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This Is For THURSDAY 3/30 POST

Why real estate agents survived the Internet

The vast majority of consumers begin their new home search looking at listings online, but the spread of the internet has done little to quell buyer’s desire for personal touch afforded by a real estate agent. On the contrary, consumers are willing to pay more than ever to secure the services of a good real estate agent.

While the internet has disrupted countless industries from travel to finance and more, real estate agents have never felt their jobs being threatened,

There’s not a shred of evidence that the internet is having an impact.

Where the impact of the internet has been felt is in the way agents do their work.

For example, the Internet is now the number one advertising portal for agents, who use various services and software to automate tasks like marketing etc. However, the Internet hasn’t taken any real estate agent’s jobs away – instead, the number of agents actively working in the U.S. has risen by 60 percent in the last 20 years.

That’s quite the opposite of many predictions. The industry was fearful of the internet. They didn’t think they’d have jobs.

But on the contrary, real estate agents today generally earn more in commissions than their pre-Internet era counterparts. That’s thanks to stable commission rates and surging home values, the Washington Post says. Back in 1997, agents made an average commission of $16,000 on a median-priced home, adjusted for inflation. Today, the average commission is $20,131.

One reason why experts say real estate agents have prospered in the internet age, where other professions have failed, is because home sales remain an extremely complicated financial transaction that few consumers know how to handle themselves. The process is intimidating, and so consumers want a helping hand to guide them through it.

In addition, real estate firms and associations have been working hard to promote the value of having a real estate professional guide you through your transaction.

In 2016, some 89 percent of home sellers used the services of a real estate agent. Meanwhile, for sale by owner transactions have fallen to their lowest level since 1981, at just 8 percent of all home deals.

Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: RealtyBizNews
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How to Successfully Screen Tenants For Your Investment Property

Believe it or not, effectively screening tenants can help you to eliminate as much as 95% of rental problems. That said, for those of you who find it difficult to relax when experiencing vacancies, then you’d probably want your property to get rented as soon as possible, right? Well, familiarize yourself with these tips to ensure that you’ll be able to screen the tenants properly.
5 Ways to Screen for Future Tenants:

1. An Application Form Can Do Wonders:

Before anything else, make sure that your prospective tenant would complete an application form. Don’t worry; if you have never written one before, there are a lot of rental application form examples from the local real estate association. Likewise, you can also create one using a Microsoft Office template and you’re good to go.

The application form should cover everything necessary regarding the rental property and the policies the tenant should obey. For best results, make sure that the application form contains financial information, personal information, and employment information. It should also state that a criminal history report, background check, or credit check can be requested, and the tenant would give full authorization in case it’s needed.

Pay attention to the following:

– Current income: The income of your prospective tenant should be enough to cover the rent and other living expenses.

– Current and previous employers: It’s important for you to have an idea how long the tenant has been at their current job, and if he or she has been switching jobs every couple of months.

– Financial information: Credit cards, bank accounts, balances, and minimum monthly payments could help you get a better picture if your tenant would be able to pay the monthly rent on time.

2. How Much Do You Earn Every Month?

Don’t be afraid to ask this question as it will help you determine if the prospective tenant is indeed capable of renting your property. As a landlord, you obviously want a tenant who earns regularly and would have enough to settle his monthly bills. For example, if the monthly rent is $2,000, then you’d want a tenant that earns more than $2,500 every month.

However, you should also keep in mind that the monthly income wouldn’t be able to tell the whole story either. That’s why additional information, such as how much debt they have, will help you determine if they can really pay or not. By running a credit card check, you’ll know how much debt they have.

3. Ask If They Will Have a Security Deposit and First Month’s Rent Ready When They Move-In:

Their answer to this question would indicate their current financial situation. Wherein, if your prospective tenant doesn’t have enough money ready, and would request if it’s possible to pay the security deposit after a week of moving in, then this should raise a red flag. You have to think carefully if they can even afford paying the monthly rent. You don’t want to start a tenant relationship with your tenant being indebted to you from the start.

Furthermore, as much as possible, don’t allow a tenant to move-in if they haven’t paid the whole amount yet. Never negotiate or make exceptions, no matter what. Always require your new tenants to settle in full before moving in.

4. How Many People Would Be Living in the Apartment?

Ideally, you wouldn’t want more than 2 people occupying a bedroom. Likewise, the fewer people in the apartment, the less damage it’s going to bring on the property. Aside from that, a lot of municipalities and fire department also have a limit on the number of people that can reside an apartment.

