The Visual Marketing of Instagram and Real Estate

Realtors: Instagram should be a part of your social media business marketing plan. While you may not land your biggest home buyer or seller, using this platform to market your business, the culture of your business and the value can absolutely improve your reputation and help you to reach people others can’t. Set up a business account separate from your personal profile and use the analytics you will have access to.

Learn exactly who likes your posts. You will have the ability to reach out to potential leads just by seeing who “liked” your post. Expect 10x more engagement on Instagram than Facebook. Don’t be afraid to be personal.

One billion people use Instagram every month. And, 500 million users login and use the Instagram platform every day.

Instagram is a free form of advertising and almost everyone knows about it. Right now anyone with a smartphone, from kids to a retired relative is on the platform. However, for almost nothing, another option for advertising your real estate listings on Instagram is to promote individual posts. When you have a business account, Instagram gives you the option to reach more people by promoting posts.

It shows off real estate listings. Post stunning photos, video walkthroughs and anything else that might sell the home. Beyond the photos, show your personality. The homes may be fantastic, but sell them YOU so they not only come to see your listing on your page, but your personality and let them learn if you might be someone they want to work with.

Hashtags are the new SEO. As a Realtor, you can rank higher in an Instagram search with the perfect hashtag than you may be ranking with your traditional SEO approach to search results pages. Do the research and find other Realtors that cater to the same audience you want to find. Learn the hashtags they use, the calls to action they include, the captions they write and the content they share.

Make your post beautiful and post often and enjoy the rewards of more engagement and traffic. Posts with a lot of likes will be at the top of the users’ feeds, thanks to the Instagram algorithms. Be sure to use video in your social media marketing strategy. Right now it is the most powerful way to connect with anyone who follows you and their friends. Right now, Instagram allows you to post 15-second videos to your Stories and 60-second videos to your feed.  Use it.

The Bottom Line: Like it or not, the internet has become the go-to resource for would-be homeowners as they prepare to purchase a home and all real estate agents need to be using Instagram to market to potential clients. Using Instagram for real estate takes time and effort, but the process of creating posts and engaging with others online can be rewarding. Have an Instagram presence that you work on daily, even if briefly, and get users engaged in what you have to offer. While running ads on Instagram can be a useful step when starting off, the momentum comes from continued social engagement.

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Buying a Foreclosed Home

Buyers and Sellers

Buying a foreclosed home – bank-owned – comes with risk but can be a great deal. Foreclosed homes are inundating the real estate market and can be a great opportunity.

Get an Inspection. Foreclosed homes are sold “as-is” and are owned by banks that don’t and won’t make repairs to the property. It must be understood that in most cases these homes have been poorly maintained as the owner often vacates the home because they could not make their mortgage payments. The maintenance and condition can be an issue because of the circumstances under which the owner had to move out and the amount of time the house has been unoccupied. Not every bank-owned property needs repairs – but many do. While you can’t get the bank to fix the problems the inspector finds, in many cases, you can use it to negotiate a lower sales price. An inspection helps you to know exactly what you are getting into.

Get comparative market analysis. Never assume that a foreclosed home is listed below market value. There is a common misconception that buyers will get a good deal on foreclosed properties. The bank’s goal is to recoup as much of their money as they can and will put the home on the market for more than it is worth. A good Realtor can help you know what prices of other homes in the neighborhood are selling. Knowing this information coupled with the inspection results, you will be better able to determine what price you will pay for the home.

The process to close on a foreclosure can take more time. The offer you prepare to make will go to a bank, not to an individual seller. There are many layers of approval that the offer must go through. Foreclosed homes more times than not run into title issues, such as uncovered liens on the property that can further delay and complicate the situation. Using a Realtor that is skilled in foreclosures is highly recommended.

The Bottom Line: Learn as much as you can about the foreclosed property as possible. Know your own financial situation because often buyers underestimate how much money they will spend to fix the property to make it habitable. A home in need of repairs is a big project to take on. Assess how you will pay for the property. If you don’t intend to pay cash, you should have a preapproval letter from a bank or other lender. Use a Realtor and consult with a real estate attorney who understands foreclosure law in your state.

