How to be a Tech-Savvy Agent by Using Real Estate Plugins Header

How to be a Tech-Savvy Agent by Using Real Estate Plugins

Real estate plugins are a strategy that agents in the 21st century might want to consider to target today’s home buyers and sellers. We are all familiar with the surveys that show people want to see these attributes in an agent:

  • Honest
  • Responsive
  • Local Expert
  • Networker
  • Negotiator
  • Friendly Personality

But here’s one more to add to that list – tech-savviness. The reason should be obvious. More and more consumers are plugged in when they search for or sell a home. In fact, the largest demographic of home buyers are now Millennials. We all know how plugged in they are. They were practically born with an iPhone attached to their ears. But certainly don’t discount the value of technology with Gen X and Baby Boomers. After all, Steve Jobs was a Boomer himself.

So, what can an agent do to establish themselves as “tech-savvy” in addition to displaying all those other attributes people want to see? The proof is in the plugins.

Real Estate Plugins Instantly Add Hi-Tech Features


Real estate plugins (also known as  widgets) are easy to add to a website. Plugins are a big part of WordPress websites and why this is the No. 1 content management platform in the world. There are an estimated 30,000 plugins available that people can use to enhance their websites and blogs.

Used to be some real estate agents would go deep on their own into high-tech. They would teach themselves programming to be able to add different features to their websites. But for most agents, “Whose got time for that?” The fantastic state of tech in 2020 is that many features have already been programmed by professionals with knowledge of the real estate business. In essence, all an agent has to do is pick them off the shelf.

But choosing the right plugins from the right providers is a skill required of any tech-savvy agent. Let’s face it. There are plenty of real estate software products out there. Choosing the right programs can be challenging. Consider Home Junction, where we have been creating real estate websites, software and plugins for the past two decades.

Below are just some of the plugins created by Home Junction that an agent can instantly add to their website:

School Data

Every home buyer is interested in this information…and as you know, school data is not just important to families, but to show buyers and sellers the enhanced value of a property in a popular school district and school attendance zone.

Recent Home Sales

Buyers and sellers also want to see what else is selling in the neighborhoods they are targeting.

Home Value Estimator

This is an incredible tool for generating traffic and leads. Sellers, for example, will constantly use this tool to see pricing trends in their neighborhood. For example in 2018, Home Junction clients with an home value estimator plugin on their websites experienced more than ONE MILLION requests for estimates. That’s a powerful magnet.

Geo Farms

Use a plugin to provide specific market data for the specific neighborhoods you are geo-farming, not just zip codes.

New Homes

A large segment of home buyers are interested in new construction. Provide it to them.

Pocket Listings

Offer a feature that shows those non-MLS properties for sale.

The great benefit of working with a reliable provider is that an agent can instantly add these features to a website with very little effort. Once they are added, be sure to promote these features continually with all marketing materials, on your About Us page, social media posts, email campaigns and even direct mail campaigns.

How Tech-Savvy Real Estate Plugins Help


Don’t just say you know about local schools, show them the plugin with the data. Let prospects know you have a tool, the Home Value Estimator plugin, that can give them an instant estimate on the value of their property after pulling data from several different sources. Homeowners can use this tool to constantly check how property values are trending in their neighborhood.

And, those machine-generated calculations are a draw to let consumers know, if you want a formal CMA with more detail, just give the agent a call. Promoting these plugins will establish in the minds of clients that “this agent is tech-savvy.”

Use Tech to Keep in Touch via Email on a Regular Basis


Here’s another tool to use to reinforce that tech-savvy image. As we mentioned, real estate buyers and sellers want an agent who is “Responsive.” But let’s face it, agents are busy. Why not use an automated marketing tool that sends out market updates by email on a regular basis and keeps you in contact with prospects?

That automated real estate marketing program can send out new listings that meet the criteria the buyers want. The program can also automatically send out  market updates on home sales and pricing trends in the specific neighborhoods they are interested in. Those constant, continual messages will create top-of-mind awareness, and again, impress prospects.

Speaking of responsiveness, one more note. More and more consumers, especially those Millennials, now use their mobile devices to search for homes. So be super sure your website is mobile-ready. On different devices, not just iPhones, but Androids and tablets as well. An experienced real estate website design firm can help you with that).

Bottom line: show off those high-tech tools.

Let prospects know that you are open to communicating with them via email or text. Ask them to connect with you on Facebook and LinkedIn. Be sure to show your social media followers plenty of interesting posts, with market data and updates, so you are posting something of value, not fluff (e.g., photos of cats playing the piano). Tech tools impress today’s prospects.

For agents, those tools are already created, sitting there on the shelf waiting for you to pick them up. Implementation literally only takes inserting a few lines of code on a page. Real estate data providers and technology companies, such as Home Junction, perform all the back-end work aggregating the data, maintaining and updating the software, etc.

This is the digital age. Make a digital move. Real estate plugins can instantly give agents the tools that show they are that modern, tech-savvy agent that today’s consumers prefer.

Need Help With Your Real Estate Data And Website Solutions? Get Free Consult To Find Out How Home Junction Can Increase Your Bottom Line
Real Estate Marketing Automation is Like a Robot on Your Team Header

Real Estate Marketing Automation is Like a Robot on Your Team

Real estate marketing automation technology in 2020 is definitely a tool that every broker and agent should examine to improve their business. Let’s face it folks, we are in the age of artificial intelligence, robotics and self-driving cars. There’s also robotic-type real estate plugins currently on the market to assist brokers and agents as well.

