Jump to content

SympleTrack Software Blog

About this blog

Entries in this blog

 

Important: Switch to the new Google Ads by October 11, 2018

What's changing

Starting on October 11, 2018, the new Google Ads will become the exclusive way to manage your account, and access to the previous experience will no longer be available.

To help make this switch as easy as possible: • You'll have access to new, exclusive features—like cross-account recommendations, ad variations, and promotion extensions—to help you accomplish your unique business goals. • If you have any saved reports, filters and automated rules,* they have been automatically moved from the previous experience to the new one. You should have received a notification with more details. Making sure that your website, CRM, digital marketing, and ads all work together to get you the best results is hard. Reach out to our team SympleTrack for a FREE consultation to make sure that you are saving money, getting more value, and making your every day real estate tasks easier. 

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

FREE REAL ESTATE MARKETING

There are so many great products available to use in marketing but finding time to learn how to use each product and leveraging it properly is a different story. SympleTrack design allows you to leverage one high powered site to not only use as your closing coordinator, listing coordinator, website, lead capture, blog and CRM but it makes the marketing aspect of real estate simple and more efficient.   People do not realize that there is more than marketing your listings to real estate, you have to market your BRAND in today's marketing efforts.  At SympleTrack, we take the time to get to know your personality and your goals to make sure that the marketing materials created for you are specific to your BRAND and not just generic posts that are used for thousands of other real estate professionals.   Our difference from other software companies is shown boldly and we want to share this difference with you today so that tomorrow you are able to have a profitable business and more time for the important things in life!     FILL OUT THE FORM BELOW TO GET STARTED WITH 30 DAYS OF FREE MARKETING MATERIALS MADE FOR YOU AND YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS. With this free 30 day trial you will have the opportunity to see what your personalized, professional website looks like with a blog that is actually producing traffic to your website and get to experience the power of our software to manage your listings, closings, and leads all in the same place. We will work with you to customize every aspect of your website, branding, and how your CRM/software works. WE HAVE YOU COVERED! #MAKEITSIMPLE
 

The Future of Messenger Marketing

Marketing is constantly changing in today's world with evolving technology. This week we will be focusing on Chat Bots and how to use this technique of marketing for your real estate business. Join Katherine Farber, CEO of SympleTrack, Wednesday for a live webinar of going over Many Chats and how to use this service for FREE.  Can not join live event but would like a recorded video sent to you to watch at a time convenient to your schedule? NO PROBLEM! 👉 Click here and video will be sent. 👇👇BELOW IS A BLOG FROM CEO OF MANY CHAT ON THE FUTURE OF MESSENGER MARKETING: 
  The Future of Messenger Marketing Imagine you’ve just spent a night at a hotel. After you check out the next morning, you look at your phone and notice a notification from Facebook Messenger. You check it, and see that the hotel has sent you an automated message asking, on a 1-5 scale, how your stay was. If you respond with a 1-3, the chatbot automatically asks you if anything was wrong and what they can do to improve. If you respond by telling them about the cockroaches you found under the bed, a customer service rep immediately replies to your message and credits you with a free stay. If you respond with a 4 or 5, the chatbot automatically thanks you and gives you a link to leave a review online. They also tell you that, in the future, you can book a room by simply sending them a message with the date and type of room you want. Doesn’t that sound quicker, easier, and more convenient for everyone involved? (Especially compared to the nightmare of opening graphic-heavy emails and navigating a poorly designed website on your phone?) And of course, the hotel chain will be able to store the data from this conversation in a central system and use it to provide better service in the future. In short, scenarios like this are what the future holds for Messenger Marketing. You’ll be able to set up chatbots that automatically send a message based on the last interaction the person had with your company—whether it was watching a video, making a purchase, viewing a certain product page on your website…you name it. When someone needs to contact you, they won’t go to your website. Instead they’ll send you a Facebook message. Messenger will become your single point of interaction with customers—the one place where they can easily reach you anytime they have a question, need help, or simply want to make a purchase (which they will also be able to do directly through Messenger). Messenger Is Quickly Becoming A Mainstream Channel For Businesses Right now, Messenger Marketing is still new. Niche. Unknown to most people. It hasn’t become a common mainstream channel of business communication and marketing. At least…not yet. Fast-forward a year or 2 and that will all be different. Everyone expects Messenger Marketing to continue its explosive growth. But from what we’re seeing in our own internal numbers (and we’ve got more data on this than just about everyone whose name isn’t “Facebook”), the Messenger marketing space is going to be even BIGGER than anyone expects. Keep in mind, it’s an ideal platform for conversation. People already use it and trust it. And it’s got some great benefits for companies who want to keep in touch with their customers. The awesome thing about Messenger Marketing is that it’s so incredibly versatile. When people first started testing the waters in this space, most of us thought of Messenger as an alternative to email. But as it continues to grow and develop, companies are starting to realize just how many other roles it’s capable of filling. It can be an alternative to a mobile app. (One your users already have downloaded.) It can be an alternative to live chat. (One that saves each customer’s conversations no matter when or where they send you a message.) It can be an alternative to an ecommerce store. (One with a more intuitive and conversational shopping experience.) The truth is, it won’t be long before Messenger can become an alternative to an entire website! (This is already happening in China with WeChat.) Soon businesses will start sending customers directly to Messenger for communication, preferring it over phone calls and email, because that’s where the customer data will be stored. And because Messenger marketing makes it so easy to follow up with the people who have chatted with you, it will help improve closing rates and provide better customer service. For instance, consider this scenario: A company adds a Messenger widget to their website, which allows website visitors to start a Messenger conversation with the company right there on the site (without actually visiting Messenger.) (This is possible right now, BTW.) The customer asks a question about a certain product, and has a quick conversation. They end up leaving the site without making a purchase. But because that person has now been added to the company’s Messenger list, that company can send them automated follow-up messages to tell them more about the product they were interested in. A week later, that person opens one of those messages. They’re on their phone, inside the Messenger app. And they decide that yes, they do want to buy that product after all. So they make the purchase right then & there, inside of Messenger, without having to go back to the website at all. Now think about how that interaction unfolded. For starters, there was no going back and forth between websites and emails and back to websites. Nope, the entire thing took place inside of one single Messenger chat that can be easily accessed at any time. Do you see how easy, how natural that process was for everyone involved? Not just the customer but the company, too! That’s part of the power of Messenger marketing. And that’s coming our way, guys. It’s coming faster than almost anyone realizes. Messenger Marketing Will Move Toward More Interactive Experiences When Messenger Marketing first arrived, people saw it as just another channel for connecting with their audience. And they used it the same way they were using email marketing: as a way to collect subscribers and send out marketing-related broadcasts. We saw a lot of that in 2017—a lot of one-way broadcast messages. They weren’t interactive; they were just like a typical email. “Here’s some information,” “Here’s a blog post,” “Here’s a link to my product.” That’s OK. There’s nothing wrong with that. But Messenger Marketing has the potential to do so much more. To be so much more powerful. And to achieve the true potential here, you have to learn how to take advantage of Messenger marketing’s more powerful features. By building more holistic, comprehensive, and interactive messages. In fact, at a certain point it doesn’t really make sense to call them messages anymore. We’ll start calling them conversations, or even experiences, to reflect the interactive nature these chatbots will create. And I expect we’ll start to see a lot more of that in 2018. Early Adopters Will Win Big There’s another thing I want to impress on you: The BEST time to invest in Messenger Marketing and jump on this wave before it hits its crest is right now. I’ve already said it a dozen different ways in this post: Messenger marketing is in the beginning stages of an explosion. And it won’t be long before it’s become a huge mainstream channel of communication. Just think—if you could go back in time 10 years and begin investing in email marketing and building a list of email subscribers BEFORE email became overly saturated the way it is today…how valuable would that have been to you over the past decade? Well, that time for Messenger Marketing is NOW. If you get started with Messenger Marketing now—learning the system, developing a strategy, and building your platform and your audience—then you will be light-years ahead of your competitors in a couple years when this channel goes mainstream. You’ll be among the leaders in your space. But if you don’t…if you wait 3-5 years…if you wait until Messenger Marketing is so huge that you have no choice but to get in on it… Then it will be too late. You’ll be playing catch-up and struggling to stand out from the sea of competitors who have already established a presence on Messenger. So trust me guys…don’t wait on this. The time to strike is now. (Keep in mind, you don’t spend any money to do this. You can get started with a free account in ManyChat and still have access to enough features to build a really sophisticated and effective chatbot without spending a penny.) What Does 2018 Hold for ManyChat? Up until now, I’ve been speaking about Messenger Marketing in general. And the future for this new technology is very, very bright. But what about ManyChat specifically? Well, we’re psyched to be working right alongside of Facebook every week to help decide the future of Messenger Marketing. It’s awesome to be on the cutting edge of where this exciting new field is going. I don’t want to give out too many specifics right now, because things are changing rapidly. But let’s just saw we have a LOT of really exciting new tools and features coming your way soon. Stay tuned for more news on the ManyChat blog in the coming months. In general, though, you can expect more cool features. More integrations. More stability. And overall, a more powerful, mature, and easy-to-use product. Want to Grow Your Business With Messenger Marketing? Make no mistake: Facebook Messenger Marketing is going to be a huge marketing channel for everyone—consultants, ecommerce companies, brick & mortar stores, public figures and celebrities, event organizers, and more—for the foreseeable future. Everyone can benefit from integrating Facebook Messenger into their marketing strategy. And given how fast Messenger Marketing is growing, the sooner the better. If you don’t want to avoid missing out on the biggest marketing opportunity on the horizon, the first step is to sign up for your free ManyChat account. It’s fast, easy, and free to get started. Click here to sign up for your free ManyChat account now! Mikael Yang is the Co-Founder and CEO of ManyChat – a platform that helps businesses and professionals engage their audience through messaging apps.   Can not join live event but would like a recorded video sent to you to watch at a time convenient to your schedule? NO PROBLEM! 👉 Click here and video will be sent.    
 

