May, 2014

A Picture is Worth a Thousand…Dollars?

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photographerWe’ve all heard the age-old adage that a picture is worth “a thousand words”, but in the world of real estate, pictures are worth far more than that. The title of this post is obviously a clever little play (if I do say so myself) on the well-known saying, but in fact, pictures in real estate are worth far more than just a thousand bucks. Taking A LOT of quality pictures of your home is absolutely imperative to the successful sale of your property, and getting top dollar in a reasonable amount of time.

It’s an undeniable fact that today’s home buyer does most of their research online, both on their computer and on their mobile device. I could point to statistic after statistic from reputable companies like RealtyTrac, Zillow, NAR, and others that confirm the fact that today’s technologically savvy home buyer is relying more on the world wide web, and less on traditional real estate marketing like open houses, magazines, and yard signs.

Due to these recent changes in buyer behavior, it has become increasingly important that the presentation of your home online paints a compelling picture (pun intended) of the property’s numerous amenities and benefits, and stands out amongst the competition. The best way to do that is with incredible photos, images that truly help the buyer envision what the home is like…even though they may be thousands of miles away. Below are a few helpful pointers to ensure that your photos are an asset to your listing, and not a liability.

1.) Make sure the front photo is GREAT! – The first photo that you see on the internet is much like the headline of an advertisement or news article. If the headline stinks, no one will read the rest of the ad or column. If the photo of the front of the house is terrible, buyers will not look at the rest of them regardless of how beautiful the inside of the home might be.

2.) Take a LOT of pictures – Statistics once again show that buyers tend to express more interest in online listings that contain the Bad picturemost pictures. Because many buyers are searching from out-of-state, and don’t have the ability to tour the home, it’s important that the listing includes as many photos as possible to help give them an idea of the layout, and how each room flows into the next. Take multiple photos of the same room at different angles to help give the buyer perspective, or consider using a virtual tour.

It’s also a good idea to include pictures of the original floor plan, as well as photos that highlight the local lifestyle, shopping, or various attractions. The more a buyer is able to see online, the more they will consider looking at the home in real life.

3.) Take GOOD pictures – Photography is a lot like kissing, everyone thinks they’re good at it, but the sad fact is that few of us actually are as good as we think. Get the opinion of fellow professionals on your photos, and ask for honest feedback. Check out some online resources and advice articles on photography, effective use of lighting, etc. However, if you still can’t quite seem to get the hang of it, then you might want to consider point #4.

4.) Hire a Professional – For most investors, hiring a “professional” will likely just be finding a competent Realtor.  As part of their comstagingmission, most real estate agents or their assistants will take the photos for you. However, please note my use of the word “competent”. As a licensed Realtor myself, and someone who looks at MLS photos regularly, I can attest to the fact that many Realtors are terrible at taking photos.  In fact, there is even a website committed to their ineptitude (http://terriblerealestateagentphotos.com)

5. Stage the Home – Almost as important as taking good photos, is having something to actually take a picture of. Even a renovated room with new paint, new flooring, and new fixtures still looks like a cold, boring box of nothingness without some focal points like furniture, decorations, etc. I stage every home that I renovate prior to take the listing photos. While some investors might see it as an expense, I view it as another investment into the property.

We typically sell each fix and flip in 7 days or less, and oftentimes for full price. One of the things I hear more often than not is, “they loved the staging.” Not only is the staging very pleasant to the eye for the walkthrough, helping to define spaces and create positive emotions, but it is oftentimes the very thing that gets them in the door in the first place, because of the way it warms up the photos they see online.

Now it’s your turn to sound off. What’s your opinion? Do you think photos are important? Have you tried staging, and if so, what were your results? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below, and let’s continue the conversation!

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Marketing is Way More Important than You Think

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FIVE THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT REAL ESTATE INVESTING, PART 5 – “Marketing is Way More Important than You Think.”

