Small updates launched and some big ones are coming

Sold Listing Site ExampleWe have released a few, smaller updates over the last week. Here is a recap:

Fewer steps for social media sharing: you can now upload your primary picture together with the brief listing info, which cuts down the time significantly. Create a basic listing site in less than a minute and share it to social media easily using the new confirmation page. Since you already have the first picture published, you are ready for social media sharing. You can then go on with adding unlimited, additional photos and more detailed content to your site.

Sold listing marketing improvements: many of the RealBird power-users have been using the sold listing marketing feature to win more listings and there are now even more ways to promote your past sales. Using the new Sold RSS feed (under Listing Widgets > RSS in the member area) you can now autopost solds to social media and create new type of sold widgets for your sites, blogs and Facebook pages. We are also auto-sharing your sold listings through our Twitter feed, providing you with additional exposure.

Your branding on top of your listing website: We added a small branding section on top of the desktop/laptop version of your RealBird property websites. It's a tiny UI tweek but we are already receiving some good feedback from many of you. This is a quick update while we are working on a brand new listing presentation platform for you (new single property websites, new MLS friendly virtual tours, new presentation widgets)

Large images are now stored with your listings: For the last half year, we have been testing even larger versions of your unlimited listing photos stored for your RealBird listings sites. We settled with 2000 X 1500 size as an optimum for performance and quality and you'll see many new listing presentations and listing marketing tools (postcards, sign riders) being launched soon, utilizing the larger images. Make sure you upload your best quality photos.

Homes By SMS: our new flagship SMS real estate marketing service is gaining traction: As a reminder, Homes By SMS is an all-inclusive buyer prospecting (SMS home search), seller prospecting (SMS postcards, sign riders) and listing marketing tool for your current homes for sale that can be integrated with one of our own property search tools or with your existing IDX website. It's an all-inclusive service, we setup and provide you with all the tools including a free sign rider, postcards etc. for one low monthly fee. If you considered dominating your market with SMS text code marketing, Homes By SMS is the tool for you.

We hope you enjoy these new features and stay tuned for some major announcements soon!

As always, thanks for using RealBird and let us know if you have any questions, just call or email.

-- The RealBird Team


Tips for your sign riders: Keep your SMS keywords easy to enter on phones

Typing on mobile phone - SMS marketingHere is a small but important and easy to remember rule: keep your SMS keywords short for effective text code marketing.

If your first instinct is to pick a keyword that's representative of the property as you would with listing domain names (e.g. using the street number and street name), for text messaging marketing on sign riders and printed cards, the goal should be to make it as easy for users to enter your code as possible. In lead generation, every little barrier that you can remove, the more improvement your stats gain.

  • Keep code short, preferable less than 10 characters. Shorter, the better. The default code generated by RealBird for your listings are 6 character long
  • Decide whether you use numbers only or letters in the code. E.g. the standard keyboard on iPhones only shows numbers or letters only. Users have to switch back and forth otherwise. Extra work, more chances of an abandoned process.
  • Same applies to switching between small and large caps. Use all smalls or all large letters. While the RealBird SMS applications are case insensitive, it ignores capitalization, home buyers may believe that they have to switch between small and large caps back and forth . Again, extra work, more chances of an abandoned process. 

As a summary, keep text codes short and try to avoid the need for switching back and forth on the keyboard of the phone.

So what would be an ideal text code that you can also reuse with different properties on RealBird?

You guessed it right: home fits all these criteria :) Of course if you are marketing many different properties with text codes on RealBird, you have to get a bit more creative, but these guidelines should help.

As a reminder, we provide two different SMS text code marketing services for real estate:

  1. Do-it-yourself with RealBird's SMS add-on
  2. All-inclusive with Homes By SMS - another RealBird service. We even give you free sign riders and postcards as part of the service.

Please don't hesitate to inquire about the different capabilities of the two services.

-- The RealBird Team


Question answered: "Why would I spend money on listing marketing in a seller's market?"