How to get more from your paid ads

Here is a free tip to get more out of your paid ads...   When you have an ad promoting and you are getting a lot of likes for the ad that is great! What you need do next though is going to set your results over the edge! Take the time to  go through and invite the individuals that are liking your ad or post you share to public groups to like your business page. Start doing this and get more bang for your buck and stop leaving money on the table!  Want more tips? Contact SympleTrack's marketing team.  Stefanie and Katherine are here to answer your questions and get you set up on a Free 30 day trail of personalized marketing and a strategic plan. To reach us, email  Contact@sympletrack.com and ask for MARKETING TIPS, STRATEGY, or A FREE SOFTWARE DEMO!       
 

Changes with Facebook Marketing and News Feed

BIG NEWS ON FACEBOOK THIS WEEK:  A lot of people are wondering what exactly the plans Mark Zuckerberg announced mean for them. Here's a few excerpts from Zuck's post with translations added: ❝...we're making a major change to how we build Facebook. I'm changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.❞
❝...you'll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard -- it should encourage meaningful interactions between people.❞ What this means is that business content that creates *community* will be favored. ❝...there are many tight-knit communities around TV shows and sports teams. We've seen people interact way more around live videos than regular ones.❞ What Facebook is saying:  Facebook will continue to aggressively grow it's Watch digital television platform and favor content in the News Feed from shows and live broadcasts, particularly regular episodic content. (Per another recent News Feed algorithm change Facebook made that favors video content where viewers come back to watch week after week). ❝...too often today, watching video, reading news or getting a page update is just a passive experience.❞ What does this mean? Facebook is gearing up to establish large, vibrant, engaged, realtime communities watching the same events simultaneously. This will provide a fabulous opportunity for advertisers to shift more of their budget away from TV to Facebook.  Remember, Facebook is heavily focusing on VIDEO/LIVE + MOBILE + COMMUNITIES. The second Facebook Communities Summit is coming up in London, UK in just a few weeks (Feb 8 & 9). These in-person Summits are designed to "celebrate community leaders who are using Facebook to bring people together." Oh, that's Facebook's revised mission statement, right?!  "Facebook Zero," here we come... it was always on the cards. That is, to see solid ROI on Facebook, businesses must invest in ads. The good news, though, is advertising done properly on Facebook and Instagram can dramatically grow your business. 📈💰 ⏳ Don't miss out on this opportunity! We want to help you be #boss in your area and dominate Facebook Marketing!   Due to these changes with Facebook, SympleTrack's marketing team is only focusing on working with top producing agents/teams/brokerages in one area that understand the importance of branding and cohesive marketing that is strategically executed. In order to ensure that we are providing our clients with the best services available we have to work with those that are willing to leverage the advice, tips, and take advantage of the knowledge that we invest in to make sure that we stay ahead of the marketing game.  With our software you will still get great SEO baked in, blog posts that will feed over to your social sites, and we can create the unique posts that are built to engage viewers. You will still see great benefits to having this service but we also need to make sure that you are leveraging the community aspect. So, we are committing to your success and will make sure that you are getting a great way to achieve this through creating an interactive community group page. (ASK US HOW WE CAN DO THIS!!) We can only offer the unique group content and management to one top producer, team, or brokerage in one specific area. So do not miss out on your opportunity to keep ahead of the other Realtors.  These translations are from Mari Smith, Premier Facebook Marketing Expert. @marismith. If you haven't checked her out yet, you should! Wealth of knowledge and information and I have been studying her Facebook techniques for a year now. 
 
