A Realtor’s Guide to Digital Marketing

Four Steps to Get You Virtually Up and Running

According to data gathered for the National Association of Realtors Generational Trends Report (March 2020), the first step most home buyers take in the home search process is to look online for properties. According to NAR, a whopping 84% of home buyers used the internet to search for homes, and that was before a global pandemic sent even more people online.

Thanks to that pandemic and some local restrictions, most of us are unable to interact with customers in our usual way. In person meetings and events are difficult to manage, and flat-out barred in some places. However, we know it’s important that you remain focused and continue to give your real estate business the attention it deserves!

One area of business you can increase your focus on is marketing. The beauty of online marketing is that it’s both effective and convenient. You can execute your plan with nothing other than your computer. Check out some online marketing strategies below!

  1. Create a Blog

Reach a larger audience by starting a blog. A blog is a space for you to post and share high-quality content, which will increase your value to any current or potential customers.

When brainstorming content ideas, ask yourself these questions:

  • What areas of real estate are the most confusing?
  • What are the most common questions I get?
  • What do my customers always want to know?

Although you won’t see results overnight, starting a blog has many long-term benefits. A blog allows you to create authority, be viewed as an expert in your industry, and drive traffic to your business website.

  1. Use Facebook Ads

Real Estate Facebook Ads are an effective way to target leads and capture prospects. Facebook Ads even has a category for “Buying a House,” meaning you can explicitly target people who are actively looking to buy or sell a home.

Your Facebook ads should highlight your home listings. Show off the properties with video tours and high-quality pictures. The ads should always include vital information, such as price, location, and square footage.

Maintain a steady presence by advertising year-round but be cognizant of trends in your specific market. Tap into potential leads on Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia.

Facebook ads take practice. Most of the time a business will run multiple variations of an ad to see which one works best. It can take some time to find the right one, but that’s okay, and there are many online resources that can help.

  1. Connect with Others on LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups are a great place for you to connect with others in your industry or niche market, both locally and across the country. These groups provide a huge networking opportunity by allowing you to build your online presence.

Search LinkedIn for real estate-related groups you’d like to join, such as niche markets and local trends. If you can’t find your ideal group, start your own! Starting your own group is beneficial because it automatically puts you in a position of leadership.

LinkedIn Groups also give you the opportunity to contact people you might not have mutual connections with. You can message other group members without being connected, which can be extremely beneficial for growing your network.

Instead of using these groups as a place to sell your services, however, add value by contributing to a conversation or discussion board. Stay in the spotlight by contributing regularly, but don’t overshare.

  1. Optimize Your Website for SEO

SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, determines where your website will fall on a search engine page, such as Google. The higher your ranking, the more traffic your site will receive. Including keywords on your webpage can improve your ranking and increase your chances of getting noticed.

Do you have a real estate niche? If so, you’ve already got the perfect keyword. Think of all the results that would come up if you were to google “houses for sale in Miami.” Now, imagine Googling “Miami waterfront homes.” The search results will decrease dramatically. This is SEO in action! You’ll score a higher ranking and drive more traffic to your site.

Always use keywords in your website and online profile. Be specific! Don’t just say you’re a Real Estate Agent if you have an area of specialty. Say that you’re a Real Estate Agent specializing in waterfront homes in Miami, or first-time home buyers in Florissant, or country homes and farms! People want to work with the realtor who specializes in the area they’re interested in.

SEO is a somewhat convoluted concept, and good SEO takes consistent effort overtime. Dedicate the time that would be spent on in-person visits, or other marketing methods that are currently unavailable, to learn the ins and outs of SEO. Your business will thank you!

Implementing these four strategies will serve you and your business long after restrictions on in-person marketing are lifted.

How Serious Is a Slow Drain?

Is it a simple clog or a collapsed sewer line?

 

Most of us have encountered a slow drain at some point. It usually starts as very minor occurrence. You might notice it after you wash your hands. You turn the tap off, and it takes a minute for the water at the bottom of the sink to drain out. Often, we ignore the initial signs of a slow drain because it’s not really causing any inconvenience.

 

But slow drain problems tend to get worse over time. It might have been hardly noticeable last month, but now you turn on the water and the sink begins to fill unexpectedly. Or you’re taking a shower when you notice you’re standing in an inch or two of water. Once you turn the taps off, the water does drain, but it takes its sweet time.

 

Slow drains can be a simple fix, or the sign of a more serious problem. There are a few things that homeowners can check to get an idea how serious the problem might be. First, determine if you are dealing with one slow drain—a single shower or sink—or is this happening in many or most of your drains?

