Increasing Google Visibility to Gain More Leads

Increasing Google Visibility to Gain More Leads

As a real estate professional, you no doubt realize how competitive the marketplace really is. Everyone wants to make sure their homes are seen. The popularity of the web has made it easier than ever before for you to attract the attention of the web-savvy world, but you still need to make sure your website is as high in the Google search results as possible in order to achieve success. So what can you do to make sure people are actually seeing your website?

Proper Website Optimization

If the thought of “proper website optimization” made you wish you had another cup of coffee, you might want to consider hiring help. In short, you want to make sure that your website is set up in a way that is easy for the search engines to find, identify, and understand. If Google can figure out your site is about real estate, you’re more likely to come up in real estate searches. Most websites use meta tags to show the web crawlers what your pages are about and each page should have one.

You’ll also need to make sure your website is using the right keywords, which means keyword research. Have another headache? Your web designer or SEO expert can help you with that, too. Keyword research isn’t just about knowing what terms are relevant to real estate, but what terms people who are looking to buy or sell houses are actually using when they search the web. Using those terms on your site – especially in the aforementioned meta tags – can help increase your visibility.

Visual Tools

When it comes to real estate, prospective buyers need visuals. You’re going to want to have lots of images, usually in the form of a gallery, for your site – whether they stand alone or link back to your favorite listing sites. You should also have video – tips about buying and/or selling, walk-throughs of homes, etc.

You will want to talk to your web designer about how to make sure your images have the right alt tags. Search engines can’t “read” pictures, so the alt tags will tell them what’s there, especially if they are keyword specific, like your meta tags.

Don’t Ignore Social Media

Social media is a critical component to your online strategy, and the search engines do recognize certain pages and posts within social media profiles. If you’re new to social media, you should not go out and create a profile on every platform at the same time. Start with Facebook and Instagram – the most visual – and make sure your images and posts link back to your website and listing pages. You can add Twitter, Google, and other platforms as you progress.

Truth? As a real estate agent, you have to figure out how to best spend the precious hours of your day. If you aren’t web-savvy, ask a pro for help so you can focus on your leads and business. Just don’t ignore your web presence altogether. It’s definitely important.

Sellers in the West, Buyers in the East

Zillow, an online real estate site, recently released a study that listed the markets for sellers and buyers in the United States. The study showed that there is an east/west divide. Basically, if you’re on the West Coast, it’s a seller’s market. If you’re on the East Coast (or Midwest), it’s a buyer’s market. Obviously, if you compare New Jersey to California, there’s a lot of difference, and not just in terms of miles. Things are different out there. But why is one coast showing one market, and the other coast an entirely different market?

For starters, there are relatively strong job markets on the West Coast, which is helping to create more demand. Since there is a limited supply, this is causing a rapid appreciation for homes and giving sellers the edge. And, housing prices and interest rates are still favorable, so some buyers want to buy NOW. They’re willing to pay a bit more for a home because they know it’s still a great deal, and the sellers get to take more of a profit than they would have a few years ago.

Here in New Jersey and our surrounding areas, however, the housing market is appreciating more slowly. Homes are staying on the market for a bit longer, and this gives buyers the edge. If a seller wants to take advantage of the market and sell off their existing home, they’ll be much more willing to take a little less and move on rather than holding onto the property. This isn’t the case in every township, but it is the picture for things at large.

So, what can you be looking at this fall? It depends on who you are. If you’re the buyer, then you can expect to have the upper hand, and you may be able to land your NJ dream home by asking the seller to come down in price. If you’re the seller, on the other hand, expect to have your home on the market a little longer and perhaps have to lower your asking price. Or, you could always wait for that perfect buyer to come along, which isn’t asking too much in this market. New Jersey does, after all, have unique, one-of-a-kind homes.

5 Reasons to Love New Jersey

Are you considering relocating to New Jersey? Or perhaps you’re already a NJ native but are trying to convince a friend or family member to make the move. Whatever the case, this blog post is for you! Here are five amazing reasons to give the Garden State a chance!

1. Varied Landscape

On the West Coast, you get mountains and white sand beaches. The South – warm, sandy deserts. In the central part of the U.S., you see hundreds of miles of flat land. But in Jersey, you get everything. There are miles of farmland, breathtaking mountains, cityscapes and beaches. This means you can make your home anywhere you want – you can literally never get bored!

2. Adorable Mini Towns

One of the neat aspects to living in Jersey is that there are quaint little towns throughout the state. Most offer the perfect blend of urban and suburban life. There are places to grab a bite to eat, charming streets and rich history embedded in each town. From family friendly Little Falls to the marshes of Meadowland, you can get an entire history lesson in one drive.