 

Zillow - how it works really!

Let's face it - Zillow knows what they are doing when it comes to being the first place most home buyers look at for homes to purchase or rent. Realtors typically do not have the money or resources to invest in online marketing like Zillow does and so they are pressured into thinking that they have to pay Zillow to advertise on their sites to get leads.  This is not true. Here at SympleTrack we help our clients invest in their over all branding and not into getting paid leads. We help create an organic lead database with people that actually want to hear from you as an agent.  Points about Zillow that both buyer/sellers and agents need to know: When you are inquiring about a property on Zillow - you are usually going to end up speaking with an agent that is NOT the listing agent.  You will be sharing your information with not just ONE agent but with a minimum of 3 DIFFERENT agents - and, yes, all 3 will be blowing up your phone and email , trying to earn your business.  Zillow does not always have the most accurate information. So you still have to make sure you do your due diligence and get all the facts from a local real estate professional.  With this being said, why would you want to use a site that is sending your personal information out to several agents at ONCE instead of using one site and reaching out to one particular agent?  As an agent, why would you want to pay $300 to $500 (sometimes more depending on zip codes) for leads that are going to multiple agents and in the end you are just helping to pay for Zillow's branding and not your branding?  TIPS FOR AGENTS: When it comes to Zillow - you already know that your listings are going to be on their site, so you can always explain that to your sellers during a listing presentation. The MLS has agreements with thousands of sites all across the internet that automatically feed listings over to those sites without you even knowing where exactly they are going.  With Zillow, Realtor.com, Trulia, and other home search sites, you get a FREE profile. If you learn how to link your blog and social sites to these profiles  you can leverage it as FREE marketing and drive leads back to your personal website.  For a  Free consult on how to build your branding so that when people GOOGLE "local real estate agents" your name is at the top of that list without spending an astronomical amount of money, fill out the contact form below and we will be happy to show you how. 
 

Transaction Coordinator with SympleTrack

Real Estate is hard, and we understand this at SympleTrack. For this reason, on top of all the AMAZING features that our software already offers, we are now offering you the services of an experienced personal real estate transaction coordinator. Through our software, we are able to leverage time and communication so no one is ever left in the dark when it comes to the most important part of real estate, closing day!  Now, for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time employee, we are offering our clients the services of a team of closing coordinators for only $250 per transaction (with your subscription to SympleTrack, starting at $200 monthly).   Let's break this down: For only $200 per month you get: LISTING MANAGEMENT LEAD MANAGEMENT / CRM FOLLOW-UP TASKS CALENDAR CLOSING COORDINATOR BLOGGING SOCIAL MEDIA DRIP CAMPAIGNS TEXT-TO-LEAD SHORTCODES STATISTICS AND ANALYTICS MLS INTEGRATION LEAD IMPORTING FULL WEBSITE + CMS FILE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM REALTORS DATABASE AND SO MUCH MORE   When your inevitable closing comes in, for a fee of $250 we will handle your transaction from start to closing table. All communication will be handled within the Closing Coordinator area of your SympleTrack installation, ensuring you are kept in the loop during each step of the process. We want to take the stress of real estate away so that you are able to focus on your clients (and get more closings), and so you can achieve your big goals for 2018!  Or you can experience the ease of managing your closings on your own with the built in closing coordinator we  have designed for your dynamic real estate career.  Contact us today for a FREE DEMO, where we will discuss your individual needs and help you form a plan that works for your Real Estate business.
 

