Archives 2020

6 Tips to Writing Blogs that Stick!

How often do you hear, “People never read anymore!” or “Blogging is a waste of time!”? Well, we’re here to tell you that these statements are simply not true. Yes, many people don’t read blogs. Many people don’t read books either, yet new books are written and sold every single day.

The truth is that 77 percent of internet users still read blogs regularly, according to Hubspot. That’s a LOT of people, all who are searching for something specific on the internet. Do you have content that you can put in front of them and further your brand digitally? Chances are you do, even if you don’t know it yet. Here are our six steps for writing a blog that internet users will actually read. 

Step 1: Write on something you already know about
The good news is you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You don’t have to learn a whole new topic just so that you can start blogging on it. Start your blogs with what you already know: real estate! As REALTORS®, mortgage professionals, investors, etc. most people on the outside would say that you are an ‘expert’ in this area. As a real estate professional, what are you good at specifically? Staging a home? Negotiating? Hosting killer open houses? Hitting customer service out of the park? Write about your specialties; what separates you from the others.

However, it doesn’t have to end there. There may be other aspects of your life that you can write about including passions and hobbies: gardening, interior design, sports, baking, charity, cars, fashion, community involvement, and much more can all be topics you choose to write on. Combine your love for real estate and whatever else you’re good at (and yes, everyone is good at something), and turn it into short, easy-to-read blogs for others to enjoy.

Step 2: Keep it short!
The ideal reading time for a blog post is seven minutes, as Buffer says, or about 1,600 words. That’s not very long. But it is long enough to get your point across. If you want readers (AKA potential clients) to stay on your website, don’t be long-winded. Having someone else to proof-read your work is also a good idea. Another set of eyes will pick up on run-on sentences, redundancy, and typos.

Step 3: Use small paragraphs, sub-headers
Also, break your blog post up with sub-headers and small paragraphs. This will make the blog easier to read or skim, and make the article seem shorter. If you were to combine all of your paragraphs into one large paragraph, it would make the blog seem unending, possibly boring (even if it’s very well-written), and you’ll get significantly lower views.

Keep each paragraph to just a few sentences, between 2-5, and get right to the point. No beating around the bush. Again, this helps with the brevity of your post. If you’re having a difficult time thinking of the exact word you want, an online Thesaurus can be immensely helpful!

Step 4: Speak in Layman’s terms
Even though your life revolves around real estate, this is not the case for many of your readers. And you always want to keep your readers in mind. Users will switch to another blog if they’re reading a post or article with too many big words and is too confusing for the average person to grasp. You only have a little bit of time to grasp someone’s attention.

After all, “The average person spends 37 seconds reading a blog post,” says Newscred. This includes people who can’t find what they’re looking for in a blog and click off to find something else. “Rather than reading every single word, most visitors will simply skim through the article, gain a couple of takeaways, then leave.”

Step 5: Add pictures in the mix
Sometimes a photo can be a nice visual break away from the text. Especially if you’re blogging step-by-step or DIY articles. But even if you’re not, throw in one or two pictures and put them off to the side to keep your reader engaged.

However, be careful with just taking photos from the internet. Many of them are copyrighted and if you get caught using a picture without the photographer’s permission, you may get fined. There are websites to download photos for free such as Pexels and Pixabay, where you can search for the exact photo you want.

Step 6: Come up with a catchy title
Save the blog title for last. Have you ever clicked on an internet article because the title intrigued you, only to find that the post was nothing like the title made you to believe? This is called “Click bate.” You want your title to be a true representation of the information in your blog. The best way to do this is to finish what you’re going to say, and then create a title. We’re not here to trick people! We’re here to provide valuable information and hopefully turn these readers into loyal clients.

In addition to being transparent, you also want the title to be creative, catchy, and click-worthy. Focus on keeping it short and sweet. According to Buffer, The ideal length of a headline is six words. Readers tend to absorb just the first three words and the last three words of a headline.

Whatever you choose to write about, make it your own! Be yourself, be genuine, and have fun with it. There are lots of ways you can make it worthwhile – interview people in your community or highlight a local restaurant. And finally, don’t get too caught up in the details. This is but one way of the many avenues for marketing your business.

First International Title is here to support you! Reach out to your local rep today and see how we can help.

The Truth About iBuyers

Anyone who has been in the real estate industry for more than 3 years will tell you how much it has changed. Specifically, the rise of iBuying has dramatically increased over the last couple of years.  Real estate professionals, especially agents, need to understand iBuyers and be mindful of them daily as more and more home owners are turning to their laptops to sell their homes instead of calling on a real estate agent.

