post

SCHOOL SCORES & MORE (Part 1)

Identifying Informative School Resources for the Real Estate Industry

Before getting married, having kids and jumping on the real estate band wagon, I was once a first and second grade teacher. For 5 years, providing a challenging program with options for all learning styles (oh, and making it fun) was my goal. I woke up every morning excited to share new learning experiences with my students. I lived and breathed education as I know many dedicated teachers who spend countless extra hours prepping and planning do. And now being a parent of 2 toddlers, I look forward to sharing those trials and tribulations of homework, projects, field trips and of course, first days with them. But the whole process of selecting a school for your child can be confusing and scary, and also give you a big fat headache!

Because many of my realtor clients know my background is in education, I am frequently asked about a particular school, district, and of course….THE SCORES! Let’s face it; when it comes to real estate, buyers with school-age children want homes in nice neighborhoods with great schools. We all want the best for our kids. But how do you really know that the school is “great” and what is really best for our kids? Taking school scores into consideration is definitely one way to go. Most states have websites you can visit to get the latest school scores for a particular school, district, county, etc. The scores can be great indicators of how well a school is performing, as well as the progress a school is making from year to year.

In California, we give a group of tests known as the “STAR” tests which give way to an overall school score number on the API (Academic Performance Index). If a school scores 800 or above on the API it not only meets the state target, but the school becomes desirable for parents. A score of 900 or better, and parents start camping out front before open enrollment. The problem I run into with providing parents and clients with only the school scores is that often they don’t understand how to read and interpret them, and scores are really only one piece of the puzzle.

School districts are usually required to provide a district report card to inform parents and the community about their academic performance. However these brochures differ widely from district to district, sometimes only providing a glimpse of what parents are interested in. Fortunately, the Internet offers plenty of websites that provide in-depth school profiles. School profiles provided by websites like http://www.greatschools.net, http://www.schoolmatters.com. and http://www.schoolwisepress.com, offer reports with detailed information about teachers and students, class size, socioeconomic factors, as well as academic performance scores and student proficiency in various academic areas. I can’t tell parents enough to examine all the facets of a school’s environment and program before making a choice for their child. Not all children learn the same way and schools vary in their strengths and weaknesses so the best approach is get all the info you can and then visit the schools you are interested in. In School Scores & More (Part 2) I will provide a deeper analysis of online school profiles, discuss buyer anxiety about schools, as well as offer tips for visiting schools.

post

Real Estate Neighborhood Marketing

Would you like to dominate a particular neighborhood? Would you like to provide the community with instant access to local information? How about providing your target neighborhood a community calendar, recipe exchange, classified ads, community news, local jobs, school information, merchant exchange, games for the youth and more? That’s what I thought! You can already see the power right? Blogs are one way to do such a thing, but Connecting Neighbors is a tool that’s built to do just that…right out of the box.

Connecting Neighbors was founded in 1999 and won the 2002 Inman Innovator of the Year award for the most Innovative Use of the Internet. In January 2005, Connecting Neighbors was acquired by Reply.com. As a result of this purchase, connecting neighbors has continued to grow and add serious features. Most importantly, they help real estate agents provide value to local homeowners while displaying your knowledge and commitment to the neighborhood.

From my experience, many real estate agents are continually struggling to brand themselves in the neighborhoods they compete in. Historically these real estate agents have done direct to consumer advertising via postcards, flyers, newsletters, block parties, sponsoring community events and more. These items all have varying degrees of success.

One thing we know is that the Internet is forever changing the typical homeowner. These individuals want immediate access to the information they seek, in a transparent nature. With Connecting Neighbors real estate agents can purchase these website solutions and lock-in their neighborhood! As Connecting Neighbors will only sell one site per area. Be the first real estate agent to provide your community local knowledge!

See an example here
To sponsor a neighborhood, click here
To search for a neighborhood, click here

post

Free mortgage calculators for your website

If your real estate website is one of the many consumer facing sites that still link to 3rd party mortgage calculators, you are in luck! NextStudent has recently unveiled 20 free, easy-to-use, plug-in-play mortgage calculators. NextStudent provide both ASP or PHP code to place on your site. If you are interested, take a look at their examples here.

NextStudent now provides the following calculators:

Affordability Calculator
Buy vs. Rent Calculator
Canadian Mortgage Calculator
How Much Income Do I Need to Qualify Calculator
Interest Only Calculator
Interest Only With Prepayment Calculator
Loan with Interest Only Period Calculator
Mortgage Length Calculator
Mortgage Payment Calculator
Mortgage Principal Calculator
Payment per Thousand Calculator
Second Loan vs. PMI Calculator
Should I Pay Points Calculator
Should I Refinance Calculator
Should I Use Heloc Calculator
Standard vs. Biweekly Calculator
Tax Benefits Calculator
What If I Pay More Calculator
What Is the Real APR Calculator
Which Loan is Better Calculator

post

eStationery – EMAIL WITH A PURPOSE

Yes, I’m sure you already have a purpose in mind when you are carefully crafting an important email for a client. But why not bring professional purpose full circle by accenting that important text with your own custom eStationery. Whether you select an eStationery header, signature, business card, or some combination of the three, you will definitely leave a lasting impression. More so, you will be making each email an effective tool with a rightful purpose. And don’t take my word for it; eStationery is becoming a standard of top professionals in Fortune 500 companies.

There are many wonderful templates out there you can customize to some degree, but I suggest that if you’re going to do it right the first time, hire someone who can provide you with custom design work. There are plenty of talented marketing specialists out there that can truly captivate what you and your company are about. Many can match or breathe new life to your company brand, as well as provide the super tech bells and whistles that will definitely get you noticed. Yes, bells and whistles beyond including your contact info, glamour shot, and company logo. You can direct traffic by including a few hyperlinks. But get crafty here. Your personal and company websites are a must, but how about a mapping link to provide clients with directions to your office. Other popular links include: buyer and seller info, search the MLS, featured properties, relocation info, etc.

So by now, I’m sure you are feeling the eStationery love that I do. I should, I have designed and created several thousand. It’s one of my many talents! At least I think so. Anyway, go forward now and make those emails have a greater purpose. If you haven’t received many emails with eStationery go to http://www.estationery.com.au/ and http://www.stationerycentral.com/ to view their templates. If you have questions regarding eStationery feel free to leave me a message.