Is Your Real Estate Agent Getting You Maximum Exposure?

What can your real estate agent offer you? That is the question you ought to be asking yourself these days. With the huge shift in traditional marketing methods to the internet, and now social media/networking platforms online, it pays to do your homework before signing any contracts.
Although nearly 90% of buyers and sellers are turning to the internet for their real estate related needs, a depressingly lower amount of Realtors are actually taking the time to learn about online marketing strategies. This can be detrimental to your exposure and/or finding the best deals possible.
Unfortunately, many agents and brokers are still stuck in the stone age of marketing, and refuse to accept change within their own industry. Although traditional methods still hold some weight when advertising a home, you could be missing an enormous piece of the pie if you do not work with an agent that is also innovative and tech savvy.

Here is a List of Questions You Should Be Asking During an Interview:

1. “What types of social marketing do you employ?” Let’s face it. If your agent is not investing the time into building a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ following (or the host of other media available today), then there are literally hundreds of buyers and other professional contacts that are slipping right into the hands of their local competitors.

We are in the day and age of networking, and word travels at the speed of light. Therefore, your agent should be promoting your home on all of the following platforms by building specific pages and listings for your property where buyers can instantly find you. This will give you maximum exposure.

2. “How do you capture leads?” On the other hand, not only is it important for your agent to network and promote your property online, but they also need to collect the necessary contact information from website visitors in order to do business with each prospect.
Therefore, your Realtor should have their own website with an active blog, in order to keep in constant contact with their audience. By marketing on Craigslist, Google, Youtube, article directories, and any other medium available, your agent should be able to drive traffic back to their own sites.
Next, each person should be directed to some form of lead capture where they can enter their contact information for further updates on your listing. This could also include using mobile marketing, which will allow people to offer their cell phone number in exchange for property details. QR and/or text codes can be included on websites or even signage and postcards.
3. ”How do you follow up with your leads?” Finally, can you be certain that your agent will go to work for you? Regardless of how many leads they may generate, if they do not have an effective follow up plan in place to build relationships and get buyers taking action, then your efforts could be wasted.
It is important that your agent spends the time to build effective email campaigns, submit updated blog posts and social media updates, and make direct phone calls to incubate each lead and ensure that action is taken while leads are still hot.
Also, can they provide strong evidence of quantifiable results with their real estate marketing campaigns, and are you confident in their ability to sell? Do you see the potential of getting a head above the rest and truly taking advantage of all the resources that are available at your fingertips?
By carefully reviewing all of the above criteria before choosing an agent, you will be able to ensure that you are receiving the best attention and service possible. If you are interested in setting up a time to review our in depth presentation on how we will put our comprehensive marketing strategies to work for you, please contact us today. We guarantee you will not be disappointed!

6 Easy Tips to Cut Back on Utility Costs

With rising utility costs and overall living expenses, people everywhere are looking for creative ideas on how to reduce spending. One of these major areas that can have a significant impact on your bottom line long-term is with heating, cooling and electric bills.
Therefore, it is important to take strides whenever possible to help alleviate this financial burden. We have devised a checklist of 6 items for you to review and determine where you can start cutting back expenses and improving efficiency in your home:
1. Maintain your furnace and air conditioning units: This is one area that homeowners can tend to disregard. Yet, just like conducting routine repairs on your automobiles; likewise, it is just important to keep up with these items as well. And it’s only necessary once per year!
In fact, the amount of money you can save in the long run by avoiding more significant maintenance hassles or losing a unit well before it’s time makes this step well worth it. Additionally, you will maintain a higher efficiency and experience cleaner air too.
2. Standby power: Did you know that many items around your house such as your TV, entertainment system, Wii, computer, microwave, etc. are constantly drawing electricity even when they are not powered on?
In fact, items throughout your house such as these typically can account for approximately 10% of your total energy consumption! Simply by having certain items plugged into a power cord that can be switched off when not in use may have a significant impact.
3. Consider investing in a programmable thermostat: Installing one of these can be fairly inexpensive and is extremely useful for families that are always on the go! Simply set the meter to fluctuate a few degrees during key timeframes, and the savings will really start to add up.

