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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

All brokers should require agents to shadow their clients for a day

(MARKETING) Knowing what your client wants is essential to make the sale and improving relations, and the best way to do that may be shadowing them.

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shadowing your clients

When it comes to moving, the phrase “the devil’s in the details” can take on a whole new meaning. Most people have adjusted to their current living situations in ways they might not even notice – and some of those aspects of their living space might be more crucial than they realize.

This could be anything from power outlet locations to kitchen cabinet sizes to a doorway free of steps. These small details can easily be lost during a hectic house hunt.

So, how can you, as a Realtor, keep track of details that the clients don’t even think to bring up? One potential solution is to shadow them for a day before offering housing options.

Okay, yes, at first glance “shadowing a client” sounds an awful lot like the awkward career shadowing we were put through in high school and college, but hear me out.

Spending an average day with your clients can give you better insight into how they operate and what they prioritize. Maybe they take more advantage of the kitchen bar than they’ve let on. Maybe they’re utilizing doorways to set up child barriers – something that might not work as well in a more open floor plan. Maybe their kids like to read in window nooks. Sure, a client might be able to live without things they’ve gotten used to, but think of how great it could be if they didn’t have to compromise.

Point is, with a cheerful attitude and a perceptive eye, you might be able to gain more insights into your clients.

Not only could shadowing help you understand how a client operates, though, it can help deepen your bonds with them. Getting to know each other can help establish a level of trust that could make the upcoming house-hunt easier on both of you. After all, it helps make it clear that you are looking out for your client.

Plus, creating good relationships with clients will make them more likely to use your services again – and recommend you to others!

Did you know that the National Association of Realtors (NAR) requires everyone on their staff (and we mean everyone) to shadow a Realtor for a day so they understand their members’ needs? If they take this meaningful step, why don’t you?!

Shadowing clients might seem unorthodox, but it could also be a great way to get to know individuals and their unique needs.

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Real Estate Marketing

Begin your branding process with free, (mostly) non-cheesy name generator

(REAL ESTATE MARKETING) Naming your company, brand, product, or service can be incredibly difficult and intimidating. Luckily, there’s a new tool that can help.

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Bright colored alphabet on dark background, a starting place for branding and naming a company.

There’s an entire episode in HBO’s wonderful Silicon Valley that focuses solely on naming their fledgling company. The founder is adamant about keeping his original choice in spite of literally everyone around him hating it, and there’s a scene involving a white board and dozens of terrible new monikers. It’s a masterful send up of startup culture.

Branding, marketing, and publicity all follow from a name, and it is essential that these all work in tandem harmoniously (I’m not advocating either way here – it’s simply that this is a modern and fascinating issue). It helps if the name fulfills all its intended requirements as well – memorable, unique, implies what the product is or the service provided, and noticeable. It is a critical piece of any company and must be approached with care.

The gravity of this step cannot be understated, and as such, it can be paralyzing to know where to begin. There are a number of strategies out there, and there is a lot of sound advice to help guide your approach in a sensible way. But even with all of this at your disposal, the act of picking a name is still vital and daunting.

This is where NameSnack comes in – a free business name generator that can help jump start the branding process. Simply put, it takes words or phrases and then generates several potential business names in seconds. Writing in “teapot” (I do not have aspirations to take on the teapot industry) will return results such as “Hello There Tea,” “Empire Teapot,” and “O’Cool Uncle Polly” (which isn’t even the most nonsensical option I found). It can even tell you if a URL is available (another area of controversy), and take you straight to BigCommerce to set this up (though this would just be one choice of many).

Further, NameSnack links up to Zarla, which is a service that can generate a logo for you. You’re even given the ability to customize the text, add a slogan, change the colors, or add your own icons.

In a matter of moments, you could have a brand new company name, register a website for it, and have a logo created that helps drive your business.