3. Proximity to the Beach

Another highlight to New Jersey is the cozy beach towns. Many people have summer homes on Long Beach Island where they spend the weekends in the summer. And, no matter where you live in NJ, most residents are no more than an hour away from the coast. Nothing beats sitting off the beach in the summer, enjoying salt water taffy and french fries with vinegar.

4. Proximity to Manhattan

Millions of people can only dream of visiting the Big Apple, but for people living in NJ, it’s only a bus, train or ferry ride away. In fact, many people work in the Big Apple where job opportunities are more plentiful, and enjoy suburban living in New Jersey. Living right next to the city offers financial security, especially in an unstable economy.

5. Excellent Schools

New Jersey takes a lot of pride in their education system. There are numerous NJ schools in the 2014 U.S. News Best High Schools rankings, including 25 with gold medals, 19 silver medals and 32 bronze medals. Each municipality has their own school district essentially, which means that each district gets a lot of attention from committed families.

Top 3 Turn Offs for Prospective Buyers

When listing your home, you probably have many questions. Will the buyers like my home? Does it have an attractive layout? Is it decorated nicely? Is it priced right?

The truth is that most buyers form an opinion about a home within minutes, whether they see it online or in person. You want to make a good first impression so that you can lock in prospective buyers and show them what your home really has to offer. But, it’s important to know what types of things buyers don’t like. Let’s take a look at the top three turn offs for prospective buyers so that you can avoid them in your own home.

1. Dirt and Grime

Before listing your home, you need to do more than just vacuum and dust. The house needs to be in the best possible condition. Period. Prospective buyers expect to walk into a home that is bright, airy and clean, so don’t assume that people will look past everyday grime. Some things to consider: shampooing the carpets, cleaning grout on tile, vacuuming the vents, cleaning the baseboards, scrubbing around showers and tubs and washing the windows. Of course, keep all surfaces, especially countertops and sinks, spotless too.

2. Odors from Pets, Food or Cigarette Smoke

While the house is on the market, choose the foods you cook wisely. Fried foods, for instance, will create film on the cabinets and cause the home to smell. Pet odors easily go unnoticed by homeowners, but many pets leave their scent around the home. Not only should pet odors be eliminated, but so should their toys and accessories (litter pans, bowls, etc.). Have a plan so that Fido isn’t around during the showing. Smokers should also keep all things hidden (ashtrays, lighters), and smoke outside when the house is on the market.

3. Outdated Fixtures and Appliances

If your light fixtures and appliances are outdated, you’ll need to do an update. Buyers want to see modern homes that they can move right into with little work or updating on their part. Some easy, affordable fixes: changing cabinet hardware, installing new light fixtures and painting the cabinets. Naturally, having new appliances and cabinetry is best, so understand that if you don’t have it, you won’t get the highest possible price for your home.

Why 2014 Will be a Strong Year for the Housing Market

We’re already four months into 2014, and the height of the selling season will soon be upon us. The winter was unusually cold, but we should be seeing more homes listed in the coming weeks. Spring has traditionally been considered that perfect time to list a home. This year in particular, we have a lot to look forward to. Housing activity has been increasing over the past several years, so we can expect the same trend to continue this year.

Increased Housing Activity

This year may be the first year that we see the most housing activity since 2006/2007. There are a few reasons for this. The first is simple. Since the housing bubble, housing activity has slowly picked up, with each year a little better than the last. As long as this trend continues, we can expect to see even better sales in 2014. Additionally, there should be more jobs available, a bigger inventory of homes and competitive housing and interest rates to drive up housing activity.

More Young People Looking to Buy

A second reason why 2014 may be the strongest year yet is because of a basic yet important piece to the puzzle: demographics. On average, there are 1.2 million households each year that demand a housing unit, whether that housing unit be rented or bought. Due to the recession, there are more young people living at home with their parents for financial security. Many of these young people want the freedom of living independently, though, and will soon be ready to purchase a home. When demand from young people starts to kick in, we can expect to see real progress in the housing market.

Mortgage Availability is Improving

Lastly, mortgage availability may improve in 2014. While it’s not as easy to get a mortgage as it was during the housing boom, it is becoming easier than in years directly following the boom. For those deserving of a mortgage, there are a number of options available through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA loans. Also, with rising interest rates, it’s to be expected that fewer people will refinance their mortgages, so lenders will be looking to boost activity by giving out new loans.


New Jersey Housing Market Continues to Strengthen

According to the New Jersey Association of Realtors, the NJ market continues to strengthen thanks to a lower inventory of available homes, higher median prices and faster selling times. How do these numbers compare to last year?

