Just spend a couple of minutes of your day to watch this quick Aerial drone photography tour of Austin. You get to see the city in a way nobody else ever has. You and I live in a 2-dimensional world. We can go left and right, forward and back. Now, with a little technology, we can also see our world from the sky. (more…)
Here are my favorite five time lapse videos of Austin, TX. If you have one that you love, please let me know about it in the comment section below.
Everybody seems to either be on the move TO Austin or on the move IN Austin. We all knows that Austin has some incredibly creative and talented residents, and these are some videos that come from that creativity.
So many Austin landmarks are represented in these short films: The Capitol, The UT Tower, Downtown Hi-rises, ABIA, the Pennybacker bridge on 360, Frost Tower, the Long Center, Ladybird Lake (more…)
Today is a is big day in Austin Real Estate. Today is the last day that ABoR, the Austin Board of Realtors is Automatically syndicating listings. As a buyer or seller in Austin, that has some impact on you. If you just own a house, and are happy this doesn’t affect you at all. But if you are in the market for Real Estate, or trying to sell your home, I’d pay attention. (more…)
I get excited when reports come out like this one. Deep down, I’m a numbers guy. Big Data & Real Estate kind of stuff. I love preparing pretty graphs, infographics and studying spreadsheets of numbers Of course nobody can predict where housing prices will be in the future, but I believe that understanding the history of neighborhoods and past price data can help us understand where things will be. (more…)
Up until I saw this, I didn’t like to hear people talking during a real estate video.
This changes my mind.
Take a look, and let me know what you think:
Brendan McDermott, and his wife Christina are developers in Hollywood, California, and they did a great job telling the story of this beautiful updated Spanish style house.
I love how they describe the house, as well as talking about all the updates they did. I feel like I really get to know the place, even though I’ve never been inside it. They are relaxed, as they tell us the story of the home. Like we were talking to them during a cocktail party, or other casual event. As they tell us about the house, the video cuts away from them speaking, to actually show us the different rooms, style, and characteristics of the place, using a simple voice over technique that keeps me engaged.
Their decorating style is incredible
As they describe the beautiful home, they first talk about the basics of the remodeling and renovation of the house. They discuss their philosophies, describe their credentials, and all of this is done in a low-key conversational tone. Very professional.
Then they talk about the way the house is situated on the lot, and how the light, air and views are all a part of their design process.
“The elements of this home needed to be extremely profound” They selected materials, paint, and fixtures that compliment the original architecture.
Continuing through the house they discuss the kitchen, the backyard, with pool and grassy area.
And then they talk about the street and expand it to the neighborhood – all the cool features about living in old Hollywood.
Three things I love about this video.
One of my favorite cuts on this video is at the 1:24 mark, when they do a quick time lapse shot off one of the porches. There is a beautiful view through the trees of downtown LA, and the shot shows the view you would get over time as the sun sets, and all the lights of the city come up. Very nice.
Another cool trick they use is to jump from two different perspectives of a room. First they talk about the overall feel and flow of a room, and show you a great overview shot of the space. Then, as they get into more detail about the specifics of the different materials, the camera shows shots of the different tiles, light fixtures, and fabrics used. The effect is very subtle, but not unnoticed. For instance, as Christina talks about the different architectural details, the camera pans across a beautiful vintage door handle, and we get to see the patina on the old metal, and even a few scratches showing this item had a previous life, but was saved for this home.
Finally, they use one other clever trick in during the 4 minute long video that I didn’t notice until I had watched in almost a dozen times (that’s how much I like it). At the beginning of the video, it’s morning, and we get to see the beautiful light in the home. As the video progresses, by the end it is completely dark outside, and we get to experience the way the lighting fixtures illuminate the spaces. Nice touch.
I know I’ll be using a lot of these techniques in my 2014 real estate videos. Will you?
Over the next few days, I’m going to showcase some of my favorite Real Estate Videos from 2013.
Here’s the first, take a look and let me know what you think:
I love this video – it’s like a little movie. There is even a plot twist. Nicely done, by Sage Real Estate, and Property Films CA.