5. Ask Your Tenant If He Has Ever Been Evicted Before:

Although there are possibilities that your prospective tenant won’t be 100% honest, it’s still worth trying. Basically, directly asking the tenant whether they have been evicted before could also be beneficial for them as they will be able to explain why it happened. Keep in mind, even good folk’s fall on hard times, and don’t let the eviction fully disqualify them. However, you should also be wise enough and weigh if you really should give them a shot.
Finally

Finding a great tenant isn’t as easy as it may sound. However, with the help of a screening process, you’ll be able to learn more about your prospect and it’ll also help you avoid any problems in the long run.

Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: RealtyBizNews
Written By: James Henderson is Director of Marketing and PR for Real Property Management Citywide
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This Is For FRIDAY 3/31 Posts

Sales Tax Rules You Can’t Ignore When Growing Your Business

Don’t let ignorance of sales tax laws interfere with your small business growth.

Growing your small business is no doubt exciting, but it’s important not to forget the sales tax implications of doing so.

Sales taxes are levied by the state, not by the IRS or federal government. Each state has its own set of rules and regulations pertaining to what types of transactions are subject to sales tax and what transactions are exempt.

From state to state there is a lot of variation on what services and products are subject to sales tax, as well as how often sales tax must be paid.

The best way to learn the sales tax implications of adding products and services to your small business is to either engage your CPA or go to the state tax department website and query it for sales taxes.

Many states offer free publications that are written in layman’s terms so you can easily understand the rules.

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Is Your Real Estate Business Properly Insured?

There are a lot of different real estate business careers people are involved in. With that comes a need for business insurance.

Every businessperson needs to periodically review not only his or her current business insurance coverage but also whether or not their insurance needs have changed.

This includes the person that has recently started a new business as well as a person that has been in business for many years. As business strategies change, business models evolve, and businesses grow, so do insurance needs.

As a business owner, you deal with a large array of insurance needs such as property, product or service liability, auto, worker’s compensation, and specialty insurance.

There are a lot of ambulance chasing attorneys always on the lookout for another case they think will deliver up a huge contingency fee for them.
There is little or no cost to the person claiming to be a victim of your business when an attorney accepts their case on contingency.
The attorney is only paid if they win the case. But the more money they win, the more they get paid – typically more than 30% of the settlement.

Consider If You Might Be Sued:

There are many types of business insurance available from basic fire/damage, auto, workers comp, to loss of income. One thing that most insurance coverages have in common is a requirement that the insurance cover any legal expenses you may incur.

Often the most important role business insurance plays is paying for your defense legal costs. One clause that you want to be particularly robust in your insurance policy is the clause stating the insurance company will fully defend you in all lawsuits. And more…
For insurance companies it is often less expensive to settle a suit for a few thousand dollars than go to the expense of defending your business. Ideally, you want a strong voice in deciding if the insurance company settles or goes to court. You don’t want your business to become the target of multiple slip-and-fall lawsuits only because your insurance company is fast to settle out of court. That makes you a bigger target for future lawsuits and drives up your insurance costs.

Consider Errors and Omissions Insurance:

Errors and ommissions (E&O) insurance should be common for those providing real estate services. This is includes people performing inspections, giving advice, doing design work, consultants, and most real estate service businesses.

E&O is not generally part of a standard Business Owner’s Policy (BOP). And it’s not only limited to service providers. E&O can cover many things not covered by BOP insurance. E&O can provide coverage for things like contract service performance. It protects you if a client claims your services resulted in a financial loss to them or their business.

Written and signed contracts are intended to protect you in this area but these don’t always go far enough. Mistakes happen and you may not be able to perform as you intended to when a contract was written. That’s one area where E&O insurance comes into play.
It’s important to know that most E&O policies only cover you during the policy period. If you allow your policy to lapse, you probably will not have coverage for business conducted in the past. You will want to look into an “extended period” policy to cover work from the past if you decide you no longer need coverage for the future.
As always, consult with a professional about your specific insurance needs.

Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: RealtyBizNews
Written By: Brian Kline 
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Misleading Real Estate Property Images; Companies Can be Fined Up To $ 1.1 Million

Real estate photography editing has been in existence for over a decade now, but it seems Australia is the first country to draw that demarcation line between what is right and what is wrong, while incorporating real estate image editing into property marketing.

