Social Media for Businesses Done Right: Martell Home Builders

A lot of companies have jumped on the social media bandwagon, but not all of them are doing a good job of it. The good news is, some are using social media in unique, creative and successful ways. One such company is Martell Home Builders.

Martell used to rely on realtors to advance their business, but since they started using social media, they created a direct-to-consumer model and they were able to cut out the middleman.

Their online marketing efforts began with a strategy that primarily used blogging and that focused on meeting their customer’s needs by writing articles such as “14 Must-Have Tools for New Homeowners.” They increased their readership by providing an opportunity for people to subscribe to blog posts by email.

They also placed GPS tracking devices on the vehicles of their contractors so that customers always knew where the contractor was, thus easing the customer’s mind.

To make the home building experience more social, they put up photo galleries of homes that were being built. This allowed homebuyers to watch the progress of the house and also enabled them to share their excitement with friends and relatives. Not only was this pleasing to their clients, it also provided an opportunity to gain social proof and visibility through the photos posted online.

Martell added the Facebook Like box to their website. This widget is updated in real time and pulls content directly from Martell’s Facebook Page every time they have a site visitor. The like box is also a great opportunity for social proof because it shows how many people have liked their page.

One of the greatest things about the Facebook Like box widget is that website visitors can become a fan on Facebook without ever leaving a website! Being able to like a Facebook page without ever leaving a site is a great way to encourage visitors to stay on a site longer.

Providing photos of home while they were being built and allowing customers to know where the contractors were at all times were both creative ways of fostering trust with their clients.

Selling Your Home As FSBO – What You Need to Know

There is no rule dictating that you can’t sell your own by yourself. In fact, there are other home owners like you who have done FSBO (for sale by owner). However, there are several things needing consideration for the process to be successful and beneficial on your part.

Home Value: You can’t just put an FSBO sign in front of your house without knowing how much your house is valued in the market. Of course, determining the figures will need you to avail the services of a professional appraiser. His expertise on the matter will be crucial to price your house enough. Not too low to be below than your buying price and not too high for it not to be purchased at all.

Marketing: As the sole person in charge of selling your home, you need to explore all advertising channels available. Because you’re on FSBO, you can’t put your house in MLS. It’s available to real estate agents only. You probably have to rely on the power of social media to make a buzz about your house being sold. Free ad posting services are also available like Craigslist. You can make flyers and brochures if you want and leave them in high-traffic spots like cafes, bars, restaurants, and parks. But you also need to cooperate with the owners and managers before you can distribute ads in their places, but it’s worth trying!

Contract: You should have the contract ready because a buyer can agree to purchase your house any time, and at times when you won’t expect it. Contracts are hard to prepare because there are legal matters associated to it. For hassle-free preparation, a real estate attorney helps well.

Security Deposit: You’re putting your house on FSBO because you need funds. When negotiating with a buyer, tell him that when he agrees to purchase the house and signs the contract, he should make a security deposit for his intention to buy the house. There should be clear agreement as to when the security deposit will be returned to the buyer and to when it will be forfeited in your favor.

Property Taxes: Avoid being caught in a dilemma after you have sold the house. Property taxes are associated costs that come after. Talk to a real estate accountant to determine the due taxes after successfully selling the house.

These are just four of the many things you need to know about FSBO. Inspections, buyer qualifications, and title should be discussed as a separate entry.

How to Market Your FSBO Home

Many FSBO sellers are told marketing their home for sale by owner is very difficult. The fact is that many FSBO sellers do not approach their attempt to sell in a proactive manner. The goal of any FSBO seller is to get as many buyers as possible to know their home is for sale. The number one mistake FSBO sellers make is not marketing their home properly.

There are many different things you can do to market a home. The number one is to use as many forms of media as possible to create maximum exposure for a home that is for sale. Because marketing is key to getting a home sold you will want to take the time when preparing a marketing plan. Advertising budget is always a concern but with the growth of the internet your options are plentiful and often free. Research your options so you can get the most bang for your buck. Be careful not to spend your time or money on services you don’t need.

Here is a list of FSBO marketing ideas:

1) Signs: Of course this is number one – make your signs simple with basic contact information like the phone number. Your number should be large and easy to read for potential buyers driving by searching the area for a home.

2) Free Online Local Classified Ads: There are many communities that have started free classified websites. (Free)

3) Open Houses: They can help but they’re not the best way to market your home. Many of the people coming to your home are neighbors or people that are not true committed buyers. That can be useful in some ways because they may share their knowledge with someone who is actually looking. Do not dis count this method though because only one person needs to like your home to find a potential buyer.

4) Using the Internet: The internet is the ultimate media source for creating exposure. It is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reach buyers. Most home buyers start (85%) their search online. There are several ways to advertise on-line. There are many for sale by owner websites and the key is to get your home on as many as possible. The main drawback is this may take you sometime but it is key to getting your home in the public eye. Many of these FSBO websites will allow you to list your home for free. Unlike in the past many of these FSBO sites now share their information and can get you placed on partner websites automatically.

5) CraigsList: You can post your property for free on CraigsList. Go to craigslist.com and make sure to select your city first. The draw back to this site is that you need to post frequently since listings are sorted by date.

6) Virtual Tour: The Virtual Tour is a great option. The virtual tour can give your prospective buyer a much better idea of what the interior of your home looks like. You may also want to consider posting several YouTube.com videos of your home for sale. This is a great high traffic website that can allow you to link to your online listing from the video.