We have all seen them, they are all over the internet, and I just cringe whenever I see them. I know in the first few seconds if the video is going to be any good or not. I’m specifically talking about real estate videos.
We all have video cameras on us all the time. This is a relatively new concept. Most of us over 40 aren’t used to walking around with a camera on us all the time, but the younger generation is all about documenting their lives through photos and video.
As a real estate agent having a video camera on us can be a powerful tool to help us market a home by creating a listing video, or to establish that we are neighborhood experts.
But, just because you have the ability to make a video doesn’t mean you should.
But the listing video above is a fantastic example of real estate video done the right way. The marketing is superb, and if you are like me, you can see yourself moving right into that home, and picking up the relaxed lifestyle of the current owner.
What makes this property video so different?
There are a lot of elements to this video that separate it from one of the usual real estate videos.
The video starts with a car coming up the street.
The subject is nicely dressed, and drives a nice car. He is successful. Not cocky or pushy. He is a nice guy, smart, and has worked hard to get ahead in life, but also knows how to enjoy his life, and appreciates some of the finer things in it.
As he walks up to the front door he gets a text, asking him to come meet some friends nearby. That sets the stage for showing the house.
He will use the different parts of the house to get himself ready to go out. As he enters, he is greeted by his dog, and then heads over to the kitchen to grab a bottle of water from the fridge. This showcases the kitchen, quickly, but effectively. He then heads up the stairs, followed by his little dog, and into the master bedroom, and enters the bath. As the camera follows him through the house, we get to see how clean the place is, how the furniture is arranged, and how light and airy the place feels.
After spending some time in the bath, he goes to the closet, and hangs up his jacket, showing there is plenty of storage in the home. He’s now ready to head out, and goes downstairs, still followed by his puppy, and just before he exits the house, he does a quick check to see if the place is ready in case he brings guests over later in the evening.
The camera shows the living room, the dining area, the kitchen, all from the subject’s perspective, and not using any special effects. You get a great overview of the house at this point.
Then, the plot takes a small twist. The dog is lonely, and doesn’t want his owner to go out. The sad puppy dog eyes, convince him to stay home. The next shot is of the owner sitting on this back porch, playing with the dog, and enjoying his backyard.
The last shots are of the agent’s contact info, as well as the company that made the video. The whole thing took less than 2 minutes. And it conveyed everything you need to know in a minute and 54 seconds.
What this video doesn’t have
There is no voice over, except at the very end – nobody is telling you about the house. Nobody is spoon feeding you information. You get to discover it on your own.
There aren’t any text overlays or fancy special effects to distract you from the property.
There isn’t any overt marketing of the real estate brokerage or video company, except at the very end, when you are ready to get more information, and take action.
How did they make the video?
As I look at this video, and try to reverse engineer how they made it, it is really very simple. It was shot mid-day, in full sunlight. There isn’t excessive depth of field shots, and that tells me that the lenses used may have been expensive, but most likely they weren’t all that fancy.
There is a little bit of motion to the camera in most shots. I don’t they used a lot of tripods, or slider / rail systems. Probably just a small handheld steady cam rig that can be bought for less than $100.
The angles shift back and forth between the dog’s view, and ankle level, the owner’s view, and regular property views.
Throughout the story, there is soft gentle, guitar music with a female singer, that enhances the story, and doesn’t detract from it.
I wish more agents would spend just a little more time and creativity to come up with ideas like this. Don’t you?
I am proud to announce the JB Goodwin, (one of the best places to work in Austin) is a member of the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World.
Austin Real Estate
If you didn’t know, JB Goodwin, isn’t a national Real Estate Brokerage like Keller Williams or Caldwell Banker. We specialize and focus only on Austin Real Estate. We have three offices located throughout the Austin area, and a fourth in San Antonio. That’s all. We Know all about Austin Real Estate. It’s what we do. And we are really good at it. We keep up with all the current market statistics. We know all the neighborhoods inside and out. Plus we don’t just help you buy or sell a house we even can help you with leasing, investing, or relocating to the area.
