Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Future of Marketing Real Estate

I have read a number of articles lately discussing predictions on what the real estate market will be like when it corrects. There is an agreement among these articles that the real estate market will be a new ball game and that marketing will make a shift to predominately online media.

With a drive to optimize marketing dollars, the Internet is by far the hands down choice for broad reach with an abundance of information for a small cost. However, not only is economy driving the shift, but the Internet savvy consumer is demanding it. In this modern economy of high demand on individual’s time, and high demand for information on which to base decisions, online information is the option of choice. An ever increasing number of consumers are looking online for information. Print advertising seems to be falling more and more to the roll of pointing the consumer to a website where the desired information can be obtained in the form of quality photos, descriptive text and interactive experiences. This seems to be particularly true of high ticket items, such as real estate, where consumers decide which homes to view in person based on information they have obtained online.

Moving forward, it will become more and more necessary for Realtors to provide quality information in abundance while creating a professional and tech savvy online image. In an arena where so many options are available, it is easy for the consumer to pass by a listing that does not offer an eye catching, professional presentation immediately. Professional virtual tour creation and photography, quality interactive marketing, and effective online syndication are the cornerstones of creating an online campaign that will make your real estate listing stand out from the others. And if the professionals’ predictions about the future of the market are correct, these items will become the standard for real estate marketing in the future.

If you have questions about establishing your Internet presence in 2009, Ark-La-Tex Virtual Tours will help you make an informed decision about which marketing options are best for you. Contact us today for information and answers to your questions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Who's Reading the Magazine

A discussion came up today about where home buyers are shopping for information on homes for sale. One realtor made the statement that advertising in home magazines had become an outdated form of advertising. And it seems that statistics support what her experience has proved. Statistics from an array of real estate related sources agree that 1/3 or less of home buyers read printed home publications. So where are the other 2/3.

Those same statistics seem to agree that the majority of buyers (over 80%) are looking online for information. The online forum allows for sharing a larger amount of information on a single home listing. From an array of photos, to virtual tours, to textual information that does not have to be encrypted with abbreviations, online sources offer far more information about the home for sale.

I was disappointed when I searched real estate listings in the Shreveport/Bossier City area and got such a huge return of listing that did not even offer a single photograph. Nothing at all to capture the viewer's attention. Considering the ease with which a buyer can move on to the next listing and the next realtor, it is important to do everything possible to stay in front of the buyer. Offering loads of information about the home is one way to do this. High quality photography, professionally produced virtual tours and visually descriptive text go a long way toward turning a real estate surfer into a high interest lead.

Home buyers are looking for information and the real estate community now has a highly effective, low cost means to give it to them. The Internet is no longer the wave of the future. It is and those not riding the wave, may soon begin to find themselves left behind.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Attention Getters

Panoramic sign riders are the latest in innovative marketing solutions for real estate agents or For Sale By Owner properties. These riders are designed to capture the attention of passers-by and to stand out from the crowd of other real estate riders.

A drive through any neighborhood in the Shreveport/Bossier City area will reveal a host of real estate signs and their respective riders. Most of these provide information such as the listing realtor, a phone number or maybe a website address. However, PanoRiders are not your typical sign rider. A PanoRider offers a full color, high resolution panorama of the interior of the property. Text alone is not enough any more, this sign rider will capture the interest of buyers with a glimpse inside the home.

Once the buyers interest is peaked, they can gain the information they are seeking with the single property website located on the PanoRider. This single property web address is the address of the listing itself. Once online, the buyer will see a virtual tour of the entire interior of the home along with the listing agent's or owner's contact information, a mortgage calculator, school information and much more.

Next, of course, the interested buyer calls the agent and offers double the asking price for the home, then requests to bring a check by that afternoon……Ok, no, that part doesn’t really happen. But, this sign rider does generate leads who are familiar with the property and already highly interested.

This innovative marketing tool harnesses the power of the internet together with the power of a yard sign to gain exposure for real estate listings. If you are a real estate agent or an FSBO who wants to stand apart from the crowd while maintaining cost effective advertising, this is worth your time to investigate.

Contact Ark-La-Tex Virtual Tours, your Shreveport/Bossier City virtual tour company, to learn more about innovative marketing solutions for your property.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Nifty Internet Marketing Stuff

Ever suffer from that writer's block where you know where you want to go with the thought, but just can't find the words to get there? Well, that's me today. Ok, that's me pretty often.

My web designer says, 'we need a description for our "About Us" webpage'. I have all these keywords floating in my head...Shreveport, Bossier City, Virtual Tour Company, Internet Marketing Tools, Website Design...need a complete sentence...preferably one that makes sense.

Ok, here it is...Ark-La-Tex Virtual Tours provides an array of nifty internet marketing stuff. Ok, needs some work. Fortunately, my brilliant web guy worded it much better, although much less colorfully, I thought.

Feeling that "nifty internet marketing stuff" may need some explanation, I figured a blog was in order. Following is the official definition of 'really nifty internet marketing tools'.

Nifty Internet Marketing Stuff consists of an array of tools designed to promote commercial and residential real estate as well as any property which might benefit from internet marketing exposure. These tools include, but are not limited to virtual tours (360 interactive ones, not slide shows), single property websites, panoramic sign riders (These are different from the riders seen on almost every real estate sign. Check them out.), website design, 3D animated walk-throughs, 3D floors plans, and tour audio narrative. Nifty Internet Marketing Tools should be considered by anyone looking for greater exposure for their property, a new and innovative marketing approach, or a more cost effective marketing plan able to reach a broad audience.