 

A single slow drain may be a simple DIY repair. When only one drain is slow or backing up, the issue is often a clogged drain line. In the case of a bathroom sink or shower, this is often the result of hair that’s built up and caught in the line or trap. You may be able to clear the line yourself.

 

  • Try clearing the line using a plunger. An old-fashion sink plunger can be quite effective at pushing the clog past a bathroom sink p-trap and into the wider sewer line. A power plunger may be more effective for clogged toilets or kitchen sinks which may need the blast of pressurized water it creates to break up or dislodge the blockage and move it down the pipe.
  • Try cleaning the line using a small auger or drain snake. There are several products of different sizes and types available at most hardware stores. Some are simple barbed strips of plastic or metal that can catch on material lodged in the drain and allow you to pull it free. Others can be attached to a power drill and add a little force to the process.
  • Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners which are toxic and can damage your plumbing. Most commercial chemical drain cleaners use hydrochloric acid as a principal ingredient. These cleaners can cause eye, nose, and skin irritation. It’s also corrosive and can eat away at plumbing pipes. There are products which can be effective on minor clogs but are still mild enough to do no harm. Both Coke and Pepsi have fairly high levels of phosphoric acid, which can break down a minor buildup clogging your drain but isn’t as harsh as commercial drain cleaner. Pour a can of warm soda into the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes, then flush with hot water.
  • If the problem persists or soon recurs, it’s time to call a plumber. A persistent or recurring slow drain can be the sign of a more serious problem and requires a professional with the expertise and equipment to troubleshoot the issue and make appropriate, lasting repairs.

 

 

Several fixtures draining slowly may the sign of a more serious problem. Your home has a series of pipes and vents that make up your plumbing drain system. Problems in the vent lines, drainpipes, main sewer line, or septic system can cause drain issues affecting your entire home.  These parts of the plumbing system can be difficult to access, making them harder to use DIY fixes. Left unrepaired, these drain issues can cause serious damage to your plumbing system and create messy backups that damage your home and your belongings.

 

  • Vent lines allow free air flow that equalizes the pressure in your drainpipes and main sewer line. If a vent line becomes clogged, drainage slows, and more serious problems can arise. In autumn, falling leaves and debris can clog vent pipes. In winter, heavy snow and ice can build up on the roof, blocking the vent. In spring and summer, bird sometimes build nests atop the pipe opening, blocking the vent. One symptom of a blocked vent line is a “gurgling” sound during draining.
  • Drainpipes connect your individual fixtures to your main sewer line. Drainpipes can become clogged by the same materials that can build up in sink traps and other fixtures. Hard water can create problems in galvanized steel drainpipes (found in some homes built before 1980). The limescale deposits inside these drainpipes can seriously restrict water flow over time.
  • The Main Sewer Line carries all the wastewater from your home out to the city sewer system or your septic system. Everything that goes down your drains passes through your main sewer line. So, everything that can clog those drains, can also build up and clog the main sewer line. Your sewer line is also subject to outside issues that can cause slow draining. Crushed or broken pipes, root intrusion, earth movement affecting angle or creating offsets (separations in the line) can all lead to slow draining—and worse yet, they can cause the sewer line to back up into your home. The only way to determine the health of the main sewer line is by having a camera inspection or sewer scope performed by a certified professional sewer inspector. These inspections can often find hidden problems before they create a messy backup inside your home.
  • Septic Systems are underground wastewater treatment structures often found in rural and semi-rural areas. Wastewater from your home is piped to the septic system for basic treatment. Your septic tank is a simple onsite sewage facility for your personal use. Problems with the septic system can cause waste to build up too fast for the system to handle. That waste can then back up into your main sewer line, cause slow drains inside your home. Septic systems are generally the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain, so a regular septic inspections and maintenance is advised.

 

A single slow drain may be a simple clog, or it may be an early warning of something more serious. Try to clear the drain as soon as you notice an issue to keep the clog from becoming a bigger problem further down the line. If you can’t clear it, don’t ignore it. Call a professional.

 

Multiple slow drains should never be ignored because they generally indicate a larger, more serious problem. One fairly inexpensive step to take is to have your main sewer line scoped by a certified sewer inspector. Since problems with this line can be some of the most expensive drain system issues a home can have, having yours checked will give you a good idea what you need to do to maintain it and protect your entire sewer system and keep your drains flowing freel

why have a home security system

a home security system can help prevent home burglaries
don’t be a victim of a home burglary

Why have a home security system. The dogdays of summer are here.

Did you know this is also the time of year when most residential burglaries occur?

