In a recent class, the instructor posed the question “How has technology impacted your business?” Serendipitously, I discovered the snippet below in the 1990 issue of “Real Estate Today,” which provides client metrics on NAR Library use:
In comparing this to today’s numbers, the difference is staggering:
From 60,000 inquires in 1990 to over 750,000 inquiries in 2013. In 1990 we received 60,000 phone calls versus 164,254 calls, emails, and web chats in 2012. In 1990, 30,000 items were checked out from the library, versus 783,233 items checked out from the library in 2012. To be fair, in 1997 the NAR Library merged with the Association’s Member Services and Customer Service team to form “Information Central.” The 2012 numbers reflect Infomation Central’s services. However, the 2012 numbers reflect services that libraries provide: quick and extensive reference, and print and digital library resource use.
This difference is no doubt due, in part or in whole, to 21st century technologies. Perhaps the most exciting technology tool for the library in recent years (at least for us librarians) is eBooks. REALTORS® can check out and download eBooks from the comfort of the home or office, instantly. Not only do eBooks provide the instant gratification of downloading and reading instantaneously, and allow greater access to the Library’s collection, but they are much easier to control on the backend—no more library cards and scanning book barcodes, and no more late fees since books automatically return to the library at the end of the checkout period (members can even renew books through the eBooks website). Peruse our eBook collection here and download the free eBooks reading software here.
Another reason for the great disparity in numbers is likely due to the increased bandwidth, storage, and hosting capabilities of the 21st century Internet. Today, many of our library materials are digital and open-access. Our field guide collection alone receives thousands of visitors every year, and many take advantage of our ProQuest article database subscription to read The Economist, The Journal of Real Estate Research, The Appraisal Journal, and much more.
I close this post with a question for you: How has 21st century technology impacted your business?
We received a research request in the NAR Library on whether real estate listing videos prove worthwhile and of equal (or greater) value to photos. The answer to this question is somewhat subjective—what is true for one agent in his or her market may be the opposite for another agent in a different market. Real estate is local. However, after scouring the web we found some compelling evidence to support the technology and time investment for video creation.
As you may already know, the NAR partnered with Google this year on a research project titled The Digital House Hunt which surveyed home shoppers between July of 2011 and June of 2012. A few highlights of this report include:
- 16% of those who used a mobile phone during the home search process watched an online video about a home (p. 8).
- Of the home shoppers who used video in the home search process, 51% went to YouTube, 41% went to brokerage websites, and 37% went to Google video (p. 12).
- Finding an agent and agent related searches on YouTube grew 46% year-over-year in 2011 (p. 21).
And according to the NAR’s 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers:
- About 4 in 10 buyers rated virtual video tours very useful among website features (p. 45).
- 27% of home buyers and sellers looked at online video sites during the home search process (p. 47).
Additionally, the Pew Internet and American Life project publishes immensely insightful and reliable reports that frequently cover technology topics. Some recent reports and their highlights include:
Online Video 2013, (Pew Internet and American Life Project, Oct. 2013):
The share of online adults who watch or download videos has also grown from 69% of internet users in 2009 to 78% today, and mobile phones have become a key part of the video viewing and creating experience.
Photo and Video Sharing Grow Online, (Pew Internet and American Life Project, Oct. 2013).
Last, check out the NAR Library’s Field Guide to Digital Video as a Sales Tool and a few other articles from around the web:
Dare to be Different with Video, (REALTOR® Magazine, Aug. 2013):
Video is becoming more and more important to businesses. Forrester Research found that Web pages with videos are 53 times more likely to appear in the first page of Google search results than text-only pages. That kind of power is moving many real estate professionals to find new and interesting ways to present video as part of their marketing plan.
Growth of Video, Photo Sharing Raises Online Bonding, (REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 2013).
Taking Video Marketing to a Shorter Level, (Chicago Agent Magazine, Oct. 17, 2013)
Turn Mobile Photos into Listing Videos (Inman, 2013).
