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Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate [7]

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Blog Your Listings

Top 10 Ways to Use Blogging in Real Estate #7: Market Your Listings


Preface Start: Shut it. I don’t want to hear the nay-sayers that say that real estate bloggers should not blog about their listings. lalalalalalalala. I can’t hear you!

Here’s the deal: I am a real estate agent before I am a blogger. In fact, I am a lot of things before I am a blogger. This means that there are things that are more important than blogging and one of those things is the promise that I make to my seller clients:

“I promise to promote your property to as many potential buyers and their agents as possible.”

Another promise I make is a little more subtle, and is aimed at everyone who finds my blog:

“I promise that my Colorado Springs Real Estate blog will be about real estate.”

Given those 2 promises, it is natural to assume that you will find listings on my blog. Preface End.

A great way to use blogging in real estate is to blog about your listings. This does 3 great things:

1. Your Listings Can Be “Googled”

When you blog about your listings, you are making those properties show up on Google more often. Sellers love that … and so does anyone who drives by a property, jotts down the address and then goes back home and “Googles It” for more information. (Sniff. Sniff. Do I smell a potential new client opportunity?)

When we are talking to potential seller clients, we ask them to Google any of our listings’ addresses. When they do, they see that our advertising is ALL OVER the first page of Google (to include our blog posts) and *poof* become impressed.

Tip: Make sure at least part of the address is in the title.

2. Your Listings Are Naturally Keyword-Rich

When you are creating a post about one of the fine homes that you chose to list, market and sell, you can now add your desired keywords in more places (naturally) than trying to get them all in a non-listing post. What a great opportunity to talk to Google in a language they love = keyword rich content.

Tip: Make sure you add your keywords to the descriptions when blogging about your listings and earn a little more Google Love.

3. Your Listings Are Perfect Real Estate Content

People visit real estate blogs for many reasons, but the main reason is because they want to read about real estate. Go figure! IN addition to all your other great real estate posts*, blogging about your listings give give home buyers the opportunity to see what kind of homes are available in specific areas and specific price ranges.

Tip: When you are having trouble coming up with a great blog post for your real estate blog, consider finding a similarity between 3-5 of your listings and create a “Featured Homes in XXX” Post. (Example: Featured Homes for Sale in Springs Ranch Colorado Springs)

A blogged listing should include:

  • Pictures – Or at least one picture and a link to where they can find more pictures (like a Flickr account or VFyer).
  • Virtual Tour – Or a link to the Virtual Tour. I like embedding my Real Estate Shows in my blogged listings.
  • Description – A comprehensive description of the home and the area that the home is in. (This would be a great place for keywords.)
  • Your Contact Information – Der.
  • Neighborhood Link – Preferably one to a post that YOU have written about that neighborhood.
  • Community Links – Area schools, utility department, local amenities …
  • IDX Links:
    • General – Search Homes for Sale in [area]
    • Neighborhood – Search Homes for Sale in [neighborhood]
    • Price Range – Search Homes for Sale in [price range of listing]
  • Map – You can embed a Google Map which will give readers a GREAT idea where the property is in relation to everything else. (Thanks Elaine!)

*Now, don’t go overboard… Blogging about your listings should NOT be an obnoxious sales pitch and should be just a facet of your real estate blog, coupled with all the other wonderful real estate-y things you have to share with your readers (and search engines).

However, when done correctly, an effectively blogged listing can impress your sellers, get the attention of buyers and help you rank in the search engines.

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35 Comments

35 Comments

  1. Elaine Reese

    September 5, 2008 at 9:01 am

    You are SO correct on this! I chose to not listen to the ‘experts’ and have always placed listings, articles, slide shows and upcoming open houses on the listings on my blog. The Google Juice is fantastic. If I might add one more thing to do, it’s to create a Google Map of the property and attach the link (or embed) it to the post about the home. The maps add extra enhancement to Google Juice.

    I’ve had two listings sell this year solely due to my blog. I get people to open houses because they read my blog. So that’s why I don’t listen to the ‘experts’.

  2. Mariana Wagner

    September 5, 2008 at 9:03 am

    Elaine – The Google Map is an EXCELLENT idea. I am going to add that to the post. 🙂

  3. Matt Stigliano

    September 5, 2008 at 9:32 am

    Mariana – Once again, thanks. I definitely see several advantages in doing this. I especially like the idea of listing open houses, as if you’ve built a dedicated community reading your blog and they are actively reading it, then telling them there’s an open house at 123 Xyz St., might just bring them out…not necessarily to buy that house, but to come meet you, chat, etc. And that can lead to more. My theory is that the more people you’re interacting with on a personal level, the greater your chance of doing more business and getting more referrals. The obvious Google Juice reasons are just gravy on top.

  4. Todd

    September 5, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I actually disagree with some of the SEO statements made in this post, but will gloss over them in order to support the overall theme of encouraging agent’s to have their own, search engine optimized, content rich, hyper local blog.

