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COVID-19: Should real estate pause “days on market” featured on sites?

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) MLS platform rely heavily on a constant market. With the current pandemic, certain features can negatively impact buyers, sellers, and their listing agents.

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With more and more states, counties, and cities issuing “shelter-in-place” orders, it looks as though this will be the new normal for a while. For real estate professionals, this leaves a lot of unanswered questions and apprehension. With shelter-in-place, naturally, there will not be as many people looking to buy or sell homes, but what about the homes already on the market? How will they be affected?

Maybe it is time to review certain listing features: days on the market, tours, and open houses, to name a few. These features are heavily dependent on an active market. When the market is in a slump, recession, or facing a crisis, like pandemic, natural disasters, or in an area where people have been experiencing extensive furloughs and layoffs, this data can be unfairly impacted.

When there are not as many homebuyers/sellers in an area due to these events, days on the market will rise, tours will sit unviewed, and open houses will not receive any foot traffic because people are not financially in a place to partake.

Typically, buyers use the “days on the market” feature to leverage better deals; the longer a home has been on the market, the more likely the owner will be to strike a better deal (in theory). During these shelter-in-place orders, the longer a home looks as though it has been on the market, the more likely a perspective home buyer will be to think, “if it’s been on the market this long, what’s wrong with it?” Also, it can give the false impression that the listing agent isn’t doing all they should be to sell the home, as the days on the market increase, which unfair both to the real estate professional and to the homeowner.

In California, where there is currently a shelter-in-place order, the MLS Listings Board of Directors has issued an order to suspend days of the market for active listings. Active listings will no longer accrue days on the market, effective March 17 (the day the shelter-in-place was issued). The Board also disabled broker tours and open house listings effectively keeping the listing marketplace from being adversely impacted.

This change should happen across the board, in my opinion, so other markets aren’t negatively impacted by a continual “days on the market” count when we are all dealing with the pandemic. Perhaps other MLS listing services will follow suit and it will soon become standard to suspend the features most impacted by the shelter-in-place order.

The MLS Listings Chairman in California, Karl Lee, stated, “This action is intended to relieve pressure on sellers and buyers during the coronavirus pandemic and to underscore public compliance efforts during the shelter-in-place. The health of the public is priority number one. We are actively reviewing policies to identify ways to support buyers, seller, agents, and brokers in these unprecedented times. We continue to collaborate with other MLS listing platforms for best practices under the impact of coronavirus.”

However, not all MLS listing agencies agree with this policy. In fact, some agencies are not addressing the inadequacies the shelter-in-place has presented. Instead, they are telling their agents to carry on as normal, which is a violation of the shelter-in-place order. What do you think MLS listing agencies should do? Should the days on the market continue to accrue during the pandemic, or should it be suspended until business can resume as normal?

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Real Estate Marketing

Retargeting: are you really getting the most bang for your buck?

(MARKETING) Retargeting cookies can eat up more budget than you would expect, but these simple code solutions will help cut that cost down.

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Up to 80% of visitors to your site will leave within seconds. Are you wasting time and money retargeting this demographic — one that has shown no interest in your services or products? If so, you may be able to save a substantial amount of your retargeting budget by adding a simple script to your website’s code.

Retargeting is a massive part of any marketing endeavor, but it has its downsides—chief among which is that retargeting cookies are indiscriminate and thus are often applied to clientele who aren’t spending enough time on your home page to warrant the attention. This in turn leads to overspending on underwhelming conversion results.

One solution, proposed by Kevin Ho of Wishpond, involves adding a simple script that delays retargeting cookies for the first 45 seconds (or so) to your website’s overarching code. In doing so, your cookies will not be wasted on anyone who bounces from your site within moments of arriving at it.

Of course, your site may have nuanced clientele which require you to adjust the parameters around the retargeting delay code. Given the relative simplicity of JavaScript and HTML coding, you should be able to change the amount of time for which cookies are restricted with ease.

Variations of the retargeting delay code itself can be found on sites such as GitHub and SlideShare. Once you’ve edited the code to accommodate your needs, you can paste it directly into your website’s home page file to prevent people who leave your site within your specified timeframe from receiving retargeting emails or ads.

Using a this code has a couple of huge advantages. Since the code itself is open-source and easy to modify, you don’t need to outsource to a web developer or spend extra cash trying to implement your delayed retargeting cookies. On the flip side, you could easily (and cheaply) commission a custom version of the code should the open-source version not work with your site.

Either way, cultivating and installing a retargeting delay on your website is quick, painless, and about as cost-effective as a marketing strategy can be.

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Real Estate Marketing

Tech startup seeks to make cold sales suck 800% less

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) This one service can help you get a jump on creating or expanding your business through cold sales, lead generation, and management.

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Cold sales are perhaps the most loathed aspect of any marketing process, a fact made worse by their sheer necessity for upward mobility and the lack of intuitive or convenient software for executing the sales. A full stack outreach program by the name of Mails.wtf may have a solution for at least one of those problems.

Mails.wtf — yes, you read that correctly — is a cold sales tool that offers nine individual tools for generating leads without needing to open a different service or outsource your marketing along the way.

On the surface, it’s a perfect way to consolidate the nasty business of hooking new clients — a process that sucks for so many reasons before you even discuss clunky UIs or unfriendly software suites.

The process begins, feasibly, with the built-in email finder–a service that, like its name suggests, allows you to look up potential leads by name and company. If that isn’t enough, Mails.wtf also offers website extraction, LinkedIn integration, company lookup, and domain search engines to help you generate as many actionable leads as possible from within their interface.

Once you have all of the email information you need on-hand, Mails.wtf has a couple of different options for automating and tracking your cold sales, including click, open, and reply logging. While some of these metrics may be offset by a growing awareness of pixel-tracking and many browsers’ decisions to block these kinds of trackers by default, there’s no denying that the Mails.wtf platform is comprehensive.

A lot of the Mails.wtf allure seems to come from its simplistic presentation of tools and information, and though the platform may appear to be bare-bones to veterans of the cold sales process, maybe it’s time to scale back. If so, this service is on the right path.

Upon signing up for Mails.wtf, you’ll be offered 100 free B2B (business to business sales) leads which doesn’t pertain to real estate, but perhaps the fact that this is NOT a real estate tool could put you ahead of competitors sticking to technologies everyone else in the biz is already using.

$99 per month earns you the full suite of tools and support, but you can spend about $2,000 for personalized help from the Mails.wtf team themselves. If you’re looking for a new cold sales platform with minimal setup and an intuitive interface that the industry hasn’t yet adopted, this is a strong contender.

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Real Estate Marketing

Your website copy may be too hard to read; these services help

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Your website copy may be too dense, unreadable, and turning away sales. Here’s some tech to help you out.

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Man browses website on tablet with a cup of coffee nearby.

You’ve got a killer product or service you’re about to unleash on the world. The bank accounts are made, coffee pot is running, and you’re ready to start reeling in the sales. With your slick new website, you just know your phone is going to start ringing off the hook. But then, it doesn’t.

What gives? Bad UI? Typo in the phone number? One possible reason you’re not getting DM-ed may surprise you – your web copy.

Developing the clear-as-water copy that is going to get you hired or your product sold can be a toughie. Those words you loving poured your time and energy into might be making your potential leads mash the back button. Why? If you or one of your employees wrote the website, you can know your subject too well.

That expertise and familiarity, which makes you amazing at your job, can make it difficult for an outsider to understand what you do. The more difficult you make that understanding for your reader, the less likely you’ll turn a sale.

Case in point: Most people browsing the internet spend less than 15 seconds on a website. That means you have less than 15 seconds to hook your potential client before they remember they have a cat video to finish.

Many a great business has died on piles of jargon, dense sentences, and trendy buzzwords. But never fear! Since hiring an army of copywriters is cost-prohibitive, we’ve got some suggestions on services you can use to make that copy do work.

Clarity Grader

Clarity Grader allows you to put a website’s full text into its grading portal or even analyze a url. What you get is a free plain language report and clarity score emailed to you. Of course, if you want the ultimate features, you’ll definitely have to pay for them.

But Clarity Grader’s paid options runs hundreds of checks on your copy, including spell checking, broken link checking and consistency checks. Plus, there’s a free trial to figure out if you want to spend the dough on the premium features for this nifty proofreader.

Jargon Grader

If you’re more worried about relying too hard on jargon, Jargon Grader is a free web-based service without many bells or whistles. Just paste the concerning text into the text box and it’ll run checks and highlight which words detract from your writing. Jargon Grader also reminds you “that some over-used words may be acceptable in context.” A quick run through Jargon Grader, and you’ll be zapping all your buzzwords in no time.

Hemingway Editor

Hemingway Editor isn’t just for fiction writers. Another free web-based service, Hemingway Editor helps you emulate the bold and concise style of Ernest Hemingway. It flags words and phrases for readability, passive voice and conciseness. Hemingway Editor even highlights adverbs to keep you crystal clear.

If you’re trying to make a sale, web copy shouldn’t hedge or hide under lots of needless words. Run your words through Hemingway Editor and be bold.

Grammarly

The Big Daddy of web and desktop freemium apps, Grammarly is a must for any small or solo enterprise. Grammarly does seemingly countless grammatical, spelling, and clarity checks on what you write. It does paywall some of the clarity features, but by cobbling together all the other services plus free Grammarly, you should be covered.

And, bonus, the extension can be installed in almost every facet of your business (email, web-browser, phone apps). That means no one will be confused by how your website reads crystal clear and how your emails read like a ransom note.

So whether you’re a broker trying to save coin or an army-of-one real estate tech freelancer, arm yourself with a few nifty tech tools, and you’ll start improving your lead generation efforts.

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