Guest Article by Rachel Borrelli, CCSP, RTS, RESAPRO
For years we have understood the importance of a listing’s marketing photos and how they need to resonate with potential buyers. As a Realtor or seller, you may have felt bombarded with this information of late.
During the COVID 19 Stay home, Stay Safe period, online photos have been the main way to see a property. COVID 19 was not the start of online shopping; rather, it was the time when, regardless of age, we all embraced the culture of shopping online. We trusted companies to shop for apparel, groceries, furniture, home finishing selections for our renos, Teslas and properties.
There has never been a time when those photos have been more important.
Virtual presence is now the real first impression.
This is our first impression of the property and the Realtor’s brand.
While real estate transactions have temporarily slowed, they have still been taking place. And photos facilitated this.
Sellers have the knowledge that good photos mean reduced time on the market, less traffic and inconvenience in their house and buyers also want the same thing. Buyers want to see fewer properties and do not want to spend months finding that perfect home. To do this, they will spend more time online.
Not convinced you need professional assistance with those photos. Consider the biggest online platform today: Instagram with 40 million users. Why? The largest purchasing group, millennials, want to make fast decisions based on a photo. They know what they want when they see it. And after they acquire the property, they want to have their friends over within days and then show off their newly purchased home (online) with them enjoying it.
It’s about stories, connections and emotions. That is what photos do for us. Before reading the description, we look at the photos and if the photos do not match the description, the agent’s credibility may also be lost. Swipe left. Next.
A professional real estate stager understands how to create the WOW factor in pictures thereby increasing the perceived value to the buyer.
We do this by showing off the space and size of the property and highlighting the strongest points of the property inside and out. This is not decorating, it’s merchandizing.
Research shows that potential buyers perceive a staged property as well-maintained & turnkey. By having amazing photos, listings receive higher online traffic and that equates to higher or faster in-person viewings.
Together with a good photographer, we ensure properties show their absolute best the first time. During the Stay Home, Stay Safe movement, it was time to get innovative! So, we took our home staging consultations to an online service, where our expertise and experience has been helping property sellers turn their lived-in homes into a stunning model space within hours.
With technology today (e.g., Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, FaceTime) we are able to “walk” with your client through the property, providing real-time feedback and recommendations specific to each room.
Our Online Staging Consultations include:
• A detailed walk thru of the property room by room, inside and out.
• Recommendations about what to pack and remove, what to replace and repair. Also, furniture placement, art and even paint color.
• A customized priority staging checklist with guides, pictures or videos sent by e-mail.
• Ongoing support as the client continues to work thru the checklist.
April 2020 via Online Home Staging Consultation
“Hi Rachel, hope you liked the MLS marketing photos. We got an offer from first person out of the 3 showings on the first weekend. Conditional sale after a little negotiation …and 1003 emails sent between people since Friday, so generated lots of interest. Thanks again for all your home staging recommendations! It sure had an impact! “
Allison, Calgary Homeowner
Now that we are re-opening in Alberta, why would we need online staging consultations?
Online virtual home staging consultations are here to stay. There will always be reasons or a client that can benefit from this service. For example, if you have clients that are in a rural area or sick and cannot have anyone in the home. We also do design consultations online for rural areas where home buyers want recommendations on their redesign or renovation projects.
The goal of home staging is to always have the property show its absolute best online and in person, as well as have the seller appreciate and benefit from the process of preparing their property for sale.
‘It was reported in Canada that “overall internet traffic grew by more than 40% between Feb. 1 and April 19, 2020 with almost all of that increase occurring in March and April.”*
This trend of working at home or the increased online traffic may slow as we begin to open our neighbourhoods. However, what will not change is the fact that the first impression is the most important impression. What a good photo does change, is when that impression occurs.
About Rachel Borrelli
Rachel Borrelli is the owner and lead Property Stylist of Diversa Designs Home Staging and Redesign. As a member of the Canadian Certified Staging Association and a Master Residential Expert, she has a passion for Real Estate Staging and brings a collaborative approach to benefit clients, colleagues, and the industry. As a graduate from the University of Calgary Visual Design program, specializing in Interior Design, Rachel creates safe, functional, and beautiful spaces for people to call home. Rachel is the recipient of a RESA 2019 Top 10 Canadian Home staging award and the current Alberta Provincial President, Real Estate Staging Association (RESA)
* Flanagan, R. (2020, May 7). We’re watching so many videos that internet traffic is at unprecedented highs. CTV News. https://www.ctvnews.ca/
There’s a new normal in the world now, and it can be tricky to navigate selling Real Estate in it. Thankfully, there are many tools available to help you work through this time. Here are just a few ways to keep everything moving in your business.