Relocating to Austin
Everyday about 130 people move to Austin. Those are the people that I can help. I can help them find the perfect neighborhood, the best house, and the right area to match their lifestyle. But sometimes people move out of our fine city. Perhaps they want to be closer to family. Maybe their jobs are relocating them. Maybe they just want a chance. Whatever the reason, I can help them too.
I personally know a lot of people all over the world. But I don’t know a Real Estate Agent in every city. That’s where the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World comes in. They are a network of independent, local brokerages around the world, that I can turn to, with confidence, to help you. I know that when I call them up and say “I have a friend moving to San Diego”, they will provide me with a Realtor that knows San Diego. And it’s not just limited to San Diego. Mexico City, Waco, Tampa, Cincinnati, it doesn’t matter. They have offices all over the world, and can help you no matter where you are moving.
I know they will provide the highest level of service, and provide knowledgeable, attentive, honest, and dedicated agents. And that makes me smile.
Starting with the phrase “Protection shouldn’t be annoying”, the creative inventors at NEST have done it again. First they made the Nest Thermostat (click here for the video), one that actually saves you money on your energy bills, and us uber stylish, and now they come out with a smoke detector that is equally as great.
Have you seen the new Nest Smoke Alarm?
Have you ever set off the smoke detector while cooking? I know I have. When the darn thing goes off, I reach up (I’m 6+ feet tall) and twist the shrieking detector right off the ceiling, and take out the battery. Sometimes I go to bed before remembering to put it back, and that is a huge no-no. In fact over 70% of smoke detectors fail to go off because of missing batteries or some other reason.
Or, how about hearing that chirp, chirp, every few minutes when there is a low battery. First you have to find which one is actually making the noise, and then I do the exact same thing. Take it down, remove the batteries, and go unprotected for up to a week while I find time to hook it back up.
Well, no more. With the new Nest Protect, all the old problems of a smoke detector go away, using a little technology, and some cool modern styling.
How the Smoke Detector Works
The smart people at Nest have separated the detection part from the alarm part and made a bunch of no-brainer improvements. It uses both color, sound, and a human voice to let you know there is a problem. Detecting both Smoke, as well as the odorless and colorless CO2 gas.
If you have multiple units they all link together via Wi-Fi, and you can even monitor them from your cell phone. It’s a new take on an old technology.
Nest Smoke Detector Colors
The Nest Detect comes in two colors, black and white. You can get the white one anywhere (Like Amazon.com), but you can only get the black one from the Nest website (see link at end of article.)
Not the Nest. It’ has a large colored LED ring that changes color based on the situation.
- No Color – Most of the time the nest smoke detector doesn’t light up. That’s OK. It’s still is working properly.
- Blue ring – The blue light shows that Nest Protect is active and ready to be connected or tested.
- Green ring – It is green immediately after setup to show everything is OK. It also turns green immediately after you turn off the lights for a few minutes signaling that is is active and ready. Also, it will turn green after an alarm showing that things are returning to normal.
- White ring – This is the nightlight feature, and comes on when the room is totally dark, to briefly light your way. This feature is called Pathlight, and is really cool. I’m guessing the people at Nest have a new product based on this coming soon.
- Yellow ring – This is a pre-alert – notifying you by both color and voice, that something is up. It may be that the batteries are low, or it could be that there is an actual fire. Either way, the color helps you to know what is going on.
- Red ring – The red light means that Nest Protect has detected dangerous levels of smoke or carbon monoxide. A red light is accompanied by a loud alarm sound and a voice alert telling you what and where the danger is.
How the Smoke Alarm Works
The Nest unit has a two stage alarm, as well as using a real human voice, and colored lights to tell you what is going on. Old style smoke detectors just make a crazy loud beep. Not the Nest detector. It first tells you, in English, that there is a problem, using clear easy to understand language: “There is smoke in the hall”. If you have just burned a steak, you can wave your hand at the unit to dismiss the alert.
If however it is a real fire, the notification will escalate, and a loud alarm (one that you expect from a smoke detector) will go off, alerting you where the fire is, and telling you to get out.
