Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Smart Homes: What Are They?

The future is cool.


There’s this movement known as The Internet of Things, which seeks to make everyday objects “smart”.

Alarm clocks that gently wake you up at the most optimal time of your sleep cycle; micro-chip enabled light bulbs that glow red when your cookies are finished in the oven; plant sensors that notify you when your garden needs to be watered; even smart milk jugs that know when you have some sour dairy.

Smart milk jugs!

Jerry Seinfeld is going to have to completely overhaul is stand-up routine.

All of these neat little gizmos and gadgets combined together create what is known as the Smart Home, a craze pounced upon by today’s most forward-thinking companies: Google, Apple, Samsung and Lowe’s.

Yes, even your favourite home improvement store has jumped in on the action.

According to CNET: “Analyst firms project that in 2018, people will spend $100 billion on smart-home technology and there will be 45 million smart-home systems in use.”

One reason for this humongous estimation is the fact that Google has already spent $3.2 billion alone on Nest Labs, an innovative company that develops a remote-controlled thermostat, which monitors your habits and suggests better energy-saving alternatives, among other neat little tricks.

Take a look:

Nest Labs then bought Dropcam for half a billion dollars, a “smart camera” that can detect motion and sound and provide live footage for absent home owners.

So you can see that the Smart Home ball is starting to roll downhill, scooping up all the cool start-up tech companies along the way. Inventiveness will be rewarded, which is always a good thing in my humble opinion.

The bad news?

All of these well-funded tech companies – Apple, Google, Samsung – are developing their own Smart Objects and combining them into one big Smart Home collection. At least, that’s the idea.

This means that the consumer will have to choose which one to go with, and won’t be able to pick and choose which smart-thermostat, smart-fridge, smart-washing machine, and smart-milk jug to use, since Google products will only be able to talk to other Google products (and the same with Apple, Samsung, etc.)

Also, those worried about the increasing invasion of privacy that our technology has won’t be very thrilled with the whole Smart Home idea…

But that’s a different blog post altogether.

For now, the Jetson-esque reality has nearly arrived, and with money pouring in from all angles, it will be exciting to see which of our most beloved home inconveniences will be given a brain.

Here are some of the coolest ones I've come across so far - excluding the aforementioned Nest and Dropcam:

The Iris Smart Home Kit

This includes all of your basic necessity of smart objects to survive comfortably on an wi-fi enabled deserted island, such as smart-windows, smart-doors, smart-lightbulbs, and smart-thermostat.

Lumawake iPhone Dock

This creepy little guy watches you as you sleep, and has an infrared motion sensor that is able to track your sleep patterns and wake you up at the most optimal time through a simulated sunrise.

Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor

Wireless live monitoring, accurate vitality diagnosis, water control, temperature monitor, light advice, alerts...this thing has it all. The only thing it doesn't have is an excuse for that shriveled tomato plant of yours.

MilkMaid by Quirky

And finally, my personal favourite. A built-in sensor is able to detect changes in your milk's pH levels, how much liquid is left and what the expected expiration date will be. The best part? It will text you all of this information when it becomes relevant.

You better be excited about life after this article, I know I sure am.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the grocery store.

My milk just texted me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New Feature: Open Referrals


Wouldn't it be nice if they appeared right before your eyes?

94% of agents and brokers say that referrals are "important" or "very important"  in generating leads, constituting an average of half their total business.

At the same time, almost 4 in 10 agents depend on referrals for over 60% of their business.

This is why we've built Open Referrals: a feature that allows real estate agents from all around the world to exchange referrals with the click of a button.

It's that simple.

In fact it's so simple,  we can't seem to figure out why it hasn't happened sooner...

*Sources via NAR

Open Referrals: How to Use

Click on a topic to learn how Open Referrals work:

Post An Open Referral

1. Click on the Post referral to: Public button within the "reblasts" box at the top of the page.

2. Next you'll need to fill out the Referral Form, which includes Client Info, Fee Amount and Details.

(*Note: The Client Information will NOT be shown until you accept someone's referral request.)