Homebuyers Seeking Out Video on YouTube, (Chicago Agent Magazine, Feb. 20, 2013).
Let’s Get Reel, (REALTOR® Magazine, Aug. 2012).
Good Audio is Key in Real Estate Videos, (Inman, 2012)
Recently a member asked us about lead generation. Is any one program better than the other? How do I get started? And what was our advice in general? Well, as we didn’t have any first-hand experience, we researched the field a bit. Please note that our review is not a thorough vetting of the market nor a decisive answer for all, but anecdotally it gives some ideas. While various players tout different software programs or software-as-a-service (think online CRM tools), several experts seem to concur that a great website and managing one’s online presence is just as good if not better.
For a more traditional software approach, Chicago Agent Magazine is a great resource for tips, tools, and tricks from active practitioners. This article suggests a few lead generation tools, “The Best in Tech for Real Estate” dated July 2013 (scroll down to section “Best Lead Generation Software”). Other options to consider can be found at Texas A & M’s Real Estate Center’s Real Estate Software Directory. While the online tools mentioned in the above article don’t appear, you can find some software options under the section called “Contact Management“. Play around with some of the other categories to find software and tools for advertising, farming management, etc.
However, not everyone is on the software bandwagon:
Be your own AdWords manager. Learning the in and outs of paid search is a tough road, but a very rewarding one. Very similar to renting a home versus owning a home. One requires payment with not equity in the end, whereas the other requires payment, hard work, but equity in the end.
If you decide software isn’t the solution, here are some ideas on alternative methods for lead generation. It seems almost as if there is a consensus amongst the experts on using alternative methods (other than traditional software or pay-per-click tools). As per NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 90% of home buyers use the Internet in their home search process, and 96% of buyers under the age of 44 use the Internet in the home search process, so buyers are definitely online. The articles below give a good lay-of-the-land and offer some good ideas as to how to connect with these buyers when they are online.
Move: Leads to Real Estate Pros Up 50%, Inman, Aug. 2013
Use the Internet to Your Advantage, Chicago Agent Magazine, July 2013
3 Keys to Personalizing Your Marketing, REALTOR® Magazine, April 2013
4 Tips for Online Lead Generation, REALTOR® Magazine, Apr. 2013
Real Geeks vs Tiger Leads by Sarasota Real Estate Broker, Real Geeks, Feb. 2012
[Agent Profile] Blogging is KEY to Generating More Leads, Inman, Aug. 2011
Keep the leads flowing, REALTOR® Magazine, Mar. 2010
Rethinking lead generation, REALTOR® Magazine, Oct. 2009
Capture the leads, REALTOR® Magazine, July 2009
PowerPoint Tips from a Pro, Contingency Planning, and Branding Brilliance
Do you put together presentations for your work? And, do you use PowerPoint? Jesse Desjardins shares a blunt (read: some offensive language) and informative presentation 5 Ways to Not Suck at PowerPoint. Desjardins asserts that “an outstanding 1 hour presentation can take 30 hours or more of prep time” (see slide #47).
The thought of contingency planning may feel macabre for some, yet it is wise to dedicate some thought to future unforeseen circumstances. Time magazine provides details on accessing a deceased loved one’s online accounts.
At times marketing can feel arbitrary and lacking in evidence-based solutions. However, sometimes marketing professionals (and graphic artists) hit the nail on the head. Check out Business Insider’s article displaying 15 corporate logos and their clever “subliminal” messaging. On that note, some feel Wendy’s logo, too, exhibits subliminal messaging.
For much of the North America this week, the temperatures are rising. Be sure to keep cool, wear sunscreen, and drink lots of water! Find more tips on managing the heat from the Red Cross here. In this weather it may feel a challenge to keep on task: PayScale offers this great infographic 12 Tips on Staying Inspired.
And, if you might oblige us, check out the current NAR MVP Program offer: download a free NAR Library eBook and get the Social Media for REALTORS®: Your Website digital book for free in return.