But first, let’s start with a little analogy. I bought my wife one of those robot vacuum cleaners recently for her birthday. You know, the device that looks like a giant disc and roams around your house vacuuming your floors. The clever little machine plots out the dimensions of a room and covers every inch, sometimes going over the same spot for extra cleaning. The robot vacuum can obstacles and stairs and knows to stay away from them. When its job is done, it returns on its own volition to the docking station to recharge. My wife loves it. It makes her life easier.

Now, here’s the point. There probably aren’t any robotic maids or butlers that will go around and perform all your house cleaning chores such as dusting, washing dishes, filling the washing machine, scrubbing the shower tile, etc. That’s a long way off. However, there are software programs and devices out there today that do a tremendous job with specific tasks.

As you know, this does not just apply to vacuuming. There’s software out there that measures your blood pressure on your watch, keeps tracks of all of your contacts and reminds you when to call them and now keeps your car within the lines on a highway. Very specific. Very helpful.

Real Estate Marketing Automation Programs


Now, there’s also real estate marketing automation programs that are available right now on the market to make an agent’s job easier and much, more effective. For example, once an agent builds up a large base of prospects, it can be quite a chore keeping in touch with all of them on a regular basis. It can be very difficult to juggle multiple clients by phone or in person. In fact, just about impossible.

Some experts say only 20% of agents keep in touch with prospects on a consistent basis. Agents are busy. They have showings, closings, open houses, marketing tasks, help with inspections, negotiations, research, meetings and a whole bunch of hand holding with buyers and sellers in between. In addition to that, they have lives. Families. Friends. Vacations. Parent-teacher meetings. Soccer games. Down time, etc., etc., etc. Wouldn’t it be helpful to have a sort of robot that could help you with some of your weekly real estate tasks?

That’s where real estate marketing platforms come in. There are tools that can take a large part of this burden off of your hands. We all know real estate agents, and in fact most business people, prefer to use email. It’s very effective. It’s quick. You can reach out to prospect any time of day or night. With real estate marketing automation tools, you simply load your prospects’ email addresses into the system, the properties they are interested in, and let the software do the rest.

Email Management

This platform for example, will not only send out updated listing information via email on a regular basis, but it will also provide a summary of market conditions. In essence, the software will manage DRIP campaigns automatically. Now that’s added value. That’s how to stay in touch with clients on a consistent basis. That’s how to send out tailored emails to catch their attention and give them personalized service they want from an agent.

There’s even more. Some programs include a “microsite” that is filled with in-depth hyper-local information every home buyer and owner wants to know. That includes real estate market data such as Recent Sales, Number of Homes Sold, Days on the Market, Changes in Property Values, etc. That’s powerful. That’s the type of local knowledge people like to see in an agent.

With real estate marketing automation, an agent is no longer pressed to scramble off emails at random, with perhaps hastily written messages. Instead, that agent (with the help of their “virtual robot”) sends out relevant listings and valuable market updates on a regular basis. Messages with value. Messages that come at a regularly scheduled time that prospects can depend on. Messages that keep that agent’s name in front of their clients.

Social Media Presence

Wait. There’s more that your automated assistant can do. Posting on social media is another major, tedious chore for brokers and agents. We all know the value and importance of these tools. Particularly since they are free. In fact, a study by the National Association of Realtors reported that 90% of agents plan to promote themselves on social media. But there is a cost associated with working social media: Your time.

Again, this is where marketing automation for real estate agents can be a tremendous help. You don’t have to try to think up ideas for your posts on Facebook, etc. You don’t even have to open up your accounts on Facebook, etc. to post the content. The real estate marketing software does it all for you! You just set the program to post valuable market information on your social sites on a regular, consistent basis. What a timesaver.

Not only that, what an effective way to keep your brand out there in the community and generate top-of-mind awareness. And what an effective strategy to show you are the agent with local knowledge and the detailed hyper-local data to back that up!


Now, a broker or agent might think, wow, something like that must cost a fortune. Well those robots you see in Neiman Marcus catalogs that roll around your carpet serving drinks to your friend can be quite expensive. But for specific, real estate marketing software, those costs have dropped tremendously. In this era of Big Data, adding local real estate market data for counties, cities, zip codes and even specific neighborhoods has also dropped considerably in price. We are in the decade of robotics and artificial intelligence. Real estate automated marketing automation is here now.

For agents who spend time rushing around town today, trying to complete several tasks, think how nice it would be if they had a robot out there to help with some of those items. Activities that could stay in constant contact with prospects and automatically generate inquiries and sales. Software that would free them up to fill more prospects into that sales funnel.

Like we pointed out with the robotic vacuum, there aren’t any robotic real estate agents out there right now (and will probably never exist because they can’t replace that human touch). But there are real estate marketing automation programs available right now that can take care of some very specific and important activities. Put them to work.

Note: Right now Listing Leader is running a special promotion of $39 month for its real estate platform. Check it out here.

5 Ways Real Estate Data Benefits Home Services Companies

From home security to flooring, the home services industry can gain a lot of knowledge from local real estate data. From anticipating future opportunities to identifying the best way to service current customers, home services companies can improve success by using real estate data in their business strategies to stay ahead of competitors. Read on to learn how you can use this information to improve the experience for both your company and your customers.