10 Ways to Buy a Home With Little or No Money Down

There are many ways to buy a home, even if you have bad credit and little or no money to put down. A few of the basics are sweat equity, seller carry-back, rent-to-own, and community programs. Here are a few of the basics: 1. Sweat Equity Sweat Equity is a way to get a home by trading work for equity in the house. This could be used for a down payment or for purchase later.  This is a great technique if you are handy with tools, yard-work, and paint. Look for fixer-uppers in neighborhoods you are interested in. Many times these homes will have a hard time selling and the owner is ready for just about any offer. You will find these houses ranging from just needing a little ìcosmeticî work like landscaping or painting, to totally trashed out houses in need of some serious renovation. If you are into repairs, this is a great way to get a home for a good deal. If you are not skilled at repairs and renovation, be careful about fixer-upper homes. They could end up costing you quite a large amount of money to pay others to fix. I also recommend getting a home inspection so that you know what exactly you are in for before you begin.
2. Seller Carry-Back Look for a home with an assumable loan. Instead of buying out the owner's equity, ask the seller to carry back a second mortgage for the rest of the money owed. If you can get the seller to carry all of the rest, you can get the home for no money down.
3. Offer an Object for the Down Payment  Offer something other than cash (land, a car, a boat, or valuable collectibles) to the seller instead of a cash down payment. This is why it is important to listen to sellers.  Find out what they want and need.  Maybe you have (or can get) just what they need. For instance maybe they wanted to use the down-payment to buy an RV and it turns out that you just happen to have one you donít need. Offer that vehicle as a down-payment, and it saves you from coming up with the cash.
4. Offer Services for the Down Payment Offer your services or expertise to the seller in lieu of a down payment. Some examples include $10,000 worth of auto services if you're a mechanic, dental work if you're a dentist, desktop publishing services if you're a designer, artwork if you're an artist or legal work if you're an attorney.
5. Foreclosures Look for foreclosure properties that require little or no down payment. Some lenders and government agencies will let you buy a foreclosure with no down payment if your credit is good and they're anxious to have the home occupied, or if you have skills (carpentry, landscaping or even painting) that you can use to increase the home's value. Distressed properties - assume with little or no down to save foreclosure.
6. VA or Other No Money Down Loans  Look for conventional loan programs such as VA or FHA that require little or nothing down.  VA loans have helps countless veterans get into their homes. There are often programs available to first time buyers or people who are distressed (such as with Hurricane Katrina) that will help people get into a home with little money down.  You usually will have to qualify for the loan with the bank, though.
7. Find an Investment Partner for Equity Sharing Look for an investment partner who'll put up some or all of the cash in an equity-sharing partnership. You make the monthly payments and the two of you split the eventual resale profits.
8. Wrap-Around Financing Wrap-around financing is where you assume a sellerís VA Loan by doing a new Contract for Deed.  Since this contract is flexible and does not have to follow the old loan, you can ask the seller to carry not only the loan amount, but the rest of the purchase price of the house, letting you get in with little or no money down.
9. Rent-to-Own or Lease-Option This is really is one of the best ways to get into a home of your own when you canít get a bank loan.  Remember that you may still have to get a loan down the line.  If you have a lease-option for 5 years, at the end of that time, you will need to purchase the house, so you can use the time to fix your credit, or use one of the other options that are discussed in our book to purchase the house at that time. You can always try to negotiate another 5-year lease-option if you need more time. (For more detailed infomation on lease-options, check out our free ebook, "Buying a Home When You Have Bad Credit" at http://I-can-buy.com.)
10.  Government and Community Down-payment Programs There are many community and non-profit organization programs out there to help people get into homes of their own. Many of these do no require any money down.  There are some organizations and programs that will pay for some or all of the down payment for you. Generally these are for lower to moderate-income individuals, but these days that includes a lot of people. You also usually have to be able to qualify for an FHA loan (which is somewhat easier than a conventional bank loan.) If you have been unable to get into a home because you donít have enough money for a down payment, then maybe one of these programs will be for you. Below is a list of organizations that have down payment assistant programs: AmeriDream Inc.
http://www.ameridream.org National Home Foundation
http://www.nationalhomefoundation.org GiftAmerica Program (GAP)
http://www.giftamerica.org The Nehemiah Program
http://www.nehemiahprogram.org New Song Down Payment Assistant Program
http://www.buyers-assistance.com Equity Grants
http://www.equitygrants.com Realty America
http://www.realtyamerica.org Homes For All Program
http://www.ezdownpayment.com
Also check in your local area, because many communities have similar programs of their own.

Stefanie Kern

Stefanie Kern

 

10 Tips to Buy Real Estate Without Breaking Your Budget

If you want to buy a home, but arenít sure if your budget can handle soaring real estate prices, weíve got good news. There are things you can do to stretch your buying power. With the help of your   real estate agent and these 10 tips you can become a savvy home buyer without breaking your budget. 1. Get pre-approved for your home loan. This means, fill out a loan application and go through the process of securing financing. That way, when youíre ready to seriously evaluate   real estate, youíll know exactly how much home you can afford. And you can prove to a seller that your offer is sincere. 2. Explore creative financing options. During the home loan pre-approval process, ask about ways to get creative with your financing. Low down payment options, first and second mortgage combinations and first time buyer programs might help you afford more funding. Many lenders are now offering interest-only home mortgages; just make sure you thoroughly evaluate the terms for this type of home loan. Down payment grants are also available in some instances and might be worth investigating or discussing with your   realtor. 3. Sell your existing home first. Although selling your existing home before finding new   real estate to buy can be a little nerve wracking, any inconvenience will be offset by your ability to make an offer with cash in hand. Contingent purchases are not the best when negotiating to buy a home. Having your financing in order and your bags packed will give you the advantage in a competitive market.  4. Look for vacant real estate. Perhaps a seller's job has transferred him out of the area. Or maybe a family purchased a new home before putting their existing one on the market. In any case, a vacant home could be just the deal for a savvy home buyer, so have your realtor look for vacant property in your preferred neighborhoods. And keep in mind, the longer a house stays empty, the greater your negotiating power will be.  5. Consider cosmetic fixers. If youíre handy with a paintbrush, a toolset and gardening equipment, consider buying   real estate in need of cosmetic fixing. Property that lacks curb appeal needs minor handiwork or the yard overhauled could end up being the home of your dreams for a price you can afford. You just need to look beyond the ho-hum to see the potential of a cosmetic fixer.  6. Buy a home thatís a major remodel project. If you want to live on Lake Washington, but canít afford a $2M home mortgage, consider buying a dilapidated cottage on a fabulous lot with western exposure. In time youíll need to gut the existing home and build from the ground up or contract significant home improvements. But in the end your property value will skyrocket. And if your carpentry and other construction skills are well-developed, you can save even more and accrue ìsweat equityî during your remodel by doing much of the work yourself.  7. Don't discount bank foreclosures. One person's loss could be your gain if you buy real estate in foreclosure. Although the search for a decent foreclosure may take a while, your realtor should be able help. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (http://www.hud.gov/) can be an excellent resource for foreclosed properties. Because HUD houses are sold at market value, your best bet will be homes that need cosmetic work or even major repair. 8. Land with a manufactured home. Sometimes, to buy a home on a budget, you need to look beyond convention. Even if your wish is to buy real estate, you may have to settle for a piece of property in an outlying area with a mobile or manufactured home. Discuss this option with your   real estate agent and try to keep an open mind about this possibility. 9. An older, smaller home. Older homes are typically priced much less than newer construction and don't tend to create buyer bidding wars. If you can enjoy life in an older and smaller home in a neighborhood or suburb off the beaten path, this could be your ticket to real estate ownership.  10. The cheapest house in the best neighborhood. You have your heart set on a specific and expensive neighborhood. Maybe itís the schools that youíre interested in. Or perhaps itís the close proximity to downtown or the waterfront. In any case, a budget-savvy buyer will look for the least expensive home for sale in the neighborhood. If youíre not in a hurry, you can even play the waiting game to see what properties come on the market. Your real estate agent can be a real asset in this case by investigating potential sellers. Buying real estate without breaking your budget will require research and compromise. On moving day, however, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that your homework paid off!
 