The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® is proud to offer Member Value Plus (MVP), a rewards program that helps you take part in your Association, plus get rewarded for your participation. By acting on the immense value of NAR offerings, you will be rewarded with products, resources, and more to grow your business. Visit www.REALTOR.org/MVP for details.
From July 16 – July 31, 2013, simply borrow a digital library book to receive the Social Media for REALTORS® guide in digital format as part of the Member Value Plus (MVP) program. The NAR library offers 3,500+ digital books, audiobooks and videos that can be downloaded to your computer, portable device or smartphone. Topics include sales and marketing, residential and commercial real estate, technology, management and personal growth.
Using digital books is as easy as 1-2-3. Go to ebooks.realtor.org and have your NRDS number handy:
- Download the free reader software using the Software link located at the bottom of the ebooks.realtor.org home page.
- Borrow up to six titles at a time by clicking on the titles of your choice.
- Download your selections and enjoy!
To take action, go to www.REALTOR.org/MVP and click on the Act Now button.
Recently we received a research request from a member regarding national housing statistics and thought this presented a great opportunity to highlight some wonderful, *free* resources for housing and household statistics. For this project we researched answers to the following questions:
- How many rural versus urban households are in the United States?
- What is the average income of rural versus urban households in the United States?
- What is the average age of homes in the United States?
Thanks to the US Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau we were able to answer these questions in record time. If we had naming rights to United States’ National Treasures, Census Bureau would top the list.
Let’s start with the first question “How many rural versus urban households are there in the United States?” The US Census Bureau’s annual Income, Poverty & Health Insurance: Coverage in the United States report holds our answer. According to this report (see “Residence” section of Table 1, on page 6), in 2011 the United States saw 101,526,000 residences “inside metropolitan statistical areas.” In case you are not familiar with the term, Metropolitan Statistical Area or MSA is another way of saying urban metropolitan area. In 2011 the United States saw 19,558,000 residences “outside metropolitan statistical areas” (i.e. rural).
Next, we tackle the question of average income of rural versus urban households in the United States. Income data is found in a variety of places, including the Census Bureau’s Income, Poverty & Health Insurance report, American Housing Survey, and American Fact Finder database. In the same “Residence” section of the Income, Poverty & Health Insurance report referenced above, we find the median family income for 2011 for all households of $50,054, where residences within MSAs show a 2011 median income of $51,574 and residences outside MSAs show $40,527.
Last we take a look at the average age of homes in the United States. For this we turn to the Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, most recently published in 2011. The Survey’s “Introductory Characteristics Table 2-1” offers 1974 as the median year of structure built for all total owner-occupied units.
We’ve covered a couple Census Bureau gems, but keep in mind there are many more. We recommend exploring the American Fact Finder database when you next have a little down-time to find oodles of great statistics.
Running, Millennials and Stress Management
In light of the tragedies this week, we turn to the running community for inspiration and hope. Runner and writer Jeff Edmonds shares a poignant and eloquent post on the triumph of the human spirit, as realized through running. If you are a runner, aspire to be a runner, or are simply interested in running we recommend Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. It is guaranteed to inspire you to lace up and hit the trails. As this week rolls on, we continue to keep our thoughts with Boston and hope those affected by this tragedy find hope, comfort, friendship, and support during this challenging time.
April is “Stress Awareness Month” according to the Health Resource Network in Baltimore, Maryland. The US National Library of Medicine offers some good information on stress management as does the Mayo Clinic. Check out eBooks in our library on work life balance and stress and time management (use the search box at top right to search for stress or work life balance. In the words of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we wish you a healthy and productive life!
Times are a changing. Time magazine published an article this week on Millennial home purchasing and lifestyle differences. Though marriage may come after home ownership with this generation, when the wedding planning commences, it commences on Pinterest. Perhaps rehabbed and converted firehouses might piqué their interest?
