Fishing for Sales with Good Photography

July 29, 2009

bassAt UniqueHomeSites.com, we like to share ideas regarding real estate marketing on the Internet.

Today, we want to discuss something that many in the industry seem to ignore – great real estate marketing begins with great photos!

For consumers, there is nothing more frustrating than finding a listing through a search portal that passes the initial search parameters (i.e. price, location, size, etc), but fails to offer additional photos.

The typical reaction to a lack of photos is that something is wrong with the property.

In some cases, the listing agent may do this on purpose so that only the most interested home buyers will contact them personally for more photos.

Regardless, we feel that properties listed for sale on the Internet with only one or two photos are missing out on a huge opportunity to present their listing to as many Internet eyes as possible.

This is particularly true in today’s Internet age, where web surfers are becoming accustomed to open and instant access to information on-line.

One expert in this area is Larry Lohrman, operator of the Photography For Real Estate blog.

He offers some great tips and techniques for real estate photography, including the following tidbit:

“…the front shot is THE most important shot for marketing purposes.

Not only because Realtors have to use the front shot in all their marketing, but because of web site designs that make the thumbnail of the front shot the “lure” (as in fishing lure) that usually motivates the potential home buyer to take the first action (a click to look at more photos) that leads to a home buyer towards a home purchase.”

Fish on!

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Custom Branded Single Property Websites

July 23, 2009

wright1We are often getting requests from our user community to develop a single property website template that matches their personal brand as a real estate professional.

This is why we have introduced our Custom Branding Solution!

Upon request, we will engage our team of Graphic Designers to work with you to create your own unique and completely customized property website design.

Need an agent site? Hey, we also do that!

They come equipped with a powerful control panel, and are completely integrated with our UniqueHomeSites product… but that’s another blog post altogether.

Check out a few of our custom property website designs:

Jim Cooper, RE/MAX Metro-City Realty Ltd. – http://www.1111waterpark.com/

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Sean McCann, Royal LePage Team Realty Ltd. – http://www.282friel.com/

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Andrea Morrison, Royal LePage Real Estate Services Ltd. – http://www.8lessard.com/

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Do You Have a Listing Syndication Strategy?

June 1, 2009

radiotowerAn interesting article appeared on the New York Times website the other day.

It discusses the trend among real estate professionals to ‘syndicate’ their listings for display on other websites, such as Zillow.com, as a strategy to increase their online presence.

Listing syndication is nothing new, but the trend towards more liberal distribution of listings is not without its critics.

In response to the article, real estate blogger Dave Phillips from Charlottesville, Virginia, explores the question of whether it makes sense for local MLS systems to send their listings data to listings aggregators.

Acting as somewhat of a devil’s advocate, Mr. Phillips presents arguments against syndication, stating concerns about Internet market dilution with so many sites doing the same thing.

In Canada, only Realtor.ca and some local Canadian real estate boards can claim that they are the sole source for ALL realtor listings within a particular market.

Meanwhile, listing aggregators such as Zoocasa.com go above and beyond for online consumers, offering a richer search experience including neighbourhood descriptions (from wikipedia), school information, home price comparisons, and even a commuter cost calculator.

At UniqueHomeSites.com, we want to know what Canadian real estate agents, brokers, and owners think about listing syndication.

Please feel free to comment below… we want to hear from you!

Also, check out this video from Greg Afarian from Zipvo Corporation.


5 To-Do’s for Real Estate Brokers to Improve their Marketing Reach

May 4, 2009

reachThe folks over at 1000 Watt Consulting placed an interesting post on their blog the other day, which we believe hits the mark for real estate brokerages operating in today’s Internet age.

The post discusses 5 things that brokers should do to improve their marketing.

Here is a summary:

  1. Start thinking like a media company

    Listings and Market Knowledge = Content… Start broadcasting them!

  2. Perform a vendor audit

    Costs for things like bandwidth and online storage have dropped significantly in recent years, and new web-based applications are increasingly available at a fraction of the cost.

    Have a look at new technologies and services and compare them to those offered by your existing vendors. 

  3. User Testing

    Conduct live user testing on your website to discover what they like and dislike.

    Also, use free analytics software to analyze and track the performance of the content and design of your website. 

