10 Pro Tips for Home Photography That Makes an Impression - Guest Post by Houzz

So much living happens in a home that we can easily forget its beauty and character outside of daily routines. The house is nearly living too, as history and relationships are encoded in the personal world that those who live there have created. In photographing our homes, we’re invited to view the familiar with fresh eyes and capture the dynamics of our environment. We can observe color and texture, light and shadow, the flow of spaces and the way that people move, feel and express themselves in them to capture meaningful and lasting impressions. Whatever camera you’re using, you can take beautiful and compelling images that reflect the spirit and nature of your home and life. Here are 10 tips to help you take your photos to the next level. Related: Get More Pro Tips from Nearby Home Staging Companies

1. Read the light. Observe how the light changes in different rooms over the day and into the night. Highlights draw the eye, and shadows can reveal depth and dimension, but if either is too dominant, you might be missing details that are desirable. Adjust the blinds or curtains; look at the effect of lights on and off. Experiment with the camera’s settings to find an exposure and a look that feel good for you. Try mixed light sources — cool/warm, sunlight/tungsten or sunlight/flash. So much is possible, and there is no right or wrong.

2. Experiment with composition. Experiment with wider shots and closer shots. Look from a different angle. Consider visual harmonies and curiosities in color, lines and texture. Can you vary the focus to bring attention to different aspects? Depending on your objectives, you may settle on a consistent look and tone, or choose to vary it.

3. Move! Don’t be afraid to move around the space and subject to see things differently — crouch, lean, perch, lie down, stand closer or farther away. Think big, small and sideways.

4. Look through to a room and see around it. For a more documentary feel, try looking from outside the space you’re photographing — for instance, from a hallway or through a window. This can yield interesting results, creating frames within frames and greater dimensionality. Related: Top Strategies for Arranging Living Room Furniture

5. Don’t be a slave to symmetry. The mind naturally prefers symmetrical images, in which the elements are even and in balance. However, consciously working against symmetry or offsetting it, particularly in medium-distance or closer shots, can be interesting and bring more of your way of seeing to the home and pictures.

6. Think about image resolution. Consider what you would like the images to do. Do you want to print them? Frame or publish? Are they only for electronic and social media? The higher the initial photo resolution, the more options you will have for better image quality across a variety of media.

7. Consider the environment and people. What surrounds a subject in a photograph can express a lot about them; it is a kind of dialogue. Think about how the immediate environment or location relates to the person you’re photographing and what kind of background and detail would be most meaningful (or entertaining).

8. Create ease with portraits. One of the lovely aspects of photographing people in their own home is the familiarity they feel in their surroundings. Nevertheless, not everyone is comfortable with a camera fixed on them. Encouraging your subjects to talk about something of interest (camera in hand) can help minimize their self-consciousness in the case of a posed portrait. Often the more natural, personal moments come when someone’s attention is elsewhere for a moment. Be ready to capture those moments.

9. Observe things as they happen. Photographing people engaged in activities, movements or interactions can produce the most candid and telling portraits and stories. Whether people are working, playing, cooking or socializing, the stuff of daily life is rich and revealing. For greater depth and complexity, you can vary your perspectives to tell more of a story with a mix of wider establishing shots, observational portraits and closer shots and “cutaways” of particular details: a glass in the hand, vegetables being chopped, the fire burning brightly.

10. Remember the pets. If you have them, you already know: Animals are as much a part of the life in a home as people. It’s not easy to “direct” your pets, but you have a personal relationship with them and the benefit of their trust. And you know their routines and favorite places. There are many natural scenes between pets and people in the course of each day. And if your dog or cat (or pig or ferret) wanders unexpectedly through the frame, go with it. They are a part of it all. Related: Bring Nature into Your Photos With a Birdhouse

The post was written by Niobe Syme, Houzz and posted by RealBird with permission


Automate your social media and RealBird listing marketing with Missinglettr

One of the main challenges of social media marketing is keeping up with sharing and re-sharing of your content that you created on an ongoing basis. The attention span of your potential clients on social media are extremely limited (just think of how much time you spend on a single shared item of someone else). The amount of content in the firehose of social media channels is also overwhelming, hence, a key to social media marketing success is to re-share content consistently with enough mix to keep shares unique and proper frequency so that you don't alienate your readers.