According to the FBI, there were more than 1.2 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2018 (the last year for which we have complete data). That a burglary every 25 seconds. July and August are the busiest months for burglars.  Statistics show that more than 95 percent of burglaries involve break-in by force, such as by breaking a window or door lock and 59 percent of home burglaries occur during the day while residents are at work or at school. Homes with a lot of cover, like large bushes, trees, fences, and gardens, are more likely to be broken into.

Victims of burglaries suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses in 2018—about $2,700 in property losses per burglary.

And those are just the thieves who get inside. Porch pirates steal about 1.7 million delivered packages every day according to a study by the New York Times. One in three Americans report having at least one package stolen from their front porch or stoop. And nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of these thefts than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.

The U.S. Postal Service reports postal inspectors arrested almost 2,500 suspected package thieves in 2018. But those thefts add up to more than $25 million in stolen items every day—more than $9.1 billion a year, according to C+R Research. Nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of porch pirates than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.

In many cases, a security system could prevent homes from becoming a part of these statistics. The National Council for Home Safety and Security says that homes without alarms are three times as likely to get burglarized. It’s also important to point out that residential burglaries have declined nearly 40% since 2014 according to the FBI, while the number of residential security
systems rose.

Security company window stickers and yard signs can deter crime. A comprehensive five-year study by researchers at the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice found that residential burglar alarm systems decrease crime. According to the study, the presence of a home security system deters burglars from breaking into that home and acted as a deterrent for neighbors’ homes too. And a neighborhood or community with several homes that have security systems installed deterred burglars from the entire area.

The jury is still out as to whether Doorbell cameras stop thieves, but police say they can play a role in solving crimes. St. Louis County Police officer Tracy Panus told KMOV-TV these videos do help. “I think they are a fantastic investigative tool”, she said.  Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp told Government Technology Magazine that doorbell camera videos have helped police investigating crimes including residential burglaries, package thefts, auto break-ins and vandalism.

According to data insights firm Strategy Analytics, global spending on doorbell cameras is expected to triple from $500 million in 2019 to $1.4 billion by 2023. These tiny electronic watchdogs monitor who come and goes. They offer video streaming and let you use your smart phone to chat with visitors, keep an eye on kids coming home from school, and watch for package deliveries. They can be tied to door locks and motion detectors and can be part of a professionally monitored home security system.

Nathan Stroup of Secure 24 specializes in working with new home buyers. Stroup says security systems today are highly customizable and come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.  Consumers have access to multiple DIY options as well as fully monitored and automated systems that can integrate with all a home’s other systems like heat and lighting. Stroup says it’s important to do a little homework to get the features that fit your needs and your budget, especially if you’re doing it yourself. “There’s just so much available today,” he said.

Working with a full-service security company can be very helpful according to Stroup. “There are dozens of features and hundreds of ways to configure a system,” Stroup said. “ADT clients can get everything from a basic system with motion detectors, door sensors, and doorbell cameras, to complex set ups with indoor and outdoor cameras, and smart home integration, and control it all using virtual assistants like Alexa,” he said.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners can see substantial savings on their insurance by installing anti-theft security systems. Monitored home security systems can lower a homeowner’s insurance premium by as much as 10-20 percent a year. Even adding a
camera doorbell can cut a home insurance policy rate by five percent or more.

Pat Howard at Policy Genius says even with the savings, “you probably shouldn’t get a home security system if the end goal is to make your homeowners insurance cheaper,.” You just don’t save enough to fully cover the costs. “However,” he said, “you should get a home security system if your goal is to make your home a safer place and prevent future theft claims down the
road.”

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Secure 24 ADT Rep Nathan Stroup talks about evaluating a home’s security needs:

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:

https://hawleyhomeinspectionsllc.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HawleyHomeInspections

Thermal Imaging is an Important Tool for Inspectors

Thermal Imaging  – Infrared Inspection

The New Home Inspection Essential

 

Hiden water leaks often show up with thermal imaging
water leak

Buying a home is be the biggest purchase most people will make in their lifetimes. So, it’s important to invest the process. The home inspection is a critical part of the home buying process. It provides buyers with an impartial, professional, visual assessment of the home they are about to purchase. This gives buyers and their agents a valuable tool for negotiation, so it needs to give them as much information as possible. Enter infrared thermography.

 

As with most other industries, scientific advancements and new technologies have broadened the scope of a thorough home inspection and improved the inspector’s ability to assess the condition of the home. The development of modern tools like accurate, short term radon testing devices and air quality pumps and cassettes has allowed home inspectors to provide radon testing and airborne mold testing and given buyers valuable insights into the health or health risks of a home. Likewise, thermal imaging or infrared (IR) cameras have given home inspectors a whole new way to evaluate the home that gives buyers and their agents information that was previously unavailable to them.