The question regarding new home owner expenditures crops up somewhat frequently here in the NAR Library. The NAR, NAHB, and BLS include some useful statistics to answer questions in this arena. For those not familiar with the acronyms: NAR = National Association of REALTORS®, NAHB = National Association of Home Builders®, and BLS = U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The first useful resource is NAR’s Jobs Impact of an Existing Home Purchase (uses data from 2010) report which offers that “one job is generated for every two home sales. Using that ratio, 1,000 home sales generate 500 jobs.”
The aforementioned report also includes this useful chart on the Impact of Single Existing Home Purchase, given a median home sale price of $173,000:
|Real Estate Industries||Related Industries
|$15,570 +||$5,235 +||$9,987 +||$27,738||= $58,529|
For a historical look, check out the 2008 version of this report here.
Further, the NAR publishes economic impact reports for each state. For example, in the economic impact report for Missiouri in February of 2012, it offers that “Additional expenditures on consumer items such as on furniture, appliances, and paint service is: $5,234.”
The National Association of Home Builders®’ report “Spending Patterns of Home Buyers” (2008) has some good statistics too, including details on average home buyer expenditures for the first year after purchase, and average new household appliance and furnishing expenditures. It then compares these figures by existing and new home sales versus “non-moving owners.”
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes a nice chart on averange annual household expenditures. Here is a chart for 2011.
The NAR’s April 2012 report Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing is also useful. It focuses on this topic from a macroeconomic perspective, but may still provide the necessary data to help home buyers and sellers understand the value of home maintenance.
In considering the question of home sale preparation expenditures, the annual Cost vs. Value survey comes to mind, which offers statistics on average costs to repair items, and which repairs may bear the greatest fruit in a home sale.
Further, REALTOR® Magazine has a series of customer handouts, including one for sellers: 5 Things to do Before Putting Your Home on the Market. The Magazine’s 2009 article also provides some after costs for “boosting curb appeal” here and this article offers some guidance for Judging a Project’s Worthiness. HouseLogic offers this audio report on preping the home for sale.
A member recently contacted NAR’s Information Central to inquire after sales meeting resources. Below you will find a selection of resources on this topic.
A few articles from REALTOR Magazine :
- One Fantastic Year of Sales Meetings, Realtor Magazine, January 2011
- Can’t-Miss Sales Meetings, REALTOR Magazine, Feb 2009
- You’re the Coach, REALTOR Magazine, Sept. 2010
- Become a Chief Inspiration Officer, REALTOR Magazine, Nov. 2009
- Generate Ideas, Disney Style, REALTOR Magazine, September 2012
- Outside-the-Box Business Strategies, REALTOR Magazine, July 2012
- Your Most Creative Marketing Ideas, REALTOR Magazine, April 2010
We also have a few items in our library. For instant gratification, we have a few eBooks (download the free Adobe Digital Editions software first, then checkout and download eBooks):
- 77 Tips for Absolutely Great Meetings
- Manager’s Guide to Effective Meetings
- Manage Meetings Positively
- Plan and Conduct Effective Meetings
We also have a few books in the NAR Library (REALTORS can check out up to 3 books at a time for a period of 30 days; shipping $10):
Recently a REALTOR® contacted the NAR Library to inquire after studies and reports that demonstrate the positive impact of commercial real estate development and urban planning on communities. Here is what we found:
The Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) Economic Impact Study database offers quite a few useful reports on the value of commercial real estate, including a report for each US state. A sample of BOMA’s work:
The commercial real estate industry is a significant contributor to the nation’s economic engine. In 2011, the office building industry contributed $205 billion to the U.S. economy. Real estate is one of the leading employers in the United States. Office building operations alone supported more than three million jobs in 2011. Firms in the commercial real estate industry employ building managers, asset managers, custodial staff, security staff, brokers and accountants and retain a myriad of other services through contract, such as legal consulting, landscape maintenance and window cleaning to name just a few. In addition, the nearly 10 billion square feet of office space located in the 94 markets served by BOMA’s 93 local associations provide work space for an estimated 44 million office jobs.
