Charlotte real estate market, Getting leads

Could it be [gulp] … a SELLER’S market?

If you’ve been in the business for a few years, we don’t need to tell you that we’ve gone through many years of a strong buyer’s market in most areas.  But the tide seems to be turning.

As of May 1, the following popular neighborhoods in the Charlotte area have fewer than four (4) months inventory:

  • Cameron Wood
  • Beverly Woods
  • Colonial Village
  • Sherwood Forest
  • Merry Oaks
  • Thornhill
  • Adrey
  • Stone Creek Ranch
  • Cady Lake
  • Jetton Cove

To put in perspective — 6 months is considered a “balanced” market, i.e. neither seller’s or buyer’s market.  For most of the past 4 years or so, inventory around Charlotte was anywhere from 9-14 months or so.  But suddenly, inventory is very low in a lot of areas.

What do I do with this info?

Farm, farm, farm!  If there are homeowners in those areas who are even considering selling — now is a great time.  Many (if not most) homeowners have no idea just how much the real estate market has changed in the past year.  The agent to deliver this news may very well be the one to get the listing(s).

And don’t forget that our IDX service comes with an “Absorption widget” that you can put on any website.  This allows you & your clients to see inventory stats for any neighborhood in the Charlotte metro.

Charlotte real estate market

Charlotte neighborhood values: higher than 2007?!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you know that the entire country has gone through a real estate downturn.  Across the country, the “market peak” varied from 2005-2008 or so, and in some areas (i.e. Las Vegas, Phoenix, areas of Florida, etc), values in 2013 are still up to 40-50% lower than they were at the peak.

For the metro Charlotte area, on average, current values are around 13% lower than they were in 2007 (which, in general, was the market peak for the region).  Overall, not too bad.  But surprisingly, some areas are doing quite well.

Here is a chart of the value change of every neighborhood with at least 1 home sold per month.  Yes, some are still struggling, but many are at or near where they were back in 2007, which is pretty remarkable given the severity of the downturn.

Neighborhoods such as The Peninsula, Cedarfield, Midwood, and Birkdale have actually surpassed their 2007 values.  Others, such as Baxter Village, Chantilly, and Piper Glen are within about 5% of the peak.

Given how low inventory is right now (under 6 months in many popular areas), now is a great time to encourage  homeowners in hot areas to put their homes on the market.  Use our market stats plugin or the graphs available in neighborhood analyzer to create content for your blog and/or postcard campaigns.  It’s been a long, long wait, but in some areas it’s actually a seller’s market!

Tech trends

Spice up your blog with graphs

In this day & age, buyers and sellers want information, and lots of it.  And you have an MLS membership with ability to pull any sort of statistics you like.  So we now have a quick & easy way for you to transform those numbers into a neat & tidy chart, like this one:

Just go here:  http://www.davisfarrell.com/graph_creator.html

Input your data (up to 4 data points), and voila… a graph you can grab & use anywhere you like.

Enjoy, and happy blogging!

 

Tech trends

There is no such thing as an ‘incompatible’ IDX

We’ve had a couple clients lately who have told us that a web firm they were considering hiring told them that our IDX is “incompatible” with the website they are proposing to create.

Let’s make 1 thing clear.  An IDX is a property search.  There are many ways to implement it, but there is no such thing as an “incompatible” IDX.   So why are web firms saying this, then?  Well, 2 reasons.

  1. Some of our national IDX competitors offer affiliate programs.  Meaning, if your web firm gets you to switch to “Globo IDX,” they receive a chunk of your monthly IDX fees.  It’s the same as you steering a client to a particular appraiser or mortgage broker because you’re getting a kickback (except in your case, you have to disclose it!)
  2. A web firm might be fantastic at visual design or information architecture, but often they are operating with a “plug & play” content management system, such as WordPress, Joomla, etc.  These are great systems, and allow a “non-programmer” to configure a pretty nifty website.  However, they sometimes lack the ability to do much “out of the box” customization.  And so, not only do they want the affiliate revenue (see above), but they would just prefer a “push-button” IDX that they don’t have to tinker with.

Here’s the problem.  Real estate is, at its heart, a very local thing. No national IDX firm will offer the sort of Charlotte-specific data metrics we do.  They aren’t going to take the time to figure out that Dilworth is both in Area 5 and Area 6, or that “Ballantyne” isn’t a neighborhood, but a large area of South Charlotte.

We usually don’t use this blog to pimp our products, and we obviously have a vested interest here, but right is right, and some of these web firms are just not being honest.  Bottom line, any time someone tries to steer you to a particular product, ask if there is an affiliate relationship.  And if your new web guy can’t/won’t integrate a product they aren’t familiar with, ask us.  We’ll be glad to help.

Getting leads

What homebuyers want: responsiveness, responsiveness, responsiveness

We came across this article today, and while the message may be obvious, it can’t be overstated.

When looking for a house, potential buyers wanted an agent who:

  • Replied quickly to questions, and
  • Was present to show a house.