Enter missinglettr 

Missinglettr

missinglettr takes your blogs and RSS feeds, monitors them 24/7 and creates campaigns out of the items that's been posted. A campaign is a set of future shares, scheduled a year in advance. Once a campaign is approved by you, the rest is taking care of by missinglettr automatically.

The service is more than just a time saver! The problem with the time consuming requirement of resharing content, is that most people (us included) will give up after a few times. It's not just the time it takes, it's the fact that without missinglettr or similar services, you have to manually manage the sharing calendar and sharing content for each of your posts, while being busy generating new content AND actually taking care of your real estate business (which is the objective of all of this, after all). In most cases, people just skip resharing the content on an ongoing basis hence reducing their social media marketing effectiveness big time.

We'll write more about missinglettr and how to use their service. Below are some of the ways you can utilize them right away !

Add your RealBird Listing Feed to missinglettr and market each listing ongoing, automatically

This is pretty neat, this is how it works:

  1. RealBird PRO provides your own RSS feed of your listings. (You can find it in the member area, under the Listings Widget tab, under the RSS section).
  2. Just copy this RealBird RSS link and add it to your missinglettr account as a new site.
  3. They will then create a year-long campaign for each of your current listings on RealBird, and a new campaign every time when you publish a new listing in the future
  4. When you sell a property, just update its status to Sold on RealBird and the service will continue to promote it completely automated, linking to the by then sold property site.

Add your Wordpress or Active blog to missinglettr

Just like with listing marketing, consistent re-sharing of your blog posts you worked so hard on is crucial for delivering lasting traffic to your content. You can just copy the regular Url of your Wordpress site or your ActiveRain blogs RSS link (e.g. our is at http://activerain.com/blogs/realbird/rss) and missinglettr will create yearly campaign for your articles. 

We hope you like this new service as much as we do.  

 -- The RealBird Team

Full disclosure: we are an affiliate of missinglettr and we may profit if you sign up with them. 

 


Wordpress Nearby Homes Map Plugin Updated

The RealBird Nearby Homes For Sale Wordpress plugin has been updated (version 0.9.9). This update mainly consists of bug fixes and full support of Wordpress sites that run on secure protocols (SSL/HTTPS). Thanks John for reporting the SSL issue

You can download the updated plugin and docs in the RealBird member area.

RealBird Nearby Homes For Sale Wordpress Plugin

The plugin is available for real estate agents and brokers with RealBird PRO and RealBird IDX. The RealBird PRO version has nationwide coverage in the USA (with data sourced from Oodle's database), and the IDX version is available in the SF Bay Area (BAREIS, EBRD, Calrets/MLSListings).

Should you have questions, please let us know.

-- The RealBird Team
www.RealBird.com

 

 


Renovation Spending Increases Among Younger Homeowners - Guest Post by Houzz

Renovation spending among younger homeowners is on the rise amid a strong renovation market, a new Houzz research report reveals. Among the report’s key findings: Younger homeowners and first-time buyers are driven at least in part by a desire to customize their homes. The 2017 Houzz & Home survey gathered information from close to 107,000 registered users of Houzz, including nearly 56,000 homeowners who renovated in 2016. Read on for more insight into how homeowners are renovating, how much they are spending and why they choose to renovate.

Millennial spending is up. Homeowners spent an average of $60,400 on their renovations in 2016, close to their average spend of $59,800 in 2015, the Houzz survey found. Notably, millennial homeowners (defined here as those ages 25 to 34) invested 7 percent more in their home in 2016 compared with 2015, bringing their average spending level to $26,200.

First-time buyer spending is up too. First-time buyers also bumped their spending level last year, averaging $33,800, up 22 percent from 2015. By contrast, long-term owners saw just a 3 percent rise in average spending year over year (YOY).

Older homeowners spend more. While younger and first-time buyers are trending upward in their spending, older homeowners still spend far more on their home renovations than the younger group. In fact, those ages 55 and older spend about three times the amount of those ages 25 to 34.

Recent buyers renovate more rooms. Recent home buyers tend to renovate more rooms in their new homes, on average, than long-term homeowners do.

