Taking Stock of Inventory

January 12th, 2017

Less than a dozen days into 2017, one thing has already become quite clear: we are in a very interesting real estate market. Among the numerous factors influencing things, one has become a huge topic of conversation lately: inventory. Specifically, the inventory of homes actively for sale in the Bay Area, which is currently historically low. This is having a profound effect on the market, which I would like to discuss a bit today.

Low Housing Inventory

Last month, I talked about how rising interest rates were already creating a sense of urgency in real estate sales. Recently, this urgency has hit a fever pitch in the Bay Area for one simple reason: there’s hardly anything on the market! As of the time of this writing, there are, for example, 15 active listings in Apple’s hometown of Cupertino, 14 homes for sale in the city of Campbell, 17 in Sunnyvale, and so forth. These numbers are crazy low, but to get a glimpse of the bigger picture, consider this: there are only about 700 active listings in all of Santa Clara county! Think about it: the heart of Silicon Valley, one of the most desirable places to live in the country, has only 718 homes for sale divided among its 1,304 square miles of area. It boggles the mind.

As you can imagine, this low inventory is creating a very favorable situation for Sellers, who are in the very advantageous position of being able to dictate supply in the face of overwhelming demand. Add to this the fact that many Buyers are scrambling to procure a home before mortgage rates climb even further, and you get the sort of rabid demand that can create truly incredible scenarios. As an extreme example, I’ve heard tales of a recent listing in Santa Clara that sold after a mindblowing 56 offers! This is the sort of situation that would be nearly impossible in most normal markets. But we are far past normal at this point.

So what is to be done?

Well, if you’re a Seller…sell! Or at least strongly consider it. Inventory simply cannot stay this low forever, especially with home prices peaking as a result of desperate bidding wars and giving homeowners a push to finally test the market for their own home. The sooner you act,the sooner you can take advantage of the current abundant demand, before a glut of new listings cools things down somewhat.

For Buyers, all hope is not lost. Patience is advised, since like I said, more listings are inevitably on the way. But if you cannot afford to be patient, or if you want to ensure you take advantage of the currently low mortgage rates, don’t despair. There are still deals to be had out there…you just need to be especially vigilant, thorough, and employ the services of a dedicated real estate agent who can work hard to sniff out some deals for you.

As always, I’m available to advise you on the best course of action for you amid this crazy market, and please don’t hesitate to call me to set up a free consultation. Being informed by an expert like me is the best way to navigate these unique situations, prepare for the future, and make this market work to your advantage. Whether buying or selling, having the information to stay one step ahead can pay massive dividends!

New Year, New Opportunities

January 5th, 2017

Happy New Year! I hope your 2017 is off to a great start. It’s always lovely to have a fresh new beginning, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch, aiming to achieve greater heights than ever before. And, in the spirit of new beginnings, I am launching something special that I would love you to be a part of.

As of 2017, I am starting Elena Johal’s REAL ESTATE AMBASSADOR program, and I would like to know if you are interested in participating. What is this program, exactly? I’m glad you asked!

GET WITH THE (AMBASSADOR) PROGRAM

New Year, New Opportunities

The REAL ESTATE AMBASSADOR program is referral-based, easy and fun!

The possibilities are endless and enticing. Imagine going to your favorite restaurant with your friends and paying for your meal with my gift card, or going shopping at the store of your choice at a deep discount. This can all be possible just by becoming my marketing assistant and utilizing this Ambassador program as a fun, easy new income avenue for you.

Real Estate is my passion, and I love changing peoples’ lives and helping them enjoy their new home! This program is the natural extension of that, allowing us all to work together for our mutual benefit. Become a part of my REAL ESTATE AMBASSADOR program and see what wonderful things we can accomplish together!

If this sounds good to you, email me at ejohal@kw.com and let’s talk in more detail about how you can be a part of the program. I look forward to hearing from you and kicking off the new year with new opportunities!

In real estate market news, the numbers are in for November, and home sales jumped in the Bay Area. I’m eagerly awaiting seeing the statistics for December, and analyzing the patterns leading us into the year ahead. The new year is always an exciting time, and it looks to present opportunities for both buyers and sellers who keep their finger on the pulse of the market and heed the advice of real estate professionals…like me!