It also uses the red color to tell you that either there is smoke or high levels of CO2.
Smoke Detector Batteries
You can get either a battery operated one, or one that runs off 120 volts. Most houses use a battery operated smoke detector, but I actually have one in my hallway that is hardwired. I put one in every bedroom (where people sleep), plus one in the hall, one in the family room, and one near my furnaces.
Installing the Nest Protect
Other Cool Features
If you have more than one Nest Smoke Alarm, or a combo of the Thermostats and smoke alarms, they all talk to each other and work together. What? How is that possible? Let me explain. Say one of the smoke detectors signals there is smoke. The Nest system works together, alerting you, and turning off your furnace in the case of an alarm.
Plus, if you have more than one detector, they all work together. One in the kitchen senses smoke, it will signal the one in the hall or bedrooms telling you that there is smoke in the Kitchen (even if your Wi-Fi is down). Very Very Cool.
Where to buy a Nest?
If you are looking for one, the best place to get it is Amazon.com: Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide They are most likely to have them in stock, and ship really fast so you can have one in just a couple of days with no hassle. If you want a black Nest, you have to order it right from Nest.com.
This is not really a step by step tutorial – it is easy to search Google how to send a message in gmail, or do any number of different specific tasks. If you got here from my CRM for Real Estate Agents, please leave a comment below.
Instead what I am going to do is share how I use Gmail in my day to day activities as a Realtor.
For me, my inbox is my to do list. I get a lot of emails every day:
- Messages from other agents
- Important messages from clients
- Notes from friends and family
- Newsletters I’ve subscribed to
- Reminders from other meetings and activities
- spam (of course)
- Plus lots of other emails that I can’t really categorize
Since I like to keep my inbox around zero – a goal which is increasingly difficult, I have to stay on top of my messages all the time. I use as many tips and tricks that I can to keep things organized and efficient so I don’t drop any of the dozens of balls I’m juggling at any given time.
I think of Gmail like my brain, I’m only really using 20% of it at any given time, and I know there is so much more I can do. Gmail is just like that. Most people only use a fraction of all the different features either because they are afraid they are going to lose something, or mess something up, or just don’t realize that it is possible to do these things.
But with Gmail, it’s really hard to loose a message. If you move it to a strange folder, you can always move it back. Even if you delete it, it doesn’t really go away. You can still recover it, if not too much time has passed.
My in-box is my to do list.
Like I mentioned before, my inbox is my to-do list.
A long time ago, I read something about working efficiently that stuck with me. This was written long before the days of the internet and email, because there was no mention of technology. The article was called “how to deal with your mailbox” and it referred to actual snail mail that people would get everyday.
In order to prevent paper from piling up all over your desk at work the article stated, whenever you get a piece of paper, be it a letter, postcard, copy, or report, choose one of three things to do to it immediately. This is one of those habits that highly successful people employ to keep their life simple.
Read it | File it | Toss it
Amazingly, this doesn’t just apply to paper. It works incredibly well for emails.
If you are like me, most of your email messages are longer than a text, but shorter than a phone conversation. They are in that sweet spot of communication. A quick read, a couple of minutes to craft and fire off a response, and then done.
So for every email I get I use one of the three things above, and Gmail, used as part of my real estate CRM works flawlessly.
I base these three actions solely on the snippet preview or sender.
Read it – I do exactly that. I read the message and act on it immediately.
File it – I scan the subject and decide that this is not an immediate effort, and file it into an appropriate folder (see below)
Toss it – junk mail, newsgroups I don’t have time for, and other solicitations all get deleted immediately.
Gmail for CRM
This is where Gmail really comes in handy. Once I read a message I immediately send a response. Usually I take a couple of minutes and hand write something. But every so often I get something that I have a prepared automated response for (like people who want to submit a listing to my blog). To learn more about canned responses just Google it 🙂
When I get a message with an invitation to something – like a listing appointment, showing or meeting, I can immediately add it to my calendar, by clicking on the day or time. Want to learn more ? Search for it on Youtube.
