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CONFESSIONS OF A REAL ESTATE JUNKIE/CANADIAN GOLD

The Winter Olympic Games that just finished up this past week, were by most reasonable measures, a big success. I had the opportunity to be in Toronto last week in a meeting with about sixteen of our Canadian Publishers of The Real Estate Book. The excitement and pride associated with hosting the games was very evident. I remember personally experiencing that same sense of  “pride of place”  and  “pride of  Country” when the games were here in Atlanta, where I’m based, in the summer of 1996.

But the Olympic games aren’t the only good news going on in Canada these days. I was reviewing housing stats provided by CREA, Canadian Real Estate Association, prior to my trip there and was thoroughly impressed by how well the housing market performed in 2009.

While most of the U.S. weathered another challenging year in 2009, our neighbors to the North, did very well.  Canadian homes sales increased by 7.7% and that’s on top of healthy gains in 2008 as well.  Results did vary widely by Province,  from a high of +23.4% in British Columbia to a low of -7.8% in Nova Scotia.  Canadian home prices increased by 5%, and again that’s on top of a gain in 2008. Only one Province, Alberta, showed a small decline with all remaining Provinces gaining ground and Newfoundland increasing the most at 15.6%.

CREA forecasts that 2010 will be another good year with a 13% gain in home sales and a 5.4% gain in prices. All pretty impressive. The good times will roll on.

How has Canada been able to largely avoid the calamity that hit most U.S. markets these past three years? My opinion only, but from what I can patch together; more conservative banking practices, fewer “creative” mortgage products and less speculative home building.

You’ve got to love that Canadian Gold.

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Basic Social Media Strategies for Real Estate

lipsAt the recent Keller Williams Family Reunion in New Orleans, agents packed multiple sessions on social media for real estate.  They have heard the buzz and know they should be using social as a part of their marketing mix and were looking for guidance on exactly what they are trying to accomplish with this new tool and how to reach their goals.

Goals and Expectations.  While social media may be the next new buzz, agents realize that they should have specific goals and expectations.  They don’t want to spend time and energy on an activity with no payoff.  What should they expect? 

  1. To ENGAGE potential prospects and clients through one-on-one interaction
  2. To PROMOTE their personal brands
  3. To INCREASE their sphere of influence
  4. To GENERATE new business

So, what are the recommended basic starting points?

The Facebook Personal Profile.  Think of this as your business social persona and use it in the same way you would interact with prospective and past clients and mix your personal life with enough of your professional life to make others comfortable doing business with you.  Typically, this means 75-85% personal and 15-25% business – the same type of mix you would use at a cocktail party or other social event.  It’s ok to feature a new listing on your profile if you have something interesting to say about it or invite others to an open house or event, just don’t overdo it.  DO show your personal interests, personality, and sense of humor while reminding your friends that you are a real estate professional.  DON”T share controversial political or religious views or become a Farmville or Mafia War fanatic. (It’s annoying.)  Top tips for getting started?

  1. Let Facebook look through your email addresses to find your friends.  Include a personal note in friend requests. Friend others you meet.  Start to build your network.
  2. Post happy, appropriate, and flattering photos not only of yourself – but of other people.  Tag them.  This creates connections to your profile.
  3. Comment.  When you comment, others see your comments and comment back.  This creates engagement and interaction.
  4. Don’t abandon.  Monitor and comment daily.  Post at least 3-5 times per week.
  5. Put your Facebook personal url on your business card, email signature, etc. to encourage others to “friend you.”

The Facebook Fan Page.  This is the appropriate place to showcase your business.  Think of it as your business web page within Facebook.  It’s publicly accessible to everyone – even those outside Facebook.  “Fans” come here for  information and advice on the local real estate market and community, so don’t make it all about you.   Share things on this page that offer value.  For example, share local market stats, showcase new listings, talk about schools, parks, and community events.  Encourage interaction by posting and sharing information that benefits the fans (so they’ll share) and that prompt comments.  DO offer value in every post.  DON’T oversell.  Top tips for getting started?

  1. Just start.  Create the page and set up an intuitive url through Facebook.  Make it something meaningful to the market – not just about you.  (example – www.facebook.com/yourtown  or your area of expertise.)
  2. Post.  Events. Information. Photos, photos, photos (tag when appropriate. )
  3. Allow others to comment.  Comment on every comment. 
  4. Don’t abandon.  Monitor and comment daily.  Post at least 3-5 times per week.
  5. PROMOTE OFFLINE.  Include the url on your business card, print ad, yard signs, direct mail etc.  Use offline to drive traffic online.

That’s the start.  And enough to get you started.  Next steps?  Blogging and Twitter . . . . For more information, go to www.realestatebookfacebook.com and become a fan.

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CONFESSIONS OF A REAL ESTATE JUNKIE/REBOUND

Rebound. Now that’s a word many of us in and around the real estate industry have been waiting to hear. Well, it’s here and it’s real. In 2009 NAR reports there were about 300,000 more resales than in the previous year and the forecast for 2010 is for sales to increase again, this time by about 500,000 homes. And sales of brand new homes will kick in too, rebounding from 377,000 homes in 2009 to 529,000 in 2010. Prices, which contracted in 2009, will stabilize and maybe increase slightly in 2010.

From a marketing point of view, there is another type of rebound forecast for 2010. Borrell Associates, Inc. is projecting that media spend will increase by 2.7% to $8B after contracting 19% in 2009. Even more interesting, is the mix of the media spend. It is not what you might expect. Online or Internet spend is expected to drop again in 201o as it did last year. Even with this drop, it’s important to note that the Internet has replaced the newspaper in terms of dominate share of spend.

But here is the part of the forecast I personally find most interesting. The spend on printed color catalogs/home magazines and the like, are projected to increase over 60% in 2010. Wow! Why? The real estate business remains a hyper local one. The average move in 2009 from previous home to new home was 12 miles. Local exposure matters and catalogs like The Real Estate Book allow the Agent or Broker to communicate market presence and dominance in a way the Internet doesn’t.  Home sellers notice and so do those who are thinking about listing their home soon.

An integrated or multi channel approach to real estate marketing is, in my opinion, the way to go. I’ll be happy to provide all the research I have. Just ask.

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