As always, thanks for reading, and let’s work together to make 2017 the best year yet!

Into the Future

December 29th, 2016

Hello everyone! We’re heading into the future in a few days, as 2017 is coming fast upon us. I hope you’re enjoying these last few days of the holiday season, and getting some relaxation with family and friends to close out the year. Still, even as you relax, it’s important to keep an eye on this imminent future and plan accordingly.

For example, as I have mentioned before, the economy is in flux right now. Specifically, the Fed has increased mortgage rates recently, and the effects are already being felt (for some examples in the Bay Area, see this recent article in The Mercury News). As such, it pays to take these moments now when perhaps work is a bit slow or you even have some vacation time on hand to map out your real estate goals in light of these developments. And of course, I’m always available as a resource to help you out with any questions and concerns you may have!

And then, of course, there’s the fact that it’s almost time for New Year’s Resolutions! If you need some inspiration, there a great article here about some bad habits of homeowners; if you happen to exhibit any of these, there’s no time like the present to kick these bad habits for the sake of your home’s present and future.

Finally, let’s take a look at the big picture: what’s the forecast for 2017? While, as this article from CBS News mentions, “this year could be especially difficult to predict” in terms of the real estate market, check out these predictions for real estate trends in 2017 and see what the future may hold. One thing is for sure, though: I’ll be here to help, no matter what trends may come to pass!

Enjoy the rest of 2016! For the time being, I’ll just relax with some Ferrero Rocher and enjoy these last few moments before the future arrives. See you on the other side!

Celebrating the future with Ferrero Rocher.

Celebrating the future with Ferrero Rocher.

“Interest”-ing News for Real Estate

December 15th, 2016

We are in the final weeks of 2016, and conventional wisdom in real estate pegs this time of year as “the dead zone.” With holidays and shopping and travel and family time and cold, wet weather and winter breaks from school…massive financial transactions involving homes tend to go on the back burner for a lot of people. As the clock ticks down to the new year, interest in real estate in general tends to be quite low.

Interest, You Say?

Interest Chart from the Wall Street Journal

Interest Chart from the Wall Street Journal

Let’s put aside conventional wisdom for a moment. Some huge financial news hit the presses this week: the Fed not only raised rates for the first time this year, they also anticipate raising them multiple times in 2017. This reaction reflects tremendous optimism about the U.S. economy in the near future. It also has massive repercussions for the real estate market. All of a sudden, the end of the year has become an absolutely crucial time in anticipation of this news coming to pass.

As the Fed raises rates, so too raise the monthly interest rates people will have to pay for their loans…like, for example, their mortgages. All of a sudden, a new home buyer’s monthly payment is higher than it would have been a month ago, and as the rates continue to climb, so will their payment amounts. Budgets will need to be recalculated, and what was once within reach for some people may simply slip out of it.

So what does this mean for real estate? In short: the time to sell is now! As interest rates rise up, the buyers who were able to afford higher loans and more expensive homes are going to be looking for homes of lesser value. Affordability, already a massive concern in the Bay Area, will become even more paramount. Which means this: if you have a home to sell, now could very well be the time to put it on the market. Right now there is the maximum amount of buyers for the foreseeable future-before rising interest rates start forcing people to change their plans-which means increased competition and, ideally, higher prices.

This is not to say it isn’t the right time to buy, either; quite the contrary! Delaying purchasing a home at this point means being subject to ever-increasing interest rates. And since, as we noted earlier, the multitude of December happenings oftentimes distracts people from real estate, now could be the best possible time to buy a home, when competition and interest rates are both at a low.

Bottom line: right now is the time to buy or sell. At the very least, take a moment to reevaluate your own short-term and long-term real estate goals with this information in mind. Those who act quickly in light of this recent news will be well-positioned in 2017 and beyond.

For more information about the raise in interest rates and how it affects you, please feel free to call me at (408)  836-6369 or email me at ejohal@kw.com. I will be happy to help guide you through whatever questions you may have.