4. Decrease your water heater’s temperature: By switching the temperature down to the lowest setting can impact your energy bills from 5-10%. You will still have plenty of hot water and can enjoy some extra cost savings as well.

5. Change you appliance settings: Many dishwashers, washers, and dryers have advanced settings that could also be increasing your utility bills. Consider turning off those extra bells and whistles such as the heated dry, automatic sensor settings, or wrinkle shield. Also, you can wash with cold water and only do larger loads when necessary.

6. Dimmer switches and motion detectors: Another tip is to replace your current fixtures or switches with these energy efficient alternatives. You will be able to consume far less energy and your family will only use light when necessary. Even if you do not install these items, get in the habit of shutting off the lights in any room that is not occupied.
By following these 6 simple steps, you will begin to save more money and consume fewer resources. There are so many other ways that you can improve energy efficiency as well, so we encourage you to take the time to research what may be beneficial for you. Be sure to bookmark our page for regular updates and other free real estate related tips. Also, please don’t hesitate to refer us to a friend or family member! Thanks for stopping by.

3 Things To Consider Before Listing As FSBO

If you’re looking to sell your home in the near future, you may feel inclined to list it as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO) before working with a Realtor. For many, this is considered one good way to cut back on costs and possibly earn a little more profit on the sale.
However, there are certain aspects you may want to consider before going down this path. Statistically, over 80% of FSBO’s end up being listed with a Realtor at some point. Therefore, it pays to take the time to fully assess whether or not this is the right plan of action for you.

Properly Marketing Your Property

First of all, listing a home for sale can be a very time consuming and difficult process. Unfortunately, this typically is not as easy as posting a sign in the yard and setting up a classified ad in the local newspaper. There is certainly a lot more than meets the eye.
For instance, many FSBO websites will tout that you can obtain a wide exposure to buyers nationally, but this pales in comparison to the results that you can expect from big named sites like Realtor.com, which only agents can post to.
Next, your agent will have a lot of expertise with implementing online real estate marketing strategies that will gain you a ton of locally targeted searches. And in fact, nearly 90% of all searches for real estate related inquiries start online.
Realtors will also have a strong network of both agents and buyers that they work with on a regular basis. This is a business where it pays to network. More contacts equals greater exposure.

Asking Price & Showings

For starters, a lot of FSBO’s will start at the wrong asking price. This is by far one of the most important factors that goes into marketing your home, so you want to do this properly off the bat. But, without being fully invested in your local market and understanding the current trends, it can be difficult to price the home accurately.
As alluded to in section one, selling a home can be a lot of work. Most individuals these days have to juggle a full time job, family obligations, recreational activities, household chores, etc. Where do you find the time for fully investing into the sale as well?
When the opportunity would arise for interested parties to view your property, you would need to schedule individual showings, open houses, inspectors, appraisers, etc., while also trying to stage and maintain your property’s appearance. Miss out on a good opportunity for matching schedules and you can quickly lose interest.

Negotiations & Contracts

If you get to the point where you negotiate with a buyer, it is much more difficult to handle this aspect without a qualified agent. Selling your home can be a very emotional undertaking, so it is easier to set unrealistic expectations, or to even concede on more than necessary when you don’t have a 3rd party buffer.
During most real estate transactions, both the buyer and seller will typically have a set of concessions and contingencies. For a majority of buyers, they will expect to have some type of a financing, inspection and/or termite contingency.
This is set up for their protection, in order to complete their due diligence on the home before moving forward to closing. If other issues are found, this may even been grounds for further negotiation or eventually walking away from the deal.
Or you will be expected to lower the price, fix the issue or offer a concession on something else in order to alleviate the problem. Likewise, you want to ensure that the buyer is not overstepping their boundaries or that you are pressured into giving away more than is reasonable.
In summary, it’s worth taking the time to carefully consider these 3 areas before making any final decisions. If you still decide to take the FSBO route, we sincerely wish you great success. Also, please feel free to share our information with a friend and to bookmark our page for future reference as well!

4 Keys To Saving For Your Future Home

In this video, we will explore some things to consider when you’re getting ready to save for your next home purchase.

