can then display a map on any page you want. The best part is, an agent can integrate that map with local MLS listings. In that way, an agent can show a home buyer, again visually on a map, all neighborhood amenities in relation to distance to properties for sale. In fact, the real estate map search widget can show polygons that display neighborhood boundaries as well. Let the neighborhood map sell the property for you.

Price Range

Perhaps the buyer was leaning toward one area, but could not find a property in their price range. When you show them other properties in their price range on the map, you can also point out all the amenities nearby. Paint the new properties in a way that mirrors many of the desirable traits of the other neighborhoods they were considering. Sure, ABC neighborhood might be the most popular. But if you look at XYZ neighborhood over here and these properties (on the agent’s website), there is a park within a 5-minute walk, there are two great restaurants just a quick Uber ride away and there is a popular coffee shop right next to the train station.

Shops & Restaurants

Another super convincing way to let your real estate map search widget do the selling is to point out brand names stores and restaurants. As we revealed in earlier articles, most agents know it has been demonstrated that the addition of a Starbucks, or a Whole Foods or similar national brands can boost home values. Even if these companies are not there yet, just the fact they are planning to build there is an indicator that this is an up and coming neighborhood.

Website Updates

We are approaching the year 2020. How modern is your website? Do you offer the latest and greatest tools to display market data and neighborhood amenities? In this age of Instagram, do you have plenty of visual tools that people today prefer? Consumers are swayed by these tools. They will also be attracted to the agents who offer them.

As we can see in the Forbes article, real estate agents love the unique amenities of their neighborhoods. Use a real estate map search widget on your website to help homebuyers fall in love with neighborhoods for the properties you are selling (and show potential sellers how you will use that tool for their benefit as well).

The Ultimate Home Appraisal Checklist for Home Valuation

What goes in to the home appraisal process, and how can you determine home value? Understanding the valuation of a home is incredibly important for all parties – from buyers to sellers to current homeowners. Read below for a home appraisal checklist to learn about the steps appraisers take for a home valuation and which appraisal factors come into consideration during the process.

What is a Home Appraisal?

Home appraisals are valuations of a home’s worth estimated by a fair and impartial state-licensed professional. These appraisals are used to determine the fair-market value of a home, mostly used by mortgage lenders to set the proper loan amount for new mortgages or refinancing. Home valuations are also helpful for buyers and sellers alike to ensure the contract price is appropriate considering all contributing factors such as condition of the home, neighborhood appeal, and comparable recent sales in the area.

While very similar to a home inspection in nature, home appraisals have the main focus of determining home value instead of simply identifying house features and issues.

Considered Factors in a Home Appraisal

When a home appraiser visits a home, they are looking for factors directly tied to the home. Features such as furniture do not play into the valuation of the home, but permanent features such as light fixtures and hardware do. Home appraisers inspect the details such as age, appliances, code violations, cracks, damages, doors, floors, foundation, landscaping, leaks, lighting, lot size, plumbing, roofing, square footage, walls, and windows. Other features home appraisers look at for a home valuation are:

Views from the home
Square footage of the home
Size of the property lot
Selling price of similar homes
Quality of natural light in the home
Overall condition of the home
Number of fireplaces
Number of bedrooms and bathrooms
Location of the home
Improvements and renovations
Finishing details in the home
Curb appeal
Condition of the basement
Addition of a swimming pool

Home Appraiser Looking at Local Housing Comps

The Importance of Comps for Home Appraisals

A large piece in a home valuation from an appraisal is the selling price of similar homes in the area. Those homes, known as comparables or comps, give the appraiser a baseline value for the house being appraised. Features such as size, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and location are important features that impact an appraisal, and enhancements such as cosmetic upgrades serve as secondary factors that enhance a home’s valuation.

Comps are incredibly important when knowing how to determine home value. To get this information, the appraiser will research 5-10 recently sold properties in the same area with comparable features such as size, number of bedrooms, and location. These comps are then analyzed to note similarities and differences with the home being appraised to estimate how the home is likely to be valued. If the appraised home has 4 bedrooms compared to a recently sold home in the area with 3 bedrooms, the appraised home will receive a higher value estimate for the additional feature.

Using a tool such as an automated valuation model (AVM) for home valuations in the area is an easy and efficient way for home appraisers to obtain this information for determining comps. A home value AVM allows appraisers to easily compare home values within one, simple tool. The Home Junction home valuation tool shares details about properties such as number of bedrooms and bathrooms and provides comparison charts for factors such as size, price, price per square foot, and age of the property. While a home valuation tool provides only an estimate, it is a great tool to include in the home appraisal process when figuring out how to determine home value against comps.