Often times I need to add a contract or other attachment. I simply click on the little paper clip and upload the file. If I mentioned an attachment in the text of the email, and forget to upload it, Gmail gently reminds me before the note can be sent.
Adding images is just as easy. I simply drag the photos I want to include in the message to the draft of the note, and they are uploaded instantly. Not all web browsers support this, but I’m using Chrome on my Mac Laptop, so it works really well.
Once I’ve written my response I want to get that I organize every message into one of 7 folders
These are all pretty self explanatory. If you have a question about each specific folder, ask me in the comments below.
Even though everything is stored in the cloud there is still a way to backup everything to your hard drive if you want. Look it up it’s easy!
Google Mail Search Bar
Remember how I mentioned that I file everything away so my inbox is as low as it can be? Well, sometimes that’s a problem. Amazing search bar –
I can search for anything with the search bar. Just type in the sender’s name, something in the text, or whatever you remember, and presto, the infinite power of Gmail’s servers spring into action and deliver outstanding search results. It just works!
A couple of other cool features:
Google groups email threads, or conversations together automatically.
You can add smart labels to messages and Gmail learns your habits and behaviors to automate repetitive filing tasks.
Plus it links every message to a contact. you can read more of that in my Google Contacts for Realtors upcoming article.
As always, Please share any of your cool g-mail tricks or tips in the comments below.
We are all on the go.
I know I am, especially as a busy real estate agent. Often I don’t have time to sit down at a real computer (laptop or desktop). When a client calls and wants to see a house, I don’t just jump, but leap! In the Austin market, homes sell very quickly, and to be able to get the ones my clients want I have to act immediately. I need all my information immediately, and everywhere I go. And I don’t want to have to worry about it being outdated or backed up.
When I started as a Realtor, I really didn’t know how important it was keeping track of everything. Who is interested in which neighborhood? Who is flying in from California next weekend? Who needs to get a contract signed. No longer is it just my phone that is ringing. I get emails all day long, am constantly texting, and as you know I’m all over Facebook and Twitter.
How does one handle it all?
I rely on technology. Around the office, I’m known at one of the most techie guys around. Of course we have a full time computer specialist on staff, as well as a person handling all of the social media for our company. But we are all independent business people here. Even though we all work for a broker (or are a broker), we have to get and grow our own business.
It seems like everybody does something a little differently. And it seems like there isn’t a single solution either.
What is a CRM
Simply put CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It’s a way to organize and communicate with all your leads, buyers, sellers, investors, and even renters. It is a way to track their name, email, phone number, house address, and more – whatever you enter. I usually start with basic business card information, and add stuff as I go.
In the last century everybody would run around with these little file-o-faxes, or day planners. But now everything is digital.
Basically it’s my little black book, but all digital. I store everything about my clients there, birthdays, favorite wines, kids names, you get the idea.
Why do I need a CRM?
I need a CRM because I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of everything. I may be driving on my way to a listing appointment and thinking about that when my phone rings and it’s a different client about a different property.
If you are like me, when your phone rings the first thing you do is check your caller ID to see who is calling. If it is just a number sometimes I have a hard time associating the name with the number. One feature of the CRM is it associates the client’s name with their number so when they call I get that information right away.
Plus I need more. I need access to my calendar. I need directions. I need everything. Immediately. And I’m on a budget.
Some CRM for Real Estate
I didn’t have time to write real estate crm reviews for all these products, but I have tried a lot of them out
- REA Real Estate Assistant
A lot of these companies/programs have been around for a long time, and I’m sure they all have their benefits and drawbacks. All I know is when I started selling houses, I needed something FAST. I didn’t have a lot of money to invest, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time learning a system that I wasn’t sure was going to work for me in the long run.
One thing I kept running into with these out of the box CRM solutions was that they either had a bunch of features I didn’t need, or they didn’t have the features I really wanted. I hated being forced to do things their way, instead of my way.
What is the best real estate CRM?