3. Once you've done all this, click on the blue Post Referral button.

And that's it!

Your Open Referral will appear at the top of whatever reblast feed you were in when you first began creating it.

(For example, an Open Referral created within your Exclusive Firm Feed will only be seen by those with access to that feed. If it was created within the Public Activity Feed, on the other hand, then everyone on RESAAS will see it.)

Browse Open Referrals

1. Click on See All Public Referrals in the top right corner of the latest Open Referral in your reblast feed.

This will let you view all of the Open Referrals posted on RESAAS within that Feed - Public Activity, Exclusive Firm, etc.

2. To respond to any of them, click the blue View button in the bottom right corner.

3. Then, all you'll need to do is Type a Message and send it off!

The real estate professional who posted the Open Referral will receive your request, and then be able to respond.

Select a Referral Partner

1. Click on Dashboard in the top-right corner

2. Click on Referrals tab

3. Select the Outgoing Referral and then choose the agent you want to partner with

Manage Your Referrals

1. Click on Dashboard in the top-right corner

2. Click on the Referrals tab

3. Click on the referral you want to edit / manage

4. Click on Update Response Message to save your changes

Withdraw + Cancel Referral

1. Click on Dashboard in the top-right corner

2. Click on the Referrals tab

3. Select the referral you would like to withdraw / cancel

4. Click on "Withdraw this response" to remove your consideration for an outgoing referral

5. Or, click on "Cancel your referral" to delete your Open Referral post

If you have any more questions about how to use this exciting new feature, then feel free to email:

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Day in the Life of a REALTOR: Mentoring Magic

This is the twelfth episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published each Friday on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski. To read the first episode, click here; second episode, click here; third episode, click here; fourth episode, click here; fifth episode, click here; sixth episode, click here; seventh episode, click here; eighth episode, click here; ninth episode, click here; tenth episode, click here, eleventh, click here.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has some stories to tell...

*     *     *

When I was fresh out of real estate school and looking to find the right firm to hang my license with, one of the top priorities I had was that I wanted a brokerage that had a great training program because frankly, I knew nothing.   

Sure, I bought and sold my own properties, I passed the state exam, I was an avid watcher of HGTV plus I could basically talk to anyone – so what more did I really need to know?
I chose Keyes because of that reason. They partner new agents with senior ones, and by doing so, the novel agent gets to shadow the veteran and watch “experience in action” as they accompany them to listing presentations or showing appointments. Additionally, the mentor is available to go with the recent licensee on their appointments and assist the newbies when they zone out on questions that the buyer or seller are asking that they are not familiar with answering. The “old and the new” mesh well together and become a great team during this learning process.

But what makes a great mentor?   

And more importantly what are the tools that lay the ground work for the “mentee?”

I am currently mentoring 7 new agents in my office from varied backgrounds. Some have taken on real estate as a new beginning. Others left the corporate world behind to be entrepreneurs and business owners. Some chose to be REALTORS® because it was just “something that always interested them”. 

Whatever the reason, they all come up against the same challenges, especially after the initial excitement of the first contract wears off they are faced with “what do I do with the contract now that I have it?”

A good mentor guides the trainee every step of the way. They help them understand the things that perhaps weren’t taught in school such as learning to explain in “layman’s terms” to their clients what the contracts really say, while stressing that they are legal documents. Think back to the first time you tried to open a lockbox as the sweat rolled down your face. Or your hands were shaking as you tried to pick up the phone and call another agent to schedule your first showing of a property. 

Having someone cheer you on and tell you that you did a great job certainly helped me overcome those fears. Mentors can help the new agents figure out farming and SOI and they are always a good source for the good, the bad and the ugly about various lead generating programs and what may or may not have worked for them in the past.
A good mentor never goes away. I still bounce ideas off my mentor all these years later. The relationship that develops is strong and there is nothing more rewarding than knowing that you had a hand in the training of the agent that is now sitting across the closing table from you.

