Free Real Estate Marketing Can Work – When You Have the Right Plan

When many real estate professionals think of marketing they think of items like getting an ad in a magazine or newspaper.  Some even consider taking out a small billboard or bus bench as a form of marketing.

While these may be considered marketing items for many professionals there are some substantial challenges with them.  Popular traditional forms of advertising like magazines, bus benches, or worse yet telephone booths can have the following challenges:

  • Expensive to start with
  • Expensive to test with until you get a winning ad
  • Difficult to track it’s success (how many eyeballs looked at your ad? or called?)

Sometimes you can get these forms of marketing/advertising to work, unfortunately by the time you get them to work you might have already spent an entire commission!  There are free methods that you can put into place for marketing for your real estate business that DON’T involve traditional practices like door knocking or cold calling.

Consider the following two items that you can put into place immediately with no out of pocket expenses.

  • Social Networking
  • Craigslist
  • Blogging

Social networking can help you to establish a powerful referral network (or grow your existing one stronger) while Craigslist will allow you to reach eager buyers who are often searching daily to find the right home.  Before you start with either Craigslist or Social Networking, I invite you to consider the following to achieve success.

Have a Plan

Too often because something is “free” there is little thought into the approach that one should take.  Your time is extremely valuable!  Create a basic plan that outlines how much time you can invest, what your goals are, and even what tasks you need to accomplish to make your marketing work (meaning it needs to generate leads). This plan doesn’t need to be fancy, it can be as simple as 1 page, just write it down and put it in front of you so you know what you are tackling.

Give Your Plan Time To Work

Trying Craigslist for a couple of days or Social networking for a few days isn’t going to give you a chance to succeed.  Give yourself a week or two to really put your plan into action.  If that is posting ads to Craigslist consider setting a goal of the number of ads you will post (like 50 or 60) before you make a change.  Setting a specific timeline will help you to get your real estate marketing done efficiently as you reach towards your goal.

Document Your Results

Too many people launch new marketing and when it doesn’t generate sales, they simply state “it takes time”.  While some marketing does take time, it is important to hold any marketing you do to a standard.   When an ad, website, or your time on Social Networking isn’t generating any calls or prospects it may be time to cut that activity.  Count the number of emails and phone calls you get from your efforts.

After your ads are generating leads then track the number of appointments and closings from those.  After just a couple of months you will be able to see which form of marketing to invest more time in!

The Real Estate Success Program coaches and trains real estate agents on all aspects of real estate marketing from taking FSBO listings, Expired Listings, objection handling scripts, social networking and internet marketing.

All training and coaching is designed with the busy real estate agent in mind. The real estate training systems are designed to be cost effective with a focus on lead generation that results in consistent closings every month.

We invite you to discover more on real estate marketing at the real estate success program.

Your Real Estate Marketing Solution

In real estate there are many different ways to generate business. Many start with the aspect of “branding” themselves, some start with their sphere of influence, and others start down the road of direct response marketing. There are many different ways to build a marketing foundation for your real estate business and your solution should fit your needs and your personality.

Before you spend any money on real estate marketing, it is important to consider the following:

There is no SILVER bullet

No matter what type of solution you decide to use for your real estate business there isn’t going to be a silver bullet or a magic pill that will give you as much business as you could imagine without any work or money. A good marketing solution will require that you invest your time and money into making it work for your business.

There are a few important factors to consider before starting any real estate marketing program.

  1. What type of business do you want? – Don’t just say “I will work with anyone” as that will result in marketing that has no direction and will be too expensive. The most obvious first decision to make is whether you want to work with buyers or sellers. With just a simple focus on working with buyers or sellers you will be able to determine what marketing will help you to best reach your target audience. Buyers and sellers have different needs and your marketing needs to fill those needs for you to have success.
  2. What type of marketing do you really want to do? – With online advertising growing at such rapid rates it is certainly one of the most popular and effective mediums to go with to get new customers, but is it a fit for you? There are many real estate professionals across the country that are having huge success with magazine ads, flyer inserts, and postcards so if that is something you want to do then choose a marketing solution that offers those templates as well.
  3. How are your phone skills? – Be honest with yourself on this one as this can make the difference between massive success and wondering why “the leads are bad”. With new marketing comes a new source of leads so take time to consider if you are prepared to handle leads from that new source. Whether you are getting calls from your website, magazine ads, postcards, sign calls, or another medium there are different questions you can ask prospects to qualify them and see if they are a match for your services. A complete marketing solution should also help you with scripts and objection handling techniques.