Using Real Estate Data Analytics for the Home Services Industry


Be Aware of Upcoming Opportunities

New developments, homes on the market, and sale trends are only a few things to keep an eye on when running a home services company. Using a real estate data API can help you stay one step ahead of your competitors by allowing you to anticipate any new jobs that may become available. A new apartment development may mean an influx in service requests, a new school zoning can change your area’s demographics, and home sales lead to new owners wanting to update their homes. All of these upcoming changes translate into opportunities to grow and improve your company.

Use real estate data to prepare for opportunities for future work. This can impact how you staff your company, set up marketing campaigns, and even diversify your offerings.

Man Offering Flooring Home Services

Diversify Your Offerings

Speaking of diversifying your offerings, real estate data can help your home services company identify areas of need for new services. For example, flood zone boundaries can indicate the need for flooring and mold removal services in an area. Or, a look at property attributes for a neighborhood can reveal older homes that may require roofing services. When researching your specific area, try to determine which services are lacking and how your company can step up to the plate. Then, hire reputable employees to create a well-rounded and skilled team to provide a range of services.

Being the first to diversify your home services offerings in your area can put you far ahead of competitors who have not yet addressed the needs of your current and future customers.

Create Engaging Content for Customers

With so many home services available to customers, it is easy to get lost in the sea of options. It is important to find ways to set yourself apart from the others with engaging and memorable content. Build a website that is visually appealing, offers a great user experience, and provides ample information. Real estate data can help you customize your site with location-specific information that makes you more than just a home services company, you become a resource. Use this information to create blogs and social posts that will leave readers feeling engaged and confident in your services.

If using WordPress for your home services site, using real estate WordPress plugins can help boost the visual appeal of your site and provide helpful, hyperlocal information to your visitors that will keep them on site for longer.

Home Services Contractor Discussing Home Plans with Couple

Know Your Demographics

To serve your customers, it’s best to know what their wants and needs are. Demographics in your area play an important role in what your market trends are. For example, if your service area has homeowners mostly made up of Generation X adults with high incomes, your home services will likely geared toward higher-end additions and renovations. On the other hand, an area with Millennial renters or new homebuyers making more budget-conscious options and focusing more on smaller projects. For both your company and customers, you don’t want to be over- or under-servicing an area.

Demographics from real estate data allow you to tailor your service offerings and prices to cater to the people you will be servicing. This information helps you understand the business you will be getting and ensures customer satisfaction.

Save Time with Automation

If you’re in the home services industry, you’re no stranger to how hectic it can be managing every moving part. With employees, appointments, leads, marketing, customer service, and general business needs, it can get overwhelming to do everything without a little bit of help. Using tools to automate certain aspects of your business can help streamline the process and give you time to focus on other things. Using an automated marketing tool can help you maximize referral marketing, manage leads, integrate social media, and stay on top of relevant real estate market information.

Automating your business saves you valuable time so you can focus on bettering other aspects of your home services company. A more efficient company means more opportunity for growth and success.

Staying up-to-date and involved in real estate trends can help home services companies tremendously. With the market growing more and more every day, taking any actions that set you apart from your competition can be the difference between success and failure. These real estate data tools are beneficial for anyone looking to grow their business, find areas of opportunity, and service their customers as best as possible. Use these tips to become the home services powerhouse in your area!

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Review Your Competition & Get a Free Review of Your Website

Now that we are in the new year and everybody has their goals established, it’s also a good time to conduct a major review. Not just of your website and marketing strategies. But your competitors. Since so many home buyers and sellers turn to the internet for information, the beauty of the web is that you can clearly see what your competition is doing to attract customers. You can also go on the other side of the country and learn what other real estate websites are doing to attract customers. It is always smart to search firms in highly competitive markets because as you can imagine, those firms are looking for any edge they can get.

How to Review Your Real Estate Competition


First, compile a list of competitors you want to research. Once you have your list created, create a list of specific questions, such as the following:

  • How does this website attract visitors?
  • What are their rankings on Google and Bing when you type in relevant search terms for your market, such as “Homes for Sales in XYZ Town”?
  • How are they ranking for more obscure keyword searches, such as “Golf Communities in ABC neighborhood” or “Homes for Sales in Desirable Acres Country Club”?
  • Do they run paid advertising campaigns on Google and Bing for target keywords?
  • What neighborhoods do they seem to target?
  • Which neighborhoods are they missing?

After you have your list of questions, check their website itself to see how they are marketing their services and providing information to their customers.

Questions to Ask When Analyzing Competitors’ Websites


Website Setup

What type of keyword related content are they posting on their website? For example, do they have an entire section dedicated to “The ??? Estates?” How is their website designed? What is their branding and logo like? Is it outdated or modern and appealing? Check the navigation buttons. Is it easy to find what you are looking for? How are their home listing displayed? Are the photographs large and appealing? Do they have easy to use photo galleries?

Available Information

What type of additional information do they offer about homes and neighborhoods? Do they offer School Data? School attendance zones? Neighborhood demographics? Cost of living information? Crime ratings? Boundary information? What sort of tools or real estate plugins do they use? Do they have charts on recent home sales for each neighborhood? Do they offer charts on trends in home prices for each neighborhood? Do they offer a Home Value estimate tool for each neighborhood? (And as a lead generation tool).

Lead Generation

How do they promote offers to provide homeowners with a CMA? What tactics are they using to generate leads? What type of call to actions do they use? Is their contact information easy to find? How well do they present themselves as real estate professionals? What do they cover on their About Us page? Check out their social media websites – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. How do they promote their social media icons on their websites to share listings and content? Are listings and content easy to email? What are they posting on their websites?

