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Warning: User-generated content hikes your business insurance rate

(MARKETING) User-generated content is a phenomenal marketing tool when used properly, but it can impact your business insurance rates and potentially E&O rates…

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user-generated content

The use of “influencers” on social media and the sharing of user-generated content (UGC) isn’t a new thing in social media marketing. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to generate excitement and curiosity about your brand.

The best reviews are always those from real users, and the best advertising is the one you didn’t have to create: those are social media marketing golden rules.

The implementation of user-generated content however, is rife with some potential troubles, especially when added to your own website.

A lot of businesses can operate under the idea that the average social media user is okay with the sharing of their content. While some of them will be, you run the risk of crossing an invisible line with someone who then generates negative press about you and/or your company. And of course, there is always the possibility of litigation.

Some insurance companies aren’t taking UGC into account, even today, while others will certainly ask whether you’re using it (and will charge you accordingly). This could impact your business insurance rate and potentially your Errors & Omissions rate.

It’s in your best interest to be above board on user-generated content and it always begins with the first step – asking for permission. How you ask for permission depends on the medium, but be sure to get a DM, email, tweet, or something that clearly shows the content creator giving you the right to use that image (and document that permission in a way that you can locate it in the far future). This prevents you from getting into a whole lot of trouble, and allows you to use user generated content most effectively.

Pro tip: If you’re going to be working with the same brand ambassador or influencer, make sure any contracts or agreements you have include a waiver that allows you to repurpose content they create that impacts your brand.

This is an easy thing to do, and it will help protect the integrity of your brand and your online presence – make sure it’s part of your social media strategy.

But it should be noted that there are merits to only using content that you create yourself – it’s more secure, more controlled, and it typically decrease the cost of your business insurance as it’s less risky. Because a lot of brands don’t ask for permission, UGC takes on some risk and skyrockets insurance rates.

The decision to use UGC should be a smart one, and if you do decide to use it, just follow the golden rules: ask nicely and keep a paper trail.

Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

Real Estate Marketing

2020: Housing costs will rise, despite stellar employment and interest rates

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING)The housing market is always shifting, economists are optomistic about 2020 regardless of high housing costs because unemplyment and interest rates are low

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Housing hands

As unemployment and interest rates continue to drop, the cost of homes is on the rise! From increased prices to a growing interest in dog parks, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) has offered a few projected trends for the 2020 housing market:

1. Low interest rates

Fun fact: according to Dr. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the NAR, mortgage rates have been decreasing thanks to considerations made by the Federal Reserve. That’s right, the Federal Reserve is helping make change simply by talking about policy! The result has been historically low interest rates for mortgages.

While these will continue to stay low for the time being, Yun does predict that mortgage rates will start to rise as inflation picks up.

2. Higher housing prices

When it comes to housing prices, we don’t have to look much further than the basics of supply and demand. Over the last several years, building has slowed and housing tenure (how long an individual remains in a specific house) has increased. The lower supply of houses increases the demand for each individual home.

Between the increasingly competitive market and the growing accessibility of mortgages, Yun projects a “baseline growth rate of 1.5% for 2020.”

3. Foreign buyers

Although there has been growth in the United States economy when it comes to employment, that isn’t the case everywhere. In fact, according to Gay Cororaton, director of housing and commercial research at NAR, “Foreign buyer purchases have declined sharply since 2017.”

While some of this decrease comes from financial pressure – the Chinese yuan, for example, has been losing value – some of the loss of foreign buyers comes from strained international relations between the U.S. and other countries. There might be growth in the housing market, but it isn’t coming from foreign buyers anymore.

4. Dog parks

Okay, so what’s the deal with dog parks? Well, it has to do with birth rates. According to Dr. Jessica Lautz, VP of demographics and behavioral insights at NAR, as the birth rates have dropped, it’s lead to a decrease in households with children.

In the past, a neighborhood near a good school might have been key for a young family, but that’s no longer a selling point for childless couples. That doesn’t mean people don’t want the best for their family, it just means instead of a child, there might be a dog instead. As such, there’s an increase in demand for housing areas close to dog parks and similar outdoor spaces.

The housing market might be shifting in 2020, but experts are optimistic about the prospects.

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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.”

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Real Estate Marketing

Off-market properties crack down by NAR

(MARKETING) Off-market properties have benefitted some, but not the people who need help so NAR takes steps to insure everyone has the same information.

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off-market properties

Off-market properties are (usually) investment properties that don’t get advertised or listed in the real estate market. In some ways, it’s a strategy that offers some benefits for sellers. For example, the seller wants the transaction to remain private. It also reduces the “days on market,” which can put off other investors when a property is listed too long on the market.

But, there are also critics of off-market properties. Buyers who don’t have access to off-market properties are disadvantaged. It can really hurt minorities who don’t have the inside track, which in turn affects the housing market. In some areas, real estate is at a premium because there isn’t enough supply to meet demand.

Many buyers don’t have access to all the listings. Now, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) is doing something to make sure that buyers have more information.

The NAR’s board of directors (comprised of members) voted to ban “pocket listings,” a form of off-market properties. Properties must now be listed in the MLC within one business day of marketing. Properties can no longer be listed “coming soon” to test the market.

Brokers and Realtors cannot offer exclusive properties that have limited marketing but aren’t on the MLS. It’s hoped that this policy will make more properties available for all consumers.

There is an exception for high-profile sellers, who want to remain private. The sellers must sign a waiver for this exception. Realtors cannot advertise the property through any public medium, including social media, broker websites or signs. The property must be in-house exclusive to receive this exception.

The NAR calls this policy “crucial protection for consumers.”

It passed by a vote of 729-70 at the annual meeting in San Francisco. Although it becomes effective on January 1, 2020, NAR is offering an implementation policy until May 1, 2020 for education and technology changes.

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