  4. Perform a website makeover 

    Do some research and you will find that many of your competitors have poorly designed websites.

    Stay ahead of the curve – Consider a redesign or cosmetic upgrade to your brokerage website.

  5. Differentiate! 

    Stay abreast of new applications or tools (i.e. Twitter, Facebook) and give consumers something to talk about!

    Try to set yourself apart from the competition by offering something different.


Better Homes and Gardens enters Canadian Real Estate Marketplace

April 27, 2009

bhglogoBetter Homes and Gardens Real Estate officially announced recently that it will be expanding its real estate brand into Canada after reopening in the United States last summer.

BHG Real Estate is targeting the younger generation of buyers, who have been flooding the market in recent months, at least in Canada, thanks to historically low interest rates and falling prices.

Leading the BHG expansion into Canada, and adding a high degree of respect and familiarity, is former executive vice-president with Royal LePage CanadaSherry Chris.

According to an article by Garry Marr of the Financial Post, which discusses the BHG expansion, Ms. Chris’ company will go after some of the independent brokerages in those markets but has a hands-off policy when it comes to recruiting any brokers from Coldwell Banker or Century 21.

“If there was an independent company in a major city that wanted to grow and felt that they could grow better by partners and affiliating and utilizing technology Better Homes and Gardens has created, they would become a master franchise for a geographic area,” Chris said.

We’re not exactly sure why the hands-off policy with C21 and Coldwell Banker, but this could be an exciting opportunity for real estate brokers across Canada, particularly those who are familiar with, and heavily use, social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc) and other internet marketing technologies.  

We’ve discussed BHG on this blog in the past, pointing out the numerous resources available on their website for anyone buying or selling a home, including an article entitled – ‘14 Ways to Add Curb Appeal’


Canadian Realtors using Video – Re-visited

April 20, 2009

videoAbout a year and a half ago, we did a post on real estate agents in Canada who use video to market themselves and their property listings.

Given that video is rapidly becoming mainstream on the Internet, to the point where surfers/consumers are actually expecting it, we decided to re-visit the subject.

For this post, we searched YouTube for realtors in Canada and found a variety of video marketing techniques being used right now.

To see the complete results of our analysis, visit our recently created YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/uniquehs and have a look at our subscriptions.

Alternatively, have a look at some of the videos below that highlight some of the better uses of video that we found.

Matt Richling, of RE/MAX Affiliates Realty LTD, produced this video for one of his office listings:

Rich Zalaudek, of Homelife Benchmark Realty in White Rock, B.C., employs the professional video services of Video Openhouse for this listing presentation:

Team Cook of Royal LePage Team Realty in Ottawa, provides a more personal approach with voice-over descriptions of the property and neighbourhood.

Edmonton Realtor Sheldon Johnston, of Coldwell Banker Johnston Real Estate, discusses sales, listings, inventory, and first time home buyers in the Edmonton, Alberta, real estate market.

And, last but not least, Vancouver real estate agent Ian Watt of Sutton Group conducts a daily video blog, from his car of all places! This guy is often cited as one of the top video bloggers in North America.


Property Video Tours Featured on ‘Good Morning America’

April 3, 2009

onlinesaleWith often intense competition for new listings, some real estate agents are looking at the use of video for that added touch when marketing their services to clients.

Once only used by a handful of agents, technology has made it easier for sellers of real estate to capture video and display it for public viewing on the web.

Professional videographers are also popping up, which offer a more polished property video production, usually in High Definition. 

Larry Lohman from Photography for Real Estate blog points us to a recent story on ABC’s Good Morning America, which discusses the power of video in capturing people’s attention. 

You can check out the segment here, or have a look at some tips they offer for creating your own video tour.

  • Don’t pan around too quickly. Give the potential buyer time to take in the beauty of your house.
  • Use the zoom sparingly. It’s one feature that gets old quickly and, if used too often, will have less and less effect on the viewer.
  •  If you’re showing something important, count to 10 in your head with the camera centered on it. Make sure the viewers have plenty of time to take it in.
  •  Consider using a tripod. Even the most steady-handed of us tend to wobble from time to time. Your viewers will thank you.