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Why you should check Google Street View before listing a property

(MARKETING) Before you list a property, there’s one unexpected factor to check: What does it look like on Google Street View? And is it blurred out?

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Bird's eye view of neighborhood homes on Google Street View.

So, you’re ready to list a property.

You’ve got the tower of documents signed, photos and videos uploaded, and the sign with a QR code and fliers in the front yard, where the landscaping has been meticulously tidied up. Take a breath… then think about one more thing you need to do.

What does the property look like on Google Street View? More importantly, is it even visible or is it blurred out?

Homeowners have the ability to tell Google to blur out photos of their homes. They might do it for privacy reasons. Some people just don’t like the idea of anyone in the world being able to see their homes. Some might do it for personal safety, say, in a stalking situation. Or there might be information that’s too revealing, or a person whose presence could be embarrassing in the photo.

Whatever the reason, you want to know whether the seller or a previous owner asked Google to blur the property. Prospective buyers might see it and wonder what’s gone on there. Is it a crack house? Did some kind of violence occur? Were the windows at one time covered in tin foil?

You want prospects to imagine living happily in the home, not imagining something out of a bingeable TV crime drama.

But there’s a problem: Once Google agrees to blur a house, it’s permanent. They’ve deleted the photos. They’re not going to send out the car or the person wearing a backpack with the 360 cameras again to photograph that property.

But don’t give up on perfection just yet! Here are some possible workarounds:

Direct prospects to another search engine such as Bing, which has its own Street View function on its maps.

Try to upload a user-generated photo to Google Street View (Caveat: We have not done this, but it seems like it’s worth a try). Google allows user-generated photos to be uploaded into Street View according to their image policy. (To do your own 360 photos you would need a specific type of camera, which Google lists. Those are in the $4,000 range). However, we could not find any mention in their privacy policies or Maps’ terms of service that specifically say what will happen if someone uploads a photo of a property that has been blurred. Hey, no risk, no reward, right?

Ask Google for help. A search through Google’s user forums on this question offers little hope that a human will respond to an inquiry, but who knows? The Google gods just might look upon you with favor.

In any case, be ready to answer questions about why the property does not show up in Google Street View. A straightforward “A previous owner asked Google to blur the photo because of privacy concerns” should probably do the trick. Everyone understands privacy concerns in the digital era.

Your job is to offer as much transparency as possible while making sure your client’s property is presented in the best light. Checking out Google Street View is just one more detail that will ensure both of those happen.

Lisa Wyatt Roe is an Austin writer and editor whose work has been featured on CNN.com/Travel, in Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine and in the book “Seduced by Sound: Austin; 100 Musicians on Why They Make Music.” Travel and live music feed her soul. Volunteering with refugees feeds her sense of purpose. And making friends laugh feeds her deep (yet possibly sad) need to get all the laughing emojis on Facebook.

Real Estate Marketing

6 logo design trends for 2021 to boost your branding

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Outdated branding can be a big red flag to anyone viewing your website or social media – check these logo trends to improve yours for 2021!

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Logo design sketches being drawn on paper and hands pointing to various designs.

When you click a website or open a marketing email, nothing (and I mean NOTHING) is more discouraging than a sloppy or outdated logo. It’s the first thing a consumer equates to the quality of the goods or services being offered. In short, if your logo looks like it was designed using Windows 95, it doesn’t matter how good your product is – no one’s going to believe you.

Here are 6 current logo aesthetic trends that will give your branding new life in 2021:

1) Minimalist design
A timeless aesthetic. Classy. Clean. Minimalism gives the viewer less to scrutinize and is an easy way to achieve professionalism. The best part is you won’t have to update every couple of years when trends change.

Pro Tip: Try using sans-serif fonts, as well as thin lines and clean geometry

2) Custom Fonts
I LOVE seeing custom fonts. We’re all used to Helvetica, Poppins and – God forbid – Papyrus. When a logo is made with a familiar font, it’s too recognizable – and feels like an 8th grade made it.

Pro Tip: You can go nuts with custom fonts, but make sure to keep it legible. What’s the point of a cool logo if people can’t read it?

3) Gradients
Everyone’s doing color gradients this year (think: the Facebook Messenger app icon). Gradients are eye-catching and make the image appear to be 3-D. They will also certainly not be going out of style in 2021.

Pro Tip: Make sure your selected colors print well before committing to them.

4) Text destruction
Use psychology on your potential consumers! A logo that’s unfinished or has a letter is missing will likely have viewers fixated and try to mentally complete it. This means instant attention on your brand!

Pro Tip: Don’t go over the top – you still want it to be recognizable.

5) Planned chaos
Twisted letters, random geometric shapes, and more! 2021 is a year that is inspiring some out of the ordinary designs that look interesting and sophisticated.

Pro Tip: I keep stressing this but it’s true – have fun with it, make sure it’s understandable, especially for this trend.

6) Balance
On the other side of the spectrum, balanced, orderly logos are trending right now. If you want a symmetrical and clean logo to give your brand a grounded feel, try a balanced approach.

Pro Tip: While they are inherently professional, these kinds of logos can become boring pretty easily. I recommend adding a little zest of some kind to work in tandem with the balanced-ness.

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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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