There are many different real estate marketing solutions out there and one of the best ways to see which one is right for you is to pick up the phone and call the people who have created it. When they take the time to answer your questions you can see how it would work for you and they might even give you some new ideas you hadn’t thought of yet that you can apply to your business.

Jamey Bridges is one of the coaches and founders of the Online Real Estate Success program. The Online Real Estate Success systems allow real estate professionals to discover the techniques they need to succeed with their online marketing efforts.

Real Estate Marketing For Short Sales

In all real estate markets there are short sale sellers. For a variety of reasons, homeowners can be in the situation where they need to sell their home, but there isn’t enough equity for them to be able to accomplish their goal. These home sellers have the need, but they don’t know how to get help.

The real estate professional that can put themselves in the position to solve their problem can pick up 5, 10, or even 20+ listings every month. Before getting into how to market for these listings it’s important to understand some of the challenges that you will be undertaking by taking short sale listings.

Short Sale Listing Challenges and Solutions

Although this niche allows for a tremendous source of business it does have some of the following challenges.

  • Massive amounts of paperwork
  • A large percentage of them can fail
  • They can be very time intensive

The great part about these challenges is they can be solved easily, when you have a good system to follow. The massive amounts of paperwork and the amount of time necessary to process a short sale can easily be outsourced. In fact, many of these processes can be contracted out to people who you don’t even pay until closing.

To overcome the battle of the ones that don’t succeed, it’s important to take advantage of the buyers calling on the listing. Every short sale listing you take should result in 1-3 additional buyers that end up in a closed transaction. Imagine for every listing you took, you 3 additional closings!

Marketing for Short Sale Sellers

Short sale sellers need help and they need help quickly. Most home owners in the position of needing someone to help them when they don’t have equity understand that they have a problem, they just aren’t sure how or even IF it can be solved.

Your marketing messages should be crafted around solving their immediate problem, alleviating their fear, and providing a solution at the same time. For example take the following marketing message:

Don’t Lose Your Home To Foreclosure, I Can Sell Your Home in 59 Days…Guaranteed

Many home owners don’t understand the term “short sale” but they are aware that they could end up in foreclosure. You can use your marketing message on direct mail, pay per click ads, postcards, and your website. Let homeowners know that you are there to determine how you can help them and you will book fresh appointments weekly.

We invite you to discover more about marketing for short sales and closing more sales with our free real estate marketing book.

As part of the Real Estate Success Program, James Bridges, coaches real estate agents across the country on effective real estate marketing techniques.

The Real Estate Success Program coaches and trains real estate agents on all aspects of real estate marketing from taking FSBO listings, Expired Listings, objection handling scripts, social networking and internet marketing. All training and coaching is designed with the busy real estate agent in mind. The real estate training systems are designed to be cost effective with a focus on lead generation that results in consistent closings every month. We invite you to discover more on real estate marketing at the real estate success program.

Investing in the US Real Estate Market – Is Now the Time?

This is an interesting question, and one which requires a reasonably detailed answer for certain. The short answer is – it depends. Several factors must be considered before we decide to place our money into any investment, and real estate is no different. I will start by suggesting that you put into place a system. The system should be geared around the following questions and considerations:

1. Why do you want to move your money into the U.S. real estate market? Consider this carefully. Is it because your friends are doing it, business associates, or a family member? If so, talk to them. Ask them what there experience has been and where they have invested. Have they realized a return or has there investment depreciated?

2. While we’re on depreciation – In most cases, a real estate investment should be viewed in terms of your long term investment strategy. Real estate investments were never meant to be short-term. Yes you can flip properties, and many people do, however, there is additional risk associated with these types of short-term real estate investment practices. Having said that, you may continue to see some depreciation in your investment over the next few years, but the length of time, amount of depreciation, and relative appreciation over time is dependent upon the market you choose to invest in. You should not let this be of an overwhelming concern if you are in this for the long-term.

3. One way by which you can decrease you level of deprecation is through market research. What do you want to buy? Are you considering commercial, multi-family, resort, single family, or condo? Where do you want to buy? Some markets are less expensive, but they have much more volatility. You must consider the inventory for the area you are looking to purchase, as well as the price. Markets with fewer inventories may be a bit more expensive, but their recovery time will be less and appreciation could be realized sooner.

4. EB-5 investments may also be something to consider. There are regional centers, such as ours here in Sarasota, which can provide real estate investment options that will enable you to benefit from this great program, while making a modest profit.