Tools for Competitive Analysis


Online Tools

There are tools you can use to evaluate competitors as well. Most tools offer a free limited evaluation of competitor real estate websites. SEMrush is one. They will let you look at data for a handful of sites for free. For more sites, there is a subscription fee. A bar that you add to your browser is another. If you have a large brokerage, it might be smart to pay the monthly fee to use one of these tools for an in-depth look at what your competition is doing. You can also use these tools to examine what other large successful realty firms do in larger markets.

Personal Connections

Here’s another resource that can help you evaluate websites that is absolutely free but very valuable and highly recommended: People. Ask other people for perspectives on your competitor websites. Not just family and friends. Try to find someone who can give you an unbiased view. Sometimes people in the business are so used to looking at the same websites that they get a myopic view of them (including their own).

Ask someone to check out a competitor’s website. Maybe a friend who knows the business. Even some clients. Stand next to them, and ask them to talk out loud about their experience on the website. Ask them to find a specific type of listing say a $500,000 with 4/3. Ask them to search for homes in a particular neighborhood or zip code. Ask them to complete other tasks, such as looking for a lead form, neighborhood information, home sales trends, etc.

Take notes. You might be surprised at what they discover. What impresses them about a website…or what frustrates them. Obviously, it is also advisable to conduct the same impartial examination of your own website. Outsiders will most likely see obstacles you may not notice. Or, they might see a feature on one website that they like and suggest you add to your website. Don’t forget to ask other agents or employees. They might have a perspective or a suggestion you totally overlooked as well.

Industry Experts

Finally, ask a professional real estate website design company. Sure you can ask any web design company to review your website and offer suggestions. But a company that specializes in real estate website design will have a more in-depth knowledge of your industry. They know what works and what does not work for real estate companies.

Home Junction, a real estate technology company with more than two decades in the business, offers FREE website reviews. They also offer an array of real estate plugins that you can instantly add to any website to add features, data and content that your competitors might not have. That would include School Data, School Attendance Zones, Maps integrated with MLS listings and Points of Interest in the community such as Schools, Parks, Highways, Etc. They can also add a home value estimator tool that is a proven generator of leads and brand awareness.

As we said, also look at leaders in the industry. If an agent is interviewed on a national network TV show because they are a major force in a major market, check out their website. You can learn a lot from them – for free. Here’s one more important point: We are fully into the Digital Age. The days of taking months to create a website or program a new feature are over. There are many new features and improvements you can add to your website very quickly. These websites can help you differentiate yourself from your competition.

And, even better, the cost of many of these additions have come way, way down in price. A large number of real estate plugins have already been developed by companies such as Home Junction. They are off the shelf and ready to go. The real estate world is changing out there. Rapidly. Take the time to look around and see what others are doing.

Ask experts to review what you are doing. (As we said, the experts at Home Junction will be glad to review your website and offer suggestions. They also have the experience and data to support their findings). For example, in 2018, the company’s Home Value Tool on client websites generated more than 1 million requests for home estimates.

Do this now. Don’t wait until the middle of the year to find out you may have missed opportunities to enhance your site and generate more leads and subscribers. Start the new year feeling confident your website is up to date with the latest real estate plugins, lead-gen tools and marketing plans to secure your share of the business in your specific neighborhoods.

Ask yourself this final question: Does my website have all the latest tech bells and whistles plus tons of hyper-local real estate plugins with great mobile functionality to appeal to today’s modern consumer and optimize lead generation? If not, call Home Junction at 858-777-9533. If you are not sure, don’t face the possibility of getting left behind. Call us anyway.

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Using a Property Data API for Competitive Market Promotions

Property data API market statistics could be the tool of this decade for brokers and agents. Why? Because we now live in a world of hype, spam and constant contact by marketers. Real estate market statistics, more narrowly, hyper-local statistics can help an agent cut through all this clutter. And just as importantly, personalize their communications with prospects.

Let’s start with email. Email statistics show that nearly 65% of people open an email based on the relevance to them of the subject line. Here’s the problem and another statistic: Nearly 70% of people will mark an email as spam based on the subject line alone. There are so many emails coming at consumers today, it’s a giant spider web of text. Many times you have to wonder, how did that company get my email address?

There are the many newsletters, online stores, sweepstakes you signed up for years ago and still receive notices from in your inbox, all from the depths of who-knows-where webisphere. Then you have the spammers. They are as active as ever. The one thing you don’t want to do is give up. Because email is still an incredibly powerful way to reach consumers. And it’s free.

How a Property Data API Works


By adding little snippets of code to your website, an agent can gain a feed of hyper-local data for any specific neighborhood they are farming. That data includes Recent Home Sales, Trends in Home Prices, Charts on Number of Homes Sold, etc. Now that the agent has this data, they can go to work.

For email, imagine writing a subject line something to the effect:

  • Check out the latest home sales data for XYZ neighborhood
  • See how changing home prices in XYZ area could affect the value of your home
  • Home prices have risen in XYZ  community, get an estimate on the value of your home

Naturally, the beauty of email is you can continually test headlines. And you should. A headline that improves open rates just a few percentage points could be the one that lands you that $1 million listing or a shopper’s inquiry for a $1.5 million home.