 

Thermal imaging or thermography is an advanced, non-invasive technology that uses infrared imaging to take pictures of temperature variances of surfaces. These non-contact tools give the inspector the ability to see things that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Infrared thermography can’t actually see behind walls, but it can detect temperature differences on the surface of walls, often revealing what’s hidden. This technology can help the inspector identify and document issues that may not be apparent in a visual inspection. Using an infrared camera can reveal moisture intrusion, heat and energy loss, unexpected hot spots, and more.

 

IR cameras can detect moisture intrusion. They can find otherwise hidden plumbing leaks. They can help inspectors locate missing, damaged, or wet insulation. They can reveal unseen leaks before the damage gets serious. According to the US Department of Energy, “because wet insulation conducts heat faster than dry insulation, thermographic scans of roofs can often detect roof leaks.” Thermal imaging can also expose water and moisture intrusion at the foundation, subfloor, and around exterior doors and windows that could lead to structural damage and mold.

 

Moisture levels may show up in IR pictures when not obvious to the human eye

 

Thermography is excellent for determining issues of heat loss and air infiltration. These can be revealed in walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and IR may be able to identify electrical problems such as loose or bad connections and over loaded circuitsdoors. This technology can help an inspector find damage in radiant heating systems and determine if something is malfunctioning. Thermal imaging makes air conditioner compressor leaks visible. It can shine a light on structural defects that can lead to energy loss, like under-fastening or missing framing members. An infrared camera can detect broken seals in thermal windows.

Infrared imaging is excellent for finding hidden hot spots. These can be a sign of significant safety or fire hazards. Infrared cameras are effective at locating hotspots caused by circuit breaker defects, overloaded and undersized electric circuits, and overheated electrical equipment. Thermal imaging can find electrical faults before they cause a fire.

 

Thermal imaging can be used to help determine if appliances are working correctly. Properly operating appliances will exhibit surface temperature differences that can easily be picked up with an infrared camera.

 

Thermal cameras can’t see behind walls, but by using infrared technology, they can find a lot of problems that might not be obvious upon visual examination. Some of the other things IR cameras can reveal include serious hazards like exhaust flue leaks which can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. They can spot heat signatures created by intruders like mice, rats, raccoons, and other pests hiding in the walls or ceilings of the home. They can even help the inspector see termite and ant infestations by revealing points of energy loss through shelter tubes leading outside.

 

Infrared inspections have their limits. Thermal imaging is not an X-ray or similar technology. An IR camera can’t see through walls. It can only detect conditions that produce a temperature difference at the surface of the evaluated area. The thermal imaging device can’t see behind any obstructions including furniture, pictures or anything that will obscure the surface of the area being evaluated. Specific condition must be present for infrared imaging to find wet building materials, but when those condition are met, the images are telling.

 

As with any type of inspection, thermography can’t predict future conditions. But it can give your inspector insight into conditions that could predictably worsen. Finding hidden moisture intrusion along the roof line using thermal imaging allows for repairs to be made before it causes serious structural problems.

 

Our inspectors are Certified Residential Thermographers. That means they are trained and tested professionals. Interpreting the data gathered using infrared thermography is perhaps the most critical aspect of a thermal imaging inspection. Infrared images must be interpreted by an expert who understands the limits of the technology and issues that can cause errors in measurements like dry areas and reflected heat. Professionals understand the limits of surface readings. A qualified interpretation lets buyers know what the findings mean. Is the issue found is of immediate concern, like an overloading circuit breaker, or a home improvement item, like adding insulation to an exterior wall? The distinction is critical. Our certified inspectors have the skills and know-how to accurately interpret infrared images and explain their findings in clear language that puts the issues found in proper perspective.

 

We expect thermal imaging to rapidly become one of the more indispensable implements in our home inspection toolkit. The IR camera equipment is expensive enough that not every inspector offers this type of inspection. Those who do often charge a hefty ancillary fee. Not us.

 

At Hawley Home Inspections, we feel the information gathered using infrared imaging is too important to leave out of a complete home inspection, so just like our free WDI/termite inspection, we are making it part of the standard home inspection process. And issues found with IR equipment during the home inspection are included in the free follow-up inspection. This is the only sure way to determine whether the repair work performed has effectively addressed the issues that our thermal imaging inspection uncovered.

 

Our mission is to set the standard for the home inspection industry in the St. Louis region by providing our clients the most thorough, highest quality professional inspections they can get and to do so at a fair price. Adding infrared thermography to our home inspections without charging extra is part of accomplishing that mission.

For more useful home maintenance tips and information visit us at:

https://hawleyhomeinspectionsllc.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HawleyHomeInspections