I strongly suggest that my clients invest in declining inventory, coastal communities like Sarasota or Manatee County, Florida. The reason for this is simple – these areas are desirable vacation and relocation destinations. Sarasota was rated as the Number One place to buy real estate recently on MSNBC. Check out the video HERE. People want to live here and there is no other predominant industry in that the area is dependent on, other than tourism

Let’s look at some statistics for Sarasota’s residential real estate market in February 2010:

Overall property sales in the Sarasota market were up nearly 49 percent over February 2009. The median sale price for a single family home was $150,000, up 5.6 percent over last February’s figure of $142,000.

The months of inventory for single family homes was 10.6 months far lower than the 24.1 months in February 2009. For condos, the months of inventory level was 15.4 months, far lower than the 28.4 months only a year ago. Once the market reaches the 6 month level it is considered to be in equilibrium between buyers and sellers.

Statistically, this area is showing an annual improvement in both median sales prices for single family homes, and a significant drop in inventory level. All of these conditions point to a quickly rebounding market that may be a great opportunity to invest in.

In summary, there are many considerations for the prospect of investing into a foreign real estate market, such as the U.S. However, through proper due diligence, experienced guidance and counsel, and an investment team with you – you can accomplish your goals with minimal risk and high rewards.

Tips to Make Home Improvements Affordable

If you are like many homeowners, your house is among the most significant investments that you own. In addition to being your largest asset, it is the place where you live, entertain and more. By keeping your home well-maintained and making improvements as needed, you can easily maintain or improve its value while also enjoying increased pride of ownership. However, many home improvement projects can be costly, and you may be looking for a way to make improvements to your home more affordable. By following a few key tips, you can enjoy the benefits associated with improving your home without paying more than necessary for those improvements.

Affordable Materials and Equipment
One of the key factors that contributes to the cost of home improvements pertains to the materials and equipment needed for the project. Many homeowners commonly head down to a local home improvement store to buy the items needed for their projects. While these stores are a convenient source for materials and equipment, they may not be the most affordable source. You can consider looking for used equipment in local online classified listings. In some cities, you may find wholesale materials and supplies stores that offer a great selection of steeply discounted materials. If you must shop at local home improvement stores, be sure to look for sales, coupons and special offers that can save you money.

The Cost of Labor
The other main factor associated with home improvements is the cost of labor. Some homeowners have a real knack for completing home improvement projects. Others, however, may require several attempts at a task before completing it right, and this can result in wasted supplies and materials. If you lack the skills and experience necessary to do the job or are not comfortable with the processes involved, it is best to utilize the services of a contractor. Some specialized contractors will charge you a higher rate than other contractors who may have an equal ability to perform the tasks you need completed. A professional handyman, for example may be a jack-of-all-trades, and he may perform services at a lower rate than a contractor who offers only a specialized skill.

Making home improvements is a necessity if you want to keep your home in great condition and improve its value more significantly over time. By keeping the costs of your improvements low, you can enjoy a greater return on your home improvement project. These tips can help you to save money on your projects for years to come.

Saving Money on Food Expenses During Travel

Travelling will always cost money, no matter what they tell you. From gas to travel money to food money, even just going to the next city means spending money. Well, you can save money on food while travelling and it is quite easily accomplished. Here’s how:

Make your own food and put it in a bag. If the travelling means having to have to stop to have lunch somewhere, it is best to just make the lunch way ahead of time and bring it with you. Sandwiches travel well and they can last for a few hours in a cool car. If it is impossible to keep them cool, you can always place them inside a waterproof container and stow it with the rest of the drinks in the cooler. Oh yes, bring drinks along, you’ll need that for the long drive. Stay away from saucy meals when travelling, they don’t keep well and you may experience discomfort.

Coolers are a good investment, whether you are a traveller or not. It is an essential when travelling as this is where you can stow all you fluids for the travel. Water is best kept frozen a day in advance before the travel time. The ice will melt after a few hours and the water would be a good thirst quencher when it is still cold and you don’t even have to stop anywhere and dig out some quarters just to get to machine that sells cool water. Stay away from soda drinks, not only do they make kids hyperactive, but a hyperactive kid or kids in a car is not a very comforting experience. Also, it makes for flatulence.

Coupons are still very useful when one want to eat on a budget. In the past you needed magazines and newspapers to cut out the coupons from, today, the internet saves the day. You can Google some food coupons for restaurants or fast food places that you may pass on the way to your destination. Print them out just before you leave so that they would be valid when you get there. Grocery coupons are also good if you plan to cook during the trip.

Taking a plane may be expensive but this could also save you on money. There are in-flight meals offered if it is a long trip, however, only snack will be served if it is not a long trip. There are also some flights that don’t offer snacks at all, especially if they are just 15 minute flights. Check with the travel agents what the in-flight offers are.

