Will the home appraisal industry be replaced by technology?

Automation haunts many discussions about the future of work, employment, and the economy. But technological advances may soon hit homes in an unexpected way: could real estate appraisers be replaced by robots?

That’s the conclusion of a recent article in Bloomberg, which discusses how advances in big data and computing are helping automate this knowledge-based job, perhaps a harbinger of how advances in machine learning mean an ever-widening circle of professions are at risk.

The future of the profession has become a topic due to a recent decision by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two institutions that facilitate the flow of funding for home loans nationwide. In the past, both of these entities have occasionally allowed appraisal waivers when evaluating low-cost loans. But recently, they’ve changed their stance, starting up a program earlier this year that would waive the new appraisal requirement for homes where the loan-to-value ratio is low. Instead, they’ll accept any appraisals on file from the last five years. In June, Freddie Mac said it would start accepting automated valuations for some refinancing loans.

This decision will reduce the number of appraisals being requested, says Appraisal Institute President Jim Amorin, and implicitly suggests that a model with less human participation is just as good.

 

“There’s no replacement for an appraisal in most cases,” Amorin tells Curbed. “Many of the computer models use public information that hasn’t been verified. Even Zillow will tell you it’s an estimate, not an appraisal.”

A profession already feeling pressure

These policy shifts come during an unfortunate time for a profession watching its workforce slowly shrink. Today, there are currently 78,000 licensed appraisers in the U.S., says Amorin, whose organization represents roughly 20,000 of them. That is a steep drop from the 120,000 that performed the job five years ago.

Part of the decline is due to appraisers requiring extensive training and apprenticeships to become licensed, and part is due to diminishing fees, a result of the growth of appraisal management companies that work with lenders and take a portion of the final fee. The median age of an appraiser is roughly 52-55, says Amorin, suggesting the workforce is aging, retiring, and not being replenished.

“If numbers continue the way they are, there may not be enough appraisers to meet the needs of the marketplace,” says Amorin. “We worry about how the automated models will serve the needs of consumers.”

Computer estimates are closing the gap

At the same time, the technology now being cast as competition for appraisers is getting better and better. According to a Zillow engineer, the company’s Zestimate tool uses algorothms, machine learning, public records, MLS data, and information from brokers and users to create increasingly accurate value estimates. The models are continuously being trained on a daily basis to become more sophisticated; some are examining external imagesto better determine the “curb appeal” of a home Zillow even launched a $1 million Zillow Prize in May, similar to the Netflix Prize, to entice data scientists and researchers to improve the company’s algorithm and devise a more accurate method of estimating home values.

Zillow representatives noted multiple times they believe appraisals are valuable and in no way seek to replace the need for an appraisal.

Amorin believes that automated appraisals still focus too heavily on public data and often miss the little details and true picture of a property that creates an accurate value estimate. He believes you get what you pay for with automated models, and the work of an impartial appraiser is key to a functioning, transparent market.

But that doesn’t make him anti-technology. Amorin believes the future is in a marriage of man and machine, where humans and computer models combine for more accurate estimates. Appraisers get data that saves them time, while their estimates can be fed back into the algorithms and machine learning systems to make the estimates more accurate.

“If appraisers believe they can move forward doing what they’ve always done, they’ll go the way of the one-hour photo shop,” he says. “We have to adapt.”

By Patrick Sisson

Original article is here

12 amazing content marketing ideas — no blogging allowed

These tips will get you out of your blogging rut

Style icon and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood once said that your life would be more interesting if you wore impressive clothes.

You can apply that principle to content marketing — your brand will be more attractive if you can create impressive content.

Don’t get me wrong; real estate blogging is great and can help you brand your business, but there are other ways to create valuable, shareable content.

To ensure that your content stands out from all of the standard formatted, dry blog posts on the Web, why not use a different approach? Frame your content in a new way.

There are many different ways that you can differentiate the message of your brand and engage with your local prospects. We have compiled 12 of the most creative media formats below.

1. Frame the content in the form of a quiz.

Why not create some shareable content in the form of a viral quiz? It’s a great way to segment your audience and create a viral buzz focused on you and your website.

Check out sites such as Qzzr.com and TryInteract.com for ideas on quizzes you can deploy in your market. It doesn’t have to be real estate-related all the time. You can create quizzes about your local area or city and target local homeowners in your city with a Facebook ad.

2. Hold a Q&A on Twitter.

Tweeting isn’t all about one-offs. You can release a block of questions and answers on Twitter and interact with people in your city. Later, you can repurpose that content into a curated blog post.

3. Ask a “yes or no question” in a text.

If you want a customer to give you a straight answer, then ask them a straight question. It is easy to get a simple response via a text message by using SMS applications. This type of content drives not only readership but also engagement.