Teamwork

December 7th, 2016

Real estate as a field tends to attract self-starters; no matter which brokerage one may hang their license at, an agent is effectively his or her own boss. Realtors can set their own schedules, work as much and as often as they choose, and determine whether they work from an office, their home, a coffee shop or whatever works best for them. It can therefore be tempting to think of each agent as a solitary being, their destiny solely in their own hands.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Sure, most agents work on their own, but a strong support system can make all the difference between a wildly successful career in realty and a frustrating grind to stay afloat. As I have often noted, this is an insanely competitive field, and there is strength, as they say, in numbers.

As such, I’ve been focusing a lot of energy into team building lately. There are a LOT of Buyers and Sellers in the Bay Area, and I’d like to help as many of them as possible, so it is with great pleasure that I announce some wonderful additions to the Elena Johal Team!

Travis Masterbone of the Elena Johal Team

Travis Masterbone of the Elena Johal Team

Travis Masterbone has recently begun his career in real estate, coming from a background in athletics and fitness. His decision to shift gears into the Real Estate industry was motivated by a passion for the business and a desire to leave a positive impact on the lives of others. Travis’s competitive nature inspires him in his relentless pursuit of success, so in order to be the best he reached out to one of the top Real Estate Agents in California…me! I am excited to have Travis as a part of my team, and his energy, enthusiasm and willingness to learn make him an invaluable asset.

Lucy Ramos of the Elena Johal Team

Lucy Ramos of the Elena Johal Team

Lucy Ramos is committed to excellence in customer service. A licensed agent of over 15 years, her extensive experience in Silicon Valley real estate and dedication to helping her clients reach their goals has enabled Lucy to establish a loyal client base. She guarantees a successful transaction to her clients, a goal that her consummate professionalism and strong negotiating skills help her achieve. I am thrilled to have Lucy on my team, and am looking forward to working together to bring our collective business to new heights!

Please take a moment to welcome my new team members…I’m looking forward to ringing in the new year with these wonderful agents by my side!

Fortitude

November 2nd, 2016

Recently, I completed a strenuous five-day workout course known as Hell Week. As you might imagine based on the name, it took quite a monumental effort…and I got a t-shirt for my trouble! Beyond that, though, I got the greatest gift you can give yourself: the gift of health. Being in shape and physically strong is greater than any t-shirt (having said that, it is a pretty great t-shirt).

Health and the Hell Week shirt.

                           The spoils of Hell Week.

All of this got me thinking about how important health is to those of us in the real estate business. The fact is, it is a very demanding industry. For the unprepared, every week could turn into Hell Week! It is a business without limits, a business devoid of closing times and off days. Sure, you set your own schedule, and you’re free to take time off and set limits to your working hours to your heart’s content. But some clients won’t wait, and some situations don’t halt just because you’ve made yourself unavailable. Real estate is a 24-7 business, and if you’re in it for the long haul, you’d best be prepared for quite a marathon.

That’s why real estate agents would be well advised to keep themselves in shape. It’s not necessary to spend all day in the gym (nor should you; those leads won’t follow up on themselves!), but it’s amazing the difference it makes when you’re healthy. Running between appointments for sixteen hours a day gets a lot easier when you spend a little time running on the treadmill. Otherwise, the physical toll of the job can get to you. There are staircases to climb, lunches to skip and neighborhoods to door knock. It’s hard enough doing these things with the occasional cold, let alone with general everyday physical sluggishness. Health may not be the sole determining factor of real estate success, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!

This extends beyond physical health, too. Keeping yourself mentally strong is incredibly important as well. A large number of agents are big on positive affirmations, motivational seminars and intensive coaching. There’s a reason for this: the business requires intense mental toughness! Competition is beyond fierce, as the Bay Area is essentially a shark tank filled with knowledgeable, intelligent and experienced realtors. In order to compete, one must be prepared, one must be motivated, and one must be strong. And each deal is its own struggle, as countless factors must be taken into account, and unexpected problems can arise at any moment. The best way to deal with these issues is to remain cool, calm and collected, and personal affirmations and gatherings of like-minded individuals can give just the support you need to make this possible.