If there is a hostel or a motel on the way that has a kitchenette, then you can definitely cook your own food. Check out if there is a small kitchen before making hasty decisions, though. There are a lot now that does not allow cooking. Find out the places that have kitchenettes online before making travel arrangements. When there a place that offers the service, make reservations immediately. You do not want to lose out on the room or rooms if the place gets fully booked.

There are so many ways to save on food when travelling, all it takes is careful planning and a little bit of imagination. If you are taking your own car then you can definitely bring enough grocery and food supplies to your heart’s content.

Auto Insurance Fundamentals

As a car owner, the need to know the basics of auto insurance policies and pricing cannot be under-estimated. With the ever rising number of road accidents in the country as revealed in recent studies conducted in the US, it has become essential for all car owners to undertake an auto insurance policy. There are a range of auto insurance policies obtainable and you can choose the one which best suits your pocket and need.

But for those who are not yet familiar with the basics of auto insurance and need to go through the tedious process of finding a policy, then you’ll probably need a bit of help. Luckily, the internet provides plenty of resourceful information to help you choose the right policy as well as compare rates to make the most of your savings. Take a few moments to read through this article to learn about the fundamentals.

Choosing an auto insurance company that provides topnotch services is crucial to finding quality coverage. The insurance industry is so large that most companies specialize in a particular aspect of insurance. There are differences in their manner of approach to claims, customer service relation, etc. but the good thing is that there are plenty of resources on the web to help you find a company that is financially stable and offers the quality of claims and customer service you are seeking.

Below are some of the auto insurance policies available;

Comprehensive Auto Insurance: Very unlike the other auto insurance policies, it covers all sorts from damages that arise as a result of natural occurrences’ like theft, accidents, fire, wear and tear, etc. This feature not only makes the policy the most widely adopted one but also costly. Premium is usually lofty as the risks involved are high. The only problem people face is to find a provider who will insure the vehicle up to 100% of its value.

Collision Insurance: this is the most likely form of damage to cars, hence the need for protection from damages that arise out of accidents and collisions. This is a policy that covers the car by protecting it from damages from a collision. Unlike the liability insurance, the collision Insurance policy is not compulsory, but most people prefer this insurance to safeguard them against the huge cost of repairing an accidental car.

Liability Insurance: this particular form of auto insurance is more or less compulsory in most parts of the world. It provides coverage to injured accident victims or car damage of another person as a result of any accident. Therefore, this coverage is essential for individuals who don’t have enough money to pay the damages. The state laws decide on the minimum coverage that a person must have under liability insurance. On the other hand, the utmost degree of protection is up to the buyer’s good judgment. This policy usually involves a high premium because it covers all the damages and expenses that one incurres in case of an accident. Another determining factor is the driving record. If the record is a good one, then he has to pay relatively less premium.

Full Coverage Auto Insurance: this policy combines other auto insurance policies like collision comprehensive and liability hence the name. Apart from coverage to damaged cars, medical expense is also included in the policy even if you are the cause of the accident. The premium is considerably higher as compared to the other three policies mentioned earlier.

Increasing Your Home’s Value Through Home Improvements

There are many home improvements you can do to boost your property value. Though not every homeowner agrees with the value of home improvements, most agree that you will get a better price for your home, in the event of a sale, if you make a few changes.

Home improvements will not only get you a better resale value, but will give you a more pleasant living environment while you are there. So don’t underestimate the value of making a few improvements to your home.

Making improvements to your home can also increase your homes overall safety. This is considered a big benefit. There are many factors to consider when deciding what improvements to make.

First, plan your budget and decide what you want to do. Having a clear plan before you get started can make the process go much smoother. If you are making big home improvements and upgrades, hiring a contractor may be your best bet.

As a tenant, you may or may not have the right to make improvements to the property so check with your landlord. If you own the property and are unsure where to begin, there are professionals that you can hire to help you decide what improvements to make to get the most for your money.

Making outdoor improvements may require that you check with your homeowner’s association, if you have one, and your local governments to ensure your improvements are allowed. Some improvements may require special permits so be sure to file the necessary paperwork ahead of time.

If you have a limited budget and can only concentrate on one area, renovate your kitchen. Replacing old countertops and floors can make a drastic change and be relatively inexpensive. You can also consider upgrading your appliances or adding a splash-guard.

There are many improvements that you can make to your house that will increase its value. So make a clear budget, develop a plan, and get started. You won’t be disappointed in any improvement you make.

