How to Maximize the Sales Price of Your Real Estate Listing

During the creation of the residential real estate bubble in the early 2000’s, it felt as though we (i.e. Sellers and Brokers) could dictate higher and higher prices and the market (i.e. the buyers) would continue to pay. How quickly we’ve learned! Starting in 2007, and even more so following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, selling real estate felt like trying to catch a falling knife as the market spiraled downward.

The market has changed quite a bit since then as inventories continue to dwindle, total yearly sales volume is up and pricing continues to inch higher in local markets such as Newton, Brookline, much of Boston and Cambridge. We’re starting to see healthy demand and competition again. Whereas the news cycle a few years ago was negative on residential real estate, that trend has changed to a positive theme as of late. Given that much of the new construction of residential real estate in Greater Metro Boston is not coming online for several years, it should be expected that the real estate market will continue its upward trend assuming interest rates don’t balloon in the near term.

In towns with real estate that’s ascending in value, it’s quite common that properties listed for sale at the right price sell within 1 week of being marketed. Typically these sales operate on a first come, first serve basis wherein the first offer to reach the seller’s number becomes the purchaser. In rare cases, a bidding war breaks out between buyers which forces a higher sales price. This bidding war can only occur if these two or more buyers happen to place offers within the same time period.

The flaw with the platform described above in the last paragraph is that by creating a first come, first serve transactional device, Sellers leave money on the table. Rather than accepting the first offer that comes through the door in the first week, Sellers and their brokers should utilize unique marketing platforms that allow the market to fully speak. In other words, elongate the marketing program and publicize a final offer due date in the near future that gives the full market enough time to act. By giving enough time for the market to act, real estate agents and their Sellers foster competition and urgency from the buyers – particularly in Greater Metro Boston where supply cannot meet the markets demand.

In addition to competition and urgency, differentiation can also be a great way to draw buyers attention on your property. Try using unique terminology that differentiates your home from the rest of the competition i.e. a “Call For Offers” or an “Accelerated Sale”. By doing so, Sellers and Brokers draw the full attention of the market.

To summarize, by creating a competitive marketplace, differentiating your listing and creating a sense of buyer urgency, Sellers and Brokers will ensure the maximization of value for their property listings.

Luxury Real Estate Marketing Essentials – To Blog Or Not to Blog?

To blog or not to blog? That is a very important question if you are a luxury real estate marketing professional and you are serious about surpassing your closest competitor. A blog can be a significant lead generation tool, which is the biggest reason so many agents and home loan consultants are jumping on the band wagon and launching their own blogs.

Here are the pros and cons about blogging in a nutshell:

The Pros:

1) Competently executed, blogging can help you create the perception, in the minds of your target market, that you are the leading authority in your field;
2) Blogging can significantly improve your search engine ranking, and;
3) Blogging can even help you gain celebrity status.

The Cons:

1) Done incompetently, publishing a blog can be like eating crawfish: a lot of work for very little meat;
2) If you do not like to write or do not have anything interesting, helpful or newsworthy to say about your marketplace (even with the assistance of a ghost writer) do not bother to blog, and;
3) You can bore potential readers and waste your valuable time that could be put to much better use.

Becoming a Self-Publisher

First, let’s demystify the blog by separating the medium from the message (or the content of your blog). As a medium, a blog is an interactive website that allows you to instantly self-publish (or post) time-stamped content such as text, photos, audio clips, videos and links to external content on the internet.

Your blog also allows visitors to post comments and forward your blog to their friends. Other blogs can be linked to your blog so your posts can appear in many places at once like a syndicated newspaper columnist. This interactivity is what makes blogs a social media versus printed newspapers, magazines or TV. There is a plenitude of free blogging platforms. Just Google blogs and you will find the best ones. It only takes minutes to set up your blog and publish your first post. It is that easy to become a self-publisher.

The shift in power that is taking place in the world of traditional publishing represents an unprecedented opportunity to become a popular source of real estate or mortgage news in your marketplace through self-publication. Can you begin to see why the current market leading agents and loan consultants are vulnerable? A competitor can readily seize this opportunity to become the local expert, the go-to columnist that is repeatedly quoted in other publications and other people’s blogs.

Becoming a Syndicated Columnist

Now, let’s take a look at the message side of the blog equation. Have you ever watched Andy Rooney’s spot that is aired at the end of every 60 Minutes TV program? He usually gives a two or three minute commentary on something that interests him. His inimitable style is charming, humorous and witty. A very distinct personality is exactly what your blog needs if you want to stand out in a sea of blogs. Your blog needs a unique slant to build readership/viewership. Most importantly, it must be authentic.

A successful blog should be like a thoroughly engaging editorial or news column in your local newspaper that is somehow tied into the subject of real estate or mortgage services. The theme of your column must be centered on something that you are personally enthusiastic or even passionate about in order to sustain your own interest over time as a publisher/columnist. If the message is not newsworthy, entertaining, informative or a solution to their problems your readers will quickly lose interest, too.

Blogging for Dollars!