In short, real estate isn’t easy, but there are many things an agent can do to make it easier for him or herself. It can be hard to find the time to work out or to get oneself calm and centered mentally, due to the fact that there is just so much going on at any given moment. But a little extra effort to take care of oneself pays dividends, as it leads to so much more energy and focus to make more efficient use of one’s time. And, best of all, it will help you live longer to enjoy your success!

I hope you enjoyed this little rumination on the importance of health in the real estate industry. Please leave any feedback in the comments section, and have a wonderful, healthy day!

Seasonal, Effective

October 26th, 2016

Seasonal Autumn Leaves

There’s a change in the air, these past few weeks. The endless heat of summer has slowly softened into more mild days. The nights are longer, and bring with them a definite chill unlike any we’ve felt in months. Fall is most definitely upon us…and the air isn’t the only thing changing.

In real estate, business has a tendency to follow a seasonal pattern. Spring historically brings an uptick in business, peaking in the summer, then steadily declining through the fall to reach a low during the winter, bottoming out right around the holidays. This pattern makes a lot of sense, when you think about it. Numerous factors make the warmer months more attractive to buyers and sellers: less rain means more motivation to go outside and visit potential listings or move large loads of furniture; summer vacation allows for a grace period in terms of school, a boon for anyone wanting minimal disruption in their children’s education; less distractions from holidays and work functions mean more time to plan a move and less need to accomodate visiting relatives. All these and more contribute to what can be referred to as a year-end lull for the real estate industry. As such, many real estate agents begin to slow down as the year comes to a close…after all, why continue putting in the same amount of work when the seasonal trends promise diminishing returns?

The trouble with that line of thinking, though, is that the real estate business is far too complex to be defined by such simple patterns. General economic conditions play far more of a part in determining a hot real estate market, for example, and any number of other factors influence the ebb and flow of the real estate economy. Seasons are a market influencer, but not a sole determinant.

In addition, I’m located in the Silicon Valley/Bay Area region of California, which is one of the most active real estate markets in the country, so “hot” is certainly relative. That is to say, even the slowest times of year for home sales are very active, with high prices and, on average, short times on the market. It’s like comparing molten lava to a bonfire: sure, one may be hotter than the other, but they’re both still hot by any definition. The winter may have a tendency to slow home sales down, but buyers and sellers aren’t exactly going into hibernation.

In fact, the so-called conventional wisdom of slower seasons can backfire on agents who put too much stock in it. For one thing, with the proliferation of real estate information on the internet, consumers are more well-informed now than ever. The seasonal cycle and its effects are no secret, and buyers are often keen to utilize that inormation in the hopes of snagging a deal when competition is at a low point. Sellers, meanwhile, can see a chance to fetch top dollar for their home, taking advantage of demand at a time when inventory is more limited.  Add in the fact that, in the cultural melting pot known as the Bay Area, many people just don’t consider the holiday season to be much different than any other time of year, and it becomes clear that opportunities are out there.

The trouble is, if an agent has already decided to slow down for the latter months of the year, these opportunities can pass them by, snagged by colleagues who have decided to brave the sleet and snow (well, this is California, so it’s more like braving the occasional rain and somewhat chilly temperatures) to keep working hard at expanding their business despite the quieter office and early onset of night. Looking around at all those empty desks and dark offices at a real estate office in December is proof enough that there are roles out there that need to be filled. You can be the one to fill them.

This isn’t to say that one cannot take time for a vacation, or spend time with their family during the holidays. These sorts of activities are important in order to avoid burning out. But one must be cautious of taking it too far, and giving oneself too much time off, losing focus and missing opportunities that are right in front of them. One of the great things about real estate is the ability to set one’s own schedule. Take advantage of this by working when so many others are not, and you might end up having the hottest winter on record. And there’s no better time to start thinking about this than now, as the leaves take on vibrant shades of yellow and red, and sweaters start making their way out of the dresser drawer. While you’re carving your jack-o’-lantern in the days ahead, think about carving some time out during the holidays as well to make the seasonal shift work for you. You (and your clients) will be happy you did.