Auto Insurance – 7 Tips To Cut Down Your Auto Insurance Rate

Just as it is a known fact that having insurance for our autos is mandatory and important, so also over-insuring them would be undesirable and a total waste of resources. In addition, putting price first when deciding on the type of auto insurance policy to opt for wouldn’t be the best but however, there is the need to keep our auto insurance rate at the barest minimum in order to have savings which could be spent on other financial commitments. This article is therefore meant to give out tips on how to keep our auto insurance rates down and these are as follows:

Keeping It Down From The Outset

One of the ways to keep auto insurance rate down is initiating it at the point of vehicle acquisition. When deciding on the kind of car to acquire, buy a car that is in the favored list of most auto insurance companies. The ones in their favored list will be those that are not prone to theft and problems, most insurers are very conversant with such cars, so try to avoid this if you can, because it could attract high rate.

Know The Basic Policy And Avoid Unnecessary Coverage

The minimum requirement of auto insurance policy in most state is liability coverage (know the one that apply in your environment) and this might just be exactly what you need. For instance, you may not need both comprehensive and collision coverages if your car has no much value or if such car won’t cost much to replace or repair. More so, towing and labor would be unnecessary if you can adequately take care of that. Avoid rental reimbursement since you can always make do with alternatives. In other words, avoid coverages that can not give value for money spent.

Ask For Available Discount From Your Insurer

Auto insurance companies do have variety of discounts, some of which may include discounts associated with cars with safety and anti-theft devices, accident-free driving, short-mileage or not driving often, insuring more than one car, etc. All you need do is ask your insurer of all available discounts, note the ones that apply to you and take advantage of such.

Drive Carefully To Have Good Driving Record

Most auto insurance companies are not comfortable with reckless and accident-prone drivers and they exhibit this through high auto insurance rate, conversely, someone with safe driving history would stand a chance of enjoying low rate.

Increase Your Deductible

Deductible is that money you pay out-of-pocket before your insurer share of cost kicks in and this, mostly applies to holders of comprehensive and collision coverages. This will become more effective if you have safe driving record and probably not driving too often. Paying high deductible will of course lower your auto insurance rate

Know Your Other Insurance Policies

Be conscious of other insurance policies if you have any, to avoid overlapping of policies which could cost more. For instance homeowners and comprehensive health insurance policy may also cover damages arising from auto accident, therefore you need to know what each of all your insurance policies cover.

Good Credit Score

Your auto insurance rate could also be determined by your credit score. Most insurers make use of credit data during evaluation, try to maintain a good credit.

Home Improvement: Upgrading Your Home

If you are a home owner then you should know the importance and benefits of home improvement. First let us define what is home improvement. Home improvement is the process of making changes into one’s house and thus improving its level of comfort, aesthetics and safety. Home improvement is usually done by hiring professionals such as handymen and contractors but the home owner can do it personally if he or she knows what she is doing. As we all know properties are subjected to depreciation over time. But with proper maintenance and improvement you can keep your property’s real estate value up. So if you are planning to sell your house someday, maintenance and home improvement is very important.

But home improvement is not all about increasing the real estate value of our home. Improving the home is also important for those who are currently living in the property. If you want to make your home a better living place for you and your family, home improvement jobs are a must. If you perform maintenance checks for your home, you can detect and anticipate structural damage to your home which could be a potential threat to you and your family’s safety. Utilities such as heating and cooling systems, smoke detectors, ovens and many others also needs to be subjected to regular maintenance checks to prevent them from malfunctioning because they may cause accidents. Maintenance checks will also address the common problems associated with insect infestations such as termites which as we all know can cause great damage and deterioration over time.

Aside from maintenance checks, improving your home also means remodeling or renovation. Over time it is very possible to be bored with the decor of your home, so a renovation is certainly a great way to spruce it up. Home remodeling can be quite simple. From a fresh coat of paint to the house’s as well as new furnishings to changing the curtains or the carpet in the living room, it all counts as remodeling efforts. A good example of renovating your home is to install UPVC French doors into your home. French doors are ideally installed in doorways that leads to the house’s exterior locations such as the patio or the poolside. French doors does a great job of enhancing the looks of your home as well as providing other functionalities such as being an insulator. If you cannot handle the tasks of remodeling and renovation, then you can always hire a profession to make the job easier for you. You’ll be surprised at just how a remodeling or renovation, may it be simple or complex, can change the overall mood of your home.

Unfortunately there are still those that treats home improvement a necessary expense, but such notions would cost them in the future. Home improvement is a necessity because it does not only increase the value of your home but also make its living condition favorable. Like you what you are doing with your other properties and possessions, treat it as a way of taking good care of your home.