Stefanie Kern

Stefanie Kern

 

You did not wake up today to mediocre

Let's face it, standing out in the real estate industry can be hard. Most of everything has been said or done. Finding time to come up with creative branding and marketing that sets you apart is important. Here at SympleTrack, our goal is to make the entire process of managing your real estate career simple and beautiful.    Our team would love to put together a marketing presentation with personalized branding that engages your audience and tells a story. Some would say that we are like professional stagers but instead of staging a home we are staging your brand and social media accounts.    We look forward to sharing more about our software and marketing services with you. Remember - Be Bold & Stand Out 

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

Organic SEO - how do you get it and FAST?

Ever wondered what you would do with all that money you spend on leads? Well stop wondering and get started with saving that money today!  At SympleTrack, we are firm believers in getting our clients ORGANIC traffic and building a better lead database. Want to know how we do it?   

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

How to Keep Consumers Engaged

Leading power brokers shared their strategies for effectively reaching and engaging with consumers during a session titled, “New Strategies for Engaging Consumers,” during the 2017 REALTORS® Conference & Expo. REALTORS® and brokers from across the country listened as the panel discussed the importance of utilizing new technology, automating as many processes as you can and social media and maintaining contact with previous clients. Here are some of the key takeaways: Embrace technology: “We are all trying to gain the attention of consumers, and where are we going to find that attention focused? It’s on their mobile devices,” said Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates and co-moderator of today’s panel. “So we need to be engaging consumers on their cell phones.” The panelists all touched on the importance utilizing social media as a direct marketing tool and warned against falling behind in the technological revolution. “What happens to your business when people start asking their Amazon Alexa ‘I want to go to an open house,’ and you are still debating if you should get a Facebook page?” said Blefari. Automate what you can:                                 “If your core operation isn’t humming along, all the extra work you are doing to engage consumers is for naught,” said panelist John Murray, President of Realty Pilot and managing broker/owner for Key Realty. “Brokerages need to invest in tools that can help automate everything that can be automated.” Many panelists recommended investing in a tool to automate daily posting on social media accounts. “We should all be posting content that is relevant and interesting to consumers,” said co-moderator John Featherston, founder, president and CEO of RISMedia. “But we aren’t content creators and finding that relevant content to publish each day can be a full time job. There are companies that, for a low price, will make sure that consumer.” Stay in touch with previous clients:    “It is so important that agents stay in touch with their previous clients, because without that continued relationship less than 13 percent of clients will go back to their agents,” said Helen Hanna Casey, President of Howard Hanna Real Estate Services. Panelists recommended group texting, sending cards and even something as ‘old school’ as making a phone call. However, when making that phone call, panelist Paul Wells, President of The Wells Group and Broker at RE/MAX of Barrington, has his agents do a little research. “Before our agents call clients, we have them check the clients Facebook page,” he said. “If they just got back from Mexico, our agents talk with them about Mexico. They can connect personally before diving into real estate.”
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

No Path to 3% GDP Growth Without Real Estate

While the GOP tax plan will not increase GDP, the real estate market does hold the key to economic growth, according two prominent economists at the REALTORS® Conference & Expo on Friday. While the country’s GDP hit the three percent growth mark promised by President Trump during his 2016 campaign over the past two quarters, that could change if lawmakers don’t treat the industry with more care, National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said at the Residential Economic Issues & Trends Forum. “I hope people understand that real estate drives the economy,” Yun told forum attendees. “That could come to a halt very soon if real estate is damaged.” Lawrence Yun addresses attendees at the Residential Economic Issues & Trends Forum Friday Ken Rosen, founder of real estate research firm Rosen Consulting Group, added that Congress can’t rely on other sectors to produce the same level of economic growth as real estate. “It’s not going to happen from manufacturing, as much as the president would like to say. It’s not going to come from coal,” he told forum attendees. “You’d think a president who comes from real estate would know that, but that’s not what his advisors are telling him.” Rosen said the best way to support such growth would be to loosen credit standards and build more homes. Yun noted that raising inventory rates could also help keep home prices from rising too quickly. The GOP tax plan could have the same impact of depressing home price increases by reducing the impact the mortgage interest deduction has on homeowners, Yun said. But the better method to reducing price growth would be to jumpstart new-home construction: “We don’t want to tame the price increases by disincentivizing buying a home; we want to tame price increases by building more,” he said. However, in order to maintain and expand on the current level of economic stimulus provided by the real estate sector, housing experts warn, the industry must increase affordability and access to homeownership.  Yun predicted more interest rate hikes in the coming years, which will dampen affordability. Rosen said he encourages young people, including his own son, to buy now before rates increase. Rising home prices aren’t the real threat, he added. “The risk is interest rates. Now is the time to both purchase and lock in.” Of course, not everyone can buy in the current market. Rosen addressed other ways to open up housing to more Americans, including loosening lending restrictions and introducing more alternative loan products, such as rent-to-own options, the ability to roll student loan debt into mortgages, and allowing institutional investors to buy in on individual home purchases through shared equity products. He also suggested creating an IRA for housing funds, where buyers could put money aside before taxes to help them save for a down payment. Finally, even those who can buy might be suffering from what Rosen calls “post-foreclosure stress syndrome.” Rosen estimated a significant portion of those who have the money to buy a home aren’t doing so “because they’re afraid.” He suggested an education program to help Americans see the benefits of buying. “If you calculate homeownership with a 15 percent to 20 percent loan, there’s no better place to be.”
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

