Homes.com Breaks Traffic Records in 2009


Homes.com, a division of Dominion Enterprises, announced today record-setting traffic and data results for 2009. In the face of the worst housing market in generations, Homes.com received nearly 700 million page views in 2009 and increased visitor traffic 36 percent over the previous year, setting all-time records in annual page views and traffic. Homes.com ranks #2 among all real estate Web sites for the search term “Homes for sale” across all major search engines according to Hitwise, and it ranks in the top 5 real estate search portal Web sites according to ComScore.

Powering this increase in traffic is a dramatic improvement to Homes.com listing searches, reducing the average search time in half, providing homebuyers an expedient yet content-rich method of finding agents through an enhanced agent directory and homes for sale in a nationwide listing inventory that grew by more than 2 million listings in 2009.

Read the Press Release here!




Glamorous Open Houses on a Budget


Although many agents dread sitting at an open house on the weekend, the power of a strong open house as a marketing opportunity is hard to deny. The primary goal is to bring attention to the property, but open houses also attract fresh buyers (who probably need an agent) and other sellers who will be impressed by your marketing efforts. Here are some creative ideas for holding a classy open house without breaking the bank.

1. Use online and offline marketing to draw attention. In addition to sending out postcards, posting signs, and placing classified ads be sure to include free online marketing like Facebook events, LinkedIn events, Twitter, and Craigslist.

2. Staging. Leave plenty of time before the event to hide clutter, clear walkways, and dust if needed. For an extra touch, add some sheer curtains and artificial plants to add interest (these can be purchased at a discount store and reused each week!).

3. Appeal to more senses. While making the home visually attractive, you can also appeal to prospects’ other senses to slow them down and spark conversation. Bake (or reheat) cookies in the oven to fill the home with tantalizing scents, and play some soft music to break an awkward silence. Be sure to advertise that refreshments will be served! If you serve liquids, make sure they are light colored or clear like ginger ale, lemonade, or sparkling water.

4. Bring take-a-ways. Don’t just bring a listing book to put on the dining room table! Bring brochures and flyers that explain the services you offer, your specialties, current market information, etc. Win buyers over with sample loan information on the property provided by your favorite local lender so they will have an idea of what the payment schedule will look like.

5. Optimize your schedule. Ask the home owners when they notice the most traffic passing in front of their home and plan your open house accordingly. Do yard sales bring a boost of traffic on Saturday mornings? Are there churches nearby that draw visitors on Sundays? Don’t schedule an open house when the neighborhood is a ghost town!

All of these finishing touches will make your open house feel more like an event and less like an impersonal meeting or a yard sale with strangers. Making prospects feel comfortable will show your professionalism and make you harder to forget after a long day of house hunting. Add a sign up sheet to collect contact information and you have a lead-generating machine!

What do you like to include in your open houses?




Spruce Up Your Site for the Holidays!


The colder months are finally upon us, and it’s a great time to update your website content before the holiday rush! Before you spend time with friends and family this season, you’ll want to make sure that your website is up to par and generating leads effectively.

Website Layout: Is your website outdated? Don’t be afraid to change your website template if you’ve had the same layout for years. AgentAdvantage members also have the option of ordering eStrategy packages for a quick facelift or a complete website overhaul from our professional staff.

Main Page Content: Have you read your main page information lately? At the very least you should make sure that your specialties, designations, service areas and contact information are up to date, but you can also write specific content about house hunting during the holidays, community events, and any charity events that you may be participating in this year.

Agent Photo and Bio: Are you wearing bell bottoms in your profile photo? Is your profile photo in black and white? Time for an update! You can easily refresh your marketing materials by having a new business photo taken. By taking your photo at the end of the year you can take advantage of holiday savings from your local photography studio! And don’t forget to have the photos saved to a CD so you can easily upload them to your website and social media profiles. If you have an online agent bio, you’ll want to update that information as well.

Social Media: Take the time to review your social media profiles to make sure all of your information is correct. You can start by checking your contact information, making sure your links work correctly, and by writing a few blog topics in advance so you won’t have to rush during the busy holiday season.