For me, the best CRM is platform independent I can use it on a Mac, PC, Tablet, or Phone. It does automatic backups, because I never remember to do that. It has a calendar, contacts, notes, document storage, and a to do list. It is easy to set-up, and has lots of documentation in case I run into a problem. Plus it’s low cost, or even free.
- Platform independent
- Automatic Backups
- Lots of features
- Easy to use
- Low cost
Google for Real Estate
Enter Google, and their suite of business apps.
They have lots of support on-line that teaches me how to use the different programs when I get stuck and need help.
Since the apps live in the cloud, I never need to worry about backing everything up.
The best part is it is free, and since it is Google I don’t have to worry about them going out of business.
There are lots of different features, too. The parts of Google that I use for managing my real estate business:
Over the next week I’ll be writing extensively how I use each of these features. Mostly I just have the regular set-ups for each of them, but the way I use them is a bit specific to real estate, and hopefully you will find that helpful.
Most likely you already have an account with Google, so the set-up is almost nil, and unless you have tons and tons of emails, the cost is free. I know you get 15 Giga-bytes of storage for free, and the next level is 100 GB, for only $4.95/month. That’s cheap!
Each of the different apps is linked to each other, too, so I can schedule a meeting right from my mail program, and then link it to the people who I’ll be meeting with on contacts. I can also share and collaborate with documents using Google Drive,
It’s really easy! I suggest you try it out!
Sometimes the old ways are the best ways.
One great way to marketing a listing is to get your house in the newspaper.
Regular readers (folks who love real estate) know that I got into Real Estate because I saw a gap in the way Realtors use the web. I think there is a better way, and that way is fully using technology. But sometimes old school, traditional marketing, like newspapers, can be helpful to selling a house. Especially when it comes to Open Houses. (more…)
Did you know you can get a message delivered right to your email inbox whenever anybody mentions you on the web?
It is really easy, if you are using Google alerts in your real estate business.
What are Google Alerts? One of the most powerful, and little known features that Google offers.
You get an alert anytime any phrase that you select gets indexed.
It’s so simple. And so very powerful.
I have several dozen set up (and keep adding more all the time), and I’m going to show you exactly how I use Google Alerts for real estate.
To get started just visit: http://www.google.com/alerts
The set-up is really simple Just type in what you want to be alerted for, and a live preview of your results appears. I don’t change any of the settings, and just select my primary email so they are delivered to my inbox every day.
You can set up as many as you want. There is no limit (that I know of)
The first thing I did was to make a few alerts to see if anyone is talking about me, and to see if my marketing efforts are working.
These are the search phrases I use:
Monitoring your competition
Did you know that when I was in the 5th grade, I wanted to be a spy.
I was fascinated by all the cool little gadgets that Q-branch thought up for James Bond. The cool watches that had lasers, the belts with grappling hooks, and the neat little spy cameras. It was a cool job to keep track of your enemies, and not get caught.
Today, it is much easier to track your competitors, just set up an alert for them.
I use Google Alerts to do just that
I won’t get into the exact specifics, but I did it just like the examples above.
Searching for leads
I also use google alerts to search for leads. How is that even possible? Well, a lot of people use message boards to ask questions about Austin. They ask about crime rates, good schools, and which are the best neighborhoods.
I’ve set up alerts to notify me when people ask those kinds of questions
You can use “quotes around a phrase” for an exact match, and you can use an asterisk * as a wildcard.
For instance the phrase
“what is the best * in Austin”
could return the following results:
what is the best school in Austin
what is the best restaurant in Austin
what is the best neighborhood in Austin
what is the best real estate agent in Austin
what is the best breakfast taco in Austin and much more
Then I visit the site where the question was asked, and answer it personally. I look like a neighborhood expert that way!
Another way is to use the phrase “moving to Austin” or “relocating to Austin”
Keeping track of your listings
Another way I use Alerts is to keep track of my listings. I set up a watch for the exact match on the address, and another for the mls number.
How do you use alerts? Just use your imagination! There are so many different options.
I’d love to hear how you use Google alerts in your real estate business. Share or ask questions in the comments below!