Having spent some time in this space, I was curious to see the true flexibility of NameSnack’s service. As I put in different words and phrases, I found that there were a number of repeat patterns emerging. For example, you might always see “(Random Name)’s (Your Input)” appear, or “Big Ten (Your Input).” There were also results that were only remotely related, or completely and surprisingly unique.

While I cannot say for sure, this would suggest that the algorithm behind the service does a few different things. There’s almost assuredly some level of procedural generation going on (i.e., the system makes something up unprompted via the use of some level of artificial intelligence), but there’s also clearly a number of premade templates that have the user’s input dropped in without further assessment. There doesn’t seem to be many ways to guide the process, and certainly no way to alter after-the-fact results.

To be clear, this is not a bad thing, and I don’t want to diminish the utility of the service. At the very least, it’s a wonderful brainstorming tool for branding. I would consider it incredibly valuable with giving a person, committee, or other group a lot of viable starting points that would ultimately help arrive at a fantastic name. And in that sense, it works remarkably well, and cannot be discounted as at least another avenue to a solution.

Likewise, Zarla is similar, and would unlikely provide a final product, but something to draw from. I have to assume that there’s no legal issues in either service if you take their results as-is with no alteration, but will note that NameSnack specifically mentions it doesn’t check against registered trademark databases.

Naming is essential and difficult work – the story behind the Ford Edsel is a good example of poor name becoming a gargantuan problem. While this was not the sole contributor to its failure, it’s worth noting that substantial correspondence with Pulitzer Prize winning poet Marianne Moore resulted in a back-and-forth for years, and was ultimately rejected for (in some ways) nepotism.

At the very least, exploring every available option is worthwhile, and NameSnack will absolutely give someone several considerations for branding, and even more potential possibilities.

Lastly: If you have any interest in the tech world or laughter then I cannot recommend Silicon Valley enough.

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Real Estate Marketing

Turning your blog posts into tweets: Marketing or distracting?

(MARKETING) Wordpress has unveiled a new feature to turn your blog posts into tweets. But just because you can’t doesn’t always mean you should.

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Blog post being written on laptop in front of colorful TV

If you’ve got both a WordPress blog and a Twitter account, it’s now easier than ever to share content between the two platforms. Just recently, WordPress introduced a new feature that allows you to turn entire blog posts in tweetstorms, with “just two extra clicks.” The question is, should you?

The tool will automatically break up your post into Twitter-sized chunks, and will do it’s best to start a new tweet at the end of, rather than mid-sentence. However, it will also let you see a preview of the tweetstorm before you publish so that you can make sure you agree with how the content has been broken up. Videos and images in the post will also be added to the Twitter thread. You can add an introduction, if necessary, and a link to the original post will be included at the end of the thread.

You’ll need to connect your Twitter account to your WordPress, if it isn’t already. The feature can also support multiple Twitter accounts so you can post in multiple places at once. However, the feature only works on new posts – you can’t go back and turn an old post into a Twitter thread.

The reverse process – turning tweets into blog posts – has already been available on WordPress for quite some time. When you embed a tweet into WordPress there is an “unroll” option that imports the full tweetstorm into your post.

While some bloggers have responded positively to this option, Twitter users seem less than thrilled that their feeds may now be flooded with lengthy tweetstorms.

One user, @theregos, sarcastically tweeted, “Can’t wait for food bloggers and their 87-tweet threads on a recipe.” Another, @elliottrains, said, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Many people love Twitter precisely because its word count limit forces creators to be concise and feel that Twitter is no place for longform content.

Meanwhile, marketing experts question whether there’s much use in diverting traffic away from your site and onto Twitter, where you can’t as easily assess metrics or monetize your following. If you have an enthusiastic Twitter audience, it might be worth it, but otherwise you’re just giving more traffic to Twitter instead of to your own site. As one AG editor put it, site owners will be “cutting off their traffic nose to spite their marketing face.”

What do you think? Is this new feature more helpful or harmful?

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