Use the same approach in your other marketing. Play up the power that resides in that Property Data API. Offer to provide home sales data in direct mail letters. Post teaser headlines in your social media posts offering to send consumers in XYZ neighborhood the latest statistics on their area.

Use a Property Data API to Gain a Competitive Edge


Marketing guru Jack Trout, an old-school marketer but very successful one, says business people need to know how to pick their battles. If an agent has a larger competitor they are competing with, they need to come up with a strategy to make themselves stand out. If a brokerage is competing with a much bigger competitor, or even a mega real estate portal, they also need to find a way to outwit them. He recommends that after analyzing competitors; choose a narrow front to fight them on.

Perhaps you can’t compete with them on advertising. Or the search engines. Or event marketing. But using a property data API can help you compete in a niche area. Think of your hyper-local data as your army. Trout says one of the strategies to compete with a larger company is to not only choose a narrow front, but to flood that front with resources.

A property data API gives you those resources. For one, it’s super hyper-local. You don’t just possess real estate market data for a county, or a city or a zip code. You can display data down to the neighborhood or subdivision level. Here’s some of that local data you can promote:

  • Recent home sales
  • Trends in home prices
  • Boundaries
  • School attendance zones
  • School data
  • New construction
  • Neighborhood demographics
  • Crime ratings
  • Cost of living reports
  • And more.

Just like the big mega-portals, an agent can also offer a home value estimator tool for the neighborhoods they are farming. Let buyers and homeowners know they can get an instant computerized estimate on the value of a property in a neighborhood, from a local agent who knows the neighborhood. As we all know, this opens a window to provide a formal CMA for any homeowners who might be interested in listing their property.

Let’s face it. It’s tough out there. There is so much noise, information and promotions coming on consumers today. Brokers and agents need the right tools to penetrate that wall of noise. As we said, messages with relevant and personalized real estate market data are one of those tools to capture the attention of people today.

Be the agent with a property data API and be the dominant data provider on the narrow fronts of your target neighborhoods.

Best Real Estate Podcasts & Blogs to Follow this Year

Real estate agents, brokers, investors, and even home buyers always have room to grow and learn more about the ever changing market of real estate. While there is an abundance of online resources to explore, a great place to start is blogs and podcasts. As we enter into the new year, expand your knowledge of real estate and industry insights by following these real estate blogs and podcasts that provide all of the information you need.

Best Real Estate Podcasts

Podcasts are one of the hottest tech trends of this decade, and their rise in popularity has led to thousands of hours of knowledge available at the tap of a button. Whether you want to brush up on real estate topics during your commute to work or before you go to bed, podcasts are convenient no matter where you are. Read below to find some of the best real estate podcasts you have to follow this year.

Agent Caffeine

You certainly won’t need caffeine to get through listening to this podcast! Agent Caffeine is one of the best real estate podcasts that covers topics on marketing, tech trends, and business for agents. Host Kelly Mitchell is a leading industry expert with over 100 webcasts to help real estate agents and her insights have even been published in a chapter from the book, Real: A Path to Passion, Purpose and Profits In Real Estate.

Bare Naked Agent

Pat Hiben’s impressive resume includes New York Times bestselling author and an expert in anything sales and marketing related. Bare Naked Agent provides the real estate community with a Q&A format that dives deep into the complexities of real estate. Topics include residential properties, sales, and marketing for agents. If Pat’s style and topics are just what you like, consider checking out his other show, Real Estate Rockers, that interviews the rockstars of real estate.

Man and Woman Recording Real Estate Podcasts

BiggerPockets Real Estate

Real estate investment is the name of the game for BiggerPockets podcast. The perk of this podcast is that the hosts, Brandon Turner and Joshua Dorkin, combine their knowledge of entrepreneurialism, web design, and real estate investment to create episodes that are informative for an audience with a variety of interests.

Kevin and Fred’s Next Level Podcast

The Next Level Podcast offers of nuggets of gold from hosts Kevin Kauffman and Fred Weaker, who have decades of experience in the real estate market. Just as the name describes, this podcast features interviews with top performers in the field, as well as all of the tips you need if you’re a real estate agent. 

Caravan Confession

Looking to break up the serious business talk with a little comedy? The Broke Agent host, Eric Simon, has created a podcast that is perfect for real estate agents looking for industry-specific humor. Caravan Confession is full of anecdotal industry tales and client stories that will have you dying of laughter. 

Tech Nest

It’s time to get technical with real estate marketer, Nate Smoyer, in his podcast Tech Nest. Covering all the latest innovations in real estate and property technology, this tech-centric podcast features interviews with trailblazers of the tech space. It also keeps listeners up-to-date on the technologies transforming the way we buy and sell real estate.

Woman Reading Best Real Estate Blogs

Best Real Estate Blogs

If you’re an avid reader, real estate blogs are a great option for you to start learning more about the real estate field. Blogs are often a light, easy read which is great for those quick morning breakfasts before work. They also provide free knowledge, so take advantage by checking out these great real estate blogs below.


It’s time to make a deal on Crowdstreet, one of the largest crowdfunding real estate websites in the market. This blog specializes in commercial real estate and is home to a wide selection of investment properties and equity deals. One of the cool things about it is that it sources deals directly from mediators to clients.

Home Junction

For even more industry insights, check out the Home Junction blog. Home Junction is a real estate data provider that specializes in aggregating key market data for cost-effective and data-centric real estate solutions. A read through their blog posts will inform you of the data and tools that empower agents, brokers, and enterprises to deliver an enriching consumer experience for their clients.