4. Instead of thinking website, think document.

Go bigger by offering downloadable content. A discrete document, such as an e-book, white paper or PDF frequently is perceived to have a higher value. This tactic is great to create as a lead magnet for a landing page.

GO BIGGER BY OFEERING DOWNLOADABLE CONTENT – AN E-BOOK, WHITE PAPER OT PDF

. Use infographics and charts.

Infographics and charts are a great way to map out the data of your local real estate market. You can use sites such as infogr.am and Piktochart to create highly engaging images. Be sure to add your logo to the image — infographics can be great content that people love to share.

6. Review a recent case study.

Do you have a product that you need to present? Focus in on imagining how it was used by one ideal buyer or seller client to solve their problem. When you can be specific, it frequently has general appeal and helps with encouraging people to purchase work with you.

7. Set it up like a comic strip.

Everybody loves comics. If you can say what you need to in the form of snappy one-liners, you can always present them with sequential panels, stick figures and bright colors. Bitstrips can help you get started.

INMAN, NANA SMITH, REALTOR, APPRAISER, STAMFORD CT

8. Use a shared space to place content.

Scrapbook sites such as Pinterest are excellent for pulling together related content and having it all in one place. Take lots of pictures as you tour and list homes, and build a significant following. You can also start a conversation in Reddit.

SCARBOOK SITES LIKE PINTERST ARE EXCELLENT FOR PULLING RELATED CONTET IN ONE PLACE.

9. Consider video marketing

Video is taking off and will continue to grow. You can easily shoot video content when you are out in the real estate field. You can also record on-screen presentation on tools such as ScreenFlow and Camtasia.

10. Interview an expert and do a podcast

Craft your content in the form of questions that your audience might ask, along with answers provided by an expert. Maybe you are the expert, or you can collaborate with a lender, home inspector or another agent on your team. You can even turn this interview-style content into a real estate podcast.

11. Write a glossary or FAQ

It isn’t just great for SEO. Reference pages such as glossaries are a type of evergreen content that will get the attention of real estate buyers and sellers now and years from now.

REFERNACE PAGES WILL GET THE ATTENTION OF REAL ESTATE BUYRS AND SELLERS NOW AND FOR YEARS.

Think of frequently asked questions, and start building a database of answers. What are the average days on the market? How long is the escrow period? What are the average closing costs?

12. Keep an eye out for more unusual content opportunities

Captions, ALT text, rollover text — these forms of microcontent can all be customized and add interest to your content. It will not only optimize your website — it will also make you appear very knowledgeable about your material.

Those are 12 real estate content ideas. You can find even more by just thinking about what attracts you eye when you’re reading content. Is it color, captions, sidebars, audio or video? They all provide you with clues for the next content marketing project you do that isn’t just a simple blog post.

Housing Market is Healthiest in Years!

nana smith, stamford selling agent

According to Nationwide’s recently unveiled, Health of Housing Market (HoHM) Report, the US housing market is at it’s healthiest levels since the index’s creation in 2001.

The index analyzes the health of the housing market across the country and in 373 metro areas every quarter. Using the data that they have collected over the past 15 years, Nationwide will look to give a “data-driven view of the near-term performance of housing markets based upon current health indicators.”

The fourth quarter of 2014 ended with the highest indicator score in over 15 years of data analyzed by the study at 109.8. The report explains:

“An index value over 100 suggests that the national housing market is healthy, with lower chances of a housing downturn over the next year as the index moves increasingly above the 100 breakeven value.”

Employment, demographics, the mortgage market, and housing prices are all used to evaluate the health of each market. The top 10 healthiest housing markets according to the index are:

  1. Pittsburgh, PA
  2. Cleveland-Elyria, OH
  3. Philadelphia, PA
  4. Rockford, Ill.
  5. Burlington, NC
  6. Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA
  7. Fayetteville-Springdale, AR
  8. Idaho Falls, ID
  9. Tulsa, OK
  10. Kennewick-Richland, WA

The two ‘least healthy’ markets were Bismark, ND and Atlantic City, NJ who received“just slightly negative performance rankings”.

David Berson, Nationwide’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President, says “the quarterly report should serve as a resource to gauge how healthy housing markets are today but, perhaps more important, what to expect in the future and why.”

Bottom Line:

The housing market continues to recover and surpass recent history. Meet with an agent in your local market to determine if you are able to take advantage of the opportunities available in real estate today.