So, there you have it - nifty internet marketing tools. Next time you are curious about exactly what this means or if you think may need some nifty tools to bolster your business or stretch your marketing dollars, give Ark-La-Tex Virtual Tours a call. We have an abundance of them and would be glad to discuss what they can do for you.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Super Huge Thank You!!

I just wanted to say "Thank You!!!" to the homeowners at our 241 Duval virtual tour shoot this week. They have been extremely kind and complimentary regarding the virtual tour we photographed for them earlier this week. Their kind words have really made our day and we just wanted to say thanks.

If you are looking for a home in the Benton area with a country living atmosphere close to the city, you may want to check this one out. Just minutes from Bossier City and Shreveport, it is on 1.75 acres and the home is beautiful. The tour can be see here. Thier real estate agent's contact information along with an email link is available on the tour window.

Take a 360 Virtual Tour

Thanks again to the homeowners! We wish them the best in their future endeavors.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Preparing Your Home for a Virtual Tour

A virtual tour of your home can be a powerful internet marketing tool. It will allow home shoppers all over Shreveport/Bossier City and the internet to view your property. Potential buyers can “prescreen” your home prior to visiting in person, thereby helping you to sale your home with less stress and disruption. Here are some tips to get the most from your virtual home tour.

Tip 1: Tidy up. Think of your virtual tour as an Open House 24/7. Prepare your home as if you are having an open house. As you prepare, go through each room tidying up. Items on countertops such as the basket of mail in the kitchen or the toiletries on the bathroom counter should be removed. Tables and counters will show best with just a few tastefully selected items. Pick up and put away children’s toys, clothes, dishes, items on the floors and furniture. All this can appear to be clutter in the camera. Don’t forget to check for burnt out light bulbs which can really stand out in a photograph.

Tip 2: Please do not have other workers such as housekeeping, lawn crews, or repairmen at the home during this time. If you desire to have housekeeping or lawn work done ahead of time, your virtual tour company will be glad to work with you on the best possible time to photograph your home.

Tip 3: Some pets love to pose for the camera! But others are uncomfortable with equipment or strangers. Please plan ahead for your pets.

Tip 4: What’s on your fridge? The family photos and artwork on the refrigerator are fun to look at, however, it can often appear as clutter to the camera. Please plan to remove these items before your virtual tour. A clean front on the refrigerator always shows best in photographs.

Tip 5: If you have begun packing, remove the boxes to an area which will not be photographed. Items stacked in the corner or tucked under the bed can show in the photos and this will keep your home from looking its best.

Tip 6: Outside move summertime items such as bikes, skates and pool toys to a storage area. Plan to have the lawn mowed and edged. If summer heat has caused the grass to turn brown, try to water a couple of days in advance to give it a fresh look. Trim hedges and sweep walks and driveways to give a manicured and inviting appearance. Add a few flowering plants for extra curb appeal!

Tip 7: Finally, don’t forget the pool. A sparkling, clear pool can inspire thoughts of summer fun and relaxation, even in the “off” season. However, green murky water can leave an impression too. Make sure your pool is an inviting asset to your home.

A professionally photographed virtual tour is an open house 24/7. It should show your home to lots of potential buyers and bring serious buyers to your doorstep. For more information about virtual tour solutions to help sell your home contact your local virtual tour company.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Choosing a Virtual Tour Company

With new virtual tour companies popping up on an almost daily basis, how do you choose the one that is right for you? There are several things to consider when choosing a virtual tour provider. A critical point to remember here is that the product you place on the Internet to market yourself reflects on you as a professional and on the quality of service that you provide. So make sure whatever you choose, that it is something you are proud to put your name on.

First, you will need to consider if you want a "do-it-yourself" company or a full service virtual tour provider. Don't be driven by price alone here. The quality of the product and the required time investment are important considerations. If your photography skills leave something to be desired, you may want to consider a professional. Also, consider if you have the time available to photograph, build, upload, and maintain the tour. If you discover that your time investment requires more dollars than it would take to hire a professional, then hire the professional. Your time is worth money and should be invested in those activities that generate income such as taking a new listing or attending a closing.

Second, consider the features offered in the product. Does it meet all your marketing needs? Can your virtual tour solution be expanded to meet any future needs? And is there support for the product if you have questions or problems? Investing in virtual tours that you can't utilize and can't get help with means that they are stuck in your computer, not out there doing the job they are intended to do.

Research companies by looking at active samples of their work done for real clients. Ask questions, and get answers so that you can choose a virtual tour solution that meets your marketing needs.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Really Awesome Websites!!

So you want a new website. Something eye catching, something interesting, something engaging, something....that sells your product.

With more people than ever surfing the Internet for everything from information on next Sunday's big game to the best deal on refrigerators, a unique web presence has almost become a necessity. In today's world, if there is a need, the Internet has some kind of answer.

Your web presence can have a large impact on your business. The image you present on your website tells people a lot about you and how you do business. This is why it is important to have a website that accurately portrays you and your business. Below is some "food for thought" on putting together a website.

What Do I Want My Site To Say About Me? Carefully consider the answer to this question. This is the image you present to the world. Whether it is streamlined and professional or fun and whimsical, it should be a reflection of you and your business.

What Do I Want My Site To Do? The information you put out there and how people access that information can affect how effective your website is in generating business. A well thought out and organized site will engage viewers, provide them the information they are looking for, and allow them to make an informed decision about the products you offer. Organization is key. Can people move around your site easily to find the information they are looking for?

Your website can act as an employee, providing information and generating interest in you and your business. It is a reflection of you and your personality. So go out there and have fun designing your personal, really awesome website!