According to NJAR, the number of homes for sale in all markets is down 15.5 percent from September 2012. Closed sales in all markets have risen 21.8 percent, though. Single-family homes have seen a median sale price of 7 percent more compared to September 2012, and single-family homes are spending less time on the market.

To add more good news to the picture, positive trends are being seen in the townhome and condo communities as well. While NJ isn’t back to pre-recession prices, at least the housing market is moving in the right direction.

Why Inventory is Low – But Maybe Not for Long

Part of the reason why inventory is low is because would-be sellers are holding onto their properties because they are not willing to sell their home at a discount. This deters many would-be sellers, so they either remain in their homes or rent them out to continue paying down their mortgage.

Over time, we can expect to see some of these sellers slowly listing their homes when they can finally make the numbers work for them, but in the meantime, inventory will remain relatively low – at least for these types of homes.

Foreclosed homes are a different story. With the high number of foreclosures, there are still many that need to make it onto the market. Once they are listed, we can expect to see them clear out very quickly, boosting sales and driving up the market, hopefully allowing today’s would-be sellers to finally list their homes without taking as much of a hit. This has been the trend for much of the country, and it has helped many states rebound to better sales.

We can only hope that the housing market bubble will be a thing of the past, and housing prices will continue to strengthen over time. We’re making positive steps in the right direction, making now – potentially – a great time to sell, buy or both.

Tips for the First Time Homebuyer

First-time homebuyers – those who have no present home ownership – are some of the luckiest in the market today. In order to stimulate a sluggish housing market, there have been a handful of incentives and loan opportunities that encourage those without a home to buy, in turn stimulating a down economy. Since the housing bubble, the market has been most generous to new buyers thanks to low housing prices and historically low interest rates. The drawbacks have been that lenders have tightened their lending guidelines, and there is a low inventory of homes available.

Why Buy?

Homeownership offers many benefits:

  • Increased control (no more cancelled leases)

  • A residence that better meets your needs

  • Home equity

  • Tax benefits

  • Builds credit

Below are a few tips for the first-time homebuyer.

  • Check the selling prices of homes in your area. For the most accurate data, you’ll need to look at the MLS, so contact a real estate agent who can give you access to this up-to-date, real-time system.

  • Use a mortgage calculator to determine how much you can afford each month. Overestimate your expenses so that you leave ample room to afford your mortgage and the hidden costs, such as HOA fees, property taxes and utility bills.

  • Find out what property taxes will be. There are big differences from one county to the next. Unfortunately, no matter where you live in NJ, you can expect to pay high taxes.

  • Determine how much closing costs will be. First-time homebuyers sometimes have more incentives than other buyers, so you may be able to get your closing costs paid for. Still, it’s not as common for these costs to be rolled into your loan as in years past, so know what you will have to bring to the table.

  • Work with a reputable realtor. A realtor is your best guide during the home buying process and will match you with the best properties, while also keeping you up-to-date on fluctuating interest rates and taxes.

  • Start the pre-approval process. A lender will look at your finances, qualify you based on your income and tell you how much home you can afford. Fannie Mae recommends that you spend no more than 28 percent of your income on housing, so take this into consideration. You want to afford your home, not make it a financial strain.

What is the Multiple Listing Service (MLS)?

If you’ve been working with a realtor or will be in the near future, you will definitely hear a lot about the MLS system. MLS stands for Multiple Listing Service, and it refers to one large database with many of the listings that are currently available on the market. When a property is sold, it is then taken off the database. The MLS is a fast and convenient way to access the homes that are available for sale at any given moment. After all, being a good realtor means that you need to have quick knowledge of what properties are out there.

Let’s take a look at the advantages to using the MLS for your home buying or selling experience.

Benefits to Buyers

  • Convenient. The majority of homes for sale in your area are placed on the database, so you don’t have to bounce back and forth to various websites.

  • Easy to use. A few simple clicks of a mouse give you access to all the properties for sale in your area.

  • Up-to-date and relevant. The MLS is continuously updated, so what you see reflects the current market, unlike other sites that are out of date.

  • Free service. The MLS does not cost a penny for buyers to use.

  • Sorting features. Instead of sorting through hundreds of homes, you can use the handy sorting features to find homes based on the square footage, number of bedrooms/bathrooms, zip code and so on.

Benefits to Sellers

  • More exposure. You want to sell your home fast, so putting it in front of the most buyers makes this possible. The MLS gets you the largest number of buyers in a short amount of time.

  • Help from a professional. To get your listing on the MLS, you’ll need a real estate agent or broker to list the property. Not only do you get your home on the MLS, but also you get professional assistance from a realtor who can help get your home sold quickly and for the most money possible.

  • Increased competition. The more buyers that see your home, the more competition it will create. Competition is good for sellers since it puts more power in your hands as you price your home and sell it quickly.