The more traffic you can generate for your blog the more leads you can generate for your business. To accomplish this you must promote it everywhere you promote your current website. It must be prominently featured in all of your collateral material. Your blog is the new local media in your field and you are the new syndicated columnist. That means you need to maximize the use of local publicity as well as internet publicity, especially if you are in a second home market.

Best of all, if your content is truly original and compelling it will generate word-of-mouth marketing. For some of your referral sources it is easier for them to forward a clever or informative blog post via email than it is to recommend your services directly.

Getting your blog to sync up with the search engines, e.g., Google, Yahoo and MSN, in order to achieve the highest rankings is paramount. This is where all of the hoopla is coming from on the subject of blogging. The search engines are continuously looking for new content so that their user’s search results continue to be relevant to the search query. If the content of your blog posts can consistently answer the question that searchers are typing, the chances of your blog being found first increases dramatically.

Your search engine ranking for your website itself can steadily improve by blogging. Blogging allows you to add new content on a regular basis that is picked up by the search engines, versus the static content on your website. The more visible you become to the search engines the more you will be recognized as a website (and as a personality) worthy of a high ranking at the top on the search engines. This can take time.

To blog or not to blog? Do your due diligence before you decide. If your answer is yes, make the commitment to publish the best, market leading blog in your area. And, be sure to seek professional Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services. This is critical to your success. Good luck blogging for leads and for dollars!

This is part of an ongoing article series entitled, Luxury Real Estate Marketing Essentials. It is dedicated to luxury real estate marketing professionals worldwide.

Real Estate Property Investment Series – Focus Canada 2007

Canada has something of an evergreen appeal which means that not only does it welcome many new and affluent citizens to its shores annually as part of its active immigration policy, these new Canadian citizens provide fresh inward flow of demand and affordability to the Canadian real estate marketplace.

If you add to this the fact that more Europeans and Americans are seeking to either move to live in Canada for part of the year or holiday there for extended periods of time throughout the year and you have quite a new and active market seeking long term rental accommodation and even resale property units as well.

On top of this active flow of demand you have local demand which is strong particularly away from some of the eastern provinces where property prices have risen a little too high a little too fast of late, and overall there is a great deal of local affordability and demand underpinning a solid and positive property market.

Having said all that, not all in the Canadian real estate garden is rosy as we look forward to 2007…while an investor who does their due diligence carefully and astutely can reap dividends from commercial and residential real estate in Canada in 2007, there are certain economic facts that could negatively impact the real estate marketplace in Canada in 2007… this report covers both angles.

On the one (negative) hand – while Canada’s property market has not been shaken quite so significantly as other established nation’s markets it has suffered a general slowdown of both market and construction activity. This is because the question of ‘affordability’ has suddenly had to enter the marketplace…questions have been raised relating to whether average property prices have hit a ceiling beyond which home buyers cannot afford to enter the market.

On the other (negative) hand – the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has reported that in 2007 Canada’s GDP growth rate will under perform previous expectations of it. GDP growth was around 2.8% in 2006 and this is predicted to drop to 2.7% in 2007 before bouncing back firmly in 2008 – in addition to this, unfortunately consumer price inflation is set to follow a similar pattern and core inflationary levels could rise from 1.9% to 2.1% in 2007. These statistics suggest that the property buying public’s activity could be depressed a little in 2007.

But it’s not all bad news! Far from it in fact…

The Canadian Real Estate Association is working with the government to change the way smaller property investors in Canada are taxed on their capital gains. A small investor is one with fewer than five employees and this type of investor is called a passive investor in Canadian taxation terms. Currently such an investor has to pay capital gains tax and suffer capital cost allowance recovery if they sell an investment property even if the proceeds from the sale are then reinvested in another investment property within one year. If CREA get their way investors will be able to defer capital gains tax and capital cost allowance recovery when they sell investment properties and then reinvest the proceeds of the sales back in to other investment properties within one year.

So – the question presents itself – where should an investor invest in real estate in Canada in 2007 if they are to reap strong returns?

To tap into strong real estate profitability in Canada in 2007 investors basically need to apply commonsense when it comes to doing their due diligence on whether a market has room for expansion and whether it is enjoying, and will continue to enjoy, strong consumer demand for either rental or resale accommodation.

Simple!

A good example for a potential investor to examine is the city of Edmonton in Alberta where demand for properties for sale is outstripping supply and where the local economy is being supported greatly by the current oil sands driven boom. This is the sort of market an investor needs to preempt to derive as much profit potential from their investment decisions as possible.

Investors should also examine which Canadian towns and cities are going to be benefiting from upgrades to infrastructure such as communications and transport links because where an area is improving so desirability will increase and house prices will always follow. Also worth examining in Canada is the expansion of the local and international tourism market where residential letting opportunities could arise as well as commercial investment interests.

Commercial property investment opportunities also exist in the likes of Ottawa as well where vacancy rates are attractively low and construction is underway to supply some 800,000 square feet of prime, grade A office, retail and industrial space to a market hungry for such space. Basically investors who tap into this new supply could find themselves generating attractive yields in a relatively short period of time and opportunities like this exist all across Canada…in fact it is a nation ripe with investment opportunity!