Exciting Announcement: RealtorMonkey.com is now FourMinuteFlyers.com!

What’s in a name? A lot! We think so anyway. That’s why we’ve decided to change our name. RealtorMonkey.com is now FourMinuteFlyers.com!

Time is valuable, and our new name better emphasizes how fast and easy it is to make a beautiful real estate flyer – which is what we are all about!

RealtorMonkey is now Four Minute Flyers

To our members:
If you’re a subscriber to our site (either with a FREE or PRO account), you’ll be receiving an email notification as soon as all the updates are complete. In the meantime, you can:

  • Go ahead and update any bookmarks to our new domain, www.fourminuteflyers.com.
  • Don’t worry, if you have an account with us, your login information will stay the same.
  • Make sure to watch for updates in your email for more details on the change.
  • As we finish switching everything to the new domain, there may be a few hiccups until the change is complete. Please bear with us as we will be working diligently to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible for our awesome members.

We love helping real estate agents make beautiful flyers for their clients. We can’t wait to help you with our new name: Four Minute Flyers!

Thanks,
The Team at FourMinuteFlyers.com

3 Simple Ways To Get a Higher Home Appraisal

Sometimes it’s not just potential buyers that need to be sold on your listing – the appraisal coming in at the right price is often critical for financing and ultimately closing the deal. Here’s how you can translate your sales process to the appraiser:

1. Be Prepared With Comp Information

Pull a list of comparable home sales around your listing and use any insider information you have to explain why some homes may have sold for less. If your listing is in an area with a lot of foreclosures, it will of course bring down the value of your listing. But, if the market value is being tainted by a unique circumstance or two, making sure the appraiser knows why a home had to sell for less can help protect the home’s real value.

2. “My House Is Awesome” Fact Sheet

We do a great job letting potential buyers know about all the upgrades and cool features of a listing, but do we share that information with the appraiser? If the homeowners have made upgrades, repairs, and improvements, don’t assume the appraiser will notice. This may be as simple as giving the appraiser the flyer for the home, which should also list the structural facts about the home. Sometimes misinformation can hurt an appraisal, too, so it is important that the appraiser has a fact sheet flyer with all of the correct information and other improvement information right at their fingertips. You may even consider making a custom flyer just for your appraiser.

Flyer For Appraiser

Check out our sample home appraisal flyer.

3. Treat your appointment with the appraiser just like an open house

The appraiser is going to look for indications that reveal whether or not the home is well-maintained, which can certainly help or hurt your appraisal. If the home is dirty, cluttered, or if basic repairs (e.g. torn screen window, etc.) have not been made, it may leave doubt about other more significant maintenance issues. So, just like an open house, make sure the home is at its best inside and out.

May all your appraisals come in just where you want them. Good luck!

– RealtorMonkey Team

Update Old Hardware For A Few Bucks

Ok. This is just brilliant: Rust-oleum metallic finish spray paint.

Let me explain.

Have you ever tried to sell a house with brass hardware? Have you ever wished that you could magically sprinkle fairy dust on the outdated brassy look, and thereby increase the home’s value?

Rust-oleum metallic finish spray paint = fairy dust.

When you start counting up all the door handles and light fixtures in a home–and the cost to actually replace them–the expense quickly adds us. But, if you have a homeowner who is willing to contribute a little sweat equality, they can remove the door knobs and light fixtures, spray paint them with Rust-oleum for $5 or $6 (see their oil rubbed bronze color on Amazon–currently $5.76), and then re-install. Magic! Cheap!

Rust-oleum Metallic Paint

I recently toured two homes that used this technique, and I honestly would not have guessed that they spray-painted the door knobs expect for the fact that they told me. Having said that, they both offered me some lessons learned:

1. Strike Plates. One homeowner pointed out that the strike plates will chip (just as actual, non-painted strike plates tend to do). Luckily, you can buy the strike plates separately and they are very inexpensive. Here’s a two pack on Amazon for only $2.47.

Bronze Strike Plate

2. Heavy Usage Doors. She also showed me that the front door had a few scuffs because it is so frequently used. Unfortunately, front door handles are not cheap, but it may be worth making an investment to just replace this one. Some other doors that might see some wear? The bathroom doors (because of movement to lock them), and possibly back doors.

So next time you have a buyer who is looking to add a little value without a huge investment, suggest they get rid of the brass door knobs and light fixtures!