For more information about making changes to your site, you can visit the AgentAdvantage Learning Center or contact Member Services at (800)889-3726 or email support@agentadvantage.com.




Close MORE Listing Presentations with AgentAdvantage!


Now more than ever home sellers need to be convinced that you have the tools to properly market their home. Most importantly, sellers need to see that your technology is cutting-edge and you can get maximum exposure for their listing, in addition to having the knowledge and expertise to negotiate the best deal. The following AgentAdvantage tools are sure to impress any seller:

  • “Your Listing Goes Everywhere” Flyer:
    This handy flyer includes your AgentAdvantage website address and all the places the seller’s listing will appear when they list with you. All of our listing partners are included with monthly visitors listed for the most popular sites. This flyer can be found under Marketing Tools on the Leads and Marketing tab of your Control Panel.

  • Marketing Design Center:
    The Marketing Design Center allows you to easily create professional looking, brochures, postcards, and virtual tours from within your AgentAdvantage Control Panel. If a property photo is available in advance, you can bring a customized flyer, brochure, or virtual tour with you to your listing appointment to dazzle sellers instantly.

  • Single Property Websites:
    Single Property Websites are a flexible way to market individual properties on the web, in print ads, and on your sign riders. Show sellers their listing will get special attention with a website designed just for them! To create a Single Property Website, visit the Listings tab of your Control Panel.

  • Click-to-Call:
    Show sellers that you can connect to consumers faster than ever before with Click to Call! This new Premier-level feature allows you to place a “Call Me Now” button on both your listings, as well as email signatures or anywhere else you can place HTML code. Please contact Member Services at 1-800-889-3726 or email support@agentadvantage.com to add the Click-to-Call feature to your website.

For more information about using these tools, please contact Member Services at 1-900-889-3726 or send an email to support@agentadvantage.com.




Wow Your Sellers with Single Property Websites!


Single Property Websites are now available from AgentAdvantage, and they are an excellent way to promote your properties online and enhance your listing presentations. Single Property Websites provide an easy to remember website addresses for your listings that will impress sellers and maximize exposure to buyers. Show prospective sellers that their listings will get special attention with a Single Property Website!

Single Property Websites are a versatile marketing tool and the website address for your listing can be:

- Used on social networking sites and on your blog
- Added to your property description, which is syndicated to our network of listing partners
- Used to save space and reduce the cost of classified ads
- Used on your sign riders
- Added to flyers, open house take aways, and just listed/sold postcards
- Used anywhere a URL can fit!

Setting up a Single Property Website is as easy as logging into your account, choosing a listing, and selecting a domain name. Click on the Single Property Websites icon on the Listings Tab of your Control Panel for more details.

Get an edge in your next listing presentation--and sell your listings faster--with Single Property Websites!

If you have questions about this feature, or any other AgentAdvantage product, please do not hesitate to contact Member Services at (800)889-3726.




Decrease Response Times by Using an Auto Responder


When buyers and sellers send an inquiry to an agent through a website, they want a super speedy response. But with our websites up and running 24 hours a day, how can we guarantee a fast response, even when we're asleep? By using an auto responder!

An auto responder is a piece of software that automatically sends an outgoing email when a message arrives in your inbox. A prospect requesting more information from your site can instantly receive a brief message assuring them that you have received their inquiry, are committed to providing top-notch service, and that you'll be contacting them shortly. You can set your auto responder when you go out of town, have a completely booked day, or anytime you will be away from you email inbox. For your convenience, you can set up your auto responder right in your AgentAdvantage Control Panel. It's just another benefit of your AgentAdvantage membership!

To access your email auto responder, simply:

1) Log in to your AgentAdvantage account.
2) Click the ´Leads & Marketing´ tab.
3) Click the Auto responder icon near the center of the page.
4) Choose one of the three pre-written messages or create your own.
5) Preview your email by clicking ´View´ or sumbit your final choice by clicking ´Select´. Now any email that you receive will be answered with this automatic message.
6) To de-activate your auto responder, simply click ´De-activate´.