Path to Success

nana smith, nana smith listing agent, stamford ct real estate

Yes, the real estate industry is changing dramatically. It’s no longer about information; it’s about your ability to analyze that information so well that you can teach it to others. That’s your job now. That’s what the real estate industry is about now. The agents that embrace this New Market Reality are going to be the dominant agents moving forward. They are ones who will win the race! As you move forward into your real estate career, remember to plot out these three steps along the way:

• Step 1 – Continually educate yourself. Whether you use the KCM membership or some other educational means, know what’s going on and why it’s happening. As Albert Einstein said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it.”

• Step 2 – Be able to communicate what you learn. Think of it as the ability to sing versus being on iTunes. If you can sing, but deliver your message on the equivalent of 8-track tapes, no one will listen to you. If, however, you can sing and you publish your music digitally (the modern format), you’ll have a much higher likelihood of reaching your audience. In real estate, this means making sure your client presentations are filled with impactful, relevant information that will help them gain clarity from the confusion in the market. Make your presentations overly visual and so simple that anyone—even a child—can understand what is happening in the current market. Graphs, charts, and infographics are great formats to use.

• Step 3 – Keeping current matters! You can have a tremendous understanding of key factors and wonderful visual materials to help make it easy for your clients, but if you’re not updating these things on a constant basis, you’re lost. How valuable would a physician be if she didn’t update her advice and recommendations based on the newest medical research? Don’t be caught with outdated information in your presentations and conversations. Do your homework and be on top of all the major news that will impact the current real estate market. For most families, buying or selling a home is the most important personal decision and possibly the largest financial decision they’ll ever make. They are looking for a true professional to help them through this process. Make sure they get one when you walk into their lives.

 

15 Words That Could Add Value to Your Listing

 

crea real estate, nana smith real estate, exprealty

When it comes to writing an effective listing description,

don’t hold back. If you’ve got it, flaunt it!

If one of the following words accurately describes your home, you might want to consider adding it to your listing.

1. Luxurious

As mentioned above, lower-priced listings with the word “luxurious” sold for 8.2 percent more on average than expected. “Luxurious” signals that a home’s finishes and amenities are high-end. This is a huge selling point, particularly in this price range.

2. Captivating

Top-tier listings described as “captivating” sold for 6.5 percent more on average than expected. Unlike the word “nice,” “captivating” provides a richer, more enticing description for buyers. Plus, it’s less open to interpretation. Anything can be seen as “nice,” but “captivating” sets a high bar.

3. Impeccable

On average, listings in the bottom tier with the word “impeccable” sold for 5.9 percent more than expected. Like “captivating,” “impeccable” is a rich adjective. It also implies something about the quality of a home: The features are desirable and the home is move-in ready.

4. Stainless

“Stainless” is typically used to describe kitchens with “stainless steel appliances.” It’s in your favor to talk up these features in your listing — especially if your home is in the bottom price tier. In our analysis, lower-priced homes with the word “stainless” sold for 5 percent more on average than expected.

5. Basketball

On average, lower-priced homes with the word “basketball” sold for 4.5 percent more than expected. This may seem like an odd word to include in this list, but when you consider the context it makes sense. Among lower-priced homes, a basketball court — or even better, an indoor basketball court — is a huge selling point. While it may not stand out as much among higher-priced homes, it’s definitely worth mentioning in this price range.

6. Landscaped

It’s just as valuable to describe your yard as your house. In all price tiers, listings with the word “landscaped” sold for more than expected on average. The biggest premium was seen among lower-priced listings, which on average sold for 4.2 percent more than expected.

7. Granite

In the same vein as “stainless,” “granite” is typically used to describe countertops or another high-end home feature. Listings with the word “granite” sold, on average, for 1 to 4 percent more than expected across all price tiers.

8. Pergola

Not only should you include high-end home features in your listing description, you should also mention features not found in every home. They’ll help your listing stand out, especially if buyers are searching for homes online by keyword. The data shows mid-priced listings with the word “pergola” sold for 4 percent more on average than expected.

9. Remodel

Was your home recently remodeled? It may be worth mentioning. On average, bottom-tier listings with the word “remodel” sold for 2.9 percent more, middle-tier homes for 1.8 percent more and top-tier homes for 1.7 percent more than expected.

10. Beautiful

While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a beautiful feature like a view may be worth noting. Lower-priced listings with the word “beautiful” sold for 2.3 percent more on average than expected.

11. Gentle

“Gentle” may seem like a weird adjective to have in a listing description. It’s typically used to describe “gentle rolling hills” or something about a home’s location. Top-tier listings with the word “gentle” sold for 2.3 percent more, on average, than expected.

12. Spotless

You may think all homes are spotless when a buyer moves in, so it’s not worth mentioning in a listing. But when it comes to lower-priced homes, cleanliness isn’t always a given. In this price range, listings described as “spotless” sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.