Thanks for reading! Please let me know what you think of this article in the comments, and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween!

The Website Wrap-up

October 19th, 2016

Real Estate Website

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll recall that recently I’ve been doing a run-down of various websites and their importance to real estate agents operating in this digital age (links to the previous articles are at the end of this one). There are a more sites out there that Realtors should be aware of, though, so today I’m going to give a quick wrap-up of some other major sites I have neglected to mention, as well as my thoughts on them.

Trulia

Trulia is a dedicated real estate website in the vain of Zillow, and pretty much everything I said about Zillow applies to it. In fact, Zillow purchased Trulia a while back, and they’re closely linked on the back end, so really they’re more like sister entities than separate sites completely. Much of what you do on Zillow automatically carries over to Trulia, which is very efficient, though you’ll definitely want a dedicated Trulia page for the things that don’t. Once you set it up, Zillow and Trulia are so closely linked that there isn’t much difference between them.

Oh, and here’s my Trulia page if you’d like to check it out!

https://www.trulia.com/profile/elena-johal-agent-los-gatos-ca-zgsf9qj9/overview

Redfin

Redfin is pretty popular among consumers, operating in much the same way Zillow or Trulia does in that it gives them easy access to property info and analytics on a scale that was unimaginable a decade or so ago. The important distinction with Redfin is that it also operates as a real estate brokerage with its own team of agents. Though this is in line with the logical progression of such sites, it makes it less useful to non-Redfin agents, since the site only steers clients to agents within its own network. It is therefore something to be aware of, but really not particularly important to Realtors, unless they belong to Redfin’s network or are considering joining up. The most significant aspect of it is probably the commission structure; potential sellers bring this up from time to time in listing appointments, so learning what Redfin offers and how they structure their deals is useful when responding to this.

Craigslist

Not too much to say about this one, other than the fact that posting new listings there is important. It’s free, has an incredibly wide reach, and in particular is great for getting the word out about open houses. It’s a great resource to make sure as many people as possible are aware that you’re holding a home open; you might be surprised by how many people look to Craigslist first (or even only!) for such information. Also a great resource if you’re planning on getting into rentals/property management, as Craigslist’s nature as an online classified section is a natural fit for those.

MLS

If you’re a realtor, you’re aware of the MLS. Keep in mind that there’s a scaled-down version available for public use as well, so make sure your profile and info are updated on there. It’s not as flashy as Zillow and its ilk, but it is still a useful, well-known search tool (that, it’s worth noting, the other more graphically-intense search tools draw from), and should not be overlooked. Fortunately, the fact that Realtors spend so much time on their own MLS means that it’s fairly likely their contact info and whatnot will be up-to-date, since it’s a hard site to overlook.

HomeFinder

An up-and-comer in the real estate website game, HomeFinder differs from Zillow et. al. due to its status as a sort of modern-day upgrade of the traditional, old-school method of searching for a home for sale (newspaper classified sections) with the global reach of a website. This does mean, however, that the most comprehensive info can be somewhat limited by the reach of the newspapers involved in the network. As such, the effectiveness of the site can, at least theoretically, vary by region. I admittedly don’t have a ton of experience with it yet, so I’m hardly an authority on the subject, but it’s definitely an interesting idea and something to keep an eye on.

There are vastly more real estate websites out there, each with their own quirks, user base and reach. The point, at the end of the day, is not to get bogged down in dealing with the minutiae of every single one of them, but to determine which are the most relevant for you and help serve your business the best. While it is important for real estate agents to have a strong profile at each of the major sites, and solicit positive reviews from their clients whenever possible (especially, as I’ve noted, on Yelp and Zillow), websites and online reviews are only one part of the business, albeit a very important one. By presenting the information I have across these past few articles, hopefully I can help agents optimize their time and efforts in this facet of their business; after all, phone calls and in-person meetings are still an integral part of home sales, so we can’t spend all of our time in front of the computer! If you feel there are any sites I missed that you would like me to talk about, please mention them in the comments and I would be happy to address them as well. Thanks for reading, and enjoy the rest of your day!