After an appraiser has taken all inspected home features into account and has evaluated how the property compares to local comps, they will calculate an estimated value of the home.

Woman Researching Home Values in Local Cafe

Home Appraisal Checklist

Of course, having a higher-valued home is the ideal outcome when it comes to appraisals. There are a few ways to increase the likelihood of a positive home appraisal. If you or a client are at the stage of needing a home appraisal, follow this home appraisal checklist to ensure the house makes the right impression and is valued appropriately.

Conduct Research

You can do an in-depth analysis of the home’s value by finding out the cost in recent home sales in the area. Look in to comparable property sales, research trends in the market and city, and do an economic analysis of the region through job statistics, major employers, affordability and market forecasts. This research will help determine what to expect from home valuation based on its appeal in the market, and help define a better baseline for comparisons.

Document the Changes Made

Write a comprehensive list of all the improvements made to the home that details as far back as possible. Give the file to the home appraiser as evidence of the maintenance, improvements, and renovations made as it may help increase the home’s value. This can include anything from a central air system installed 10 years ago, to new flooring and countertops just recently updated in the kitchen. Any upgrades that improve quality of living can make a large impact on value.

Improve the Home’s Exterior

Since the exterior is the first thing everyone sets their eyes on, try to keep it as appealing as possible. Mow the lawn, trim the shrubs, and do a bit of gardening if possible to improve your curb appeal. If necessary, take the extra steps to restain decks, refresh exterior paint, or power wash driveways and sidewalks to freshen up the outside of the house even further. If a home has a beautiful exterior, it usually gets a better appraisal value.

Person Mowing Lawn to Boost Curb Appeal for Home Appraisal

Know the Neighborhood

Make sure the home appraiser is aware of any recent improvements in the overall neighborhood. Perks like new or highly rated schools, parks, transportation improvements, shopping, or other amenities that benefit residents are worth mentioning. These changes can add significant value to the appraised home. If the appraiser is not a local resident, they might only know general area information, and pointing out more specific neighborhood data can improve home value.

Make a Few Minor Repairs

If there are any broken doors, windows, chipped paint, damaged tiles or loose shingles, take care of it. Switch out leaky bathroom faucets with shiny current versions. Make minor repairs and maintenance since any malfunctions or damaged items could reduce the home value. Evaluate if a big repair, like a roof replacement or foundation setting, is needed as it can blow up a real estate transaction. Making fixes before an appraisal makes the process easier for every party.

Prepare the Home

Though an appraiser does not look at furniture or decor, it is best practice to declutter and spruce up the home before the home appraisal. It helps to make an outstanding first impression. Clutter distracts from showing off the positive features of the property. Keep spaces open and organized, and try to create a neutral space with neutral wall paint. Just like with the exterior, having an appealing interior helps the appraiser to properly and positively assess the home.

Home appraisals are important for buyers, sellers, and current homeowners alike when figuring out how to determine home value. Appraisers keep an eye out for many different features to come up with the most accurate home valuation, and there are certain things homeowners can do to increase that estimate. By paying attention to comps in the area, improving the overall condition of the home, and being knowledgeable about local market and amenities, the home appraisal will go successfully and smoothly for all involved.

Real Estate Plugin Subscription Signup

Perks of Memberships for WordPress Real Estate Plugins

Did you know you can now add an array of exciting WordPress real estate plugins to an agent’s website for one low monthly fee? These plugins can offer an amazing advantage for brokers and agents. The subscription service gives them an array of tools to generate more leads, establish more credibility as THE local resource in their community and market themselves more effectively.

The Success of Membership Models

Let’s talk about the benefits of a subscription model. One of the best examples of this concept is with the most popular photo editing and illustration software companies on the planet – Adobe Photoshop. The company provides an incredible suite of products for graphic artists, photographers, illustrators, etc. Those tools allow users to do amazing number of functions that were unthinkable years ago. And that functionality gets better every year.

As an artist, ad agency, or anybody involved in art or photography projects, it is ideal to be able to use the full range of these various products. But as you can imagine with software this good, the price point can be expensive. So what Adobe decided to do is to offer their suite of products in a low-cost, monthly subscription model. Le magnifique! Suddenly, creative people now have access to a remarkable set of tools. This allows them to create a variety of breath-taking advertisements, photographs, animated clips, and more. The subscription model has opened up new doors and opportunities for the software company’s customers.

WordPress Real Estate Plugins with Different Functions

Now let’s apply that same model to the powerful WordPress real estate plugins offered by Home Junction. And let’s preface that discussion by first framing this model in the way that applies to real estate marketing – because by paying one low monthly fee, an agent can place these data-driven tools on their website.

