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Google Insights- Insanely Cool Tool You NEED



origially published August 11, 2008

You Need This Tool

After reading Advanced Acess’ full writeup of Google Insights (click the link to learn what Insights is), I played with the new Google tool myself. I can see amazing ways to use this in any real estate brokerage in that you can see where Google search users are trending their search terms. Below are three searches I performed:

(1) Remax v. RE/MAX

When you have a complicated brand name, it’s important to watch how people are searching for you. This is a perfect example, just LOOK at how many people nationally searched for the brokerage as a word without a slash. If I were with RE/MAX, I would be sure to use the improperly used word on my site. (Click image to enlarge)

(2) Short Sale v. Foreclosure

Many Realtors’ markets are forcing their practices to change and in some cases, foreclosures have taken over their business. But when you’re writing your articles and designating categories and tags, you should take advantage of the free Google tool that can show you where you may need to refocus. (click image to enlarge)

(3) Getting Inspiration

Checking the national pulse for the real estate category will give you an idea of what’s hot and what’s on the minds of buyers and sellers. For example, the last 12 months has shown that search sites and mortgages are the rising topics on Google users’ minds. (click image to enlarge)

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Vicki Moore

    August 11, 2008 at 1:21 pm

    Wow. Being a remax-ite that’s one to take seriously. A new way to get inspiration is always welcome. 🙂

  2. Derek Overbey

    August 11, 2008 at 1:25 pm

    Look at this! Always finding those little nuggets that bring value to my business! Thanks again Lani!

  3. Jim Duncan

    August 11, 2008 at 1:46 pm

    Fascinating. Look at the decline in searches for “real estate school” and then look at the top four states – Arizon, Florida, North Carolina and Nevada (what’s NC doing there?).

    How about real estate bubble? – Seems it peaked in 2005.

    Or, for my market – charlottesville + real estate – seems I need to start commenting on local blogs in North Carolina, Montana, Colorado, New York …

  4. Irina Netchaev

    August 11, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Lani, what a great new tool to play with. Thanks!

  5. Anna

    August 11, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Thank you for the mention Lani!

    The remax vs RE/MAX results are incredible. It’s a bummer that RE/MAX won’t allow agents to use “remax” on their sites. I wonder if they will check out this tool and rethink some of the trademark usage guidelines when it comes to websites.

    Of course, I am not sure if the RE/MAX brand wants to compete with agent sites for search engine results.

    Here’s hoping this tool inspires some change in many industries!

  6. Chris de Jong

    August 11, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    I have been using Insights for a few days now, and it has proven to be a fantastic tool for data-mining and trending. Coupled with Google Trends for websites I do not see a really why I would ever have to move to a payola service such as Comscore. I have also found it is great for competitive analysis, for example check out example!

  7. Ginger Wilcox

    August 11, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    What a great tool to drill down and see what people are actually searching for. Some of the results are surprising to me! I can feel some targeted blog posts coming on..

  8. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    August 11, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Anna, thank God for alt tags and metatags, huh? 😉 I’m betting they just look at the copy and yay/nay it.

    PS: thanks for showing this to me, I’m so excited to use it!!!! 🙂

  9. Paula Henry

    August 11, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    I love cool tools! I just need a full-time “cool tool guy” to help me install and use them. I wonder how I can sneak remax in my website? Hmmmm.

  10. Anna

    August 11, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    @Chris – It is interesting how the search trends “change” when you choose a specific category, and search worldwide. I used your original search but changed it to include only the US (which skews p2a results as you’re in Canada of course) and to include all categories, not just real estate. I think it’s good to look at multiple comparisons. I am also curious if you checked how many people search for point 2 agent versus point2, nls, etc.

    @Lani – No kidding, I think that may be the only significant way to get it in there. Still that would be an interesting experiment to see if it makes a difference even with “remax” not on the page. I wonder if Google even “reads” the slash? I guess I never thought about that before.

  11. Chris de Jong

    August 11, 2008 at 10:42 pm

    @Anna – I completely agree, it is always best to look at as many metrics and scenarios as possible when using a tool like this for business decision making, otherwise you run the risk of providing neither timely or complete information.

    In my case, I am prone to using a worldwide search when using Insights since Point2 offers its products and services to real estate professionals globally rather than just the United States. Also, I thought it best to just refine the search to real estate since doing otherwise may bring in outlier results in from our heavy equipment division.

    Finally, I went ahead and compared Point2 Agent and Point2 NLS using the metric you provided, and it turns out the search volume is consistent – it just shifted from Agent to NLS and back when we re-branded our site! hahaha


  12. Holly White

    August 11, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    @ Anna – Google DOES read the slash, at least in my own Nashville related search. And having already spent a couple of hours with this tool I can say that so far it’s invaluable. Google really does offer some fantastic tools for free. Now it’s back to work to capitalize on some “breakout” terms.

