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Realtors can build better client relationships on Houzz

Houzz.com has rolled out new Realtor member benefits, and I’m in love because it’s consumer-oriented and aims to improve the client relationship.

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Houzz: flirting with the pretty faces on the web

At first, it was that flirting glance. It was the longing stares and fluttering of the eyelashes that you give to things that you are lusting after… Maybe you thought it was just a fling, when it was really much much more than that. This is actually a relationship. They pulled you in with fancy photos and the savior fare … things some people just wouldn’t understand, and you thought that you were done at that… but you weren’t. Now they want more. They are ready to offer you more. They want a commitment. They want more more. More. Are you ready for what they are rolling out? This is Houzz.com’s realtor portfolio program. And get excited, because it’s free!

According to Houzz.com Director of Business Development, Katherine Nannizzi, based on a survey of over one hundred thousand Houzz.com users, “[they] learned that about 10% of Houzz home owners, and 50% of Houzz renters are planning to buy in the next two years, and another 10% are planning to build a custom home. Therefore, agents expose themselves to a new potential client base in addition to engaging with their current client base.”

This new program that Houzz.com has just released caught my attention because it is not only free to Realtors but it is also a wonderful way to collaborate with these clients who are looking to become home buyers or build that custom home in the next couple of years. You may recall when it was just becoming an idea to utilize Houzz.com as a tool along with programs and apps such as Pinterest, and that it was just being realized that there was an easier way to collaborate with clients and Realtors.

This way was to create a full system for realtors to be able to maximize collaboration with their clients through their own portfolio program which was not the same thing as the Pro+ monetized program that was released just over a month ago through Houzz. What’s even more exciting about this is if someone has been utilizing Houzz as a private individual and not as a realtor or other type of contractor, they can actually very simply switch their profile over to being a Realtor professional just by editing their profile to become a professional setting. Easy.

Make Your Online Profile Smokin’ Hot

Only a month after rolling out their program for Pro+, Houzz.com realized that Realtors could utilize the system and a whole other way. Only 816 Realtors have signed up for the program in the last three weeks since this program was initialized. Being a tech savvy agent is fantastic and having apps such as Houzz that will allow for collaboration between the Realtor, the client, and the contractors is fabulous beyond words.

Creating the profile has never been more simple. All you have to do is change the status to update the professional page, and invite your clients to look at your portfolio page. The next step to utilizing this amazing tool is to utilize the review system. Similar to the Zillow.com review system, the Trulia.com review system or even House.com’s review system, Houzz will allow for professionals to request a review from current and past clients, but also colleagues, and even other contractors. Building up reviews from will solidify rankings within the Houzz.com Realtor Professional’s search in each hyper-local market.

They know how to talk a good game

With over 20 articles professionally written daily to give service to the clients as a wonderful cool Houzz is able to create a virtual concierge service to luxury client very easily for the Realtor who is utilizing this free tool. Clearly, there was a need for architects and builders to have an avenue to outreach to the consumer and Houzz has very easily transitioned into their approach to work directly with the Realtor through their beautiful aesthetic and ease of use; it was only a natural transition that ultimately they would have this Realtor program available.

The beauty of their program isn’t just maintained through the nearly two million luxury builder and architect photos uploaded, but because the brand has chosen to have the Houzz experience remain beautiful with endemic advertising with is handpicked by their team. Not just anyone can advertise on Houzz.com and not every agent in the free world is using the system either. Just the savvy ones so far who know their market.

Oh, please, take me with you…

The concept is incredibly tote-able. Think about it this way: your client can actually use their mobile device to examine properties in their portfolio through Houzz.com’s virtual library and immediately connect with you, their realtor. This is so powerful. When you used to have to possibly funnel information out of someone, now it is wireless. It is everywhere and it is an amazing way to help the creativity keep on flowing, especially if you are dealing with a client who maybe is lacking in the creativity department.

The whole idea of Houzz was actually started by husband and wife team who was in the process of remodeling their home. They found the process of keeping all of their information consolidated that they wanted to create a more efficient and effective way to convey their details to all of their contractors. They have obviously been able to do that… and then some. Through their second annual survey of over 100,000 people, Houzz was able to find out what homeowners actually want and renovation and design; this means that now you as the realtor can take those things and run with it for your client, the consumer. This ability to create community online and off-line is much more then the aesthetic collection of luxury images, it’s the actual luxury of the concierge service in digital form for the realtor and so many different facets of collaboration.

Imagine what we can do together

This new free tool through Houzz allows you to do many things: create idea books just for you; create idea books that are private to share with your client; be a part of the community and answer questions; be a part of your listing and be a luxury concierge to everyone in the community; understand what the client wants and where the drive is within your market.

Nannizzi shared her thoughts on how this program is going to help Realtors in the branding of their business. “Here are some ways that agents can now use Houzz to build their brands and relationships with clients and prospective clients:

  • to understand a client’s desired home style for a search — photos are more effective than words
  • to communicate a home’s potential — using Houzz to provide examples of what similar home look like post-renovation
  • to showcase their expertise – using personal ideabooks as mini-blogs where they share ideas for smart investments when buying or selling, and really localizing the content
  • to continue the relationship post-purchase – i.e. sending over ideabooks they create for specific clients with nursery ideas, or home office ideas
  • to engage with their Facebook and Twitter followers by sharing relevant Houzz editorial ideabooks on topics from staging to increasing curb appeal
  • to share their network of renovation and design professionals with clients
  • to link their Houzz profiles to their websites, blogs, facebook and twitter accounts, and vice versa (you can find buttons/badges to put on your website here)”

The relationship has evolved. Are you going to engage yourself with Houzz’s real estate professional’s free program to win hour clients more opportunities for creativity and connection? I sure have… We are in fact, getting intimate.

Genevieve Concannon is one of those multifaceted individuals who brings business savvy, creativity and conscientiousness to the table in real estate and social media.  Genevieve takes marketing and sustainability in a fresh direction- cultivating some fun and funky grass roots branding and marketing strategies that set her and Arbour Realtyapart from the masses. Always herself and ready to help others understand sustainability in building a home or a business, Genevieve brings a new way to look at marketing yourself in the world of real estate and green building- because she's lived it and breathed it and played in the sand piles with the big-boys.  If you weren't aware, Genevieve is a sustainability nerd, a ghost writer and the event hostess with the mostess in NoVa. 

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Business Marketing

Google Analytics will now filter out bot traffic

(BUSINESS NEWS) Bender won’t be happy that Google Analytics will now automatically remove bot traffic from your results, but it’ll help your business.

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In the competitive, busy world of online content, Google Analytics can help businesses and online publications deliver what their audience and consumers want. Now Google is finally taking the step of filtering out bot traffic in your Google Analytics reporting. This is excellent news!

In the world of websites, online news sites, blogs, and social media, bots are the bane of our existence. In their finest form, they are the electronic equivalent of junk mail. At their worst, they can carry malicious malware and viruses to your site and computer. They can even flood the internet with unfounded rumors that can have an impact on people’s opinions–stirring the political pot or lending misleading numbers to drive unfounded rumors, such as wearing a mask is dangerous. No it’s not! Chalk that nonsense up to bots and crackpots.

For businesses that rely on Google Analytics to determine what content is not only reaching but also resonating with potential customers, filtering out the bot traffic is crucial to determining the best course of action. Bots skew the data and therefore, end up costing businesses money.

Bots set up for malicious purposes crawl the internet looking for certain information or user behaviors. Bad bots can steal copyrighted content and give it to a competitor. Having identical copies on two sites hurts your site and can dink your SEO ranking. However, good bots can seek out duplicate content and other copyright infringements, so the original content creator can report them.

However, it is important for companies and content creators to know if their content is actually reaching real live humans. To this end, Google will start filtering out bot traffic automatically. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) actually provides an International Spiders and Bots list, through which Google can more easily identify bots. They use the list and their own internal research to seek out bots in action, crawling through the internet and confusing things.

Google says the bot traffic will be automatically filtered out of the Google Analytics results–users don’t have the choice. Some may argue there is a good reason to see all of the data, including bots. Many businesses and online publications, though, will be relieved to have a much clearer vision of what content genuinely appeals to humans, to readers and potential customers. It is a welcomed advancement.

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Business Marketing

Opportunity Zones: A chance to do good

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Opportunity zones offer a chance to breathe new life into economically-distressed communities.

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Opportunity Zones are a beautiful mechanism for growing communities that are struggling, but some critics have put this process in a negative light. The following is an expert’s perspective on just this topic.

Jim White, PhD is Chairman and CEO of Post Harvest Technologies, Inc. and Growers Ice Company, Inc., Founder and CEO of PHT Opportunity Fund LP, and Founder and President of JL White International, LLC. His new book is a heartfelt rallying cry for investors: Opportunity Investing: How to Revitalize Urban and Rural Communities with Opportunity Funds, launched March 31, 2020.

Dr. White holds a B.S. in civil engineering, an MBA, and a doctorate in psychology and organizational behavior. He acquires struggling businesses to revive and develop them into profitable enterprises using his business turnaround strategy.

In his own words below:

BY JIM WHITE, PHD

Every investment vehicle has a twist some folks don’t like. Real estate, stock options, offshore tax havens, and even charitable gifting can be criticized for certain loopholes.