What To Know Before Buying Your Next Fixer Upper

If you’re looking to buy a fixer upper here are some rules to follow:

  • Pick the right location!
  • Know Your Stuff
  • Make sure you consider the time and cost associated with doing a rehab
  • What are your financing options?

Why Do I Need Title Insurance?

Before purchasing a home, it is vital that you have a better understanding of title insurance policies that are available for both lender and homeowner protection. If obtaining a mortgage, title insurance will be a requirement to shelter the lender for the full amount of the loan until it is completely paid off.
However, owner title insurance will be something you need to consider if you want to protect your own interests as well, since the aforementioned would not cover your own equitable interests in the property. Typically the purchase of an owner policy can either be covered by the seller, or is something that you can include along with the lender policy for a small investment.
When purchasing a home, buyers are actually obtaining a right to occupy the land and property space which comes in the form of a title. Therefore, insurance is necessary to identify any issues that may be attached to the title of the home before closing on the property.

Several Issues That This Search Could Uncover Include:

  • Easements that may allow for roads, sidewalks, cables, etc. to be built on your land
  • Judgments or liens that are a result of unpaid taxes or money that is owed
  • Errors or forged signatures contained within deeds, trusts or wills
  • Undisclosed heirs or rightful owners to the property
  • Additional legal issues or pending suits such as divorce that could affect the purchase

Owner title insurance will protect both homeowners and their heirs from any claims that arise as a result of problems that were initiated prior to obtaining the coverage. In the event that you were to inherit your own liens or judgments against the home, a new policy would then protect the next buyer if these bills were overlooked and remained unpaid upon closing.

Did you know that approximately 1/3 of all title searches will uncover some type of issue on a property? Although these tend to be extremely thorough and accurate, there are still those rare instances where certain matters will remain undetected. Title insurance is therefore the solution for any such cases that may arise.
In the event that you purchase a policy and claims do arise, the policy will reimburse you for any losses that are incurred under the coverage. Therefore, the stress, fees and wasted time that you can avoid when faced with such unfortunate circumstances are well worth the small investment.
To obtain information on reputable title companies that we highly recommend before your next purchase, contact us using the information included on our “Contact Us” tab above.

7 Tax Benefits Of Owning Real Estate

There are so many advantages to purchasing your own home. For instance, it offers the pride of ownership, provides an overall sense of accomplishment, and is a place where you and your family will build many lasting memories. Among others, real estate opens the door to many tax benefits as well. Let’s discover some of the following ways that owning a home/s can help to create a tax shelter.

  • Mortgage Interest & Points: If mortgage debt is $1,000,000 or less, married couples filing jointly can deduct the full amount of their interest. Otherwise, those filing separately can write off up to $500,000 worth. This also includes second homes or adjacent land to your main residence. Points on either a home purchase or refinance can also be deducted, but these must be amortized for the latter.
  • Property Tax Deductions: All state and local taxes regardless of how many properties you own can be deducted, up to the alternative minimum tax required by law. Funds that are held in escrow accounts can only be written off once the taxes are paid.
  • Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI): A portion of PMI can also be deducted if household income is less than $109,000 per year or $54,500 for those filing separately.
  • Interest On Home Equity Loans: As long as you have the necessary equity in your home to secure the required debt, you can write off the interest on a loan of up to $100,000 for those who are married filing jointly, or $50,000 when submitted separately.
  • Working From Home: That’s right! Even those who use a portion of their home for work purposes are able to deduct a percentage of the home’s depreciation, utility/maintenance costs and insurance. This is one you definitely want to review with your tax professional to make sure you are getting the maximum available to you.
  • Home Maintenance Interest: This is a tricky one, as you can write off the interest on any capital improvements made to your home, which will increase value and/or prolong the life of your home. This includes certain types of restorations or additions made to the home with no cap on the investment. However, you will not be able to deduct minor patching or cosmetics made to the home.
  • Capital Gains/Selling Costs: As long as you have lived in your primary residence for at least 2 of the last 5 years, you are permitted to sell your property for up to $500,000 of profit for married couples filing jointly, or $250,000 for singles with absolutely no tax penalties. However, if you end up selling for an amount above either threshold, you can subtract the amount of closing/selling costs that you incurred from your total gain. Those who fall outside of the 2 out of 5 year limitation may be granted an exception given certain unique circumstances such as health problems, relocating for work or other such occurrences.