The impact of image editing and retouching makes it all the more important for real estate companies, real estate agencies, property photographers, property photo studios, and property listing sites to have a clear understanding of the legal boundaries in this regards.

As the one involved with real estate property, are considering real estate photo editing outsourcing or real estate photo retouching outsourcing; ensure that the property images on your list are not misleading.
Penalties for misleading the consumers have increased, and real estate companies are likely to be fined up to $1.1 million and individual agents can be fined up to $220,000, says ACCC.

There is a belief that the responsibility is of the property buyers and not the property dealers, to inspect the property in person for them; but that does not seem to be the case here.

Let’s take this further to understand the legal restrictions for property photography retouching and real estate image editing, implemented by ACCC to protect real estate buyers.

What are the legal restrictions for property or real estate image editing?

 Built in materials such as power lines, neighboring buildings, vents, air-conditioning units and alike; are amongst the list of objects that cannot be removed from property images to show the property to be more spacious, while editing or retouching them. It is considered to be highly misleading to buyers and is considered to be against the rules. The responsibility is solely of the real estate agent or the company to correctly display the physical features of a property.

 Same kind of restrictions are imposed for enhancement of real estate property images; where adding garden beds to concreted areas, and repainting old walls to make them look new, are amongst common image retouching practices.

 The next thing on the list is trick angles and property photo editing that is used to create larger-than-life views from the home/property. They have mandated tagging “location shot” for every single image that is not taken on the property, so as to save the buyers from any kind of confusion.

What are the fair practices for real estate property image editing?

This may sound like warning people against using image editing for their real estate property pictures, however; it is not so. Enlisted are some of the fair and practical reasons for putting image editing at task for the benefit of the buyers and can improve property marketing campaigns, by generating valid interest for a property.

1. Weather

Property photographers and property photo studios try their level best to photograph real estate properties on a beautiful sunny day. Property listing sites have a motto to upload property images with a golden sunset; on their marketing sites. But the weather does not always play fair. Most common are the overcast days, and rearranging a rainy shoot always – is not possible. Professional image editors are equipped with multiple sky profiles, replacing the background whenever weather plays foul in flattering a property.

2. Retouching enhancements for that unobstructed view
Not all the properties are located in quiet and well managed streets, where there are no or very few cars parked in front of the property. It is almost impossible to conduct a photoshoot in a situation where someone’s car is not blocking a part of the property in any angle possible. Or the most prominent one is that the agent’s sign board is not covering some necessary details. These are some of the objects that can be removed from property photos by image editing & enhancements to remove clutter and obstructive objectives to gain that unobstructed view.

Unhelpful tenants, God save the property owners and real estate agencies. These tenants leave the property as it is with all that clutter and mess around, though they are aware of the photo shoot. Uncovering space by removing the mess, while leaving in fixtures and fittings with help of professional photo editing is a better idea.

Rooms or spaces that are empty, or are not appealing due to existing furniture; it can be replaced to give the property that real modern and amazing look with help of image editing professionals.

Talking especially of commercial warehouses, new tenants will always look out for the potential of their business. Commercial warehouse spaces can be completely emptied, and features such as power points, vents, etc. that are hidden by old or existing tenant’s clutter also can be included & highlighted by retouching the photos, though by including a disclaimer in some of the cases.

3. Hovering auction dates and renovations

There have been instances when it is just the auction date and there is renovation work that needs attention on the may be the garden or the entire property. It is nearly impossible to arrange for property images that fast. In such scenarios, assistance from professional image editing and retouching experts; where they use building and landscaping plans to fill up the gaps to create that look and feel of finished renovations ahead of the schedule. It might require property agent to put up a disclaimer that features some features are digitally included to represent the final work.

4. Neglected properties

Property photographers do come across properties that have stayed neglected for quite some time before the photo shoot; with overgrown lawns, swimming pool left to fend itself and so on so forth. In such cases the lawns can be mowed and pools can be cleaned by expert retouching; to ensure the property looks as it would on the day of the inspection or the auction.

5. Real estate photo editing and retouching

If used appropriately, real estate image retouching does not merely become a part of the photography package; instead also works as a safety net for unexpected deadlines. There are a lot more reasons why high quality property photo retouching is worth the time and money spent. Speak to a property photography team to learn more about what all can be done to enhance property images while complying with legal standards.

Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: RealtyBizNews
Written By: Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: Chirag Shivalker heads the content team at Hi-Tech iSolutions LLP
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Tips to Help You Be a Great Landlord

The best landlords attract a lot of tenants.
Why? It’s pretty obvious; for those who consider their rental property as a business, then that means your tenants would be your customers.
The better you serve these people, the higher the chances that they’ll stay longer as they will be fully satisfied with their stay. Likewise, it can also be a way to attract new tenants, as your loyal tenants wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you to their friends and family members who are in search of a new place.
So, how can you be the best landlord? Here are some of the tips that you should follow.

6 Ways to be a Great Landlord:

1. There Should be a Good Lease and Tenant Screening Process

Usually the first impressions of the landlord would be based on the property he’s offering, the lease, and tenant application. Thus, it’s very important to show your professionalism all throughout these steps. It’s highly advisable to do your research, and check out how you can create an outstanding application form. As for the screening process, it should make your tenant feel comfortable. They should also have the confidence that they’re going to move in a safe environment and that their neighbors have been thoroughly screened as well. Keep in mind, problems between the tenants would always involve the landlord. That’s why you have to make sure that everyone living in your building would easily get along.

Having a great lease is also important. This would show the tenants the rules– what they can, and cannot do within the vicinity. The more formal your lease is, the more comfortable and secured your tenants will feel.

2. Make Sure That Your Property Is in Great Condition

You’re earning from your property; that means you should ensure that it looks great inside and out. From lawn maintenance to cleaning; make sure that you wouldn’t skip any essentials that would keep your rental property looking at its best.
Cut the lawn weekly while showing the vacant property, however, when the tenant shows up to collect the keys and finally move in, make sure that the building is clean and well-organized.
The tenants should feel excited about them moving in, and they should be able to tell to their friends and relatives how great their landlord is.

3. Familiarize Yourself with the Laws

If you’re just new in the business, you have to know that there’s a landlord and tenant act that covers security deposits, rent, landlord and tenant obligations, evictions, and most importantly, tenant’s rights.
You can obtain a copy of this from the Department of Housing office in your area, or online, via the housing website of your state. Familiarize yourself with these laws, as this would help you determine if you’re violating the tenant’s rights.

4. Help the Tenant Get Adjusted to the Area

Chances are your tenant is new in town, and as a responsible landlord, you should be the one to help them easily adjust to their new environment.
You can do this by giving them a copy of how to get to places, such as pharmacies, local grocery stores, and other facilities.
You can download this list straight from the Internet, and it can be used over and over again.

5. Stick with the Lease Guidelines

At some point, you’ll have an issue with your tenant. When this happens, you shouldn’t take the matters into your own hand, as this would lead you to trouble. Instead, stick to the guidelines outlined in the lease agreement. In the case that there are certain issues that weren’t addressed in the lease, then you have to refer back to your city’s local ordinances.
By doing this, you can make it clear that you’re not violating anyone’s rights.

6. Be Compassionate

When your tenants have a problem, like delayed payment, don’t evict your tenant right away. Instead, try to determine the reason behind this late payment, and if it’s something sensitive, show your compassionate side.
This should be done, especially if your tenant has never been a source of headache in the past. They’ll remember your kindness, and it would increase the chances that they’ll renew their contract once it ends.
Just like what have been mentioned earlier, a great landlord results to having great tenants. Of course, problems will happen every now and then, but you should act professionally and compassionate at the same time in order to avoid conflicts.
Treat your rental property as a business, and take good care of it.

Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: RealtyBizNews
Written By: Patrick Beugnon President of Aramis Realty
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Does Your Agency Need a Social Media Plan?

These days, you would be hard pressed to find a person or business that isn’t somehow engaged on at least one social media channel.

Which may leave you wondering,

Does my real estate agency need to jump on the social media bandwagon?

Can social media do the same for your agency?
Ask yourself these questions first:

 Does my agency already have a social media presence?
 If not, do I have the time and resources to invest in social media?
 Is my competition using social media to expand their business?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, a social media plan for your agency makes sense. Here’s how you can draft one:
The Makings of an Effective Social Media

Blueprint:

There is a lot more to crafting an effective social media strategy than creating a business page and adding a picture.
This should not be considered a “set it and forget it” marketing tool. If you don’t plan ahead to nurture your social presence and keep your content current, you are better off not embarking on a social media journey at all.
The real estate industry has a lot of opportunities when it comes to drafting a social media blueprint, especially since it’s one that mainly relies on visual elements.