Catch up on all of the latest real estate news by following the real estate blog, Inman. Daily news on Inman covers technology advice, information-based products and services for real estate leaders, technology professionals, and consumers. They also expand on even more topics by including the latest realtor and broker news, as well as important trends to give you a head start in the market.

Man Looking at Blog for Real Estate


Calling all real estate investors, Redfin is your solution to making more informed investment decisions. This blog focuses on data analytics to offer insights for investors in a variety of real estate markets. If data analytics scares you, don’t worry because Redfin breaks it down in a way that is simple and understandable.

Trulia Blog

For those looking for specialized blogs, the Trulia blog might be the one for you. A majority of the articles revolve around identifying emerging real estate markets and unearthing potential investment opportunities, so if these topics excite you, take some time to check out this blog.

Zillow Porchlight 

Zillow is a great real estate blog because of its all-inclusive content that is interesting for every player in the real estate game. Readers can find every topic imaginable. Real estate investing, tips for buying and selling homes, and business expansion for agents are just a few that this blog offers. One other perk of Zillow is that it’s updated on a regular basis to ensure that readers know about current and future market trends.

Overall, there is a wealth of information to be absorbed when it comes to the real estate industry. Thank goodness for technology because the ways in which you can learn all about real estate is endless. From the best real estate podcasts to real estate blogs, you can become an expert conveniently and with intriguing content.

Real Estate Plugins Can Help Give Your Website a Makeover Header

Real Estate Plugins Can Help with Your Website Makeover

Real estate plugins and data can have a major impact for brokers and agents considering a makeover for their website as we begin a new decade. We are entering into an exciting era in real estate technology. There is technology now available out there, on the shelf that can instantly improve an agent’s website. Which begs the question… Are you still operating a website built ten years ago? Is your website outdated? Bland? Most importantly, is your website producing the leads you need to succeed? Could be the right time for a makeover!

Don’t panic. Many brokers and agents might balk at the thought of going through yet another web design. Or, they know such an effort will be incredibly time consuming. Don’t fret. One of the simplest solutions is to ask a real estate website design firm to give you an objective, third party review of your website and make recommendations. (Home Junction, with more than a decade worth of experience in this field, will provide a review for FREE by the way).

Still not convinced you should do a makeover? Well, ask yourself these questions. Because these topics cover the key issues brokers and agents will face in this coming decade. It’s a whole new ballgame out there.

Why to Have a Real Estate Website Makeover


Responsive Web Design

You might look at your website in your office and think, hey, the site looks great. I never hear any complaints. My colleagues all like it. I do manage to generate lead forms and phone calls from the website.

If you have a big red buzzer on your desk, you should hit it now. Because in 2020, a website that looks great on your desktop is only HALF the equation. Which also means you could be losing half, or even more, of the business you could be generating. And it could also mean your competition is taking away prospective clients from you without you even realizing this is taking place.

How? The mobile phone space. More and more consumers now use their smartphones to search the web. How does that great website of your looks on an iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy? Does it load quickly? Are all the pages aligned correctly? Can users read the text? Can they see the whole photograph of a house, not a part of it? Is the navigation easy to find? Are the calls to actions and contact forms easy to find and use?

Bottom line – if your website does not look good not only on your smartphone, but other versions of smartphones (and tablets as well), you will be left behind this coming decade. Check your Google analytics. See how many people are looking for you on their mobile devices. Google knows this is a major trend. That is why Google now bases their search algorithms on mobile devices differently, based on how well a mobile website meets the criteria above. (To check the speed of your mobile website, use this Page Insights tool from Google.)

More and more people sit in a Starbucks or at work and search for homes on their smartphones. If your mobile site is slow, scrambled or difficult to read, they will leave. In a matter of seconds. If you need help with this, contact Home Junction immediately. They are experts in mobile responsive design.

Special note: when it comes to responsive design, in this decade, you need to not only pay attention to desktop search and mobile search but also voice search.

Be sure your website is designed properly when people speak into their phones and ask for local real estate agents “near me” or with similar phrases. Trust us, voice search is BIG, and only going to grow.

Lead Generation

Here’s another question: How well are you generating leads from your website?

Are the calls to action very clear? Are you offering consumers anything in exchange for them to fill out a lead form? Are you offering homeowners and buyers a way to get an estimate on the value of a home? Providing a way to monitor those estimates to see the direction of values in a neighborhood they live in or want to move into? What type of local real estate data are you providing consumers that is important for their decision-making? Do your plugins or code snippets include School data, School attendance zones, Recent home sales, Trends in home prices, boundaries, neighborhood demographics, home value estimates, etc.?

Surely you know by now we are in the era of Big Data. The technology today allows for the gathering, analyzing and distribution of massive amounts of data. Real estate data providers such as Home Junction have aggregated billions of bits of hyper-local data. Data that will help consumers make a decision on buying a home. Neighborhood real estate plugins and data that can help an agent market someone’s listing better.

One of the great advantages for real estate agents doing business in 2020 besides incredible smartphones, drones, free social media and email distribution is access to hyper-local real estate statistics. A local agent can now be an incredible resource of hyper-local real estate plugins… just like the big mega real estate portals. Those agents don’t have to go out and find that information on their own. (And keep it updated.)