Sign Rider In Front Of House Square With MLS Number 500pxWe call our home real estate market the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, as some of our employees live on the Peninsula, a few minutes from San Francisco, others along the Monterey Bay and our HQ is in Santa Cruz. This is a territory of 50+ miles radius with common real estate market characteristics of very limited real estate inventory and very high real estate prices (in absolute and relative terms). It's a seller's market.

One of the questions we hear over and over again is why would an agent spend money on listing marketing in a seller's market, when the property "sells itself" quickly anyways, if priced correctly? The answer is not obvious at first glance, but a bit of elaboration shows many distinct benefits of marketing listings aggressively even in seller's markets:

First and foremost: When you are selling a particular property, you are also using that activity to get positioned for your next transaction. Below is a quick list of the many ways you can utilize an existing listing for pushing your overall business forward:

  1. Impressing current seller can lead to listing referrals: We heard of many stories and saw it first hand how a proper listing marketing process impresses the current client, who will then be way more likely to refer you to friends and family. Just make sure that the seller knows that you invest in his marketing whether it's a seller market or not, and demonstrate all that you do for them online and offline.
  2. Impressing neighbors can lead to listing referrals: Listing marketing technologies used at the house, including for example our RealBird SMS text code marketing can make neighbors notice your efforts. In a seller's market where the perception is that anyone can sell a properly priced home, this may very well be the differentiator that you need to win the next listing. It makes you stand out of the crowd. Nothing is more convincing than professionals who walk the extra mile.
  3. Growing your buyer side business: The more private-labeled technology you provide with your listing marketing, the bigger the chances of double ending your transactions. While double ending transactions may or may not be part of your business practice, getting buyer leads while selling a property ensures a healthy lead pipeline for future transactions by growing your prospective buyers database.

So how exactly does RealBird's technology help you in a sellers' market:

  1. Create single property websites for your current and past properties to impress the current seller and build and compound your online footprint. Make sure you let your seller know about it and share it with neighbors too, if possible.
  2. Syndicate and market your listings via social media and with listing widgets using the RealBird all-in-one toolkit
  3. Use our new all-inclusive Homes By SMS sign riders in front of your current property for sale and provide SMS mobile access to property information. You will impress your current seller, the neighbors and can capture buyer leads for future transactions during, before and after business hours. Automatically, 24/7.

We'll be writing more "Questions answered" type posts in the future, but we thought highlighting the benefits of listing marketing on a seller's market might be a good start. What do you think? 

Should you have questions about the new Homes By SMS text code marketing service for listing promotions and buyer and seller prospecting, please don't hesitate to contact us.

-- The RealBird Team


Homes By SMS now works with your existing IDX website

Sherrie Snideman Photo
Homes By SMS
- our all-inclusive buyer prospecting text code marketing service - can be configured with your existing IDX search service, in most cases.

As a quick overview: Homes By SMS allows you to provide a mobile home search tool to prospective buyers, going through a texting interface. You can use different call-to-action messages on print flyers, sign riders, postcards, sweepstakes and online landing pages, asking home buyers to text a location to your dedicated SMS phone numbers. The system then returns them a link to the search results and captures their contact information for your CRM, right away, at first interaction.

As an example, see the current capabilities of the Homes By SMS implementation for Sherrie Snideman's (of Century 21 Everest Realty Group in Midvale, UT)

Her website at UtahHomeDetective.com has its own IDX search feature and we configured her Homes By SMS service to handle the following location and keyword types, directing home buyers to deep linked result pages on her own site:

  1. City – home buyers can text any cities to the Homes By SMS phone number
  2. Zip code – similar to the city search but more targeted search result is provided
  3. Neighborhood – neighborhood search is a great option for seller prospecting via postcards for example. Just ask them to text their neighborhood’s name to your Homes By SMS phone number and see what nearby homes are selling for
  4. Full address lookup – buyers can look up properties on the MLS using the full address
  5. MLS Number lookup – buyers can look up properties by their MLS number

As with the rest of the Homes By SMS implementations, the setup fee includes a free sign rider and 50 free postcards to jumpstart the marketing.The monthly fee includes the texting/SMS messaging costs for up to 100 leads each months ! It's all-inclusive and you can get started right away.