Note: The auto responder in the Control Panel will only affect forms completed on your AgentAdvantage website. It will not affect your Homes.com email account.

If you have questions about this feature, or any other AgentAdvantage product, please do not hesitate to contact Member Services at (800)889-3726.




Tweet Your Real Estate Listings with TweetLister!


Looking for a free and easy way to tweet your real estate listings? Consider TweetLister, the only Twitter tool created especially for real estate agents and brokers looking to post their listing information on Twitter.

TweetLister lets you create tweets, track your clicks, and collect leads all in one place. It can be used for residential, commercial, and vacation properties anywhere in the world, and each listing gets its own detail page with your contact information on it. Each property description includes features and amenities, 5 photos, a map, mortgage calculators, and a variety of other tools...even a disclaimer and open house information can be added!

Now the team behind TweetLister has added additional features just for brokers! Now brokers can create profiles and assign listings to different agents, all from within one center control panel. Multiple Twitter accounts are also supported for even more functionality.

For more information about tweeting your listings through TweetLister, visit their website at TweetLister.com.




Wow Your Prospects with Flyers from the MDC!


So it’s ten o’clock at night and you have an online inquiry about a property you’re listing…what now? You could wait and call them back during business hours when you have time to explain the property in detail. You could even send your anxious prospect an automated email so they’ll be expecting your call. Or you could stand out from the competition by sending a beautiful email flyer directly from your AgentAdvantage Marketing Design Center!

All you need to create a professional flyer is the listing information and photo (which can be imported from your AgentAdvantage website) and an email address from the prospect. With a few clicks the prospect will receive a PDF or JPEG version of the flyer and you’ll have a leg up on the competition.

Visit your Marketing Design Center to create stunning brochures, virtual tours, commercials, flyers, and other marketing pieces quickly and easily!

Creating a Flyer

Impressing prospects is simple and easy using the Marketing Design Center. To create a property flyer:

1. Log into your AgentAdvantage Control Panel.
2. Go to the Leads & Marketing Tab. At the very bottom of the page under Marketing Tools click on the "Print Marketing (MDC)" icon.
3. Click on the My Projects tab and click the "Create Blank Project" button to enter new listing information manually. You can also choose a property from the Import Listings list to use property data that is pulled from your account.
4. Select "Flyer" and update any listing information you want to appear on your flyer.
5. Click the "Next Step" button at the bottom of the page.
6. Upload any additional photos for your flyer.
7. Select a layout for your flyer.
8. You're done! Now you can choose to download and print your flyer or e-mail the flyer to your prospect's inbox.

For in-depth instructions on using the Marketing Design Center, download the Marketing Design Center How-to Guide . As always, if you have any questions about using your Marketing Design Center, please contact our Member Services team at 1-800-889-3726 or email support@agentadvantage.com.




Set Yourself Apart!  Get Endorsed on Homes.com


You tell your prospects that you offer the best service, but how can you show it? With the new Homes.com Endorsements program for AgentAdvantage customers you can show prospects the proof! By inviting your friends, colleagues, and past clients to recommend you online you can show the 3.5 Million home buyers that visit Homes.com each month that you are the best agent for the job.

The testimonials you receive will appear right on your Homes.com profile page, and all endorsements must be approved by you before they are featured on the site. In addition to building your online reputation the endorsements you get will also help you rank higher in the Homes.com Agent Directory; the more endorsements you receive the higher your name will appear for your market area! You can also use these testimonials in your in your social networking profiles and in your offline marketing pieces. This feature is available free of charge to all AgentAdvantage customers!

For more information about the Homes.com Endorsements program, check out the Endorsements FAQ.




Editing Your Photos For Free

By: Brian Wilson, Customer Service Manager

So you’ve been out all day taking photos of your real estate listings. After downloading them from your camera, you see that they’re good, but they’re just not perfect. You know that with just a few tweaks they’d be perfect. You're not the most tech-savvy and you don’t have the budget to purchase super fancy photo-editing software, so what do you do?