Real Estate Plugins

There are data providers such as Home Junction who have already gathered all of that information for you. All you have to do is add a few snippets of code or a plugin to your website. In fact, brokers and agents can now order real estate plugins that can instantly provide school data, charts showing trends in recent homes sales, stunning photo galleries, maps, maps that show amenities within a certain proximity to a home, and much more.

And, just like the big mega portals, agents can also add home value estimate tools to their website so consumers can request a quick estimate of the value of their home and compare it to other properties on their block. As we all know, this is a tremendous lead generation tool. It’s also an incredible branding tool.

You know that if a homeowner continually visits an agent’s website to check on the value of their property, at some point in time, they are going to be ready to ask for a more formal CMA. And they are going to list that property. Chances are, they are going to list that property with the agent who has already started a conversation with them and has supplied them with relevant and reliable real estate data in the past.

In the movie “Back to the Future,” the Doc urges Marty to go forward in time for a crucial event. Guess what day that was? Oct. 21, 2015. It’s 2020. Folks, we are in the future. However, is your website still stuck in the past? Probably time for a makeover. (And as we said, the experts at Home Junction will be glad to review your website and make recommendations for no charge.)

Ask yourself this final question: Does my website have all the latest tech bells and whistles plus tons of hyper-local real estate plugins with great mobile functionality to appeal to today’s modern consumer and optimize lead generation? If not, call Home Junction at 858-777-9533. If you are not sure, don’t face the possibility of getting left behind. Call us anyway.

Home Value Estimator Tools Can Help Fill Listing Funnel

Home Value Estimator Tools Can Help Fill Listing Funnel

Home Value Estimator Tools can be very effective for agents and brokers, if you look at them in the right perspective… and particularly in the year 2020. That perspective is from the eyes of a homeowner. We will discuss later in this article why this tool will be so important in 2020.

First, let’s get right to the numbers. Some people in the real estate business might be reluctant to use home value estimator tools. They believe these computer-generated estimates give homeowners (and buyers) an inaccurate impression on the value of a home. But here’s the stark reality: Homeowners use them. In fact, they really like them.

Home Value Estimator Tools are Popular with Consumers


Check out these stats from Google:

  • Every month these are the estimated number of searches for these keywords:
    • How much is my house worth? – 27,000 monthly searches
    • What is my home worth? – 6,600 monthly searches
  • Then there are dozens of variations that all add up. For example:
    • How do I find out the value of my home? – 1,900 monthly searches
    • Estimate my home value? – 880 monthly searches

We all know that one reason that mega-real estate portal that begins with the last letter in the alphabet rose to prominence because of their home value estimator tool. That tool also helped the company build up a national lead generation program. The fantastic opportunity today is that the average agent can now feature this tool on their own local websites. They can level the playing field. If they choose to.

All a broker or agent needs to do is call a real estate data technology company such as Home Junction. This service can be easily installed on any website. With hyper-local real estate market data. (By the way, in 2018, Home Junction customers generated more than 1 million home value searches on their websites.)

When local consumers want to check out an estimated value of their property, they don’t have to go off in the webisphere. They can check with their local agent. And as we all know, most people prefer to visit a local agent’s website for local guidance. Of course, it is the agent’s responsibility to make it very clear that the information provided by these home value estimator tools are only a machine-generated estimates. They obviously are not a formal CMA. The consumer needs to know the difference.

Agents can also assure the user that home value estimator tools (also referred to as AVM or Automated Valuation Models) have been getting better over the years with their forecasts and their ranges of error. The other factor to make clear is that the machine can only make estimates on data that is available. So for example, if there have been very little or no recent home sales in a neighborhood, then the data might not be as current as a neighborhood where there have been several sales. Makes sense.

The other great advantage of a home value estimator tool is not just for the price estimate, but also the comparison value. With home value estimator tools, consumers can see the estimate for other properties in their neighborhood. They know if their neighbor Joe down the street plans to list their home for X, then they can see how their home might be valued based on that X.

The homeowner can also follow how their property is also increasing in value, based on rising estimates. (The home value estimator tool from Home Junction also provides more in-depth data, such as market rankings for Price, Price per Square Foot, Age of the Property and Square Footage. All super-valuable information and information every homeowner would love to know.)

All of this activity creates a big opportunity to create a lead for a homeowner who might be interested in a formal CMA. Naturally, the broker and agent needs to emphasize the value of that CMA compared to the estimate from home value estimator tools. Talk about a catalyst for lead generation.

Hopefully brokers and agents can see another opportunity here as well. A marketing magnet. Brokers and agents can promote their home value estimator tools in their direct mailings, email blasts and social media posts. Tell consumers and followers. Use local market real estate data to point out major movements in local trends. And let them know, you have an estimated answer and a formal CMA answer for this always popular question, “What is my home worth?”

Real Estate Forecasts Point Out Lack of Inventory in Some Segments


Because here is another reality that we are sure all brokers and agents know about. and other experts predict a major challenge for agents in 2020 will be the lack of inventory for sale. This is very unfortunate because market conditions are great.

Low Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are super low. In fact, the Mortgage Bankers Association predicts they will stay in the 3.7% range in 2020. That’s even better than the beginning of 2019. Borrowing money is super-inexpensive. (Who remembers those days when mortgage rates were in the double digits?). Low mortgage rates are not something to be taken for granted.

We are sure many potential buyers are aware of this. That’s why you see activity drop off if rates go up by just 30 basis points. (Those buyers need to know, those rates are still incredibly, incredibly low).