What are iBuyers?
Every iBuying company is different, but generally put, an online company will offer about 90 percent of the market value for a home and pay cash immediately to the home owner and then take on the responsibility of renovating it, if needed, and re-selling it. This allows the sellers to move out as soon as they’d like with no open houses, no appraisals, no showings, etc. Because of this, however, these companies will typically tackle on at least a 7 percent “convenience fee” and then another $5,000-10,000 in repairs done on the house.

The biggest, most common iBuyers are Opendoor, Knock, Zillow, HomeLight, Perch, Redfin, and EasyKnock. But more similar companies emerge every single month and DFW is one of the first markets these companies are hitting.

An article from The Balance summed it up, “In most cases, iBuyers take the properties they purchase, fix them up, and eventually list them on the open market or sell them to investors at a profit.”

However, every market is different and not all markets have iBuyers. For example, Door.com is only offered in Dallas, Houston, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles, and Austin.

Why do consumers gravitate towards them?
One word: convenience. We are in the Amazon generation. Consumers are getting accustomed to the advantage of going online to shop and having their products shipped directly to their door just within a couple of days.

It’s simple, really. The average person will spend a little bit more money for something that is high quality and convenient! Convenience trumps price.

This idea is not only affecting the real estate market, but many aspects of American purchasing experiences. Fast-casual restaurants are commonplace. Online car shopping, such as Carvana, is popular. Americans, especially millennials, are used to searching and having answers to their questions within minutes. This makes it difficult for a real estate agent, a real human being with families and responsibilities and vacations, to keep up with the immediacy of it all.

How is it impacting the real estate industry?
It’s growing quickly.

According to an article by Housing Wire, the iBuyer market has grown by 25 percent every year for the last four years. “In fact, Zillow’s second quarter earnings released [in August 2019] revealed that nearly 40% of its $600 million quarterly revenue came from its iBuying business, Zillow Offers” the article stated.

“According to ATTOM Data Solutions, nearly 10% of Opendoor and Offerpad sales came from bulk investors in 2018,” stated The Balance. “In cities like Phoenix, the two accounted for 4% of all real estate sales in the city in 2018 — a 1.5% jump over 2017. It just goes to show that for today’s consumers, convenience and technology reign supreme.”

What do these numbers mean? It means iBuyers are taking money out of the pockets of the traditional real estate agents. These are home owners that went online to sell their home rather than call their REALTOR®.

However, iBuying is still fairly new and continues to being tested in markets like Dallas. Matt Templeton reminds us that “Ironically, iBuyers have yet to create profitable business models. This is because they fall into the ‘technology disruption’ game that is currently getting a pass on profit in lieu of building new business models, acquiring new data, and creating whole new industries.”

What does this mean for REALTORS®?
It simply means that real estate agents need to be aware of what’s happening. This is not the time to stick your head in the sand and cross your fingers that it’ll be over soon. Continue to educate yourself on iBuyers, how they operate, and how they will continue to impact your market.

The good news is that consumers still prefer a real, breathing human being rather than a bot. “This is likely because a real human with a fiduciary responsibility to help the homeowner get the most money in the shortest amount of time still matters to most of us,” Templeton wrote.

Be available for your clients. That’s not to say you can’t have down time without answering your phone, but set the correct expectations with your clients by letting them know you received their call or message and will get back to them as soon as you’re available. Most consumers appreciate a response, even if it’s not an answer to their question, rather than plain silence.

Focus on and hone in your digital marketing. Ensure your brand is consistent across all mediums: social media accounts, your website, and your printed marketing materials.

Provide valuable information online via VIDEO. However that looks is different for every agent, but it needs to be done. Again, consumers want easy-to-digest information fast. When they’re searching the web at 10:00 on a Tuesday night, and you have already published 3 videos giving information about the exact community they’re looking in, you better believe they’re going to give you a call.

Another thing to consider is to get out ahead of the curve. Many iBuyers are not simply attempting to replace all real estate agents. Many of them still hire agents and give them commissions on the transactions. For example, Opendoor has opportunities for agents to join their team.

As the real estate industry continues to evolve, it’s crucial to have valuable real estate partners who are in your corner to support you. If you don’t already have a title company that does this and more, reach out to your local First International Title rep today and see how we can make an impact in your business!