About Me

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REALTOR® with Prudential New Jersey Properties, Moretti Division, in South Plainfield, NJ. Contact me for assistance with selling or buying properties in New Jersey! President of Robin Taylor Roth Enterprises, LLC - Training, consulting, and social media for small businesses. Living in New Jersey and loving it. Proximity to Manhattan opens the world to us.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Minimum Interior Views of a Home Listing

I'm always amazed to see listings with no photos or with just an exterior view.  Today's savvy buyers expect to see lots and lots of photos.  In fact, many buyers will not consider touring a home they have not already previewed online.

Perhaps your new listing isn't all that photogenic.  That is the case with many foreclosures and short sales, where the owner has not had enough money to properly maintain the property.  One also sometimes takes on houses that really are a fright, because of accumulated possessions that litter every room.

So, what can you do, to give potential buyers a sense of the possibilities of the house - any house?  Take selective interior photos.  That may require that you give the homeowner time to make the house presentable, and even help by making a bed or putting down a toilet seat on the day of the photo shoot.

To provide a sense of the house, minimally take a photo of the living room, the kitchen, and the master bedroom; these are key rooms for many buyers.  If the house has interesting features, such as a sunroom or architectural detail, take photos of those, too.

To augment the number of photos in your listing, and to give a sense of place, include photos of the yard (if presentable), the street, and a nearby park.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Conference Participation - Virtually

If you are a REALTOR®, your broker and your local association probably encourage you to attend conferences.  There are so many to choose from!

The National Association of REALTORS® has a conference every year, usually at the end of November / beginning of December.  Your state association probably has at least one conference every year, or may cooperate with neighboring states to run one larger conference.  And there are other conferences and workshops offered by professional groups, such as Inman.

For a few years, I have been participating in regional conferences and workshops focused on real estate marketing and technology.  Some of these, like the RE Barcamp workshops are spearheaded and organized by energetic local REALTORS and service providers.  These are fun days, with an informal format:  people with solid experience in some aspect of real estate technology volunteer to lead presentation-discussion sessions.

Another conference series I have enjoyed are those sponsored by Inman:  Inman Connect.  These conferences are held semi-annually, alternating between San Francisco (July or August) and New York (January).  One of the many helpful aspects of these conferences are the vendor booths, where you can talk with the people who are creating new and better applications to help brokers and agents do their jobs more effectively.  Inman always gathers together thought-leaders and innovators to provide insights into today's real estate trends, and has opportunities for hands-on learning, too.

Of course, few of us have the time or money to participate in all of the conferences that might interest us.  However, thanks to Twitter, you can participate in all of these conferences virtually.  These days, every conference has an official "hashtag" associated with it.  For example, the RE Barcamp hashtags invariably start #REBC, with one to three additional letters that identify the location (#REBCNY, #REBCPHL, etc.).

When you have logged into your Twitter account, search for the appropriate hashtag, then save the search.  You will be able to scan everything that is said about that conference.  Admittedly, some of it will be social in nature ("I'm on my way to #ICNY"), but much will be informative content.  Conference hashtag searches are valuable because experienced Twitter users (including me) do "tweet-reporting" from the conferences, specifically to share what they are hearing.

To find the relevant hashtag for a conference that you wish you were attending, search Twitter for the name of the conference - or ask your Twitter followers.

Friday, September 3, 2010

What constitutes a "good" exterior home photo?

When you get a new listing, often the only photo you can include in the MLS is a shot of the exterior of the property.  In fact, you should have that already, and have built it into your listing presentation!

So, you want to make sure that that photo presents the property in the most appealing way possible.  How can you do that?

It's a good thing to choose a partially cloudy day, so that the property is lit, but your camera lens is not blinded.  Walk around the front of the house, to determine which viewpoint offers the most attractive view of the property.  Often, an oblique view, rather than a front view, will make the house look larger, and can highlight a pleasing feature not clearly visible from the front of the house.

Naturally, avoiding "clutter" is important.  With your Seller's permission, move garbage cans out of the frame and pick up any newspapers, while you take your photo.  Move them back into place - neatly! - afterward.  If you live in the North and it's Winter, make sure the walks and driveway have been neatly plowed, before you take that picture!

Avoiding including much of the neighbors' houses is important, too - especially if they are not well maintained.  You want prospective Buyers to focus on the property you've listed, not on the adjacent houses.  You can sometimes eliminate peripheral property elements by shifting your view or physical position left or right, or by moving closer to your listed property.

Take more than one shot, and review your photos before you post one.  You'll be surprised what you did not see, at the time!

If all else fails, you may be able to use a photo-editing program, like Photoshop® Elements, to crop out unwanted items at the edges of the photo.  Be sure to maintain the same aspect ratio, however, as MLS systems expect photos to be in standard format.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sometimes, Your Client's Home Isn't Fit to Be Seen

Bad Photos

The gang at "This Is Why Your House Won't Sell" have a wonderful time collecting truly horrid photos from real estate listings.  It always makes me feel better, knowing that others take much worse photos than I do!