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Thinking of Buying a Home But Have Bad Credit? Here’s What You Can Do

The financial path to homeownership can be difficult—especially if you’re building your credit score from scratch or rebuilding it after a financial disaster. Lending companies can be fussy, and if your credit scores are low, the chances of you finding a lender willing to provide a home loan with favorable terms isn’t always likely. But it’s not impossible! If this sounds like the position you’re in, consider these four tips to help you buy a house even if you have bad credit.

Tip 1: Find Out What Your Credit Score Is
The first order of business when determining your home financing options is to get your most recent credit score. Contrary to popular belief, checking your own credit won’t actually lower it. That’s because doing so is considered to be a “soft inquiry,” or a case where your inquiry does not appear on your credit report or impacts your credit scores. It’s also important to keep in mind that you have numerous credit scores lenders might use to qualify you, but you’ll minimally want to find out what your scores are from each of the major credit-reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can request a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months from any of the agencies above.

Tip 2: Look for Errors on Your Credit Report
While assessing your credit report, you may want to be on the lookout for errors that can harm your credit scores. Delinquencies and derogatory marks alone can make up 35 percent of your FICO score. Check to make sure all personal information (name, address, employer, etc.), public records (bankruptcies, repossessions, foreclosures, etc.), credit accounts (payment history and open accounts), and inquiries (applications for credit) are accurate. If you spot an error, file a dispute with the credit-reporting agency with which you identified the error online, by phone, or by mail for a chance to correct the issue and improve your credit.

Tip 3: Assess Your Options
Once you know your credit scores, you can begin to understand what types of loans and rates you qualify for. Although the scores a lender chooses to use when reviewing your credit can vary, most use FICO® scores, which range from 300 to 850 and 250 to 900 for specific industries. To obtain a loan with the most favorable interest rates, you’ll generally need to have scores in the mid-700s or higher. If your scores fall between the mid-600s or lower, you may find it difficult to find a lender willing to provide you with a loan. There are, in fact, some lenders who make use of FHA-backed loans, which require no minimum credit score or a down payment; however, this option can be a slippery slope, as each lender is allowed to set their own requirements, which might call for a substantial amount of money up front. Whatever the case, weigh your options carefully and choose whichever won’t put you under undue financial duress.

Tip 4: Rebuild Your Credit
If, after weighing your options, you don’t find a loan with favorable enough conditions, it might be a good idea to put a hold on buying a house and increase your credit scores. Ideally, you should start this process over a year or two in advance to allow enough time for your efforts to take effect. For instance, you’ll have more time to pay off existing debt and for delinquencies to age off of your report. Throughout this process, it may be beneficial to switch from a traditional bank that may deny you access to your checking account in lieu of poor credit and switch to a second chance banking option that won’t penalize you for credit mistakes and will work with you to enhance your financial livelihood. By simply making nominal increases to your credit scores, you might open up new doors that can help you purchase the home you’ve always wanted.

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Negotiating When Buying a Home

A great, seasoned Realtor is your best bet when you find the home of your dreams. Negotiation in real estate is an art that any seasoned Realtor will be able to find some common ground that satisfies all parties. Bad negotiations can kill a sale.

  1. If you offer too far below the market value it will damage your credibility as a buyer and is usually insulting to the seller who often has a price range in mind that they’ll accept. If you aren’t even close to the lower end of that range, the offer probably won’t be considered.
  2. Incremental negotiations. Don’t continue to go back to the seller with small increases in your offer ($1,000 or less). The constant back-and-forth can grow tiresome and lead the seller to consider other opportunities.
  3. Take it or leave it. When you make a firm offer the seller can get defensive and consider other offers if you immediately show that you’re unwilling to budge. Even if you won’t negotiate, don’t show your hand.
  4. Being particular after an inspection. If a major issue is revealed, yes, that should be factored into the final sale price. But insisting on a lower price for every minor repair can put negotiations in a standstill.
  5. Asking for more, more, more: Some buyers will request that the sellers throw in add-ons like furniture or appliances that weren’t included in the listing.