NAR’s 2018 Housing and Economic Forecast

NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun presented his 2018 economic and housing forecast this morning here at the 2017 Realtors® Conference and Expo in Chicago. Yun expects existing-home sales to rise 3.7 percent next year. However, there are some caveats. Low supply could continue to suppress sales, especially to first-time buyers, and the passage of a tax bill that disincentives homeownership could handcuff what should be stronger activity. Click on the links below for further insight on Yun’s expectations for the housing market and economy heading into 2018: News release
2018 Forecast Table
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

REALTOR® Associations Get Brokers Involved

Did you know that the National Association of REALTORS® Broker Involvement Program offers broker advocacy grants for state and local associations? These funds are available to help associations create activities to recruit, retain, educate, and engage brokers and their agents. In 2016, the first year the grants were available, 16 associations took advantage of them. And in 2017, 25 associations have received more than $78,000 in grant funds. Grants of up to $5,000 can be used for broker recruitment and advocacy engagement events and activities, such as panels and presentations, state or local advocacy summits or meetings, legislative roundtables, recruitment contests, and broker appreciation events. The money could also go toward producing and distributing advocacy engagement materials, such as videos and newsletters that cover local, state, and federal issues for brokers and their agents. The Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS®, for example, used their grant money to create a professionally-produced traveling roadshow complete with a vehicle wrap, program materials, a video about local market issues, and a social media campaign to promote their roadshow—all to reach key brokers in their area. The Idaho Association used its grant to host three broker summits in different regions of their state. Presentations during the events focused on local, state, and federal issues related to real estate. NAR’s Broker Involvement Council, which distributes funds three times a year, is gearing up to distribute its 2018 grants. The application due dates are March 15, June 15, and September 15. The funds must be used within one year of the grant award date. Learn more. Save Save
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

What We’re Reading: Oct. 30 – Nov. 3

Pricing, hauntings, misbehavior, groceries, engineering, HR, plots, and voids.
Noticing a rise in house prices? It’s not just you. According to some sources, there are specters  hanging around the White House. dead cat/flickr/2010 Kids will be kids, but we’d be surprised if this one‘s punishment stopped at grounding. Please read this before your next grocery run. We are impressed that this can be done, but you can’t make us visit. This is a different type of real estate, but inventory is limited. The pyramids have more secrets to reveal…    
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

The History of NAR’s Annual Conventions in Chicago

Today marks the beginning of the 110th annual REALTORS® Conference and Expo.  NAR welcomes attendees back to Chicago for the ninth time since the annual meetings began in 1908.  Much has changed over the years, with the convention going from a modest affair of 120 attendees to grand event for more than 20,000 REALTORS®. In honor of this ninth Chicago convention, let’s look back at the previous gatherings in the Windy City. That first NAR meeting in 1908 was, in some respects, also the founding of the association itself.  Delegates from 19 local boards and one state association were primarily occupied with business matters during the meeting, spending the entire first day writing the association’s constitution and bylaws.  In the auditorium of the YMCA Building, they also decided on a name for the organization, agreed on the cost of annual dues, and established the mission of the association – “to unite the real estate men of America.”  Entertainment consisted of an “automobile trip” and informal dinner hosted by the Chicago Real Estate Board, now the Chicago Association of REALTORS®. 1908 Conference Ribbon Just thirteen years later, the convention was already markedly different from that original meeting. Returning to Chicago in 1921, 4,373 attendees – the largest ever annual meeting at that point – met at Sullivan and Adler’s elaborate Auditorium Building on Michigan Ave.  The schedule grew full with committee meetings and special educational sessions.  As the convention evolved, so did the accompanying entertainment features. Publicity for the annual meetings encouraged REALTORS® to make a vacation of it with their families and included concurrent event programming aimed specifically at spouses, from fashion shows to teas to luncheons.  The 1933 convention took place in Chicago at the same time our city played host to the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition and World’s Fair. Several NAR receptions and dinners took place at the Fair itself and the Hall of Science featured a “Real Estate Day” during the convention. However, the meetings scaled back drastically with the advent of World War II.  During this period, attendees often shared hotel rooms and expected nothing in the way of entertainment.  Still, REALTORS® found it important to continue meeting annually in order to prepare for post-war development – that is, until 1944.  NAR made plans as usual for a meeting that year, reserving the Stevens Hotel in Chicago, scheduling speakers, and even printing programs and other publicity material.  At the last minute, with an extension of the International Civil Aviation Conference and the movement of military personnel resulting in limited rooms and transportation across the country, NAR made the decision to cancel that year’s conference. 1944 Cancellation Notice After the war, NAR made up for the convention’s 16 year absence from Chicago by scheduling conferences in our city every few years thereafter – in 1949, 1957, 1965, and 1970. The austerity of the war years was clearly a thing of the past when NAR celebrated its 50th anniversary meeting with parties and receptions.  Even Dwight Eisenhower acknowledged the significance of the event, sending a congratulatory message to the conference delegates: Conferences held during this post-war period offered programming that reflected the advantages of the economic boom while addressing the great changes in American society, from housing patterns to the political landscape.  A National Real Estate Journal article summed up the general feeling of the 1949 conference as “optimism on the business front, pessimism on the political front.” Urban expansion into satellite cities was a recurring theme at the 1965 convention.  In 1970, strengthening the year-old RPAC was a point of discussion and members attended a general session on the importance of political involvement for REALTORS®. After 1970, it would be more than 30 years before the annual meeting returned to Chicago.  With the conference scheduled to take place in the heart of a major city less than 2 months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, there was an element of unease among those planning to travel.  However, attendance rates ended up exceeding those of the previous year. “Thousands of REALTORS® have shown tremendous courage and the tenacity of the American spirit by traveling to Chicago from all across this great nation to conduct their business despite the threat of terrorism,” said NAR President Richard A. Mendenhall. “This courage underscores the commitment and the seriousness with which REALTORS® take the business of helping Americans fulfill their dreams of homeownership.” Conference attendees contributed to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation, the fund which was started to assist victims of the September 11 attacks and continues to assist victims of disasters today. 2001 Conference Program For those attending this year’s conference in Chicago, please consider continuing this tradition by participating in the REALTORS® Relief Foundation (RRF) Denim Day on Sunday, November 11.  Help support the REALTORS® Relief Foundation, particularly in light of its outstanding efforts for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Wishing all attendees a productive and enjoyable 2017 conference – welcome back to Chicago!
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