I have often had the experience of seeing entirely different things in the photo, than I saw in the viewfinder.  Some examples:
  • a full-body reflection in a glass storm door (I kid you not!)
  • an elbow in the mirror of a tiny powder room
  • a foot on a lovely ceramic tile floor.
That's why you should always review your digital photos before you leave the photo session:  you may have to reshoot some.  In fact, I usually review the photos, room by room.  That takes less time, overall.

Poor Staging

A much greater problem is houses that are simply not fit to be seen by anyone other than the inhabitants.  It is terribly hard to find usable images, in houses like that.

Obviously, your first line of attack must be to try to convince the Seller to clean up, throw out, and store all of the extra stuff.  A wall of cartons stacked neatly in the basement is preferable to having excess belongings all over the house.  (You might send them to my relevant blog post.)

If that doesn't work, take photos of only those parts of the exterior and interior that are acceptable, and refuse to take additional photos until the various rooms and the yard are improved.  Explain that Internet-savvy buyers believe that a house with few photos, or with just one photo of the outside, are assumed to be in "questionable" condition, and are, therefore, often dismissed as candidates for purchase.

Do you have other ways of encouraging Sellers to improve the condition of their houses?  If so, please share them in the Comments area.  Thanks!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Blogging About the Good News in Your Marketplace

Whatever their favorite source of news (newspapers, television, or the Internet) consumers are inundated with bad news:  earthquakes, stock crashes, volcano eruptions, tsunamis, job losses, hurricanes, bank closures, forest fires, building collapses, epidemics, budget cuts, and on and on.  Some days, it's hard for us to keep smiling!

So, let your blog be a respite from all of the dire news that consumers see everywhere else.  Instead, focus on the good that is happening in your marketplace.

Certainly, you want to blog about real estate:  your featured listings, improvements in market conditions, low interest rates, helpful government programs, and so on.  But also, blog about the accomplishments of organizations (did the little league team win, this week?), businesses (is someone celebrating 10 years serving your community?), and groups (are some teenagers raising money for a selfless cause?) that are operating within your marketplace.  Cheer their successes!

Where can you find this good news?  Three sources are available to anyone:
  1. Keep your eyes open:  there are signs (literally), everywhere - town billboards, store signs, posters on telephone poles, notices on library and supermarket bulletin boards.  Make a note of who is doing what, and blog about it.
  2. Read your local newspaper as soon as it comes out.  Highlight and blog about the good news items you find there.
  3. Monitor your town's Internet site for news and announcements, and help them spread the word.
As the old Harlen and Mercer song says, "Ac-cen-tu-ate the positive, e-li-mi-nate the negative, hold on to the af-firm-a-tive. Don't mess with Mr In-Between." (1944).  Your blog can become the go-to place for good news about your community and marketplace.

And don't forget to share your blog posts, via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Posterous, and other social media sites.  That will draw more readers.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Frequent Touch: How Often Is That?

When you were taking your early real estate training, you learned about the importance of "frequent touch" - contacting members of your Sphere of Influence or your "farm" regularly, would ensure that your name would be "top of mind," whenever those people were ready to begin buying or selling a home.

A number of vendors would be delighted to sell you their ready-made "frequent touch" prospecting programs. Such programs usually consist of cards, newsletters, and a calendar. When you examine the details, you learn that you can buy several levels of program: monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly.

Each level of program offers a different number of "touches" each year - 4, 6, or 12. If the program is to be effective, isn't there a minimum number below which you should not fall? Or a maximum number you need not exceed?

The magic number depends on the individual, but many experts recommend 5 to 7 contacts each year. In the case of the ready-made prospecting programs, the middle ground - alternate months - should work well.

However, you should not rely solely on ready-made programs. They're informative, but rather impersonal. So, plan your own prospecting program to include face-to-face contact, phone calls, and e-mails. You could, then, select the least expensive ready-made program (just to give your prospecting some consistency), and supplement that with your own personal contact, to achieve the desired number of contacts each year.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Using the Listing to Get the Listing

How can you use the listing, before you have the listing? (No, I haven't "lost it"!)

Technically, of course, you can't. However, you can create a marketing presentation that shows the seller exactly how your splendid marketing of their home will look.

For example, consider these simple options:
  • Drive to the seller's home, ahead of time, and take a high-quality digital image of the exterior. Use that image in your customized listing presentation and in all of your marketing "mock-ups."
  • Using an existing Featured Listing from your website as a base, create a dummy Featured Listing of the seller's property, including all of the information that you currently have about the property. (You can make up the rest, borrow it from one of your existing listings, or use the standard "lorem ipsem" nonsense text as filler.)
  • Similarly, create an Open House Listing Sheet, and any other kind of marketing collateral that you typically use.
The sellers will understand that, with incomplete information, your marketing samples will not be complete or accurate. But, they will be impressed with the extra time and effort you invested. And, they will be able to visualize, much more easily, just how your complete marketing system can work for them.