  13. Eric Blackwell

    August 12, 2008 at 6:19 am

    @ Paula- Google Louisville REMAX –grin. Been there for a couple of years and it is a killer source of traffic. Lani is 100% correct. Better (in our location) than city homes or city homes for sale…(IMO this is thanks to the $50 plus MM annual ad campaigns for the past couple of years.

    Shoot me an email and I will help a sista’ in Indy and fellow REMAXer out for a specific term (grin). (This is not a solicitation for business–i just enjoy your enthusiasm and want to help you succeed.) (hint: you don’t need to sneak REMAX into your site…)

    I have been using it for a few days (it actually was out in a different form before it was released as well) and I have found quite a bit of “insight”. I would caution, however that there are some reported traffic terms that will not bring you much relevant traffic at all (**cough** state real estate**cough**). I’m just sayin’….(grin)



  14. Amy Webb

    August 12, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I did just a few quick searched and found the results enlightening. I can see I will be spending the next few days playing with this tool!

  15. Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

    August 13, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    It seems like google keeps coming up with more refined tools to help webmasters see how and what people are searching for. This seems like another valuable tool that I will spend time working to integrate this information onto my site.

  16. Janice Bovee

    August 17, 2008 at 8:28 am

    I love seeing what search terms people are using and now I can see how that changes over time. I think this tool will be very valuable to anyone who does their own seo.

  17. Sharon Simms, St Petersburg, Florida

    September 5, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    It’s fascinating to see where people are who are searching for a specific term. Should be a great help in determining where to target your marketing.

  18. Mariana

    July 18, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    This is AWESOME!!

    Great. I NEEDED another time sucker. I love y’all anyway. #offtoplaywithinsightsfor6hours

  19. Shane

    July 18, 2009 at 7:06 pm

    What a great tip! Thanks for another fantastic find Lani. Glad I found this site, FINALLY!

  20. Dan Connolly

    July 19, 2009 at 12:10 am

    You are right, I do need this tool! Where will I ever find the time to implement all of this stuff?

  21. San Diego Real Estate

    July 19, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Awesome tool. Thanks for the tip. It is a quandry what to do about the RE/MAX trademark. They disallow use of the term Re/Max (Not all caps) as well as REMAX (without the slash). But I’ll have to assume that there are exceptions for SEO. The goal is to sell more real estate, right?

  22. Jim Rake

    July 19, 2009 at 10:13 am


    As always – thanks

    “I can say that so far it’s invaluable. Google really does offer some fantastic tools for free”…Holly – spot on…you gotta love Google.

    Eric – any chance you might help a Bloodhound ‘brother in Fredericksburg?

  23. Bob

    July 20, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Lani, you are killing me. Insights has been one of my weapons for awhile.

  24. Gwen Banta

    July 20, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    This is GREAT, Lani. I am taking the apostrophe out of Sotheby’s, and I might even start spelling it incorrectly just to get more hits!

  25. Joe Loomer

    July 21, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Thanks Lani! Had been using to do similar things I can now do for free!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  26. Lani Rosales

    July 21, 2009 at 10:26 am

    Here’s another super secret wicked awesome tool, it’s like having Miss Cleo on your webdev team:

  27. Baltimore Homes

    July 23, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I am with Remax Sails in Baltimore and I found this tool a little while back while search google. After comparing Re/max with REMAX my next call was to my web designer and SEO company to change my company information. The tool is extremely usfull for target marketing on major search engines and PPC ads. Thanks for the great write-up!

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Disputing a property’s value in a short sale: turn a no into a go

During a short sale, there may be various obstacles, with misaligned property values ranking near the top, but it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker!



magic eight ball

magic eight ball

It’s about getting your way

Were you on the debate team in high school? Were you really effective at convincing your parent or guardian to let you do things that you shouldn’t have been doing? How are your objection-handling skills? Can you flip a no into a go?

When working on short sales, there is one aspect of the process that may require those excellent negotiation or debate skills: disputing the property value. In a short sale, the short sale lender sends an appraiser or broker to the property and this individual conducts a Broker Price Opinion or an appraisal, using special forms provided by the short sale lender.

After this individual completes the Broker Price Opinion or the appraisal, he or she will return it to the short sale lender. Shortly thereafter, the short sale lender will be ready to talk about the purchase price. Will the lender accept the offer on the table or is the lender looking for more? If the lender is seeking an offer for a lot more than the one on the table, mentally prepare for the fact that you will need to conduct a value dispute.

Value Dispute Process

While each of the different short sale lenders (including Fannie Mae) has their own policies and procedures for value dispute, all these procedures have some things in common. Follow the steps below in order to conduct an effective value dispute.