Learn more about RealBird's Homes By SMS service and ask for a demo

 

 


6 Ways to Convert Your Garage Into More Living Space - Guest Post by Houzz on RealBird

In a recent Ideabook we addressed the need for some of us to accommodate our "boomerang" children and aging parents. In that piece we addressed converting attics and basements into more living space in a home. There are, however, some houses that don't have basements (for example, homes in Florida) or where the attic can't be converted to living space for a variety of reasons (the roof pitch may be too shallow to allow for adequate head room). But there are many houses with either attached or detached garages, and these garages can be turned to very nice living areas. In fact, there are 1940s and 1950s-era houses with single-car garages that beckon to be transformed into something livable. Whether you'd like an extra bedroom, home office, music room, craft room, playroom or some other living space, these garages can be ideal candidates. As with any such project, you'll want to make sure that the converted garage will have enough light and space, comply with local ordinances and building codes as well as be warm in winter and cool in summer. As always, consult with a qualified professional before undertaking such a project. Related: Find an Award-Winning Architect Near You

Modern-kitchen-2
 

1. The floor. A converted garage is made into a bright and spacious living space. The new concrete floor is raised above street level to keep water out of the interior.

More often than not, the existing garage floor concrete slab is sloped, cracked and quite a bit lower than the house floor. So converting a garage to living space usually requires installing a new floor structure. There are several options for doing this. One is to build up a wood framed floor that aligns with the floor in the main house. Another is to install a wood framed or concrete floor that is a step or two down from the main house (as in the sketch above). An advantage to installing a concrete “topping slab” over the existing floor is that a radiant heating system can be installed within the concrete.

2. The opening. When converting a garage to livable space, there's always the issue of what to do with the garage door opening. Because this opening and the garage doors have such a large impact on the overall look of the house, it makes sense to fill the opening with a large-scale element. For example, a good solution is to keep a garage door in the opening while making sure the door is weather tight. This is the approach taken in the next photo.

Standard carriage-style garage doors are also good options, as they can be a featured element on the interior while maintaining the original garage look on the exterior.

Another approach is to have large windows or doors fill the opening. Something like these large folding glass doors can be a good option provided there’s a fit with the overall aesthetics of the exterior. Related: When and Why to Use Pocket Doors

3. Windows. Additional windows will more than likely have to be installed, as garages typically have few, if any, windows. It's important to check and comply with any local building codes and ordinances when sizing and locating these new windows.

4. Additional plumbing. Adding a kitchen or bathroom to a garage conversion can be difficult because tying into the existing plumbing lines is problematic. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be done as, say, an additional bathroom is always a nice amenity to have. So investigating ways (such as building up the floor to provide a space for plumbing pipes) to overcome the technical difficulties is well worth doing.

Some reworking of the exterior walls with full-height glass windows and doors leaves no trace of the original garage space in this conversion.

This master suite with a new bathroom occupies what was once a large garage. The addition of a the gas fireplace certainly makes the room special. And having the bathroom adjacent to the bedroom makes for a nice master or guest suite.

5. Ceiling height. Though the type of framing used at the garage roof will dictate what can be done economically, increasing the height of the ceiling is a possibility if the garage is free standing or has no second floor above it. A vaulted ceiling, as in the next photo, will certainly add to the room's overall spaciousness.

A converted garage keeps the vaulted ceiling for spaciousness while various architectural elements such as the ridge beam increase the room's character.

6. Temperature control. And don't forget that the new living area will need to be heated and cooled. Depending on the size of the area and its location, you may not be able to use the existing "central" heating and cooling system. Mini split systems can be good options if this is the case. This post was written by Bud Dietrich AIA, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission.