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Real Estate Marketing

Turning real estate disruption into opportunities for Realtors

(MARKETING) VR and AR are usually thought of as gaming avenues and not worth the money, but they are becoming cheaper more useful in the housing market. Watch as threats become gold mines.

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VR housing

Ever walked into a home and wondered what it would look like with some remodels? With growing technological trends, you might not have to rely on your imagination anymore! Technology like augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR, respectively) are bringing these sorts of visualizations to screen.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg with technological trends in real estate. During the 2019 Realtor® Conference & Expo, Realtors® from across the nation met to discuss the future of real estate and top trends. The verdict? Real estate is heading into 2020 in style, with blockchain, AR and VR growing in popularity.

Blockchain

Blockchain isn’t just for your tech friends anymore – as it grows in popularity, it’s actually become a great tool for real estate. Notably, blockchain has become a useful way to keep transactions private, which is especially valuable when the transaction in question is no small purchase. Blockchain will offer clients increased security and is only projected to become more prevalent in 2020.

Augmented Reality

Probably one of the most well known examples of AR is Pokémon Go, which overlays images of fictional creatures over actual camera views in real time. Sure, hunting for little monsters in potential homes is one way to pass the time, but the Directors of Emerging Technology for the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) – Dan Weisman and David Conroy – have other ideas.

For instance, Weisman and Conroy argue that potential buyers could use AR to scope out how a home might look with renovations, furniture configurations and/or decorations. Agents who understand how to harness AR might have a better shot at enticing buyers, especially from younger demographics.

Virtual Reality

Can’t visit a house in person? No problem. As VR grows in scope, more buyers are able to immerse themselves in digital walkthroughs of homes. This is already supported by platforms like Matterport and Immoviewer and is only projected to grow in popularity and accessibility.

Mixed reality, which combines features from AR and VR, is also becoming more and more common in the real estate industry. Along with the power of artificial intelligence (AI), Realtors® have a growing digital toolbox at their disposal.

When it comes to adapting to new trends, Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of Realtors® is optimistic about the prospects: “About 25 years ago, the real estate industry was at a crossroads, and we as an industry had to decide if we were going to adopt these new technologies for ourselves or fight to maintain the status quo, but we took that potential disruption and turned it into an opportunity.”

Brittany is a Staff Writer for The American Genius with a Master's in Media Studies under her belt. When she's not writing or analyzing the educational potential of video games, she's probably baking.

Real Estate Marketing

If you own a website, Google is requiring that you make changes

Google has yet again moved the goal posts for website owners – are you staying up to date with these major new requirements?

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google cookies

Google recently announced a plan for Chrome to begin phasing out their third-party cookies in favor of “trust tokens,” a process that was initially set to be completed by the end of 2021. Now, they’re walking that deadline back by quite a bit, citing “late 2023” as the new goal.

The new deadline is somewhat misleading, however, as Bloomberg reports that the paradigm shift away from cookies will take place in two stages: one push starting in late 2022 and lasting around nine months, and a final three-month push at the end of 2023.

The initial stage will reportedly comprise web developers, publishers, and advertisers, with the second stage serving as a final mop-up for any sites that haven’t finished pushing out cookies. One can reasonably assume that, along with implementing Chrome’s trust tokens, web creators and sellers will need to devise proprietary means for tracking data that takes into account user consent.

Third-party cookies are responsible for a massive accumulation of customer data in recent years, so many web-based vendors are concerned about the implications of no longer being able to track clicks and impressions as effectively. The extra time on the deadline is sure to give such vendors a bit more latitude in terms of coming up with alternatives to supplement Google Chrome’s rumored trust tokens.

It should be noted that Google is not the first company to mandate nixing of cookies.

Apple’s Safari browser no longer allows third-party cookies, and Firefox started blocking them by default in 2019. The host of privacy laws and restrictions may seem like an obstacle–especially when these restrictions result in the death of one of the most effective data-tracking tools to date–but they serve the best interest of the public, and certainly not to a substantial detriment.

As with any deadline, the best thing to do here is get the ball rolling ASAP – the extension may help, but phasing out cookies is sure to be a time-intensive and finicky process for a business of any size. Starting immediately ensures that you’ll have plenty of time to deal with any nuances that arise between now and the deadline – including getting your employees up to speed on the new changes.

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Real Estate Marketing

Turning plastic waste into lumber could put a real dent in our waste crisis

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Goodwood plastic is a company that has some great uses for old plastic waste. As the saying goes “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!”

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plastic waste turned into lumber

If ever there was a niche to fill in this world, it’s finding more uses for plastic waste. With public concerns for global warming on the rise, more people and local governments are starting to search for ways to be more eco-friendly and reduce their plastic waste.

Plastic use has become a pain-point for modern consumers. People are searching for companies who use less, or no, plastic in their packaging. Having a clear plan for reducing your company’s carbon footprint is not only good for the Earth, it’s good for business.

While many companies are working to reduce their use of plastic packaging, one Canadian company is taking charge of the single-use plastics already floating around the world.

Goodwood Plastic Products is turning plastic waste into lumber. Yes, you read that right. Lumber.

The leaders over at Goodwood Plastic aren’t wizards, but they are brilliant. The company takes single-use plastics and recycles them into sturdy, innovative building materials. These building blocks can be drilled, nailed, and glued just like lumber. The building blocks even have superior durability to traditional lumber and do not suffer from the same kind of deterioration.

Goodwood is currently working with the city of Halifax, Nova Scotia to recycle about 80% of the plastic recyclables collected in the city. City officials are thrilled to have a local company helping them find a use for such a large quantity of their waste. The Halifax Solid Waste Division Manager, Andrew Philopoulos says the city would have a hard time dealing with the plastic waste without Goodwoods services.

“Without them, I think we would find it challenging to find a market for a lot of the plastic packaging that we are collecting.”

Goodwood has made headlines before. Recently, they partnered with Canadian grocery store, Sobeys, to make a parking lot completely out of post-consumer plastics taken from landfills. And it doesn’t appear that they are slowing down anytime soon. Their latest venture will focus on recycling fishing gear, which makes up a significant amount of plastic waste in oceans and causes immense harm to sea life.

The vice president of Goodwood, Mike Chassie, hopes that their business model will inspire others to fight the good fight against post-consumer plastic.

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Real Estate Marketing

This new “no-fuss” customer support tool focuses on privacy

(MARKETING) Letterbase’s website widget lets customers send a quick email to businesses without worrying about who’s looking at or selling their info.

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Letterbase is a contact form widget to help customer support

Giving your website users a timely, low-friction way to talk to your business is essential, yes? Live chat can be cool for customer support, but do you really need it? If it feels like overkill, check out Letterbase’s email-based tool.

The website widget for facilitating customer feedback was designed to be “simple, fast, and privacy-friendly.”

Through a branding-friendly, customizable box that can appear on each page, customers can quickly send an email initiating a conversation. They don’t have to wait around for a chat reply before clicking off the site; they get a response in their inbox. Businesses don’t have to use a separate tool to respond and log conversations; the person monitoring email does that. Hence, the “simple.”

The “fast” comes with what they promise is lightweight script installed with a quick copy and paste.

It’s that “privacy-friendly” part that maker Richard Chu says prompted the idea for the product. After combing through messaging apps’ privacy policies, Chu says, he found the “spying” and data sharing to be intrusive.

You might not be aware of how much data collecting some website messaging and chat apps do – and that they sell that data to third parties. Capturing users’ IP addresses, monitoring their browser history, setting cookies, collecting personal information such as drivers license numbers, even tracking users’ location, can all come with a site’s chat or messaging platform – unbeknownst to users.

Having a chat or messenger widget prominently on a website shows that a company cares about customer support and service, but there are things to consider with Letterbase and similar apps.

Some good points:

  • Privacy friendly: Letterbase’s privacy guarantee should allow website owners to assure users that their data is not being collected or sold – a potentially huge trust-builder with customers.
  • Data ownership: Website owners own the data and Letterbase doesn’t store any user conversations.
  • Easy to use: Letterbase should be an affordable customer support tool for small businesses and groups who don’t have dedicated IT people or a high knowledge of tech.
  • Simplicity over analytics: There are no frustrating chat bots that don’t really understand customer questions, and no paying for complicated analytics bells and whistles like sentiment analysis, which requires a team of people just to understand.
  • Trust: Sending an email directly feels better than contact forms, which are often perceived as a communication “black hole.” Users need to trust that they will get a quick reply.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Data collection: If users are being tracked, website owners can assume at least some of their own data is being tracked, too. Read any tool’s privacy policy and contract carefully.
  • Privacy policies: Do you need to alert users that you have an app that is collecting, sharing and/or selling their data? It’s not clear, but being transparent about privacy assures users that their data is safe is a huge potential trust builder. If a company is selling their data, it could quickly become obvious when a user starts to see targeted ads based on your conversation – a potentially huge trust-buster.
  • Security: If conversations might contain any sensitive information, like phone or credit card numbers, make sure your email client offers end-to-end encryption. This also can protect your company network from malware.
  • Response time: You need a crack email monitoring person who will be conscientious about timely responses and categorizing, analyzing and storing conversations. Consider auto-generated responses if that person can’t monitor all the time.

Currently, Letterbase has a 14-day free trial, then an early adopter price of $9 per month.

According to their public roadmap, they plan to eventually integrate with Slack.

It’s clear Letterbase could work for small businesses or groups that care about privacy and want a simple, no frills way for customers to ask questions or request support. Privacy is a the top of mind now, so lack of tracking could be a real benefit.

Sure, understanding and targeting customers through tracking what they do online is pretty much the foundation of digital marketing. For many businesses, though, simple email conversations could be all they need. Plus, it shows they care about privacy by not adding another layer of data surveillance in messaging, which could be the nudge that pushes a prospect to the next step in the customer journey.

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