  1. Inquire about forms. Ask your short sale lender if there are specific forms that you need to complete in order to conduct a value dispute. Obtain those forms if necessary.
  2. Gather information. Your goal is to convince the lender to accept the buyer’s offer, so you need to demonstrate that your offer is in line with the value of the property. Collect data that proves this point, such as reports from the MLS, Trulia, Zillow, or your local title company.
  3. Take photos. If there are parts of the property that are substandard and possibly were not revealed to the lender by the individual conducting the BPO, take photos of those items. Perhaps the kitchen has no flooring, or there is a 40-year old roof. Take photos to demonstrate these defects.
  4. Obtain bids. For any defects on the property, obtain a minimum of two bids from licensed contractors. For example, obtain two bids from roofers or structural engineers if necessary
  5. Write a report. Think back to high school English class if necessary. Write a short essay that references your information, photos, and bids, and explains how these items support your buyer’s value. This is not something that you whip up in five minutes. Spend time preparing a compelling appeal.

It is entirely possible that some lenders will not be particularly open-minded when it comes to valuation dispute. However, more times than not, an effective value dispute leads to short sale approval.

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Short sale standoffs: how to avoid getting hit

The short sale process can feel a lot like a wild west standoff, but there are ways to come out victorious, so let’s talk about those methods:



short sales standoff

short sales standoff

What is a short sale standoff?

If you are a short sale listing agent, a short sale processor, or a short sale negotiator then you probably already know about the short sale standoff. That’s when you are processing a short sale with more than one lien holder and neither will agree to the terms offered by the other. Or… better yet, each one will not move any further in the short sale process until they see the short sale approval letter from the other lien holder.

Scenario #1 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they will proceed with the short sale, and they will offer Bank 2 a certain amount to release their lien. You call Bank 2 and tell them the good news. Unfortunately, the folks at Bank 2 want more money. If Bank 1 and Bank 2 do not agree, then you are in a standoff.

Scenario #2 – You are processing a short sale with two different mortgage-servicing companies. Bank 1 employees tell you that they cannot generate your approval letter until you present them with the approval letter from Bank 2. Bank 2 employees tell you the exact same thing. Clearly, in this situation, you are in a standoff.

How to Avoid the Standoff

If you are in the middle of a standoff, then you are likely very frustrated. You’ve gotten pretty far in the short sale process and you are likely receiving lots of pressure from all of the parties to the transaction. And, the lenders are not helping much by creating the standoff.

Here are some ideas for how to get out of the situation:

  • Go back to the first lien holder and ask them if they are willing to give the second lien holder more money.
  • Go to the second lien holder and tell them that the first lien holder has insisted on a maximum amount and see if they will budge.
  • If no one will budge, find out why. Is this a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan? If so, they have a maximum that they allow the second. And, if you alert the second of that information, they may become more compliant.
  • Worst case: someone will have to pay the difference. Depending on the laws in your state, it could be the buyer, the seller, or the agents (yuck). No matter what, make sure that this contribution is disclosed to all parties and appears on the short sale settlement statement at closing.
  • In Scenario #2, someone’s got to give in. Try explaining to both sides where you are and see if one will agree to generate their approval letter. If not, follow the tips provided in this Agent Genius article and take your complaint to the streets.

One thing about short sales is that the problems that arise can be difficult to resolve merely because of the number of parties involved—and all from remote locations. Imagine how much easier this would be if all parties sat at the same table and broke bread? If we all sat at the same table, then we wouldn’t need armor in order to avoid the flying bullets from the short sale standoff.

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Short sale approval letters don’t arrive in the blink of an eye

Short sale approval letters may look like they’ve been obtained simply by experts, but it takes time and doesn’t just happen with luck.



short sales

short sale approval

Short sale approval: getting prepared, making it happen

People always ask me how it is that I obtain short sale approval letters with such ease. The truth is, that while I have more short sale processing and negotiating experience than most agents and brokers, I don’t just blink my eyes like Jeannie and make those short sale approval letters appear. I often sweat it, just like everyone else.

Despite the fact that I do not have magical powers, I do have something else on my side—education. One of the most important things than can lead to short sale success for any and all agents is education.

Experience dictates that agents that learn about the short sale process
have increased short sale closings.

Short sale education opportunities abound

There are many ways to become educated about the short sale process and make getting short sale approval letters look easy to obtain. These include:

  • Classes at your local board of Realtors®
  • Free short sale webinars and workshops
  • The short sale or foreclosure specialist designations

As the distressed property arena grows and changes, it is important to always stay abreast of policy changes that may impact how you do your job and how you process any short sale that lands on your plate.

The most important thing to do is to read, read, read. Follow short sale specialists and those who blog about short sales on AGBeat, Google+, facebook, and twitter. Set up a Google Alert for the term ‘short sale’ and you will receive Google’s top short sale picks daily in your email inbox. Visit mortgagor websites to read up on their specific policies and procedures.

Don’t take on too much

And, when you get a call from a prospective short sale seller, make sure that you don’t bit off more than you can chew. Agents in most of America right now are clamoring for listings since we are in the midst of a listing shortage. But, if you are going to take on a short sale, be sure that it is a deal that you can close. And, if you have your doubts, why not partner up with a local agent that can mentor your and assist you in getting the job done? After all, half a commission check is better than none!

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