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So What’s the Walk Score?

November 20, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

So What’s the “Walk Score?” is a useful tool which allows you to determine the “walkability” of any address. By entering in an address, you can instantly find out how well a particular property scores in terms of shopping, dining, schools, basic needs, and more.

From the website: “Walk Score’s mission is to promote walkable neighborhoods. Walkable neighborhoods are one of the simplest and best solutions for the environment, our health, and our economy.”

Use of your listing’s Walkscore can enhance the value of the property. Walkscore offers the following points for discussing Walkscores with your clients. A home’s Walk Score is important because:

  • Walkability and public transit are associated with higher home values
  • Transportation costs are the 2nd largest household expense
  • Commute time and places to walk are two of the most important criteria for home shoppers
  • A home’s location (location efficiency) is often more important than the building’s energy efficiency

For extensive information on how real estate agents can leverage Walkscore, check out this guide provided by the company. It just might provide you with an additional marketing edge in your community:

Learn More About Walk Score

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Sign Etiquette: Post with Permission (& Network!)

July 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Differentiate yourself with common courtesy.

Directional signs. At Oakley Signs & Graphics, we supply agents with a lot of directional and open house tent signs to help direct street traffic to their listings. They’re an inexpensive and useful way to increase exposure.

Posting directional signs can be tricky business sometimes. Local ordinances may impact sign usage and there are also neighborhood associations to consider. Unfortunately, the poor habits of a few agents who don’t remember to clean up their signs after open houses can make sign usage for others a real hassle.

But have you ever considered that the humble OPEN HOUSE directional is a great opportunity to network with people in the neighborhood? The next time you’re scouting locations for your sign, why not knock on the doors of a few people with prime intersection real estate? Try asking for permission to post your sign with a script like the following:

“Hi, I’m hosting an open house for one of your neighbors at 123 MAIN ST., and I was wondering if I might have your permission to post a sign on your corner for the next few hours.”

Whether or not they consent, invite them down to see the open house (and try the refreshments, if you have them). If they do give you permission, remember to drop them a thank you note with your business card when you pick up the sign.

[Click here to learn about how agents are following-up with clients and prospects after open houses!]

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The Pros and Cons of Specialization in a Real Estate Career

December 9, 2010 by · 2 Comments 

The Pros and Cons of Specialization
Are you marketing yourself as a specialist?

Sometimes when you say “I do it all,” people hear, “I do none of it well.” You might be a real Renaissance woman (or man) when it comes to real estate, but often creating and maintaining an edge in your market depends upon some degree of specialization. How often have you seen the following attached to other agents’ signatures?

Distressed Property Expert
Luxury Condo Expert
Military Family Expert
Short Sale Expert
Relocation Expert
Vacation Property Expert

There is a certain allure to specialization– after all, if you’re thinking of selling your $2.5 million high-rise condo in San Francisco, wouldn’t you feel a little more confident hiring an agent who has moved thirty comparable units in the past six months?

Specialization has its pros and cons, of course. Some pros and cons include:

Specialization makes a good story in listing presentations. (“I’ve spent the past five years helping people negotiate tricky short sales.”)
Specialization makes word-of-mouth easier for like-minded referrals (“Oh, our agent Jim specializes in corporate relocations.”)
Specialization is useful when specializing really provides an advantage (Think: What is tricky or unique about your specialization? What mistakes do non-specialists make that you won’t make?)

Specialization can put you at risk of missing out on deals (i.e. a distressed property expert has a hard time landing luxury condo sellers)
Specializing “behind the curve” can put you at a disadvantage when market changes (i.e. it can be tough to be in moving big family homes when your market is flooded with empty nesters)
To specialize, you must truly specialize– i.e. you have to practice what you preach and have a good track record within your specialty. You can’t talk the talk without walking the walk.

Sometimes “specialist” is too strong a label, especially when you’re getting your footing in a particular segment you think might be a future specialty.

One alternative to “expert” or “specialist” is an “emphasis” on a particular sector. Emphasis is much less limiting and is good language to keep your doors open on your way to specialization.

For example:

Specialist: “Barbara specializes in the marketing and sale of mountain properties (both land and homes).”

Using emphasis to soften the term “specialist”: “Barbara has helped over 200 families across North Carolina sell their homes, with an emphasis on marketing mountain properties.”

You can also use “emphasis” to make a specialization more… well, specialized. For example:

“Mary specializes in empty nesters looking to downsize, with an emphasis on baby boomers who anticipate home accessibility issues.”

In Mary’s example, not only is she attuned to the needs of people downsizing, but she also understands that many of these buyers are conscious of future health issues around mobility and accessibility.

Specialization can increase demand for your services and differentiate you from your colleagues, but be careful about how you market yourself and your talents when it comes to specializing. Look at your track record and see if you find patterns. Do you have enough expertise? Should you specialize just because you can?

For long-term sustainability, don’t just slap on a specialty as a marketing tagline… think carefully first.

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