LINKS TO THE EARLIER INSTALLMENTS IN THIS SERIES:

PART 1: Zillow

PART 2: Yelp

PART 3: Realtor.com

PART 4: Facebook

PART 5: LinkedIn

Thinkin’ About LinkedIn

October 5th, 2016

linkedinelenaedit

As we continue our tour of real estate websites and online resources, we come upon the virtual melting pot of professionals: LinkedIn. LinkedIn is something of a hybrid of Facebook, Yelp and Craigslist. It lets people set up their own profiles to market their skills and experience, network with others and seek out new employment opportunities (or, conversely, new employee prospects). Much like Facebook, it is practically an expectation that anyone will have a LinkedIn profile.

So let’s look at the site in terms of real estate specifically. How can it best serve agents? Well, first of all, the fact that LinkedIn defines itself as a professional network informs us regarding the proper way to use it. You’re most likely not going to be sharing vacation photos or exquisitely-staged portraits of your meals on LinkedIn; you’re there to interact with others in a business capacity, whether it involves giving tips, sharing relevant articles or seeking recommendations for vendors or service providers. And the “network” part of the site is the key: because of its ubiquity, you can connect with virtually anyone on LinkedIn and talk business. This is especially valuable in a business like real estate, where so many parties are involved in each transaction. Mortgage brokers, escrow officers, home warranty companies…all available at the click of a mouse. In a business where having a strong network of professionals is key to success, LinkedIn makes it easier than ever to set one up.

Of course, LinkedIn isn’t a real estate website specifically, so it has its limits. Though it does a good job of showing your years of experience, awards earned and your skills and specialties, it’s not going to sync with your MLS and display your current listings like Zillow or Realtor and their ilk. Sure, you could absolutely post images and walkthroughs of your listings on your updates, but the specifics of your listings and sales are better displayed elsewhere. As such, prospective clients have less of a reference for the exact nature and amount of your listings than they would have elsewhere, which is understandable given the focus of the site. The site also focuses more on descriptions of your job and experience than it does reviews. Oh, make no mistake, reviews are a vital part of the site, and the endorsements system is robust, but it’s all a bit deemphasized compared to every other aspect of your profile. What this means is that LinkedIn is, on a superficial level, somewhat less useful as a resource in terms of getting new clients. In effect, do potential buyers/sellers look for Realtors on LinkedIn? I suppose,yes. Probably? The site is certainly part of the patchwork de facto background check quilt that is the internet, and is indispensible on a professional level, but purely in terms of gaining clients it seems to lag far behind Zillow or Yelp, for example. It’s just not optimized for that in comparison.

This is not necessarily a bad thing, it just means it’s largely not what the site is for. Instead, use the site to link up with others working in the same field. Make sure to keep your profile updated so that everyone knows where you are and how to contact you. Share your listings; LinkedIn provides a great forum for other Realtors to see your inventory and evaluate if it’s a good fit for their buyers. Share relevant articles like, well, this one (I hope!) to give insight and inspiration to others and position yourself as knowledgable and helpful. And endorse others skills, both to help out your colleagues and motivate them to endorse you as well. Keep all this in mind, and you will see why LinkedIn has become such a crucial part of a real estate agent’s online portfolio. And hey, worst case scenario, if you decide you maybe want to transition away from real estate, LinkedIn is the perfect resource for looking for other opportunities. That’s not ideal, of course, but it’s worth keeping in mind, just in case.

This is where I note that I always appreciate the support of my friends, clients and associates for their reviews and endorsements. If you could help me out and leave me some positive feedback on my LinkedIn page, I would be immensely grateful. The link is:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/elena-johal-75676a13

Thanks for reading! Hopefully this article has at least inspired you to think about how best to use LinkedIn to bolster your business. Let me know what you think; any feedback is always appreciated. Tune in next time to get a rundown of a few other websites of note…

TO BE CONTINUED…

Facebook ‘Em

September 28th, 2016

facebook-crop

As we continue our tour through websites relevant to building a real estate business, we reach quite a doozy: the world’s largest social network. Facebook is practically synonymous with social media, having inhereted the crown from Myspace years ago and continued to dominate to the point that it is extremely rare to meet someone who doesn’t at least have a page on there. With such a wide reach, Facebook clearly has incredible potential to anyone looking to market themselves and their business. But how is that potential realized?