Generational Shifts

The second big factor that will drive the market are Millennials. This giant segment of the American population has decided they now want to own a home. In fact, the Census Bureau reported this is the biggest group in the American demographic right now.

For years, it was very frustrating to brokers and agents because Millennials preferred to be renters. This drove up rents and prompted many investors to purchase properties and hang on to them. But now that Millennials are older and working in a positive economy with higher pay, they want to purchase a home. Unfortunately, listings in the entry-level and mid-price ranges are scarce.

Plus, homeowners, especially Baby Boomers, are staying in their homes longer. However, there are homeowners out there who might be interested in putting their homes on the market. Perhaps they are thinking about downsizing from a larger home now that the kids are out. Or perhaps they are thinking about retiring to Florida or Arizona. They are going to go to the web to check out the answer to this question, “What is my home worth?”

By providing this tool, you are helping them move along the sales funnel to finally putting their property up for sale. Also, by promoting this tool, you are establishing a connection with these homeowners for when they are ready to sell.

Use home value estimator tools not as a formal valuation, but an estimate to start a conversation. A conversation where an agent can provide a more formal, in-depth CMA. Look at it this way. When you have a tough construction project, the process is so much easier if you have the right tools.

Home value estimator tools are the right products to help brokers and agents generate those listings, in a tough, limited inventory marketplace.

Our 2020 Housing Market Predictions (and Beyond)

The real estate market has been fairly consistent over the last few years, with low inventory in many markets pushing prices higher. High-quality homes that hit the market at a fair price were snapped up almost immediately, and multi-offer situations left sellers in a great position. Will those trends continue into 2020? What is the real estate forecast for the next five years? Here’s what you need to know.

Housing Market 2020 Onward: Real Estate Forecast


Mortgage Rates Will Stay Low in 2020

Low mortgage rates make it easier for homebuyers to borrow. This can be helpful for those looking to buy their first home or upgrade to a larger space. However, low-interest rates also mean that demand for homes will remain very high.

The recent drop in interest rates for mortgages has caused an increase in refinancing, which may mean that homeowners won’t be in a position to sell during 2020. That might mean even lower inventory, putting upward pressure on prices.

Inventory Will Remain Historically Tight

In most markets, inventory will remain at historic lows compared to demand. Interest rates are bringing new buyers into the market – especially Millennials, who had to put off homeownership for many years. However, people are staying in their homes longer than ever.

In the past, those that owned starter homes would move up into larger homes within a few years. This would free up those lower-priced houses for new buyers, and create demand for middle-market properties. Today, homeowners are staying in the houses for an average of 13 years. One factor may be that Americans are waiting later to have children – if they have any at all – and are creating smaller families when they do.

There are also cultural trends toward owning less and valuing experiences over possessions, causing homeowners to not need as much space as they looked for in the past.

Family Visiting Home for Sale

Prices for Homes Will Continue to Grow

Because people are not moving, inventory is extremely low, especially at the lower end of the market. That means you really have to be an expert on your local real estate market if you want to help your clients find ideal homes. With low inventory and high demand, home prices will continue to grow. We saw a 3.6% increase this year, and indications are that prices will increase at a higher rate next year.

The biggest problem is at the lower end of the market, where there are far fewer starter homes than there are families looking for their first property. Homes are being built, but construction is focused on larger homes in the middle of the market. As mentioned above, many brokers are not seeing new listings coming to the market as expected for this time of year, which means there will be a lot more competition in early 2020 for the existing inventory.

Limited supply with strong demand and very high competition for the homes listed means that prices will soar in 2020.

Suburbs Are Becoming “Hipsturbia”

As Millennials look for affordable places to own property and live, suburbs near major metro areas are growing. Many adults are looking for a place that mixes the safety and affordability of a suburb with 24-hour amenities, transit, and walkability.

These communities, which are breathing life into smaller towns near urban areas, are developing more every day. A live-work-play community, all in one place, once revived inner cities. There’s no reason they cannot revolutionize the suburbs as well.

Hipsturbia” is one of the top trends to watch not only in 2020, but in the housing market 10-year forecast as well.

Interior of Home Upgraded with Smart Home Technology

Technologically Linked Homes Will Increase in Value

As everything from our doorbells to our thermostats become digitized, technologically savvy homes will sell for a premium. More and more Americans are not only comfortable but excited about smart-tech connectedness, and the buying demographic is now squarely Millennial.

Millennials have always been comfortable with technology and are willing to pay a premium for the security and comfort that comes from managing home systems from their mobile devices. There are also growing concerns in every demographic about the environmental impact of daily life. Technology can help reduce the environmental footprint of owning a home by incorporating automation that saves significant energy.

The easier it is to connect a home, the more valuable it will be.

Prepare for the 2020 Housing Market

Homebuyers will face a tough uphill climb in 2020 as low mortgage rates entice people to house hunt while inventory remains low. Most buyers will face a multi-offer situation and may see ideal homes leave the market almost as soon as they appear.

On the other side, it’s a beautiful time to be a home seller. If you can convince people in your target market to sell their homes and move, they will be very likely to receive multiple offers and have a bidding war drive their price higher than they expect. However, they may face difficulty securing a new home unless they are moving up in the real estate market.

Are you ready for the housing market in 2020? If you want to stay on top of the market, it’s going to require a lot of top-notch tools. One of the most important is your website. If you are ready for your website to wow prospects and convert them to clients, let us help.

Contact us today to discover what we can do!

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.


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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