That’s it. If these demands weren’t met, buyers went to the bullpen.

The takeaway is: buyers don’t shop for agents — they shop for homes.
So, what does this mean to you?  It’s actually pretty simple:
  1. Provide buyers a good, local home search with meaningful data they want, so they keep coming back.
  2. When a buyer contacts you, either by phone or email:  respond IMMEDIATELY (if not sooner).

This may sound like common sense, but believe it or not, a big chunk of your competition doesn’t do a very good job at either or both of those things.

Wait, is that your phone ringing?…   😉

Charlotte real estate market, Getting leads, Tech trends

eValuator: real, accurate property values of Charlotte area homes

If you listen to listing agents these days, there is a common complaint about their competition – namely that they “puff” the value of a home during a listing presentation in order to get the listing.  Usually the home goes on the market at too high a price, and over time the seller either has to reduce the price, or ends up getting sticker shock when someone makes what they consider to be a very low offer.

And it’s easy to see how this happens — where is a seller to go in order to get an unbiased value for their home?  Most people turn to Zillow, but as great as that site is, it doesn’t tend to be very accurate in many cases.

We live, eat and breathe real estate technology, and after hearing our clients tell us these stories over & over, we thought to ourselves:

Why can’t there be a place for a seller to go to get a good, accurate “ballpark” value of their home, like they would for their car with the “Kelley Blue Book” website?

And so, eValuator was born.

We wrote a highly advanced, proprietary “formula” that scans the market and ranks comparable sales for a given property.  Based on those rankings, we produce a value range for a home, and a best guess at an actual price.  Click the screenshot below for a full view:

But that’s not all — with your special administrative login, you can actually create your own custom reports where you choose the comps and rank them yourself.  You can then email the report to your client!

Check out a sample report here to see how it looks.

We are very excited about this product, and our continued commitment to bring you smart, cutting-edge, local real estate technology.

Getting leads, Tech trends

Create content for readers, not for Google

We always like to share good ideas, and this article is full of them!  It includes 10 “no-nonsense” ways you can improve your search engine rankings.  It’s full of good info, but 1 paragraph stood out:

With Google recently making moves to punish “over-optimized” sites, you have to recognize that fact that a site built just to rank runs the risk of being penalized and losing all of its traffic.

Many tech consultants will focus purely on “tricks” to get you ranked for the short term, when the reality is that the path to long-term success is GOOD, ORIGINAL CONTENT that readers find useful.

Search engine optimization is a lot like weight loss.  Yes, there are crash-diets that can take weight off.  But study after study has shown that the only way to take weight off & keep it off is permanent lifestyle change.  But most weight loss companies aren’t going to tell you “eat a little less, move around a little more.” It’s the same concept.

So, get blogging!

Getting leads

Google’s ‘Penguin’ update wreaks havoc on rankings

We’ve been hearing from some of our clients that they noticed their Google rankings changing recently, and this might be why:  Google Penguin Update.

In a nutshell, Google is trying to do a better job assigning rank due to real content as opposed to the oodles of sites you see out there that are purely for rankings and contain very little useful content.  This particular update mostly involves the type & quality of inbound links a site has.

As we’ve said before, the single most important thing you can do to get rankings is remember the cardinal rule: CONTENT IS KING.  Paying an SEO consultant is, at best, a short-term solution — like buying a man a fish rather than teaching him how to fish.  There are many great SEO folks out there, but they’d tell you the same thing.  Content, content, content.

Again, there are no shortcuts.  And there is no substitute to writing good, original content that your potential clients would find useful.

 

Tech trends

Be wary of tech-less tech firms

Recent events reminded us how important is to ask any technology firm or consultant one simple question:

Do you have in-house developers?

It seems odd — you probably wouldn’t ask your automobile service department if it had in-house mechanics. But we are finding it to be entirely too common in technology.

Two recent events illustrate this need:

  • One of our competitors, a national firm offering IDX service (one of the better ones, actually) was exploited by hackers.  Data was compromised, including buyer/seller leads.
  • Several of our clients reported that their WordPress sites (hosted in various places) were hacked in a variety of ways — including redirecting all inbound traffic to foreign sites.

Picture it.  You have one or more of these products, are compromised, and you need resolution.  You call your tech consultant.  But that person isn’t actually “technical” — they can’t look at code and deduce/fix a problem.  Sometimes they have a freelance developer they can ask for help, but that person doesn’t have a vested interest in the product, only in working a bunch of hours to bill the consultant (and eventually, you).

In the past several years, technology has changed to the point that non-technical people can do things like set up a website, create/edit content, and install “plug-ins” that add cool functionality.  And this technology is great!   But beneath all of that point-and-click stuff is code — and when the doo-doo hits the fan, it takes a coder to fix it.

To be clear – there are many, many great tech firms out there.  We have collaborated with several really good ones over the years.  We just do “data,” so it’s very common that we work with designers, developers, copywriters, etc, whom our clients have hired.  The message here is to be wary and ask questions before you commit time and money to a consultant.