Let’s start with the obvious: you’re on Facebook. Well, OK, maybe you aren’t, but statistically, it’s extremely likely. The same could be said for nearly anyone of consumer age. Facebook, therefore, comes as close to connecting you with literally everyone as any avenue. Even Yelp, which is so widely utilized, still is somewhat pigeonholed by being limited to businesses and services. Facebbok is all about connecting people, and sharing as much as one’s life as they want with others, granting the ability to share (and observe) any thoughts, images or experiences you can conceive of. It is the pinnacle of freedom and exposure, offering nearly unlimited opportunity for creativity and getting your message across.

This freedom does come at a certain cost, of course. Since Facebook content consists of literally anything and everything (within the terms of service, I suppose), getting across a specific, consistent message can be difficult amidst the constant flood of content. Fortunately, the option for a Facebook business page exists, which alleviates some of these concerns. The business page is marked with certain identifiers that allow others to find it in searches, and is structurally somewhat different from a personal page. It allows you to separate a business or orginization from the more personal elements that a normal profile may contain and stand apart as a professional operation, with a rundown of services provided, contact info and, most importantly, reviews. In this way, Facebook can serve as a sort of “Yelp Plus,” allowing locals to leave reviews while also leaving room for blogging, photos, videos and other general marketing content creation by the business in question. Basically, Facebook is sort of a package deal: it allows you to showcase your business and collect meaningful reviews, while simultaneously marketing yourself as an agent and your real estate listings. And it’s all for free!

Or rather, it can be for free, and that’s one of the sticky points of Facebook. You see, Facebook’s sheer scope and tricky algorithms mean that sometimes, it can be hard for people to see your content without going directly to your page. It might pop up in their timeline, it might not. The more Likes and Shares it has, the more likely it seems to show up for other people, but it is getting those acknowledgements in the first place that can be deceptively difficult, no matter how compelling the content you’re providing. There are ways around this, including paying money to Facebook to run ads that increase your visibility. This is not unique to Facebook, of course: Zilow, Yelp and many other sites offer similar advertising programs. But it certainly adds an additional wrinkle to planning your online marketing budget. Does Facebook’s wide reach make up for the fact that it is not a site focused on real estate (like Zillow) or commerce in general (like Yelp)? That is really up to the user to decide.

One thing I will say for certain though: a Facebook page is absolutely indispensable. Regardless of the reach of your posts, or your Facebook ads or lack thereof, the fact is that Facebook is one of the premier ways to establish yourself and set yourself apart from other agents. Once someone hears of your services, there is a very good chance that they will turn to Facebook as a sort of “background check” for you, allowing the potential client to determine what sort of person you are, what your online image is, what volume/type of business you are doing, etc. This is where the Facebook reviews come in: having positive reviews on the king of social media sites bolsters your image considerably! Not to mention the fact that Facebook is a tremendous boon for advertising listings, whether to would-be buyers or to other agents you are connected to. You never know when the photos you post might catch the eye of the perfect person and set off a domino effect that ends in a sale.

It can be easy to get lost on Facebook, to get distracted by others’ photos or get caught up in “why don’t more people like this?” syndrome. The best advice is to simple maintain your presence with consistent posts, engaging content, and encouraging reviews from satisfied clients. You’ll be happy you did, whether or not you choose to go the paid advertising route. The upside is simply too high to ignore, and Facebook has become less of an optional tool and more of a basic prerequisite for doing business.

Speaking of which, if any of you kind people would be so gracious as to leave me a review on my Facebok business page, I would greatly appreciate it. The link is below:

https://www.facebook.com/elenajohalrealtor/

And if you would like to connect to my personal Facebook, the link is:

https://www.facebook.com/elena.johal

As always, thanks so much for reading! I hope you have enjoyed this look at Facebook and its importance to the real estate business. Next week, we’ll be taking that “business” category to the next level…

TO BE CONTINUED…