REALTORS® and Habitat for the Win

This Wednesday and Thursday, the REALTORS® Volunteer Build returned to Chicago, where it began in 2001. Learn how NAR members partnered with Habitat for Humanity and other volunteers to create more homeownership opportunities in West Pullman in REALTOR® Magazine’s Daily News. For a tour of the site, check out this playback of our Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday:
Here’s a slideshow featuring many of the volunteers in action:
sm_Screen Shot 2017-11-02 at 9.10.12 AM sm_DSC_8208 sm_DSC_8204 sm_DSC_8196 sm_DSC_8192 sm_DSC_8186 sm_DSC_8178 sm_DSC_8166 sm_DSC_8163 sm_DSC_8144 small_DSC_8233 small_DSC_8221 small_DSC_8097 small_DSC_8092 small_DSC_8082 small_DSC_8075 small_DSC_8065 small_DSC_8051 small_DSC_8049 small_DSC_8037
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

9 Ways to Save for a Down Payment

(TNS)—You’ve found the perfect house. Interest rates are still low. There’s just one thing standing between you and your dream home: a down payment. Don’t abandon your homeownership dreams just yet. Here are nine ways to come up with the cash for your new home. Pay Off Your Credit Cards
Paying bills will help in your hunt for down payment money. When you carry a credit card balance, the ever-accumulating interest charges mean more of your money goes to the card company each month. Keep that cash for yourself by cutting your debt load. With the “avalanche” method, you prioritize your debts and pay the most on the one with the highest interest rate. Once that’s paid, shift your focus to the next highest rate and so on. You’ll get the most money-sucking credit card bills out of the way more quickly, freeing up more of your income to go toward building your savings. Ladder CDs to Boost Savings
Once you have a few extra bucks, put it to work making more money for you. Certificates of deposit are low-risk and relatively accessible. But when interest rates are low, the return isn’t always what a saver hopes. You can maximize the earning power of CDs by opening different certificates at varying maturity dates. For example, instead of buying one big CD, spread your money into three-month, six-month and one-year certificates. Known as laddering, this gives you flexibility to adjust your savings as rates change. Laddering allows you to lock in when rates are high and when rates are not so good. The process keeps you from being stuck for too long with low earnings. Use Special Programs
There are many programs for homebuyers struggling to save for a down payment, especially for first-time homebuyers. Borrowers in a wide range of incomes, locales and professional groups may have access to aid from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored offices that buy mortgages and package them as investments. Various nonprofit and community groups also lend a hand to buyers struggling to put money down on a home. And don’t forget about assistance from state agencies. Tap Your IRA
If you’re looking to buy your first home, let the IRS help. Tax laws allow you to use up to $10,000 in IRA funds as a down payment if you’ve never owned a house. If you’re married and you both are first-time buyers, you each can pull from your retirement accounts, meaning a potential $20,000 down payment. Even better is the IRS definition of “first-time homebuyer.” Technically, you don’t have to be purchasing your very first home. You qualify under the tax rules as long as you (or your spouse) did not own a principal residence at any time during the two years prior to the purchase of the new home. In these instances, Uncle Sam waives the penalty for early withdrawal, but you may owe tax on the money, depending on the type of IRA. Get a Gift
Aunt Edna always liked you best. Take advantage of that favored family status and ask her to make a present of your down payment. Tax law allows gifts of several thousand dollars a year to be bestowed without tax consequences to either the giver or recipient. The gift-exclusion amount is $14,000 for 2017 and is adjusted annually for inflation. The gift exclusion isn’t limited to relatives. The monetary present can be from anyone, so track down a well-off friend now. Ask for a Raise
No luck finding a benefactor? Then maybe it’s time to ask your boss for more money. Just make sure you do your homework beforehand and base your request for a salary increase on your accomplishments rather than your needs. Get a Second Job
Boss turned down your request for a raise? Moonlighting could help you earn the extra money. This option makes the most sense for those who are young and not yet fully established in their professional lives. Look for Lost Money
Do you have any money stashed somewhere? Around $23.5 billion worth of matured savings bonds remains unredeemed, according to the Treasury Department, ignored by owners and not earning a penny of interest. Make sure your bonds and other investments are still adding to your net worth. You could also have money languishing in an old bank account somewhere. You can file a claim with the Treasury to claim lost, stolen or destroyed savings bonds, or check the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to see if you have any missing money. Sell Unwanted Items
You likely have some used furniture you no longer use or old clothes that are no longer in style. Sell it to make a few more bucks to use for your down payment. You can sell your items on sites like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and Amazon to turn your trash into someone else’s treasure.
©2017 Bankrate.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com. The post 9 Ways to Save for a Down Payment appeared first on RISMedia.
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

Learn How to Speak ‘Millennial’ in a Live-Streamed Session

We’re proud to present REALTOR® Magazine’s very first conference session! It’s going to be a fast-paced presentation featuring real-world examples, expert advice, and concrete steps to produce marketing language that will appeal to younger clients. Our panelists range from a current member of REALTOR® Magazine’s 30 Under 30 class to the creative director of a marketing firm that helps real estate clients reach millennials to an expert research analyst with his hands in the data you need to understand millennials and the generations that are coming up behind them. From the Mag team, we’ll have Stacey Moncreiff, the always-insightful vice president of the National Association of REALTORS® Business-to-Business Communications group, and myself, Meg White, managing editor, on hand to share ideas for how you can update your marketing language and reach more prospective clients. The session will take place at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 5 at the McCormick Place Convention Center, room W178 A. But perhaps the most exciting part of this panel is that you don’t have to be in Chicago in order to participate! We’re planning to stream the whole panel live on Facebook (RSVP here so you don’t miss it).  No matter where you are, be sure you don’t miss this chance to learn how to break down walls to reach the next generation of buyers and sellers. Save
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