What Buyers Want From Their Real Estate Agent

As a real estate agent, you provide a lot of value to your clients. But if your clients had to pick the one area that is most important to them, what would it be? In the BloombergBusinessweek article, “Why Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia Haven’t Killed Off Real Estate Brokers” by Brad Stone, we get some insight into what buyers want from their real estate.

What People Needed the Least

Coming in last were services like providing neighborhood information (2%), help with financing (3%), and figuring out how much home they can afford (4%). Only 7% said help with the paperwork associated with buying a home was the most important, and 8% are looking to their real estate agent to provide information on comparables in their area.

So what does that leave us with? Interestingly, the stats point to those valuable services that really don’t have an online equivalent: about 24% said they count on their real estate agent to help with the price negotiations and terms of sale when purchasing a home. Buyers really can’t get this type of help without a real estate agent.

The Number One Reason to Use a Real Estate Agent

And the number one reason? You won’t be surprised that 50% of buyers said they look to their agent to find the right home for them. Although many buyers start their home search online, they still want an agent who will guide them through the selection process.

infographic - what real estate buyers want

So what does this mean for real estate agents? Next time you are pitching to a potential client, you know exactly what to focus on when you sell them on the value you will provide: describe what you will do to find a home that meets their requirements, and once you’ve helped them find that home, make sure they know what you will do to negotiate the best terms and conditions during the transaction on their behalf.

If you’d like to check out the full article on BloombergBusinessweek, click here: http://re-insider.com/2013/03/20/what-buyers-want-from-real-estate-agents/

What have your buyers valued the most from you?

Have the Neighbors Sell Your Listing

Pretend for a minute that you are not a real estate agent. You step outside on your front porch to get the morning paper (do people still get the paper on their porch?), and you see a For Sale sign on the home across the street.

Home For Sale“What?” you think. “The Smith family is moving?”

The problem is, the Smiths always mow their lawn, bring you the most delicious cookies at Christmas time, and throw a block party every July that you just can’t do without. To summarize, they are great neighbors.

So, you think, “I sure hope a family just like the Smiths buys that house.” Then you think, “In fact, I wish I could hand pick the family. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

The thing is, you probably do know at least one family who is moving, and if you asked around, you could probably identify another ideal neighbor or two. And, you’re not alone. All of your neighbors are thinking the same thing and, with some encouragement, could likely come up with some buyer leads.

Okay, you’re a real estate agent again…how will you leverage the opportunity to have the neighbors sell your listing for you?

The Neighbors Want to Help You
Instead of letting the neighbors leave their future family-across-the-street to fate, give them the chance to provide you with some leads. They will welcome this opportunity because they have to live with whoever moves in.

Hit the Pavement
The best way to introduce yourself to the neighbors is to knock on their door. Explain that you wanted to give them a chance to identify anyone who they know is moving. You may walk away with a hot lead right then and there. Don’t hesitate to ask for the contact information for the lead.

Enlist Them to Help Spread the Word
When you give them the real estate flyer for the home (which, by the way, they will be curious to see–especially for the price), offer to give them a few extras. When they do think of a potential buyer, this may be just the encouragement they need to pass the flyer along and make the pitch for you. This will also help with “Top of Mind Awareness” so they don’t forget about their vested interest in helping you.

Extra Benefits To You:
Not only will leveraging the neighbors help you sell a property faster, it will also build your name recognition and personal brand in that area. The next time a neighbor is going to sell their house, you better believe they will think of you. Why? They are now eye witnesses that you do more than the typical misconception that you just put up a sign: they were involved in your sales process and witnessed how effectively and quickly you found a buyer.

Have you ever leveraged the neighbors before to sell a listing? What are some of your success stories?

What Are Buyers Looking For?

What information do you provide about a listing on your real estate flyer? It may be helpful to understand what potential buyers are looking for so you hit on the “hot buttons.” The National Association of Realtors recently published their study, “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” that gives some insight into what information your potential buyers are looking for:

Neighborhood Commute1. The Neighborhood – Is it a quality place to live? Think about the characteristics you could highlight to interest a buyer. For example, is it a quiet street with low traffic? Or, is it close to shopping and other conveniences? Are the homes newer? Or is the area established with mature trees? You’ll want to point out what about the area makes it appealing and include that on your real estate flyer.