But regardless of your particular niche and target market, there are a few essentials you will need to draft your social media blueprint:

Content:

In today’s digital marketing world, content is king. No longer can you simply advertise your services, hoping that those who need what you offer will choose you. Good content helps position you as the go-to expert in your field, reaching out to people who might not need your services yet, but will put your brand at the top of their mind when the time comes.

Digital content can take many forms, like these:

 Blog articles
 Infographics
 Real estate listings and photos
 Checklists
 Videos

The takeaway here is to provide something of value to your audience, anything that can spark a thought or conversation.

But don’t feel like you have to create all of the content yourself. Tools like Feedly can help you collect relevant, shareworthy posts from around the web to distribute on your social media channels.

Time

Truth be told, social media does take some time to properly establish, and also time to maintain. You may not get the results you expect within your first three months, but remember that it takes time to attract followers and see results. Also, keep in mind that old or outdated content may leave a negative impression on your visitors, so you should take care to add new content often.

Advertising Budget:

Anyone can set up a Facebook or Twitter account for free, but you might want to consider paid ads to boost your visibility.
Each social media platform offers different ways to advertise, along with their own distinct advantages. If you decide to pay for ads, make sure you are advertising only on the same platforms your target audience is using, so you can maximize your budget’s impact.

Execution Strategy:

Once you set up your pages and develop content, you should plan on how to execute your strategy to achieve your goals.
First, figure out what precisely you want to achieve, then let those goals direct your actions.
There are lots of business opportunities for real estate agencies in the social media landscape, but only if you can plan to invest enough time and effort.

Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: RealtyBizNews
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How to Dominate Real Estate Marketing with a Digital Content Action Plan

If you still rely only on postcards, billboards and yard signs for real estate marketing, you are missing out on more than half of the buyer market.

At this point in the digital age, you should – at the minimum – have a company website to feature your listings and company profile.

A website alone may provide just enough visibility for your firm to stay afloat, for now. But posting your properties online isn’t enough to earn a top spot in the competitive real estate market.

People no longer simply look for the service they need; they also need to know why you offer the better choice. And you can give them all the reasons they need via a content marketing strategy.

3 Essentials to Rock Your Digital Real Estate Marketing Strategy
Mobile App Marketing

The mobile device has forever changed the way many people shop for real estate.
Last year, consumers searched Google for Zillow, a popular real estate website and mobile app, more so than the term “real estate.” In addition, studies show that 68% of shoppers used mobile real estate apps both at the beginning and throughout their home search.

So what does all this mean for the real estate professional?

It means your customers are mobile, and you should be, too.
Apps like Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor provide convenient, portable ways for buyers to catch a sneak peek of what’s on the market before they ever reach out to you.
These apps make it easy to optimize your mobile marketing techniques, like paid ads, geofencing, and click-to-contact capability.

Blogs:

Blogs are becoming about as par for the course as business websites. They provide valuable resources for your customers and prospects seeking answers and information, while positioning you as a thought leader in your industry.

While blog content should be crafted as a marketing tool on the inside, its outer layer should provide value and insight for the reader.
The goal here is to create blog posts that will drive web traffic, keep your brand top of mind, and make people want to share your content with others.

Good real estate blog content can take the form of any of the following:

 Tip sheets (ex. 10 Things New Home Buyers Never Consider)
 How To’s (ex. How to Get Your Home Ready to Sell)
 Infographics
 DIY Walk-through (ex. How to Install a Toilet)
 Before-and-After Shots of renovations or redecorating

Posting worthy content on your blog does not mean you have to create each piece from scratch. There are plenty of relevant, helpful articles circulating the web that you can curate for your own use. But be sure to give credit where credit is due.

Social Media:

Of all the digital marketing outlets available, none offers as many advantages and options as social media.

Platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are rich in visual elements and free to join. You can pay small fees for ads, which can disperse your shared content to larger audiences and help drive web traffic.

Social media profiles offer another way for prospects to research your company, other than your website. People can leave reviews and comments, and you can join the conversations to spark relationships and build trust in your brand.

Use social media to share your listings, success stories, and blog content, as well as collect client feedback and generate leads.
To get (and stay) on top, you should be taking advantage of online marketing outlets to increase your visibility wherever your prospects may be – mobile apps, social media, or your own company website.

But first, you need epic content to get their attention.

Posted By: www.infradant.com
Credit To: RealtyBizNews
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