*     *     *

Kay Conageski is a REALTOR® with The Keyes Company, based in Plantation, Florida. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

5 Things Buyers Don’t Want To See At Your Open House

Today's Know It Now is courtesy of Eymeric Widling of Pixilink Solutions, a full-service marketing company for real estate professionals.

As such, they happen to know a thing or two about proper presentation.

There are usually many big ticket items to take care of before listing a property, which means that often times the little things tend to get overlooked. However, these tiny troublemakers can make the difference between interest and apathy.

So, without further ado...

5 Things Buyers Don’t Want To See At Your Open House

I had family over for dinner the other night, and almost like a ritual, I was running around hiding everything I own. Dirty laundry was thrown into the basement, garbage tossed into the alley, surfaces dusted, and of course the traditional ‘hide everything in the tub and close the shower curtains’ trick we all know but don’t admit to.

I was exhausted, drowning in self-pity, and yet I couldn’t help but think of how much worse it could have been. Having photographed hundreds if not thousands of listings, I knew that somewhere out there a REALTOR® was preparing an open house, doing the same thing as me.

The thing is, preparing a home for guests and preparing a home for an open house are drastically different tasks. Unlike a client, my family won’t be concerned when they see my dog running on the hardwood floor leaving giant scars in the varnish, and they probably won’t mind if a few burnt light bulbs leave a corner in the dark. An open house requires drastically more attention to detail, and a lot of that detail is less obvious than you might expect.

Here are five items that buyers don’t want, or need, to see at your open house that you might not expect.

1 - Hide all pet related items.

Hiding the dog bowls and cat bowls, toys, scratching posts and litter boxes help separate the living space from the fluffy companions who inhabit it. A pet-free home is almost like a smoke-free home; it just feels cleaner. Have a local dog walker take the dogs out during the open house or just drop the pet off at a neighbour’s house for the day. It’s a simple step that goes a long way to making the home feel a whole lot cleaner.

2 - Hide any and all fans.

If there’s one thing that points to a hot house with poor cooling, then it’s a fan in each room. Most buyers will jump to the conclusion that it gets too hot and that something is either wrong with the air conditioning or that there’s a fundamental flaw with the design of the house. Keep the windows ajar instead for a nice breeze.

3 - A buyer generally likes the thought of a new house with no attachment to other owners.

It’s more of a subconscious effect that family photos plastered on every wall of every room will have on a prospective buyer. You don’t want the buyer to feel as if he or she is intruding on someone’s personal life, or that they are robbing your client of their good times and pleasant memories. The less evidence there is that someone lives or has lived in the home the better the buyers can imagine themselves in it. Your client will also appreciate the privacy!

4 - Anything broken or in bad condition should be removed from the buyer’s sight.

As overly psychological as this might sound, you want to keep the buyer thinking happy thoughts while they view a home. Broken or poor condition items will make a buyer question the integrity of everything else. Think of when you go to a grocery store to buy fruit, if you see one banana that is black and torn and you’ll specifically start looking for others that are black and torn so you can avoid them. The same goes for your house, if you see a stained couch, then you start looking for stains everywhere. Keep your buyer thinking positive by only having the nicest and cleanest furniture and decorations on display.

5 - Last but not least, replace those burnt light bulbs.

It seems like such a menial task, something you’ve probably avoided for the past year, but it is more than just important. I’ve seen so many homes where the owner never even noticed that half the lights in the bathroom didn’t work. A client, however, will notice. A beautifully renovated bathroom doesn’t shine in darkness, and that extra square footage in the basement isn’t going to count for much if it looks like a dungeon. A bright home is an inviting home!

How to Post a Reblast®

What is a reblast®?

First off, reblast® stands for "real estate broadcast".

This is what you post on RESAAS, and is similar to a tweet on Twitter or a post on Facebook. You can reblast® an open house announcement, an interesting article, a question that you'd like some feedback on, your latest blog post, or anything you want to share with the RESAAS community.

In addition, RESAAS' intelligent reblast® engine will automatically post a reblast® on your behalf when certain actions are performed. These include:
  • Uploading a listing
  • Changing the listing price
  • Marking a listing as "sold"
  • Changing your profile picture
  • Responding to a question in the "Q&A" section

How do you post a reblast®?