2. Work convenience – You can’t predict exactly where your potential buyers may work, but you can highlight how your property may be convenient with their job. For example, if the property is located in town, then point out the potential for a short commute. Perhaps the traffic is very light if a longer commute is more likely. If you see an opportunity to point out the convenience of getting to work with your listing, make sure to include that on your real estate flyer.

3. Affordability – It is no surprise that the overall affordability of a property is one of the top factors that potential buyers care about when home shopping. It is a good idea to include the price of the home on your real estate flyer. If a home is out of a buyer’s price range, then it saves them and you time by disclosing that information up front. You may also consider other ways–besides the price itself–that the property might be considered affordable overall, such as no HOA fees or lower utility costs or, as mentioned above, a shorter commute.

Here are some other factors that made it into the top ten list of what buyers consider when home shopping, which would all be great things to emphasize in your real estate flyers if they apply to your listing:

  • A home that is convenient to friends and family
  • The quality of the school district
  • Proximity to shopping
  • Neighborhood design
  • Proximity to schools
  • Entertainment and activities available nearby
  • Outdoor recreation and parks available nearby

If you’re interested in the report, check it out here.

Thanks!

RealtorMonkey Team

Creating a Great Description For Your Real Estate Flyer

Blackboard ABCsAs a real estate agent, do you often feel like you could put “copywriter” in your title, too? When you create your listing–whether online or in a printed real estate flyer–your written description of the property can go a long way in convincing a potential buyer to pick up the phone to find out more. Here are some ways to make sure your written description of the property sells the listing:

1. Keep it short. Readers tend to skim over long blocks of text, so you need not create a novel when no one will likely read it. Highlight the key selling points of the home, then read through your description. On that second read through, try to eliminate unnecessary words. Ask yourself, is there a shorter way to say this?

Exclamation Point2. Moderate your punctuation. Every great description needs at least one exclamation point. After all, you are excited about this property, and you want that enthusiasm to rub off on your potential buyer. While one is okay (e.g. “Don’t wait – call today!”), more than one “!” will begin to distract your readers. For example, imagine if every sentence in this blog post ended with one! That would start to look strange! You would wonder why!

3. Use correct capitalization. As you try to make your description stand out, you may be tempted to use all caps for part or all of your description. All caps is actually very difficult for the human eye to read when it is used for entire blocks of text, such as the paragraph you create for your description on your real estate flyers. Your eyes look for varying shapes in the letters of words, and all caps eliminates that visual cue. It also makes the text appear longer, and thus more work to read. So, while all caps is okay for headers or a word here or there, it should rarely if ever be used for a description paragraph.

Camera4. Let your photo tell a thousand words. While we are talking about writing and not photography, using a great main photo on your real estate flyers can save you a lot of writing work. You don’t need to describe what the photo tells–let the picture do that work for you.

5. Use bullet points instead of a paragraph. Since your readers will tend to skim through the text on your real estate flyer anyway, why not help them by opting to use bullet points instead of a paragraph description? With real estate flyers by RealtorMonkey, you can choose whether or not you want to use bullet points, a paragraph, or both. By opting to use just bullet points, you free up more room for your photos, and it forces you to focus your writing on the key features that buyers will care about most. If they do want to learn more, that’s when they call you.

grammar girl6. Check your grammar. Another way to make your descriptions or list of features easier to read is to make sure they follow standard grammar rules. If you have a question about the correct way to punctuate a sentence, or you can’t remember which “there” “their” or “they’re” is correct, there is a wonderful online resource call Grammar Girl where you can get plain English answers to any grammar conundrum you encounter.

Check it out at http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/grammar-girl

Are you ready to give your description writing a try? Start a new RealtorMonkey real estate flyer to get started: www.realtormonkey.com

Thanks!
RealtorMonkey Team

 

Free Printable For Clients – Show Off Your Home

This real estate flyer is an infographic with some great tips for clients to get ready for an open house. If you have a client who is wondering what they can do to get their house ready for a showing, but does not want to necessarily spend any money on new decor, this flyer covers the very basics that we outlined in our blog post, “Staging Tips: Make Your Open House A Success.” Feel free to download this and email / print for your clients!

Download: Real Estate Flyer – Open House Infographic
Infographic: Show Off Your House

Housing Affordability – Good News For Families & Realtors

Good news! The homes that real estate agents are marketing are more affordable than ever. The National Association of Realtors has been gathering data about how affordable it is to buy a home since 1981. According to them, the average American family currently has more than twice the income it takes to qualify for a mortgage on the average American home. Historically, the average family has qualified for the average mortgage, but with very little margin to spare, so this is a very exciting development for the housing market, real estate agents, and families who are ready to buy.

