Saturday, February 12, 2011

Summary - xplode Real Estate Technology

Following is our summary of the xplode Real Estate Technology held in Austin February 10. There was a ton of information packed into this one-day event. This is a summary, a very high level summary, of what we took away from this very informative day.

Future of Real Estate
• Real Estate is not immune from the technology changes in the marketplace
• Everything starts on the web
• New customers (especially Gen Y) have different expectations as both buyers and sellers (expect more online, Social Media, etc.)
• Tools do not replace experience. But new tools allow you to leverage your expertise and experience in different ways and to different prospective customers
• One speaker said “It’s not about you against a bad economy. It’s about you competing against the person sitting next to you.” Strategic use of technology can help you win more business, work more effectively and successfully compete
• RE professionals should be focused on three things:
......1) Prospecting
......2) Writing Contracts
......3) Negotiating
• Keys to success:
......1) Be efficient (automate and outsource)
......2) Be available (to respond to customer needs)
......3) Be memorable (for the right reason!!!)
• How you use technology is more important than the technology itself. Chris Smith, The Tech Savvy Agent (you need to “like” and follow him on Facebook), said “being savvy is much more important than the technology”

Website Design
• Three things consumers look for on a real estate web page:
.....1) What homes are for sale?
.....2) How’s the market?
.....3) What is my home worth?
• Make sure your site makes it easy for people to get in touch with you
• If your webpage does not get consumers attention in less than 5 seconds (without them scrolling) they will exit and probably never come back
• Do not make people register before than can get information from your site. Make your site so useful they will want to register and give you their contact information
• Don’t give people too many options on your website. “Steer” them toward the action you want them to take (e.g., register, contact you, etc.). If you give them too many options, they may spend time on your site but never do what you’d like them to do
• You have to identify what you want consumers to do when they are on your site. Why do you have the site?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
• If online consumers don’t find you online, nothing else matters
Facebook and other social media tools are becoming more important to increase SEO
• Your web developer / provider must be able to help with your SEO. If they can’t, find one that can
• There are a lot of things you can do to improve SEO. But isn’t this why you pay someone to maintain your site? Work with them to understand how you can work together to get your site found online
• It is terribly competitive and difficult to get on page 1 of Google search for things like “Houston Real Estate”. Given this, you need to target more local for the neighborhoods / communities where you specialize

Video / Pictures
• Consumers want visual messages (video / pictures)
• Consumers are much more likely to remain on a webpage if it includes video / pictures
• People are much more likely to share content that includes video / pictures than just text
• What are keys:
......1) Make it entertaining
......2) Make it informative
......3) Keep it short (less than a minute – or two at the max)
• Viewing videos in FB was up 2000% in 2010 and continues to grow at an amazing rate
• Four types of video:
......1) Tour of house
......2) Self promotion
......3) Community / Neighborhood Details
......4) Informative / Educational

Mobile Technologies
• Web sites must be optimized to be “mobile friendly”
• QR Codes / Microsoft Tags use will continue to grow (and it impresses your sellers)
• Incorporate into direct mail campaigns

Facebook (and other social media tools) are another tool in your tool box
• Video integrated in FB is growing exponentially
• Are your past customers / sphere of influence on FB? You need to find out. If they are, become their “friend” and engage
FB is “wide open”. Be careful about what you post (pictures, gossip, etc.)
• Take advantage of new services like FB Marketplace to share houses for sale
• If your sellers are on FB, encourage them to share details about their house for sale
FB is great for nurturing existing relationships and creating new ones
FB is the new age version of “cold calling”—a place to find out who might need your services
• “Gently and consistently” remind people what you do—you don’t have to let them know of every listing appointment you go on. It’s about engaging and understanding—not about reminding them every day that “you can help them with their real estate needs”

• Set up searches to see who is looking for homes in your area, asking about things in the neighborhoods you specialize in, etc
• Vehicle to have online conversations
• Twitter is not replacing anything—it is a new tool
• Don’t tell what you are doing every minute of day. Be engaging and join conversations that allow you to get to know customers better, share your expertise, etc

Generation Y
• Very comfortable with technology and expect those they do business with to be so also

• Are now becoming Real Estate agents (you are now competing against them for business)
• Are becoming an increasingly important group of home buyers / sellers

Marketing Ideas
• Have your home sellers share details about their home with their Facebook friends
• Include pictures of your customers at closing on your FB page. And make sure you let others know who might have referred them

• Many prospective customers go to sites like to see customer reviews. They don’t trust testimonials on your website because you wouldn’t put anything negative on your website.
• Direct mail can still be very effective especially when augmented with QR Codes / Microsoft Tags to get consumers to take a specific action. Example—Don’t send out a generic “just sold” card. Send one that says “I sold this house. I can sell yours too. Scan this code to see what your house is worth” and include a scan code that takes them to the “what’s my home worth page on your website.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Microsoft Tag Codes

We can now include Microsoft Tags on brochures or any other printed material. These codes are a great way to give potential homebuyers more information about listings.

Smartphone users can download the free scanning software at the address detailed under the code on the right. Once downloaded, the code can be scanned and then the phone's browser will be launched and a specified webpage displayed. You can have it link to the HAR details for the house, the agent's web page, a YouTube video, etc.

This cool technology is an innovative way to market your properties and will impress you customers.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

HAR Increases Number of Photos Allowed

HAR (the MLS for the Houston area) has been upgraded to allow up to 32 photos (from the previous limit of 16).

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Preparing House For Photos

One of the keys to quality photos of your house is ensuring the house is prepared and ready. We have created a checklist to assist in preparing the house for photos. The checklist can be found here:

While this checklist was developed to get the house prepared for photography, it can also be used to ensure the house is ready for open houses, showings, etc.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bad MLS Photos

We created this youtube video with some of the bad MLS photos we have seen recently. Hope you enjoy.

We removed this video due because the photos we used were copyright protected.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Maximize Number of Pictures

The HAR site allows for 16 pictures to be displayed for each listing. You should always display the maximum number of pictures allowed! Two studies have shown the value in using the maximum number of pictures.

A study of houses on showed that listings with multiple pictures get viewed 6 times more than listings with a single picture. And more online views means more potential buyers.

A study in the Arlington, Virginia area showed that houses that displayed the minimum number of pictures were on the market on average over twice as long as those that had the maximum number of pictures.

What should you do?
  • Ensure all of your listings use the maximum number of pictures.
  • Use a virtual / photo tour to include even more photos. It's important to remember that homebuyers searching online can use the search function to view only houses that have a virtual tour included. If a potential buyers searches for houses with virtual tours and your listing does not have one, your listing will not be seen by the potential buyer.

How can Houston Home Images help?
  • For every listing, we will provide you with the maximum number of pictures optimized for HAR.
  • We know that loading pictures on HAR can be cumbersome. The price for our photography includes loading onto HAR.
  • Our virtual / photo tour gives you the chance to show more than 16 photos. We never have a set number of pictures that we take--we will take however many are needed to fully showcase your house.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Houston Home Images LLC is dedicated to providing professional real estate photography in the greater Houston area.

Study after study has proven the importance of high quality photography and marketing material in attracting potential homebuyers.

We will be periodically be updating this blog to provide information on real estate photography, current trends, new services, etc.

If you have any questions or would like more information, do not hesitate to contact us at