The value of commercial buildings is much more than the sum of their construction outlays or their assessed valuation. Commercial real estate development, construction and operations create a ripple effect in the economy. This contribution consists of annual direct spending for new development and construction and annual expenditures to operate existing buildings. Additional important economic benefits – the ripple effect – are also derived from the re-spending of the salary and wages supported by direct construction and operating outlays and purchases of construction-related materials and services from vendors. The combination of these direct and indirect (and induced) outlays constitutes the total output or contribution to the national economy.
Here are a few articles from the ProQuest database (members only access, required password information) that might also be of use:
Anonymous. (2007). Commercial real estate props up economy. Mortgage Banking, 67.10: 96.
The commercial real estate development sector not only has kept the economy from stalling in the face of the slowing housing market, but it is also been a significant driver of economic growth, according to a study commissioned by the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Herndon, VA. The basis of commercial real estate’s ongoing sustainability lies in its three phases of development: 1. soft costs, 2. hard costs, and 3. building operations. The report also identifies the top 10 states by construction value in four categories — office, industrial, warehouse and retail — and by the number of jobs and increase in personal income tied to that construction.
Bell, J. (2012). Rust belt recovery. Mortgage Banking, 72.9: 64-68.
Currently, the rebound in the Midwest is revealing an economic spark in the heartland that may be missing elsewhere around the country. Three Midwestern cities — Cleveland, Detroit and Minneapolis St. Paul are evidence of just that: 1. Cleveland, once an outpost of the Rust Belt, is transforming itself into a bustling business and commercial center […] Real estate sources are anticipating moderate gains in commercial lending in Detroit for 2012 into 2013.
Sohn, D. W. (2012). The economic value of walkable neighborhoods. Urban Design International, 17.2: 115-128.
Williams, D. R., & Marks, J. (2011). Community development efforts offer a major opportunity to advance Americans’ health. Health Affairs, 30.11: 2052-5.
Large differences in the opportunities and resources that Americans have to be healthy have led to sizable variations in health by geography, race and ethnicity, income level, and education. By enhancing the opportunities for good health in the places where we live, learn, work, play, and worship, community development initiatives can be important drivers of improved health. As articles in this month’s issue of Health Affairs attest, community development and public health are two forces that often have the same goals. Because there has been little research to date documenting which aspects of community development could have the greatest impact on health, it will be increasingly necessary to rigorously evaluate the impact of various interventions to guide policy makers in identifying the most important measures to take in an environment of constrained financial resources.
We also have a few books in the NAR Library on the topic of urban renewal (check out up to 3 books at a time for a period of 30 days; shipping $10) :
- The Option of Urbanism: Investing in a New American Dream
- Creating a Vibrant City Center: Urban Design and Regeneration Principles
- Terra Incognita: Vacant Land and Urban Strategies
For instant gratification, we offer a few eBooks on this topic too (download the free Adobe Digital Editions software first, then checkout and download eBooks):
- Community by Design: New Urbanism for Suburbs and Small Communities
- Sustainable Urban Planning: Tipping the Balance
Local governments and non-profit organizations frequently publish economic impact studies (or hire consulting firms to conduct the studies). For example, the Seattle Public Libraries hired a contractor to put together this economic impact study. A few other examples include:
Economic Impact Of Local Businesses vs. Chains: The following studies have found that locally owned stores generate much greater benefits for the local economy than national chains. Indie Impact Study Series: Salt Lake City, Utah — Civic Economics, August 2012” (Source: Institute for Local Self-Reliance).
Utah Valley University. (2010). Economic impacts of Utah Valley University.
Keywords (these are terms used to find the above resources):
- commercial real estate
- commercial real estate development
- economic impact
- economic impact study
- impact study
- commercial district development
- urban renewal
- urban policy
- city planning