Housing Affordability Graph

According the National Association of Realtors, homes are highly affordable in comparison to past years.

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fredgraph.png?g=gDm

Staging Tips: Make Your Open House A Success

Home staging is an art, and these tips – most of which just require a little elbow grease and sweat equity – can make a huge difference in selling a home.

Open House: Staging Success

Make a great impression at your open house with a few simple staging tips. Give your potential buyers a flyer on the way out so they will remember the experience and your listing!

1. Clutter & Grime = The Enemy
Making sure the home is de-cluttered and spotless is probably the number one (and least expensive!) tip for making a home showable. You have heard it before: less is more – and never is this adage more true than when you go to show a home.

Clutter:
Clutter will make the house feel smaller than it actually is – in fact, too many nicknacks, papers, haphazard bookcases and shelves, overflowing coffee tables, and stuffed countertops can make potential buyers feel claustrophobic.

In fact, even too much furniture (even if it is de-cluttered) can make rooms feel smaller than they are. If your clients don’t need that extra dresser, end table, or coffee table, recommend that they remove any extra furniture from the house.

Also, don’t neglect those rooms reserved for utilitarian tasks, such as the laundry room, garage, and closets. Seeing a huge pile of dirty laundry will remind potential buyers how much they hate doing the wash rather than how much they love the house!

Grime:
When you are living in a home, sometimes it is easy to overlook deep cleaning tasks. Are your walls clean or have one of the kids wiped excess peanut butter on them on their way down the hall? How about those baseboards? Do they have a line of dirt on top? When is last time surfaces were dusted? Have the window sills been recently cleaned?

If the deep cleaning seems a little too daunting for your clients, recommend that they hire a professional cleaning service to take care of it for them – the expense will be a very worthwhile investment that they are sure to get back.

Put Away Toothbrushes

By removing your personal items from sight, from toothbrushes to nicknacks to photos, you allow the potential buyer to better envision the home as their own.

It is especially important that bathrooms are clean with all personal toiletries put away – potential buyers don’t want to see someone else’s toothbrush or deodorant sitting on the counter. By removing personal items, you’ll allow the potential buyer to better envision the space as their own. This applies not only to bathrooms, but to every space in the house (e.g. in a home office, put away bills or other personal paperwork; in a living room, favor artwork over personal photos, etc.)

What is that smell?
Hopefully if a potential buyer thinks or asks this, it is because they smell something wonderful. A clean home also tends to smell good (or at least neutral), but why stop there? There is a reason why you’ve heard of baking bread or chocolate chip cookies right before a showing – it makes a house smell like a home. A fantastic-smelling home. You can also use plug-in air fresheners or candles to create the scent you’re after.

Cookies

Make your house smell like a home with fresh-baked cookies, bread, or scented candles.

Capture drive-bys with curb appeal
You only get one chance to give a great first impression of a house. You certainly don’t want potential buyers to drive on by because the leaves aren’t raked or the lawn looks over grown. Having your clients keep up on the yard work – whether themselves or through a yard service – is critical. Make sure flower beds are weeded and shrubs are trimmed. Consider a new layer of bark or decorative gravel where appropriate to make the yard appear nice and tidy and pleasant.

Where am I?
Sometimes we reinvent rooms, but this is usually a no-no when showing a home. For example, a spare bedroom may have been “reinvented” as a very convenient storage room. However, when staging a home, it really ought to be staged for what it is. Has a formal dining room with a lovely chandelier been turned into a home office? Make sure to turn that space back into a dining room before showing the house. Has the living room been serving as a multipurpose room – complete with toys, computer, television, and coat rack? To demonstrate the full value of the house and to avoid turning off your potential buyers with confusing spaces, make sure that each is staged in a manner that shows off its true purpose.

Real Estate Flyer: Remember how great that house was?
After deep cleaning, de-cluttering, baking cookies, weeding the flower bed, and un-inventing rooms, the open house is sure to be a success. But don’t let those potential buyers forget just how much they loved the house. Consider making a real estate flyer (www.realtormonkey.com) specifically for the open house or showings so that potential buyers have a reminder of the property. You may also include on the flyer any cool perks that come with the house, such as appliances,  home theater systems, or other features that might help you seal the deal.

What have you done to help your clients stage their home? What other tips would you add here?