3D tours are a great thing to include on your website. These allow prospective buyers to view the entire property from the safety and comfort of their own space. They can get a full view of the house and walk around while keeping a safe social distance.
Live Stream Tours
Hosting a live stream on social media is also a fantastic way to show off a property you have listed. Most social media platforms have some form of Livestreams available to you. Not only does it allow potential buyers to see the property, but it also gives you the chance to answer any questions people might have in real-time.
Use Plenty of Pictures
You can never go wrong with the use of pictures. Take pictures of everything a buyer might want to see, and anything the seller would want to feature, and make a post to social media or feature them in your print marketing. Use the photos as an opportunity to talk about the property. You can also include the pictures on your website.
Print marketing is a safe and easy way to connect with your clients and build a referral base using the power of physical connection. A simple postcard with your favourite recipe or motivating quote can inspire your clients while they’re distancing at home. Or send them a printed newsletter full of engaging articles. You can even use print to send out information about any of your listings so people can see that you’re there for them when they need to buy or sell.
Marketing is a necessity in real estate. It works behind the scenes to build and strengthen relationships for your business. This is your typical AIDA Marketing Funnel. It illustrates the stages you have to go through in order to create clients with your marketing: Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action.
We tend to start our marketing efforts in the awareness phase attracting prospects into the funnel. This approach works to build a client base by increasing public knowledge of you one message at a time. Since you’re creating relationships with these prospects, it takes a lot of work and resources, but long-term, the results can be very beneficial. To make the awareness stage a success, implement broad messaging where people will see your name repeatedly in a variety of formats – video, print, social media, email, billboards, bus benches, online display ads, etc.
Interest and Desire
The interest and desire phases of the funnel often overlap because the ultimate goal is similar. You want prospects to recognize you are the person to talk to about real estate. You want them to seek you out because of what they’ve seen and heard about you. Messages are stronger in these stages and focus on your unique value proposition – what you have to offer that will solve their problems. Share your successes through information like personal sale statistics and client testimonials so people see you get the job done. You want to answer the age-old question of “What’s in it for me?” Effective mediums include personal connections, informative ads, videos, email, print, paid search, etc. You can use our Business Builders and Just Listed or Sold cards to assist in the Interest and Desire phases.
With the action phase, you have the opportunity to guide people to personally connect with you and your business. Offering market comparisons, free home evaluations, personal meetings, sending Mini Mags etc. all encourage prospects to work with you. This is also where your sales prowess comes into play. Selling leads on your skills and expertise shouldn’t be that difficult if you’ve created a trustworthy relationship with them over the trek through the marketing funnel phases.
Experts state it’s about 5x more expensive to get a new customer than keep an existing one. Therefore, keep your sphere of influence (past clients) at the top of your plans when it comes to marketing. Someone who has worked with you before or knows you and your business well doesn’t have to go through the awareness or interest phases of the marketing funnel with as much guidance as a prospect. They can head straight to the action phase when they have the need. They do have to be aware of you but that comes from consistently keeping in touch with them. If you keep in touch regularly, your relationship builds and they become loyal advocates who generate repeat and referral business for you. When they refer you to someone they know, that person jumps into the desire/action phase of the funnel saving you time and resources.
Take a look at your marketing and what phase(s) of the marketing funnel you connect with. Do your messages and methods of connecting work with what you’re attempting to do?
We’ve been hearing from agents that farming a neighbourhood takes a lot of time and resources and the results aren’t instant. This is true. You’re starting to build a relationship with complete strangers therefore it’s going to take a while. They have to recognize, trust and become interested in you and your abilities as a real estate agent. Plus, they have to be in the market for a move.
You’re looking to target those people that are in the market and don’t have an agent yet. There are a few ways you can figure out who they are and engage them quicker. Ultimately you want them to reach out to you and ask about your services or the market in their community.
Think about a layered approach with a bus bench, door knocking, a mailed piece, a website and an e-newsletter.
The bus bench raises awareness of you. It’s going to tie in all parts of your marketing because the visual element will be recognizable.
Door knocking will humanize you and quickly start building a relationship.
A mailed piece, such as our Business Builder, will provide value. It will show how you’re a resource for real estate information and again increase your awareness within the community.