Don’t worry!

I found some web-based photo-editing tools that are not only easy to use, but FREE. Did I say FREE? Many of these tools will give you comparable results to brand-name software, but without the steep learning curve and hefty price tag!

One of my favorites is www.picnik.com. This site has all the basics you need to modify your photos. After registering for a free account, you can upload and modify photos in a flash.

The basic tool set allows you to:

· Rotate

· Crop

· Resize

· Fix exposure

· Change colors

· Sharpen

· Convert to new file type (png, gif, tif, bmp)

Should you feel a little adventuresome and want to test out the advanced tools, you can do the following:

· Convert to black and white or sepia

· Add borders

· Add drop shadow

· Add text

· Touch up

Picnik has all the editing tools that the professionals use, just without the high price tag. Best of all, this site is available to you from any computer connected to the internet—for FREE!




Here are just a few of the FREE or low cost tools available online to make your life and business simpler:

• Electronic Fax Programs - http://www.efax.com, http://www.packetel.com, http://maxemail.com, https://www.callwave.com/landing/VirtualFax_L1.aspx Receive important fax documents directly to your email! All charge a minimal monthly fee.
http://www.primopdf.com and http://www.cutepdf.com - Free software to convert any printable document to a .pdf format.
http://www.slide.com/ - Create a free slide show with your photos. Great for Website, Listings, Family and Friends etc.
http://www.blogbackuponline.com/ BlogBackupOnline provides an effortless FREE way to backup, restore, and export your blog.
• To repeat my earlier post, try http://www.jott.com. I use it everyday!
http://tinyurl.com/ - Sending an email with an extra long URL? Use this tool to convert the URL to a much shorter one!
http://picasa.google.com - Free Photo editing software... organize, retouch and resize photos.
http://www.google.com/talk/service/badge/New Free Google Talk Back - Add a "Chat with me now!" link on your website so visitors can contact you when you are online! (must have a Gmail login/pw)
https://www.wufoo.com/ - Create free forms for your website to get feedback from clients and more!
http://www.Meebo.com - Log into your Instant Messaging accounts all at once, from anywhere!
http://earth.google.com/ - Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings and even explore galaxies in the Sky.
http://www.zipcodestats.com/ - type in any US Zip Code and receive valuable information about that area.
http://www.birthdayalarm.com/ - Great to track clients, friends and family birthdays.
http://www.joggle.com/ Enjoy all your pics, flix and tunes from one single page, no matter where you keep them. Share it all, from anywhere, with a single click.
http://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp This central site allows you to request a free credit file disclosure, commonly called a credit report, once every 12 months from each of the nationwide consumer credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
• 411 for FREE! Looking for an address or phone number? Weather? Movie times? Simply text what you are looking for to 46645. For example, I can text “tallahassee fl weather” and I receive a response with the conditions for the next 3 days! (standard text charges may apply)

Free Computer Protection Software
http://free.avg.com/ - AVG Free provides you with basic antivirus and antispyware protection for Windows and is available to download for free.
http://www.threatfire.com/ - ThreatFire continually protects your PC against attacks by detecting malicious behavior, such as capturing your keystrokes or stealing your data, instead of only looking for known threats like normal antivirus software.
Is there something missing from this list? Feel free to add any tools you’ve found useful by commenting below! Enjoy!




Online Communities


I want to thank the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog for giving us good info on these social networking sites.

Most know by now that Web 2.0 is not going away and it is here to stay. We humans are naturally social, and so even with the advent of theInternet where we can cloister ourselves away and order everything we need to live online, we still want that interaction with other humans. We want to feel the human touch.

Enter online communities.

According to Wikipedia, "a virtual community, e-community or online community is a group of people that primarily interact via communication media such as letters, telephone, email or Usenet rather than face to face, for social, professional, educational or other purposes."

Online communities have been around since the late 1980s (BBS anyone?), but they have proliferated in the last five years, and more continue to pop up on the horizon with the advent of the latest ideas and technologies.