The Bottom Line: Before beginning any negotiations, studies have shown that whoever has the most information has the most success on what they are bidding on as opposed to walking into something completely blind. If you have hired a good Realtor, he will be adept at understanding both the big picture and the little details of the home you want to buy. He should be able to read the market the home is in and know if the home you want is one that can be negotiated.


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Realtors: Partner with Title First Agency

Realtors: We are your first title company partner. As a trusted partner of Title First Agency, you can expand your coverage and grow your business. We are licensed and do direct business in 30+ states and have strategic relationships in all of our non-licensed states.


Through a partnership with Title First, you can maintain control of client communication, deliver exceptional service and realize potential revenue you have lost in the past – all while remaining fully compliant with RESPA regulations. By working with us, you can accept more title orders from your clients, expand your footprint, and not have to obtain additional licensing in states where your business does not justify the expense.

Benefits of partnering with Title First:

  • Grow your business outside of your footprint
  • Continue to serve your clients as they grow
  • Maximize your revenue
  • Customize your program with us to serve your client
  • Work with a single point of contact
  • Work through integration and automation
  • See all of your transactions 24/7 on our secured Transaction Center web portal
  • Have unlimited access to some of the largest Underwriters

Contact us at [email protected] to learn more about how Title First can work with you to grow your business.

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Stay Safe and Have a Happy Fourth of July

Image result for fourth of july

Fireworks: Accidents and injuries from fireworks happen every year. We don’t think about the probability of fireworks burning down our home or starting a massive fire, but it does happen.

  • Drop all fireworks in a bucket of water before putting them in the trash to snuff out any smoldering
  • Use fireworks outdoors and a good distance from your home
  • Light your fireworks one at a time to maximize safety
  • Test all of your smoke detectors so they can warn you if you don’t smell or see a fire
  • Make sure you have outside bubble covers on all of your exterior outlets
  • Have a hose readily available in case you need to put out a fire
  • Don’t attempt to relight defective fireworks.
  • Children should be closely supervised
  • Check the fire hazard danger level in your area to make sure it’s safe to light fireworks

Grilling: What would this holiday be without grilling hot dogs and hamburgers? When entertaining, it’s easy to walk away and leaver our grills unattended or near flammable materials. It only takes is a few seconds for an accident to occur.

  • Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your home and off of decks and patios and away from any flammable brush
  • Check for any propane leaks at the tank and fittings
  • Keep a fire extinguisher handy in case you need to put out a grease fire
  • Water does not work well on a grease fire

Pool Safety: Pool parties are always fun on the Fourth of July holiday. Take proper precautions to keep your family and your guests safe.

  • Children MUST be supervised. According to the Red Cross, over 200 kids drown in backyard pools each year. Designate a “lifeguard” or even hire an experienced one. Eyes should always be on the pool
  • Make sure life jackets are available and approved
  • Keep children away from the drains in the pool
  • When the party is over, make sure all guests have left the pool area and then secure all pool safety gates. If guests are still on the premises, or children are still outdoors, make sure one adult continues watching the pool area to make sure no one gets in unnoticed. For an added layer of security, install a motion detector or a wireless sensor that connects to your security system so that you receive an alert if there is movement around the swimming pool area

Pet Safety: Humans aren’t the only ones at-risk during this holiday. Fireworks are particularly triggering to dogs and cats, who may try and escape once the celebration begins. Protect your little buddies from Fourth of July safety hazards by taking these precautions:

  • Keep your pet inside at all times. It may seem obvious, but even the bravest of pets can go into a panic with the loud noise of fireworks and cause them to break their restraint and even jump a fence to find safety.
  • Make sure your pet has proper ID on his collar. If he does manage to get loose, it will make finding him that much easier
  • Just know where your buddy is all the time during your celebration of the Fourth of July. It’s easy when guests are going in and out of your home for your pet to slip out unnoticed

The Bottom Line: Holidays always increase the risk of injury or death. Taking the extra time, even spending a few more dollars and setting up the precautions and preventative measures can protect yourself, your family and your home. A good friend’s home burned down on the Fourth of July holiday years ago from his gas grill exploding. It was too close to his home and he didn’t have access to a hose or a fire extinguisher that would have helped the very terrible situation. Be safe.

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