Likewise, some detractors have pointed to opportunity zones, a newer investment vehicle unveiled in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress in December 2017. This bold, bipartisan plan allows for private investment capital to be channeled into some of the most distressed communities in the nation, serving the struggling residents and the investors alike.

Personally, I believe it is one of the noblest initiatives to emerge from Washington in years.

I grew up in a sharecropper cabin in what would have been an opportunity zone in Salem, South Carolina. What would an influx of investment dollars have meant to my low-income community? More and better-paying jobs to offset unemployment. People relocating to my town for those jobs, reversing population decline and increasing real estate values. New life breathed into local businesses. The increased tax revenues could have helped improve failing infrastructure. Social challenges, like crime and drug use, could have decreased. Better resources for my family and our neighbors, such as health care and education, would have emerged.

Today, there are nearly 8,800 distressed communities dotting the country that have been identified as Qualified Opportunity Zones (QOZs). These neighborhoods were designated from census tracks, treasury, and state leaders as communities that would benefit from an influx of investment dollars directed through Qualified Opportunity Funds (QOFs) to reinvigorate businesses, rebuild infrastructure and bolster residents.

As our economy continues to falter, more and more businesses file Chapter 11 and unemployment soars under COVID-19, I believe we are heading toward a painful expansion in designated opportunity zones. Even with the latest round of CARES stimulus money many people will have no way to rebound from this crisis.

One of the unexpected consequences of the coronavirus quarantine is that many businesses are discovering that, in reality, they can succeed through working remotely. This success is a double edged sword, meaning that if a business can thrive with employees working offsite then commercial real estate will suffer. And when companies no longer require brick-and-mortar locations, a local domino effect ensues; ancillary businesses, from cafés to gyms to print shops in and around a commercial office environment will subsequently close. The ripples will be felt through many other industries, including construction, transportation, energy, and retail.

Qualified Opportunity Zones and Qualified Opportunity Funds are instruments that can help stop a downward spiral. When a sponsor is able to present a project that meets the objectives of the QOZ initiative, both the QOZ and the investors benefit. That’s a win!

And, it’s not only urban centers that benefit from investment dollars. Forty percent of opportunity zones are rural. Even with often plentiful food, water, energy and other natural resources, deep poverty exists, and too many of America’s 60 million rural residents lack access to education and healthcare. A declining population often goes hand in hand with failing infrastructure as tax money for repairs dwindles. Many households lack broadband, something the vast majority of Americans take for granted.

Despite the challenges, rural residents are often surprisingly resilient and resourceful. According to The Hill (“Rural America has opportunity zones too”), rural residents create self-employment opportunities at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Their challenge is to connect with investors and access funding, more of which is directed to small business investment on the coasts.

In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners don’t know about Qualified Opportunity Funds. If a business is located in an opportunity zone it is eligible for direct funding by reaching out to the QOFs with a specific request for funding.

More than any investment plan that’s come before, I believe opportunity zones have the greatest capacity for positive social and economic impact. Spread out over many communities, these investments can help our nation flourish as a whole.

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Business Marketing

Gloves that translate sign language in real time

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new wearable tech translates American Sign Language into audible English in real time.

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Advancements in technology never cease to amaze. The same is true right this moment as a new technology has been released that helps translate American Sign Language (ASL) signs into spoken English in real time.

This technology comes in the form of a hand glove – similar looking on the front side to what one would wear in the winter, but much more advanced when in view of the palm. The palm side of the glove contains sensors on the wearer to identify each word, phrase, or letter that they form via ASL, and is then translated into audible English via an app that coincides with the glove.

This is all done in real time and allows for instant communication without the need for a human translator. The signals are translated at a rate of one word per second.

The project was developed by scientists at UCLA. “Our hope is that this opens up an easy way for people who use sign language to communicate directly with non-signers without needing someone else to translate for them,” said lead researcher Jun Chen.

The hope is to make communication easier for those who rely on ASL, and to help those unfamiliar with ASL adapt to the signs. It is thought that between 250,000 and 500,000 people in the United States use ASL. As of now, the glove does not translate British Sign Language – the other form a sign language that utilizes English.

According to CNN, the researchers also added adhesive sensors to the faces of people used to test the device — between their eyebrows and on one side of their mouths — to capture facial expressions that are a part of American Sign Language. However, this facet of the technology is not loved by all.

“The tech is redundant because deaf signers already make extensive use of text-to-speech or text translation software on their phones, or simply write with pen and paper, or even gesture clearly,” said Gabrielle Hodge, a deaf post-doctoral researcher from the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre (DCAL) at University College London. “There is nothing wrong with these forms of communication.”

What are your thoughts on this advancement? Comment below!

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