Below are a few of the most popular communities online:

* Linkedin.com - This is a professional social networking site that is gaining ground fast. According to their website, "Linkedin is an online network of more than 20 million experienced professionals from around the world, representing 150 industries."
o How can I use this in my business? Contacts, baby!
* Ning.com - This is a do-it-yourself social networking site. According to their website, "Our passion is putting new social networks in the hands of anyone with a good idea. With Ning, your social network can be anything and for anyone."
o Again with the contacts, but you can also be known as that genius on the specific topic of townhouses in Hoboken, NJ. Or wherever else.
* Facebook.com - Facebook seems to be the slightly grown-up version of myspace.com. According to the Facebook website, "Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profile to notify friends about themselves."
o Making contacts is key to any business, isn't it? Just slap up your information, make some friends, and you just might sell property for someone you meet through the site.
* Squidoo.com - This is a bit different from the above three site. According to their website, Squidoo is a site "...designed to make it easy for anyone, for free, to set up a single page on a topic he or she knows or cares a lot about. Advertising revenue is shared with these content creators, and some of it is given to charity."
o Become the expert writer-slash-real estate guru when people begin to discover your squidoo page.

Why bother with online communities at all? We are all busy, so what is the importance of these sites? One word: eyeballs. Millions upon millions of people all over the world reside within these sites. They spend lots of time in them. If you had the chance to reach out and touch that many people, would you take the opportunity?




The New iPhone and the Next Generation of Mobile Devices


My guess is that you’ve heard about the new iPhone release – twice as fast and half the price.

imageBut the aspect that I’m just as interested in is the built-in GPS. As mobile devices like the iPhone and Dash become more sophisticated, the possibilities for agents and home shoppers get pretty exciting.

For example, how nice would it be to drive through a neighborhood, stop your car, click the “show-me-homes- that-match-my-preferences-near-where-I-am” button and magically see a map with listings pinned.

Then maybe you could press the “speak-the-driving-directions-to-me” button, and have a voice-automated tour of the homes on your list.

When you got within reach of your home’s wireless network, you could click the “print-my-favorites” button.

It’s just a matter of time.




Organizing Your Inbox


imageIs your email inbox more of a dumping ground for the long list of tasks that seem to continuously grow? Have you even tried to find that specific email regarding the issue you know was resolved, but seems to have popped up again? Are you constantly digging through emails from your colleagues to find a signature with their phone numbers on it? I have to share my favorite organizational tool with you, and it is FREE!

This savior of my Outlook Inbox is Xobni! Funny name for a great tool (it is inbox spelled backwards) but it truly works! Some of the features are:

--Easy to navigate, right side tool bar that instantly shows connections between you, the highlighted sender and the people you both communicate with
--Document/attachment history from each contact
--Email conversation “threads”
--Super fast email search through all of your Outlook
--Easy and quick appointment scheduling
--Automatic phone number extraction for each contact
--Editable contact profiles

One feature I love is that you can search by people—and it will search your entire Outlook, not just one folder! This free product has really made my email much easier to use. Honestly, after using Xobni for the last 3 weeks, I don’t think I can go back to not having it!

To download your own free Outlook inbox miracle, visit the Xobni website:




Hotpads.com Added to Homes.com Listing Export Network


Homes.com has added another new partner to their expanding listing exposure network.

Hotpads.com, a valuable, free property listing resource of 2 million homes for sale most recently recognized for strides in heat mapping & foreclosure trend analysis, is the latest site to receive a property listing feed from Homes.com.

Through this partnership, Homes.com clients can choose to export their hand-entered listings directly to Hotpads. This addition to the partner network was recently announced by both Homes.com & Hotpads.com to their respective clients and is an exciting new option for Homes.com agents and brokers.

Hotpads.com joins Zillow, Vast, Google Base, Oodle.com, HarmonHomes.com, Trulia, Propbot.com, Yahoo Real Estate and Bargain Network as the latest choice for property distribution for Homes.com customers.

Stay tuned for even more export partners coming on board!

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