Once you sign-in to RESAAS, you'll see a big white box at the top of your page that says "Post reblasts".

All you need to do is click the text field and start typing.

In addition to a message, you can also attach photos and PDF documents, as well as include a location to your reblast®.

Once you're all set, click the blue "Post" button to share your reblast® with the RESAAS community.

What's the benefit of a reblast®?

A reblast® is the first step to generate new business online. 

The more you reblast®, the more leads you'll produce, the more referrals you'll create, and the more traffic you'll attract to your profile page. 

Use a reblast® to showcase your knowledge, your local-area expertise, and to establish your image as an honest, trustworthy and successful professional. This is what other real estate professionals will be drawn to, so they can be confident in reaching out and exchanging a lead or referral with you. 

Every reblast® you post in your Public Activity or Connections Feed will show up on your Profile Page. As you continue to reblast®, you'll construct a rich, interactive and marketable page for other real estate agents and home shoppers to discover you by.

What's more, you can connect your RESAAS account to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn!

This means that everything you reblast® will automatically get pushed out to those social networks as well, cutting down the time you spend on social media while significantly expanding your online presence at the same time.

So what are you waiting for?

Post a reblast® today!

Friday, September 5, 2014

A Day in The Life of a REALTOR: The Name Tag

This is the eleventh episode of A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® - a weekly article series published each Friday on RESAAS Blog and written by Kay Conageski. To read the first episode, click here; second episode, click here; third episode, click here; fourth episode, click here; fifth episode, click here; sixth episode, click here; seventh episode, click here; eighth episode, click here; ninth episode, click here; tenth episode, click here.

So sit back, relax, and enjoy. Kay has some stories to tell...

*     *     *

I recently was at an event with a variety of people from all walks of life – some were doctors, others attorneys, construction workers and restaurant managers. Still others were stay at home moms and dads who had the toughest jobs of all.   

I soon found myself in the same circle of people with the doctor and when he introduced himself as an MD, the surrounding crowd all seemed to have an alignment that they wanted to discuss with him. A man standing next to me then noticed my name tag, which stated that I was a Realtor and the crowd quickly shifted to me with questions coming from all directions – “how’s the market? “Are prices going up?” “Have banks been getting more loans approved?”, “What do you think I can sell my home for?”; “My aunt (brother, friend, godmother) are looking to buy a home, can you help them?”  and by the way, “ Do you do rentals?”

The power of the name tag. While so many agents chose not to wear them, I haven’t taken mine off in nearly five years.  This small, metallic looking rectangle that costs about $5 has helped me get more leads than any other advertising I have ever done.  And generally when someone is standing right in front of you, asking you questions, they normally are going to provide you accurate emails and phone numbers to not embarrass themselves later on – so the return on the accuracy of the lead is pretty high.   

But with wearing this small little accessory, you have to be on your game at all times. Once someone notices that you’re a Realtor, the questions start and you better have the answers.  I learned early on, that always providing a positive twist will capture the inquirer’s attention and won’t let it go.  During the recession when people were being foreclosed on and others were doing short sales that were anything but “short”, people would look at you puzzled when you said you were in real estate – they sort of felt sorry for you – but when you answered their comment of “the market is so bad right now….” with “but interest rates are lower than they have been in 50 years” their entire demeanor changed.  You were then elevated to a level all you own.

I once took a listing of a home, and while on my way back to the office, I stopped at Wal-Mart to pick up a few things.  While in the checkout line, a man behind me noticed my name tag and struck up a conversation, which lead to him asking me if I had any homes in the nearby town where my new listing was located.  I jokingly said that I just had gotten the listing and all the details were in my car, waiting to go into the MLS.   He wanted to see it and so he followed me to the home, walked through it twice, and told me to write up an offer for the full asking price.   I literally put it in the MLS that evening and made it pending two minutes later.  Three weeks later we closed.