The end result we’re looking for here is not some enhanced photograph or artwork. We’re talking about generating leads and brand awareness – features that could generate $1 million sales or listings for $750,000 homes. The rewards and potential return on investment are much, much higher. That’s the perspective to have when starting a discussion about these WordPress real estate plugins and the membership model.

Let’s also address implementation and ease of use. WordPress real estate plugins are basically packages of code created that can easily be added as new feature on a website. They are basically widgets you easily plug into your website’s structure. Because Home Junction has decades of experience in the real estate vertical, we know which products agents would love to add to their website. So we created them.

That’s the beauty of WordPress, the No. 1 content management platform in the WORLD. The developers of WordPress made a very smart move early on and opened up their platform to outside developers. That means that companies that specialize in specific industries, such as Home Junction and real estate, can develop an array of products that can be “plugged” into the WordPress system. The open platform resulted in the creation of an estimated 30,000 plugins that are now available. Just like any product, especially software products that you can’t actually hold in your hand, there are good ones and there are bad ones.

With a company such as Home Junction with years of experience developing websites and products for brokers and agents, you can count on us to provide reliable WordPress real estate plugins – products we also back up with excellent customer service. Subscribing to a monthly membership for these plugins gives real estate agents and brokers access to a number of tools to help boost client engagement, improve user experience, and increase leads.

Person Using WordPress Real Estate Plugins on Site

Home Junction Real Estate Plugin Membership Features

 

Home Value

Talk about a lead generation tool. We all know this widget put one major real estate portal on the map with their computer-generated home value estimates. Now, local brokers and agents can offer the same service. Our home valuation tool, technically known as an automated valuation model or AVM, provides a solid estimate of the value of properties based on a number of factors: recent homes sales, square footage, etc., somewhat similar to a formal CMA.

We also provide a plus or minus range for our estimates. Users can change and update the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. And, we go one step further and provide a snapshot on how a property relates other properties in a neighborhood based on factors such as Price for Square Foot, Age of the Property, Price and Total Square Footage. Homeowners love this tool. Buyers use it to. This Home Value Plugin provides a great opportunity for lead generation. As we said, one call from a million dollar listing or an eager and qualified buyer certainly covers the low subscription rate.

School Data

As we all know, Schools are a major concern for families. Probably one of the Top 5 factors they look at when buying a home. Be the agent who supplies relevant school data on your website. A handy filter lets you determine the distance surrounding a property and the schools within those boundaries. Use this tool to help rank on search engines for when families search for local school data.

Geo Farms

If you are going to be the go-to agent for a particular neighborhood or community, than what’s better than to have a plugin that provides an array of hyper-local information for that neighborhood. There are six tabs of hyper-local data. That data can include Recent Home Sales and Charts on Home Prices or Home Sales. Not for a county or a city or a zip code, but for that specific neighborhood. Very valuable. Very impressive.

New Homes

A large segment of the home-buying population likes to look at new homes as well. Why not offer them that information? Make an arrangement with the local builder. Or, maybe that buyer is turned off by new home prices and is now willing to look at existing home inventory. You certainly want to be a part of the process with this qualified prospect.

Pocket Listings

Another simple widget that allows you to feature properties that have not made it to the MLS yet or you want to use as featured listings. You don’t need to build a section of your website for Pocket Listings, there’s one already available off the shelf.

Agent Roster

This is an effective tool for brokers. Easily add new agents to this page complete with biographical and contact information and off they can go!

User Data

Want to know which prospects are the most active on your website? The ones most likely to make a decision soon? With this WordPress Real Estate Plugin you can see identify which visitors are returning to your website and checking out various listings. That’s obviously a major buying signal. Set up property alerts for them as well. You want to be sure and focus on these individuals and give them all the answers and support they need. These analytics are priceless!

IDX

Home Junction has extensive experience working with Multiple Listing Services around the country. As you may know, every MLS has different rules and different requirements for tapping into their data. Don’t fret. Home Junction knows how to work with them. We have IDX’s that can transfer data accurately and quickly with frequent updates. And we can work with the MLS to be sure their specific requirements are satisfied.

As you can see, that’s a highly relevant package of features for brokers and agents to help enhance their websites. Calls to action for lead generation can be added to every one of them. The features and data they supply can also be used for effective, attention-getting traditional, email, and social media campaigns.

These are the type of 21st Century, data-intensive features today’s agents need to use, and should be using to establish themselves as a true resource for their local markets and maximize lead potential. These WordPress real estate plugins, some of the best on the market, are now easily accessible in one affordable monthly membership package.