    Also, I found this “How to SEO” post entertaining and informative:

    https://www.techvibes.com/blog/holy-we-made-it-to-page-1-on-google/

  5. Mariana

    September 5, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Matt – Ultimately you are right – Building a community is one of the goals.

    Todd – I know, from personal research, that SEO is not an exact science and there are a million different theories surrounding it. I wrote this post based SOLELY off of my findings, so I may have left out some additional SEO tactics that someone could use, but I do not believe I am mis-guiding anyone.

    However, I am interested in your thoughts on SEO regarding this particular topic.

  6. Charleston real estate blog

    September 5, 2008 at 11:40 am

    Alright Mariana, I’m finally sold on selling on my blog 😉 Thanks, Howard

  7. Dave Keys

    September 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    I agree, it’s more of an art than a science, except that the numbers count. The more backlinks you have the better off you are.

    I’ve seen the oddest things propel search results to the top of google, for a while…

  8. Sharon Simms, St Petersburg, Florida

    September 5, 2008 at 5:13 pm

    The key is to find an interesting hook to blog about which “happens” to be promoting your listing and linking to your listing website. Straight MLS-type blogs are B-O-R-I-N-G.

  9. Richard Miller

    September 5, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    This Information is a great help, Thank you

  10. Doug Devitre

    September 5, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Great post! We should be reminded in the changes in Article 12 of the code of ethics that agents must remove listings they have from the internet of they have sold, expired or off of the market. This means that blog posts would have to be maintained not only on the upload of new listings but removal of sold listings. See https://retechtraining.wordpress.com/2008/08/06/code-of-ethics-and-technology/ for my two cents on the issue.

  11. Louis Cammarosano

    September 5, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    Mariana
    I’ve heard the debate on blogging listing. I even asked Jay to write a post about it on the HomeGain blog.https://blog.homegain.com/should-real-estate-agents-blog-listings-jay-thompson

    When we created AgentView we create tabs on of which contained the agent listings and another the agent’s blog.

    I would have thought that would have eliminated the need to blog listings.

    We’ve had at least one example of a HomeGain Agent View Customer blogging his listings even though they can be found on an adjacent tab.

    Take a look :https://www.homegain.com/realestate-blog/PA-Collegeville/johnbadalamentiassociatebroker-3283148/425-Arden-Rd,-Gulph-Mills?post_id=2162&entryid=10494

  12. Mariana

    September 6, 2008 at 9:22 am

    Howard – Cool!

    Dave – If only I knew the secret … But then the secret is always changing, right?

    Sharon – Yep! The key is to be interesting and informative.

    Richard – Great!

    Doug – Actually,the listing can remain on the internet as long as it is clearly updated as SOLD or OFF MARKET. I add that verbiage to the top of the posts when my listings sell.

  13. Doug

    September 6, 2008 at 10:38 am

    Mariana, thank you for the clarification 🙂

  14. Mariana

    September 6, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    Louis – The HomeGain blog is unique that there is the “listings” tab- which is cool. However, most self-hosted blogs do not have that option … at least not as easily.

  15. Louis Cammarosano

    September 6, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    Mariana
    We will be rounding out the Agent View offering with a few more features.
    Our Home Sale Maximizer tool will get integrated in two weeks, then a few more items will be added.
    On AgentView the real estate agent is always featured during the display of the content and there are no ads.

    I don’t see what the big deal is about blogging listings other than people may not find it interesting reading, but if that is the case the person probably isn’t looking for a house so it doesn’t really matter anyway.

  16. Benn

    September 6, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    amazing.

  17. Mariana

    September 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Louis – Love it: “I don’t see what the big deal is about blogging listings other than people may not find it interesting reading, but if that is the case the person probably isn’t looking for a house so it doesn’t really matter anyway.”

  18. Mariana

    September 6, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Benn – Can you expound?

  19. Benn

    September 6, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    I totally agree with your post… my comment is more related to a comment w/i the thread- actually two of them.

    I think that anyone that disagrees with your post has to really look at what you’re doing in blogging and how much you tweak and adapt to what works and what doesn’t. Out and Out spamming your own blog is not what you’re doing, you balance education, fun, business, and market in great way.

    Cheers…

  20. Mariana

    September 6, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Benn – You make an EXCELLENT point: People need to “tweak and adapt to what works and what doesn’t” and find the perfect balance for them.

  21. Jeff Dowler

    September 6, 2008 at 7:31 pm

    I ALWAYS blog about my listings. In fact, I set up a unique blog on either Blogger or WordPress for each listing I have, and add multiple posts – e.g., general info, photos, videos, virtual tours, a list of reasons to buy, etc. I usually end up with about 7 or 8 articles for each listing blog.

    Do a Google search for the address and what do you find? ME and MY LISTING all over page 1. Print out Page 1 of Google for one of your listings and show this as an example to your next set of potential sellers about how you market on the Web and they will be REAL impressed.

    Terrific article, Marianna

  22. Mana Tulberg

    September 6, 2008 at 10:59 pm

    Marianna, Great post. I have practiced most of what you have suggested to promote myself and my listings. I have not used an address based post, because I believe that most people search by area rather than address.