FB LogoA few months back, there was a viral post making its way around Facebook in which people were sharing 10 things that people “might not know” about them.  Inspired by the posts, I decided to write a blog series to share some of the things that aspiring investors “might not know” about creative real estate investing.  These undeniable truths, while not typically part of the seminar speaker’s PowerPoint presentation, will serve you well as you navigate the sometimes treacherous waters of launching a new business…especially if that business is flipping houses.

A Quick Trip Down Memory Lane…

Part 1 – “Everything Doesn’t Go Right All the Time.”

Part 2- “It’s Not as Easy as They Say on Infomercials.”

Part 3 – “It Does Take SOME Money to Invest.”

Part 4 – “A PERSONAL Budget is Critical to Your BUSINESS Success.”

And now our final post in this series…

Number 5: Marketing is WAY more important than you think.

There are some people in business who think that marketing is a nuisance.  There are some who think it’s a necessity.  And then there are those who see marketing as more important than their next breath…and they are typically the only ones who make it.  In fact, marketing and lead generation IS the “next breath” of a company, and the importance of it is impossible to overstate.

Effective marketing is the backbone of any successful business.  You can be the best chiropractor in the world, sit on the board of the national chiropractor’s board, and have dozens of diplomas and certificates of achievement on your wall.   However, ifChiropractor Doing Adjustment you can’t get a paying customer to walk in your door…it won’t be long until you’re broke and out of business.  In fact, the ONE BIG DIFFERENCE between those who are successful in business (real estate investor, chiropractor, or otherwise) and those are not, is the ability to market their product or service.

Most people think in terms of being a “technician” when starting their business.  They like the “do” part of the business, whether it’s baking cakes for a bakery, walking dogs, babysitting, or flipping houses.  If it’s a small, one-person operation, they can earn an honest living just being a technician.  However, to build a highly successful and highly profitable business, the owner must learn to go beyond being a technician to becoming a marketing, sales, and business development expert.  You must eradicate the “employee mindset” and adopt a CEO mindset, or your business will stay stagnant or disappear altogether.

You’re Only as Good As Your Next Deal

I typically have anywhere from 5-7 renovation deals going on at a time, and sometimes a couple of wholesale deals in escrow as well.  When I was a young entrepreneur, I would sit back and admire my own success.  I would spend far too much time looking at what I was doing at the moment, and not enough time thinking about what I would be doing 3-6 months from now.  So, once those few deals were completed, I would find myself with not enough deals in the pipeline, and I would have to crank the marketing machine back up again.  This created a roller coast ride of inconsistent income that put damper on my business growth.

roller-coaster1After years of inconsistency and frustration, I finally matured in my thinking in regards to my marketing plan.  Even though I may have numerous deals going on at a single time, 80% of my mind share is spent on what I need to do to find the NEXT deal (and the NEXT deal…and so on).  The success of today can be fleeting, and it’s my job as the leader of my company to be a visionary, and make sure the pipeline of prospects and customers is filled for years to come.

Action Plan

Number 1 – Look in the mirror, and say to yourself 100 times a day, “Marketing is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in my business.”  Ok, so perhaps that’s overkill…but you get the point.  You can own every investing course in the world, be an expert in every strategy, and have millions of private money at your disposal…but without a real estate deal, you’re going nowhere fast.

Number 2 – Create a marketing budget.  Sit down with your spouse or significant other, and decide how much money each month you can spend on your new business endeavor.  Depending on your financial situation, it may require you to sacrifice a few $4 coffees, or possibly a movie night, but it’s a short term sacrifice for a long term gain.

Number 3 – Choose a marketing strategy and STICK TO IT!  Too many investors have marketing schizophrenia.  They try one thing for a few weeks, and when it doesn’t immediately create a deluge of leads, they move on to something else.  Whatever you decide to do, stick with it for 3-6 months.  If it works, and you’re making more money than your spending, then keep doing it and ADD something else, or EXPAND your marketing within that same strategy.

BIG Results

If you stick to your plan, and stay committed to the task at hand, you will see amazing results.  Success in business doesn’t happen overnight, but if continue to do the right things, and plant the right seeds…you will undoubtedly reap an incredible harvest in due time.  Go for it…and then come back and share your success story with me!

Questions?  Comments?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!

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