Top Library Reference Pages for October 2017

Reference pages are one-stop resource packages on dozens of subjects of interest to REALTORS®. On each page you’ll find links to articles, books, web sites, statistics, and other material on each subject. The list of the most-used references from Information Central for the month of October 2017 was released today: Starting Your Career Real Estate Office Policy Manuals Farming & Prospecting Seniors Women in Real Estate Escrow Accounts/Earnest Money Lease Option Purchases Zoning Short Sales & Foreclosures Working with First-Time Homebuyers Have an idea for a reference pages? Let us know!
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

Welcome to Chicago, REALTORS®

It’s been 16 years since the National Association of REALTORS® hosted its annual Conference & Expo in Chicago. But now it’s back with anticipation reminiscent of a long-awaited Star Wars episode: Return of the REALTORS®. So, welcome back to the “City of the Big Shoulders,” a fitting setting for the 20,000 real estate professionals and industry leaders who will descend on McCormick Place—the largest convention center in North America. If you haven’t already registered, there’s still time to do so online and on-site. But for those of you who won’t be attending, we invite you to follow along with REALTOR® Magazine’s coverage right here on our blog. For those who will be attending, hold on to your REALTOR® pins, because you’re in for an action-packed six days of networking and education that help you expand your brand, grow your business, apply new tools, and enhance your client service. Don’t you love being in the know? The one in your office who’s up on current real estate and economic trends? The conference can help you be that person. Whether it’s learning how economic conditions may change in 2018 and beyond from Lawrence Yun in the Residential Economic Issues & Trends Forum on Friday, Nov. 3, or getting an action plan for how to be a better, more effective sales leader from Alicia Matheson’s Evolutionary Leadership session on Sunday, Nov. 5, the conference has it all. Shameless plug: REALTOR® Magazine is also hosting a session on Sunday, Nov. 3, which is all about connecting and communicating with millennial clients. We’d love to see you there. As you’re planning your schedule for the next several days, be sure to download the REALTORS® Conference & Expo app in the App Store and Google Play. But if you’re looking for other apps that will help you navigate the city, check out five recommendations from Jacy Riedmann of Amoura Productions. I love that she included the Transit app, as taking public transportation in Chicago is a must. I’d also throw in there the CTA Tracker app as a helpful tool. One of the biggest benefits of attending the conference is networking and connecting with other real estate professionals from around the country. I advise new conference goers put their phones down and talk to the people around them. Strike up a conversation with someone sitting beside you ahead of a session, or the person standing next to you in line, like Sylvia Seabolt and Quincy Clayton did at the Foreigner concert during the 2013 REALTORS® Conference & Expo in San Francisco. I love Dan Wagner’s story about striking up a conversation with a stranger on a shuttle bus ride, because it goes to show you never know who you’re going to meet. But there are times when you want to pick up your phone and connect with someone you met at the conference. So, managing broker and networking extraordinaire Marki Lemons-Rhyal has some great tips for maximizing your time and networking opportunities. While you’re in town, we hope you’ll also take a little time to see our lovely city. There are many outstanding tours, museums, and attractions that are must-sees for a first-time Chicago traveler. I personally love the Architectural Boat Tour (if it’s not too cold) and the Art Institute of Chicago. Here are a few of my favorite Chicago spots that I like to share with out-of-town guests: Chinatown—take the Red Line train from downtown south to the Chinatown exit or take a cab/Lift/Uber from McCormick, and you’ll find many cute shops and excellent restaurants. Havana is a Cuban restaurant downtown on Clark Street with delicious food and live music some evenings, too. The John Hancock building’s Signature Room is totally worth it for a view with a cocktail. The best sushi in Chicago is Tanoshii Sushi in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. Sushi Mike is the chef and he’s amazing; sit at the intimate bar and he’ll serve you himself. While you’re in that neighborhood, visit the shops in the area. Hot Chocolate on Damen Avenue in Wicker Park is excellent for dinner, dessert, and fancy drinks. Get a hot chocolate while you’re there, obviously! If you’re looking for more tips on getting the most out of your time here, be sure to check out the REALTOR® Mag Conference Picks magazine in your registration packet. I look forward to seeing all your Instagram and Facebook selfies during your conference adventures. Don’t forget to use #narannual so we can find you. Cheers! Save Save Save
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

Styled, Staged & Sold Earns Some Props

Thank you to our loyal readers and top-industry contributors for helping to make Styled, Staged & Sold the top ranked “home staging blog on the planet!” Feedspot, a news RSS reader, ranked Styled, Staged & Sold number-one out of 100 staging blogs.   Feedspot used the following criteria to rank the blogs: Google reputation and Google search ranking; Influence and popularity on Facebook, twitter and other social media sites; Quality and consistency of posts; and Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review Check out the full rankings.  
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

 

September 2017 Pending Home Sales

NAR released a summary of pending home sales data showing that September’s pending home sales pace was flat with no gain from last month and down 3.5 percent from a year ago. Pending sales represent homes that have a signed contract to purchase on them but have yet to close. They tend to lead Existing Home Sales data by 1 to 2 months. All four regions showed declines from a year ago. The Northeast had the smallest dip of 2.4 percent followed by the Midwest with a decrease of 2.5 percent. The West had a decline of 2.9 percent. The South had the biggest drop of 5.0 percent. From last month, three of the four regions showed inclines in sales. The South had the only decline of 2.3 percent. The Northeast had a gain of 1.2 percent followed by the Midwest with an increase of 1.4 percent. The West had the largest gain of 1.9 percent. The U.S. pending home sales index level for the month was 106.0. August’s data was revised down slightly to 106.0. In spite of the decline, this is the pending index’s 41st consecutive month over the 100 level. The 100 level is based on a 2001 benchmark and is consistent with a healthy market and existing home sales above the 5 million mark.
View the full article

Katherine Farber

Katherine Farber

×