7) Multiple Listing Service (MLS): Perhaps the best tool to market your home is the MLS. MLS listings are generally pulled by major websites like Realtor.com, and almost all real estate firm websites. To get listed you need to go through a real estate broker. There are many brokers that will list your property on MLS for a flat fee.

The best thing to remember is that as a FSBO seller you need to have a proactive approach to selling your home. There is no reason that you can not have the same number of eyeballs looking at your home online than if listed with a full service broker. You may have some minor costs establishing your online presence but it will be a fraction of the commissions paid to a traditional broker.

Sell Your Home by Owner in Less Than a Month

Even though the economy has stalled, you can still quickly sell your home by owner for a decent price. In fact, opting to sell your own house over using a real estate agent not only saves you money, but gives you full control over the sales strategy. This article aims to get the ball rolling in a house sale by owner.

First things first, you need to get your home valued by a third-party. There are plenty of professional valuation services available wherever you’re located. Because we’re in the middle of a financial crisis, it’s important not to set your profit goals too high. By all means try to make money from your house, but set realistic goals. It might also be worth checking out what other houses in your area are asking for.

After pricing comes advertising. Make sure to use the internet as well as printed media services, like some kind of nationwide real estate magazine. You can easily make your ad stand out by including high quality photographs of the main rooms of your house. To get a bit of extra buzz going, think about making a “virtual tour” video, and upload it to YouTube. Don’t underestimate the power of the internet.

Even with a perfect price and advertising campaign, it’s important to present your property as best as possible. Pay attention to the front yard (to boost “curb appeal”), the kitchen, and the bathroom. Replace broken glass, tiles, and mirrors, and think about buying some fashionable light fixtures. There are many small things you can tweak in your house that add value.

Interviewing a Web Savvy Listing Agent to Sell Your Home in the Crowded 2009 Atlanta Market

Over the last 24 months, particularly in large metropolitan markets like Atlanta, real estate print media has all but disappeared in favor of Internet promotion of listings and services. Web advertising continues to evolve; the ability of agents to provide enhanced listing details has captivated consumers who want easy access to every bit of online information that can be provided before they get into a car to begin the search. In the crowded 2009 Atlanta market with huge and stagnant inventories, differentiation is crucial. With approximately 45,000 single family homes and 10,000 condominiums available for purchase, there is significant motivation for sellers and listing agents to understand and implement high impact web marketing.

Customizable search criteria, birds eye views, street views, back yards, parking, amenities, questionable structures, bodies of water and topography are information used by enlightened Atlanta area buyers to eliminate properties in an oversupplied inventory. The Atlanta metro area has two MLS systems with significant overlap, so many agents list properties on both. In practice, a Multiple Listing System creates an equal playing field, so to leverage their listings, proactive agents are likely to advertise beyond the content of these systems. Powerful area specific websites, such as The Atlanta Journal Homefinder, Craigslist, Backpage, and Creative Loafing have evolved quickly to include extras like mapping tools and photo tours. However, these opportunities remain underutilized by listing agents, even when the advertising is free.

Specialized Internet marketing is not included in the skill set of most agents. Tech savvy agents who really get Internet marketing and property promotion are unique. An example of the typical disconnect is the property listing website, indexed by the house address url. What buyer knows your address before searching for their target dream home? How many web paths does your listing agent provide to move the buyer toward a site that showcases your home’s most appealing features?

More importantly, how does your agent achieve front page ranking on Google for your home? Occasionally I see listings that have placed an informational link in the private remarks section of the MLS listing, so that it may be viewed only by agents. If that is the sole online visibility of the path to a home’s virtual tour then everybody loses. The consumer browsing on a public access listing website misses some of the most compelling information. When I see this error, I know the agent has limited Internet marketing savvy; the chances of this home ranking high on Google are slim.

Descriptive property pages which achieve a high ranking on Google are not the result of large corporate brokerages which “stuff” listings into national real estate websites. In the large inventory of urban, suburban, and rural Atlanta housing, a home search can quickly confuse and frustrate buyers. The most successful web advertising for your home is a carefully crafted product managed by an agent who knows what really matters when consumers begin the search process. If Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park, The Avenue of East Cobb, or Roswell Square are popular destinations near your home, then the agent will incorporate this information into the web page title to capture additional traffic.

Relevant interview questions to help you identify a web savvy listing agent capable of creating a high impact marketing campaign to sell your home are:

* On which local and national real estate websites will you list my home?

* How often do you update my home’s listing information on these sites?

* What keyword searches can consumers use to find my home on the front page of Google?

* Explain how you incorporate SEO techniques into your overall marketing plan.

* Which Atlanta area specific domain names do you own that help potential clients find my house?

* Do you hire a professional photographer to showcase my home’s interior and exterior?

* How many pictures will appear on my home tour and which websites will display the tour?

* Will you add information to the pictures to create additional interest?

* How many seconds does it take for a buyer to load and view my tour?

* Can the photo tour of my home be emailed?

* Can you show me an example of your high impact listings?

* Will you walk me through the process that demonstrates how a buyer will find my home online?

* Will you show me all the details of my home’s listing profile as the public will view it?

* Will I receive weekly emails showing the number of views of my home’s virtual tour?

In the crowded 2009 Atlanta real estate market, the answers to these questions and the derived benefits are important differentiators between top sales achievers and those who won’t get to the closing table.