  23. Tony Sena

    September 7, 2008 at 12:03 am

    I prefer to keep my listings out of my main blog but I do have a secondary blog that I use to promote my real estate listings, press releases and miscellaneous real estate information.

    In your descriptions, be careful not to over do it with key words as you don’t want it to appear spammy.

  24. Jim Gatos

    September 7, 2008 at 5:16 am

    Gee, I wish you guys would make up your minds.. LOL,.. I was told NOT to blog about my listings.. Even here, I was told that a website is for listings, a blog is for opinions and information,.

  25. Steve Simon

    September 7, 2008 at 6:35 am

    I agree with comment #4 and most of your post, which for me is unusual.
    Comment #7 is incorrect (Google actually will not value inbound links from low value sources with enough rank transfer to amount to anything, one backlink from a PR 5 site is worth much more than 500 backlinks from PR 0 or PR1 sites… also if a PR 1 or PR 2 is giving backlinks all over the place it further degrades the transference of Google Juice”.
    I would also note that listing pictures are fine, but you need to spend the time (for some folks more time than the post took to create) to optimize the image, stay under 30k if you can, alt=”tag text explaining what the picture is” are a must.
    Hust my thoughts 🙂

  26. Elaine Reese

    September 7, 2008 at 7:23 am

    Mariana, isn’t it interesting that the few commenters above who somewhat disagree with your post are people who don’t sell real estate. Those of us – you, Jeff, Mana, and myself – who post/promote our listings on our blogs, are finding it quite beneficial. Plus, I find that the long tail of the way I write, works almost as well as the original listing post.

  27. Mariana Wagner

    September 7, 2008 at 10:49 am

    I really appreciate the different “takes” on this “Way to Use Blogging in Real Estate” … I understand that blogging about your listings is PURELY up to the blogging real estate agent. My intent with this post is to let people know that there ARE benefits to blogging your listings, as long as you do it the right way … should you chose to.

    Jeff – That is an excellent value that you bring your Sellers!

    Mana – I put the address so that my Sellers can find their homes, but usually I will include the area as well.

    Tony – A separate blog is a good idea, too. And spamming your blog is not a good idea … that is why I said, “add your desired keywords in more places (naturally)…”

  28. Mariana Wagner

    September 7, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Jim – Ultimately, it is up to you, right? This is just another side to that debate.

    Steve – You bring up some very valuable points. Thank you. There is always SO MUCH to consider when leaving your footprint online.

    Elaine – Good points … However, sometimes it is good to take into account the opinions of non-agents. There are a lot of facets in this realm, huh?

  29. Ben K

    September 7, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Excellent info. When I first started blogging I debated promoting my listings in the blog. But I did so for the reasons you outlined above. Plus, my blog is my most important, and thus, primary marketing medium (I don’t farm or maintain an SOI), so it was a no brainer. And, besides the benefits the blog may receive, it actually benefits my sellers more by providing significant exposure of their listings to a niche market segment, directly and indirectly through aggregation.

  30. Mariana Wagner - Colorado Springs REALTOR

    September 7, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    Ben – You are right about the “significant exposure of their listings to a niche market segment” … When you maintain a niche blog, the properties featured there are REALLY benefiting.

  31. Linsey

    October 1, 2008 at 11:08 am

    I understand the reason behind the ‘experts’ suggesting that we not blog about our listings. Sometimes it turns otherwise good content, into blatant advertising and I do think it can potentially turn readers off. That being said, someone once said to me that if you can find a way to create a ‘story’ around the listing itself you can still accomplish the goal of good, readable content and the marketing of a listing.

    For example, I did a post about one of my listings that highlighted the proximity to many of the local shopping and restaurants. It had a Walkscore of 86, which in the OC is unusually high. My clients were pleased to not only see their home on my blog, but to see one of their favorite things about their property highlighted for potential buyers. Win – Win.

  32. Missy Caulk

    October 1, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    Mariana, glad I found this, and as a Realtor, yes I blog my listings for many reasons but mainly the exposure for my sellers. If that was all I did it would be boring, but it is not. I do like Jeff’s idea about a blog for your listings. Maybe I can get my assistant to do it. LOL

  33. Jeff

    October 1, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Just a few more thoughts on using a separate blog for your listing. It’s free (I like WordPress.com) and you have the flexibility to continually update with new information. When you consider how much we know, presumably about our listings and the community, one can easily come up with 10 or more posts per listing blog. Adding photos, slide shows and videos is a cinch and you can do so much more than you can with Realtor.com, the MLS, etc. I suppose individual sites that are available can work too but those cost money and I suspect do not offer the design flexibility of a WordPress blog. I Iink between my website, my other blogs, REALTOR.com, Zillow and elsewhere to the listing blog. Sellers love to see the full effect of the listing blog and I use the URLs (I buy several from GoDaddy) everywhere I can. Using a URL that incldes not only the address but the town and zip are supposedly good for Google, or so I’ve been told.

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Coaching

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!

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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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Coaching

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:

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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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Coaching

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.

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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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