13. Tile

Much like “stainless” and “granite,” “tile” is a great word when it comes to describing the features of your home. A newly tiled backsplash or updated bathroom tile not only indicates a home’s aesthetic value but also sends a message to buyers that the home’s been well cared for by the current owners. Bottom-tier homes with the word “tile” in the listing sold for 2 percent more on average than expected.

14. Upgraded

On average, lower-priced listings with the word “upgraded” sold for 1.8 percent more than expected. Most buyers will agree that upgrades are a selling point. They indicate a home not only looks nice but also functions well. Spelling out which features have been updated is a good approach, so buyers have the right expectations when they see your home.

15. Updated

“Updated” sends a similar message to “upgraded.” But in addition to speaking to the quality of a home, it signals that something old has been replaced with something new. This is a great fact to communicate to potential buyers, as evidenced by the data. Mid-priced homes with “updated” in the listing sold for 0.8 percent more on average than expected.

Original Post is Here:

Housing Market to “Spring Forward”

Spring-Forward

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward”! Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong and is currently three times stronger than last year at this time.

The National Association of REALTORS (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2014 all fell in April, May or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2015, meet with a local real estate professional to evaluate the opportunities in your market.

Agent Can & Should Avoid

real-estate-email-marketing-600wMore and more real estate marketing activities are rightly focused on the most important aspect of the agent-client relationship: effective communication. As a result, email continues to be an extremely important tool in every agent’s arsenal. After all, there’s really no other method for efficientlycommunicating with so many leads and clients at such a low cost. As the real estate email marketing landscape continues to expand, it becomes that much more important to focus on differentiating yourself as a top-tier agent. Part of that process is to ensure that you’re not making any ‘rookie’ mistakes that are sure to paint you as a ‘rookie agent’.

At Zurple, we encourage our agents to get the most out of their email strategy. Still, there are a number of mistakes that are both avoidable yet stubbornly persistent across the industry. So, the next time you compose an email to your prospective or current client, be cognizant to avoid the all-too-common mistakes below.

1. Typos -It’s funny how some would suggest purposely sending typos in an email to make it seem less robotic or automated. A better way to avoid coming across like a robot is to make your emails personal with relevant information your recipient would appreciate. Take the 30 seconds to review an important email before it’s sent!

2. Poor grammar – Make sure your sentences are coherent and in the proper tense. Although not everyone notices grammatical errors, glaring issues with your grammar may put off a prospective client – calling into question your professionalism in the process.

3. Wrong property link – When sending out a link, make sure you send the right link. Sending clients, whose price range is $500k – $700k, a link to a $1.5 million home may be enough to have your future emails flagged as spam.

4. Links don’t work – If you send an email with a link, make sure it works. Sometimes email editors will do some funky things with your URL – like add in an extra ‘http://’ so always be wary. Take the 10 seconds to click on your own link – there’s no excuse not to!

5. Wrong property address – This is another easy one, but a big one. Always double-check addresses in emails targeting a specific property.

6. Personalization is incorrect – Email tags can be dangerous, because they can be wrong. Go the extra mile by keeping your data clean to ensure that personalization tags are accurate (and don’t contain typos). After all, “Dear Johhn” doesn’t look so good…

dear_johhn,

7. Date and/or time mix up – When sending out emails with dates and times, such as an open house announcement, be sure to triple check this information. A mistake here can result in some very frustrated people or even a loss of business. Remember, there’s no guarantee that someone will read your follow-up email correcting your prior mistake.

                           8.Misleading ‘from name’ – If you’re using an email service like Mailchimp or Constant Contact, take extra care to ensure that the ‘from’ field uses a description that would be recognized by your audience (like, your name!). Otherwise, you can really hurt your open rates because people don’t know that it’s you who is sending the emails. Your personal brand is being used whenever people see the ‘from-name’ so make sure to get it right every time.

9.Sending to the wrong recipients – Sending information to the wrong person or group of people is a great way to ask people to unsubscribe from your list. So, it goes without saying that your recipient list needs to be accurate, every time.

10.Incomplete text – There are going to be instances when you’re writing an email, are interrupted, then finish composing that email at some later time. Except, you sent the email without realizing that you had a sentence that was just hanging or disjointed. As with typo avoidance, take an extra 30 seconds for a re-read, especially after an interruption.

11.Correct pronouns based on context – If you’re sending an email blast – aimed at the individual – make sure your email references the individual as an individual. The same rule applies if you’re writing to a plural audience. Here’s an example:
‘I was thinking you might really like this property’…
instead of ‘I was thinking you all might like this property…’

12.Missing intro – This may depend on your style & relationship with the recipient, but typically a greeting like hello, hey, or hi {first_name} is a nice thing to have at the very beginning of an email. While not a hard-and-fast rule, a missing intro can decrease the personal feel of an email.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE IS HERE:

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