Why people decide to renovate. The top triggers for starting a renovation project in 2016 were finally having the time, cited by 37 percent of homeowners who renovated, and finally having the money, cited by 36 percent. Another big motivator was purchasing a new home and wanting to customize it, cited by 27 percent of participants.

Buyers want to customize. The survey data shows that both first-time and repeat home buyers are very likely to start a renovation out of the desire to customize their home. Long-term owners, by contrast, are more likely to start a project because they discover damage.

Plastic gains popularity. Slightly more homeowners used credit cards to fund their renovation projects compared with the year before. Overall, 23 percent of homeowners used credit cards for renovation work in 2016, compared with 21 percent the year before. Among first-time home buyers, credit card funding is especially popular — 39 percent used plastic to pay for their projects.

Kitchen remodels average $19,100. Remodeling a kitchen is among the most popular renovation projects, and the average homeowner spend for doing so stayed steady year over year, at $19,100 for renovations in 2016, compared with $18,900 in 2015. Related: Kitchen Remodels for Different Budgets

Master bathroom remodels average $11,700. Similarly, the average price tag for master bathroom renovations rose to $11,700, a small uptick from the prior year’s average of $11,300. Related: Find the Best Kitchen and Bath Remodelers in Your Area

A year from start to finish. Planning an interior remodel takes an average of four to eight months, according to the survey, with kitchen planning being the most lengthy process, at an average of 7.7 months. Construction averages 2.5 to five months. In total, an interior remodel project averages about a year from planning to completion.

Kitchen, bathrooms and living rooms top the list. Kitchens, bathrooms and living rooms remain the top priorities for homeowners who are renovating, the survey found. For first-time buyers, master bedroom remodels are particularly important. Master bedrooms are their third most frequent renovation, and twice as likely to be tackled by first-time buyers compared with long-term owners.

Three rooms at a time. Three in four of renovating homeowners tackle interior rooms, and on average they address three rooms at a time. More than half of renovators take on home systems such as HVAC.

One-fifth choose home automation. Home automation systems, such as smart thermostats and lights, and security upgrades, such as alarm systems and cameras, increased in popularity relative to 2015. One-fifth of renovating homeowners choose these changes, with recent buyers twice as likely to install these systems as long-term owners.

Beds and borders, decks, and lighting are popular. In terms of outdoor upgrades, one-third of renovating homeowners choose to upgrade beds and borders. Decks are the most popular outdoor structures, chosen by 14 percent of renovating homeowners. Lighting upgrades are chosen by 16 percent of renovating homeowners, with repeat buyers the most likely to prioritize outdoor lighting.

We all need a little help sometimes. Renovating homeowners are increasingly turning to pros for help, with 87 percent hiring a pro during the course of their renovation in 2016, up from 85 percent in 2015. Repeat home buyers hire pros in the greatest numbers.

Budgetary matters. The No. 1 renovation challenge, cited by 36 percent of homeowners who renovate, is staying on budget. Finding the right products and materials was the second most common challenge, followed by finding the right service providers. The Houzz & Home survey was fielded from February to April 2017 and gathered responses from 106,678 registered Houzz users. The report relies on the subset of responses from 95,920 U.S. homeowners, and 55,687 U.S. homeowners on Houzz who renovated in 2016.

The Post was written by Erin Carlyle, Houzz and posted to RealBird with permission


Never miss a buyer call again: SMS lead capture for any homes on your market, not just your own

Homes-By-SMS-Share 1

We just launched a new standalone product and we hope you'll like it!

Introducing Homes By SMS™

Unlike the existing RealBird SMS text code marketing service which allows you to set up distinct text codes for your own listings or for specific website links, Homes By SMS extends the capabilities and you can now capture buyer leads for general location inquiries: Home buyers can simply text a location to a dedicated number and see all matching properties via your system and you get their details at first interaction.

Grow your buyer side business with seamless lead capture and stand out of the crowed.

Currently, the Homes By SMS service is available in 3 MLS markets: BAREIS, MAX/EBRD and MLS Listings in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, but we are working on making it available nationwide using the RealBird Property Search service and also with 3rd party homes search services. Stay tuned for more announcements soon. 

You can head over to HomesBySMS.com and see an overview, the all-inclusive pricing and submit the Getting Started form.

Let us know what you think !

Thanks

-- The RealBird Team