A website or social media page (with community-specific information and statistics) will provide more value, create an interest in you as a neighbourhood expert and show you’re active and invested in the neighbourhood.
The E-Newsletter, like the one we offer, gleans contact information for those who have taken an interest in you and what you’re offering. Stay top of mind with them while further strengthening your relationship.
Remember to have a call to action on all elements and direct prospects from one element to another to build your success. For example, the mailed piece mentions the website, the website links to the e-newsletter, the e-newsletter asks if they’ve found your bus bench, the bench asks them to call you…
Websites have come a long way in recent years. From SEO to mobile friendly to IDX integration, there is a lot to know when putting your online presence together. We know there are many companies out there that specialize in creating and hosting real estate websites and we highly recommend you get a pro to create one for you as it’ll save you time and probably a few headaches. However, there are some keys we think are important to consider to make your website the most effective it can be.
Make sure your website is optimized to work on mobile devices and that it works well. This is a no brainer – if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you’re going to lose a lot of traffic.
If your website takes any length of time to load, it’s going to be skipped over by prospects as well as search engines. Test it on various browsers and devices to make sure it’s quick to load.
Show you’re active in real estate by posting fresh content (which also helps your ranking in search results). It can be updating your blog (ideally with more than just listings), changing and adding testimonials, or if you’re active on social media having your feed on your website. If you’re using our Mini-Mag service, post your complimentary digital copy on your website. The digital newsletter will update each time your printed newsletter is mailed and it’s search engine optimized, so it appears on your website as fresh content.
If your “about me” page is the same as the competitions’, chances are you’ll both be over looked. Or if the photo on your website header is the same one as the template your marketing company offers… think about changing it up, please. Having personally written text and your own photos will go further to creating a relationship with a prospect than having a bunch of “cookie cutter” info.
GOOD AND MULTIPLE CALLS TO ACTION
Please, don’t hide your contact information at the bottom of the page. Make it front and center. Also, have buttons and ask visitors to take the next step in their real estate journey. Use phrases like “call me now” or “click for more information” to drive the process.
There are many goals of having a website. One is to use it to capture leads – have a form pop-up that offers resources or market information or host a “VIP” section where visitors have to sign-up to access particular information.
NEIGHBOURHOOD PROFILE PAGES
Not the “static” ones that come with the site like “north west” but actual neighbourhoods you have an invested interest in (maybe you live there or farm that area) – having information on your website that highlights a particular area (not just listings from the area) will boost your credibility as the neighbourhood expert.
REMOVE ‘COMING SOON’ PAGES
If you’re never going to write a blog, just take the page down. Same with testimonial pages, community info pages, etc. What are the features of your website that you feel give you the most personality? Is there something you would add to the above list?
With the new year already here, you may be looking at ways to bring your business to the next level. One way to do that is by visiting trade shows. Attending industry tradeshows, like the ones put on by your company, Board or Association can provide excellent value to your business. However, they can also take up part to a whole day, and you can come away from them overwhelmed and with no new business connections. That’s not good for anyone. To help you make the most of the next tradeshow you attend, try planning ahead of time, making notes at the show and following up.
Plan in Advance
• Look at your business and ask yourself questions like: What areas do you need help with? Who do you need to add to your Rolodex as a partner? What do you do well? What can you delegate?
• Now, take a look at the exhibitor list. Then sort the booths into three categories: Must-See (those that will solve a problem), Would Like to See (those that could help you out now or in the future) and Pass Over (they aren’t related to your business or don’t fulfil a business need or want.)
• Time is of the essence at a tradeshow, so use the floor plan to determine where you will head first, second, etc. Plan the Must See’s first, the Would Like to See’s second and then the Passes. Knowing where you need to be will help you from lingering at booths you don’t need to see just because they’re handing out a neat fidget spinner.
At the Show
• Before you head out, remember to pack lots of business cards, a pen and a notepad.
• Arrive early in the day or in the last hour or two of the show – most tradeshows are slow at the start of the day, progressively get busier and then thin out at the end of the day.
• At each Must See/Like to See booth, ask if information can be sent to you after the show. This way, you don’t have to carry it around, and you’re more likely to look at it if it’s not a part of the “tradeshow bundle” you accumulate. Feel free to give them your business card!
• Take notes after each booth so you remember what you liked and what you needed more information on.
• Also, make a note if you weren’t able to get to a particular booth you wanted to see. You can always phone the company or look on their website after the show for more information.