Therefore, it pays to consider the benefits of homeownership and to discuss with your tax professional what you may qualify for. Especially for those who are entertaining the thought of buying instead of renting, it is very important to consider the long-term impact that owning real estate can have on your overall financial future. There are advantages whether you are buying for yourself or investing in properties for additional income. Contact us today using our information above to start exploring what options may be available for you!

College Grads – Consider A Future In Real Estate!

If you’re approaching the end of you college career, you may be starting to consider some potential options for employment. Since the current job market isn’t the best, so many students are getting their degrees only to go back to working in a position like serving tables.

Unless graduates move onto either a masters or doctorate program in a more specialized field, competition for undergraduates is becoming fiercer than ever. In addition, many students struggle with finding direction or a career that they can be passionate about.

Whether you are on the way to earning your diploma or want to begin your professional career, becoming a Realtor could be the answer you are looking for. Let’s review some of the top benefits to earning your license as a real estate professional:

1. Total Freedom – One of the main reasons that people start a career in real estate is the flexibility it offers. If you are a highly motivated, self starter than you could have what it takes to be successful in real estate. It is a perfect path for those who have an entrepreneurial spirit.

First, you have the ability to set your own hours. You can work as long as you like and when the time comes to take a vacation with the family, you won’t have to push through all the red tape only to be denied by HR.

Next, this isn’t a restricted desk job either. If you choose to work from home or from your mobile office, you won’t have the requirement of checking in everyday. In essence, you are your own boss and you get to call the shots!

2. Perfect for Tech Savvy Individuals – If you are under the age of 30 and own a mobile phone, ipod, personal computer, etc., then you have what it takes to crush it in real estate. This is where the future of real estate marketing is headed.

It is estimated that nearly 90% of people start their search for real estate online. There are so many ways to apply your skills using mobile technology, affiliate marketing, blogging, social networking, etc., that gives you a distinct advantage over many “old school” professionals who have adapted to traditional methods.

You can bypass the entire learning curve of implementing these concepts to promote your business, make contacts with professionals and potential customers, and quickly become a big player in your local market.

3. High Earning Potential – What you are able to put into a real estate career is exactly what you’ll get out of it. Instead of working for a set paycheck, you can determine to double or even triple what most students are earning on average today within a short time period. That’s the beauty of commissions.

Additionally, since you probably have very few debts or family responsibilities holding you down, you will have ample time to establish yourself as a well known authority in the area. Overtime, many of your efforts can be set to autopilot as you build up referral sources and establish solid marketing avenues.

You will gain a strong feel of what percentage of prospects and contracts it will take to earn a commission. And there are dozens of niches you can become a specialist in, which can lead to even bigger paydays.

4. Working With People – If you like talking with and meeting new people, then this is one of the best careers available to you. Not only will you have the pleasure of working with others on a daily basis, but you will also be able to meet some highly influential people in other verticals.

It pays to have friends in high places, and simply by investing time in helping others will provide you the opportunity to build a powerful professional network. You will also be able to fine tune your people skills and learn others that are so valuable to succeeding in the real world.

5. Learn How To Buy/Sell/Invest – Regardless of what is happening in the economy, real estate is one of the top proven strategies for building wealth and a retirement fund. Did you know that many Realtors also invest in their own properties as well?

You will be able to acquire invaluable skills that will teach you all about the buying and selling process. Additionally, you will attain a working knowledge for your local area and will know where and what the best deals are. Working as an agent is a fast track to succeeding with real estate investments as well!

Thus, there are unlimited possibilities for personal growth and success as a real estate professional. If you have been feeling frustrated or unsure what your next step is after college, then it may be time to invest in your future as a licensed Realtor.

We are here to support you throughout this process and to get you started on building a promising future. It is out desire that you realize your full potential. Contact us @ 813-863-5917 right now using the information provided above to discover what possibilities are available to you!

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