My friends joke that I put on my name tag, makeup then my clothes – in that order.  But like the feeling I have if I were to forget the other two, being without my name tag makes me feel naked all day long.

*     *     *

Kay Conageski is a REALTOR® with The Keyes Company, based in Plantation, Florida. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Funny Video

Kelly Johnston, of Sutton Group Showplace Realty, which based in Chilliwack, BC, is one funny guy.

I came across this hilarious video he made a while back, and feel bad for not sharing it right away.

You will laugh out loud.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

RE/MAX Lifestyle: Expanding Our Global Brand

Today's Know It Now articles comes courtesy of the Dano Sayles team, who are based in Maui.

With international referrals becoming such a major component of real estate transactions, Dano Sayles and his team decided to make a trip across the Pacific to establish a foothold in the Asian Market. 

Fortunately for us, they happened to have detailed their entire trip.

It's a fascinating read:

Remax Lifestyle: Expanding Our Global Brand
How we used the internet to produce wow factor when entering the Asian Market

On my most recent trip to the Eastern part of the world: China, Thailand, and Japan to be exact, it was important that I document my trip and utilize the modern technology we have at our fingertips.

Throughout each day, I did the best I could to capture the beauty of my surroundings. While sharing these photos and updates would be enough to keep my social media accounts active, we went a few steps further.

Documenting the Day

Each night, I had a chance to reflect as I dictated my day’s work into an audio file to be sent home Maui, where my resourceful and fully capable social media team immediately transformed my dictations into a blog series detailing my travels

In these blogs, I stressed to the team that we must provide links and contact information for the firms/businesses I met with, photos of the time spent with them, and all the pertinent information about what each firm/business does and is capable of.

Social Media Blog Promotion

The work did not stop there. Once each blog post was completed, the posts were then heavily promoted through my established Dano Sayles social media profiles. Some of my various accounts include: my main eMaui Real Estate blog, Facebook, Twitter, and many more. Not only were my blogs promoted through my personal accounts, but the Hawaii Web Group (an influential Hawaii marketing firm) social profiles also promoted my blogs.

2nd Impression - Web and Social Outreach

In order to encourage more sharing, and to instill the ultimate 2nd impression, we reached out to each person and business mentioned in the articles via email and their social media.  By the next day, our previous day’s experience was planted firmly in the minds of those we’d had the pleasure of meeting.

This may seem like quite a lot of work, and it is.  But the pay off is there.

In the 30 days after our first Asia trip blog post, our efforts resulted in:

  • 20,144 page-views to our main website (almost an 8% increase from the previous period.)
  • Our social reach on Facebook and Twitter alone added up to over 1,900 interactions by over 1,600 unique users resulting in 123,400 impressions.
  • Hawaii Web Group’s social media promotions of our activities reached an additional 112,500 unique users.
  • Exceedingly impressive 1st and 2nd impressions on those we met with.
  • Visual proof to our current clients that we’re going above and beyond the normal real estate team’s efforts in promoting their properties to new potential buyers.

Our Future in Asia

Upon the completion of my trip, I have decided to expand my international portfolio of clients and move into the Asian markets. My first step will be opening our first overseas RE/MAX Lifestyle branch in Chiang Mai, Thailand later this year! I look forward to leaping head first into the world of international real estate.

Although I have already explored the world of international real estate in the form of Canadian buyers, I was still somewhat in my comfort zone seeing that they speak English and have a relatively similar culture for the most part. My decision to expand into an entire different hemisphere, tackle language & cultural barriers, and  into the Asian markets was not an easy one. However, Daren Blomquist, Vice President of RealtyTrac, inspired me to take the leap, “The U.S. real estate market is coming off of a rough patch and entering recovery mode, so international buyers see it as a great time to jump in and catch the U.S. market on the upswing.” A huge number of buyers from Asian markets are in the top bracket when it comes to disposable income, making Maui the perfect place to purchase a part-time residence or permanent home for retirement.

I look forward to seeing what the future of Hawaii real estate holds, but if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that paradise never goes out of style.

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