• Network, but limit the time you spend chatting with friends. You’re there to make new connections – you can grab a coffee with your friend another day.
After the Show
• Expect companies to call or email you in the weeks following the show. Have your notes handy so you can ask any questions you may have come up with or start working with those companies you connected with.
• Pay attention to your email. Companies may send exclusive offers to those that stopped by their booth.
• Follow up with companies you missed and call those you want to start working with. Being proactive can save you time and help you solve your needs sooner so you can grow your business.
Every moment matters. Have a great 2019!
We at DMS Connect are accepting donations for the Edmonton Food Bank at our office at 101-10620 178 Street up until December 20, 2018 at 4:30pm.
We have collected 181.4 lbs of food! Only 18.6 lbs left to gather to meet our goal of 200 lbs.
Help us by dropping your food donations off at DMS Connect, 101-10620 178 St
Watch our Facebook page to see the donations grow, follow us: @DMSConnectCanada
The most needed food items include: Beans with or without pork, canned fish or meat, baby formula, peanut butter, healthy school snacks (100% real juice boxes, granola bars, fruit cups), soup, canned fruit or vegetables, pasta & pasta sauce.
Please stop by and help us feed those in need this holiday season. If you’re not in the Edmonton area, please take a picture of your donation to your local Food Bank and post it on our Facebook page.
We appreciate everyone’s support!
Guest Article by Rachel Borrelli
REALTORS® often ask “Is it really necessary to change the lighting in a home when preparing a home for sale?”
While I cannot guarantee a sale of a home, I can say that outdated light fixtures suggest work. Work does not suggest TURN KEY – a term every home buyer wants to hear. It means we can move in and slowly change the things we don’t like in order to make it our own. “My home, my way.”
Now if you’re a handyman that may not mean anything, as it’s not a big job and it certainly does not need to be expensive! The big box stores and specialty lighting stores all have plenty of choices at all price points.
So when do we know if we should suggest the lights be changed:
• When they are rusty, damaged or just 20 years old and show it
• When they don’t suit the standard of the luxury home you are selling
• When there is inadequate/insufficient lighting to properly illuminate the room or closet
• When they are disproportionate and out of scale
What should it be changed to, and how trendy should the lights be? Think simple, stylish lights in silver or nickel metal with a brushed or shiny finish.
Only use a gold light fixture when all the hardware in the house is still original gold. As a general rule, leave the rustic, industrial or super modern styles for newer homes.
That does not mean you should not change out a single light because you cannot afford to change them all. If your front entrance and dining light are in the same view, then change both (but not every room).
A dark and dingy home is not appealing and can make rooms appear smaller. Ensure the rooms are bright by replacing bulbs with the maximum lighting wattage the fixture will allow.
Don’t forget to add supplemental lighting with lamps, which also create that peaceful, comfortable mood or task lighting for reading in a corner or for cooking under the kitchen cabinets.
Another tip is to use a soft white or warm white throughout each room. Not yellow or a bluish white. At the very least, ensure that all the bulbs are giving out the same colour in a room.
Refresh and dramatically transform or update your listing with the simple change of a light feature.
About Rachel Borelli
We met Rachel in Calgary and were very impressed with her. We asked her to write a guest blog post to share some of her knowledge with you. This blog is information that you can take to your next listing – and don’t forget to call Rachel if you’re an agent in the Calgary area.
Rachel is the owner and lead Property Stylist of Diversa Designs Inc., serving Calgary and surrounding areas since 2010. As a member of the Canadian Certified Staging Association and the Real Estate Staging Association, she believes staying current matters and sharing that information, so your listings sell for top dollar and as quickly as possible!
September is the new January.
At least when it comes to setting goals.
When January 1st hits, many of us make New Year’s resolutions in hopes to eat better, live healthier, do more, be more productive, etc. As most of us can attest to, by March 1st, we’re nowhere near on track to keep our resolutions. With the cold weather, shorter hours of sunlight, hopes of vacations and dreams of spring & summer, we often get distracted from our goals.
However, after summer winds down and fall begins, it seems like everyone gets a chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh. Routines become common place once again and it’s easier to focus with the pull of summer days behind us. As a result, it’s a great time to revisit or even set new goals. With a quarter of the year left, it’s also easy to see the results of short-term goals before the New Year.
Remember to make your goals SMART. Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant and Time Based.
What do you think about setting goals in September? Does it feel like a second start to the year to you?
Comment on our Facebook page.