Environmentally-conscious consumers now have a place to find plans for sustainable homes. And the best part is, many plans are free.
FreeGreen, the collaboration of a diverse group of progressive, energetic architects, engineers, and entrepreneurs, lets visitors view and download plans to many styles of affordable, durable, energy-efficient homes.
Select a home and view 3-D renderings of the interior as well as explanations of the home’s sustainability features. A plan I previewed, for example had, among other features, a flat roof for solar panels and a south-facing orientation to facilitate solar heating. Choose a home you like and download the plans along with information on estimated energy and building costs—all for free with a basic membership. Premium members have access to additional features.
Prefer a custom-designed, sustainable home? FreeGree can prepare plans to meet consumers’ specifications quickly and inexpensively.
It’s a fun site to visit and a great place to send clients or builders looking for green home ideas.
Recently, Chicago real estate professional Andrea Geller wrote about her frustration at trying to find the contact information of an agent in another state to whom she was referring one of her clients. She wanted to learn something about that agent and maybe even talk to them before passing her client along. But that out-of-state agent couldn’t be found on Google. In fact, it took Andrea a good bit of work to find a direct link to that agent on the Internet.
What if a consumer or another agent were trying to find you? What would they get if they googled your name? How much searching would they have to do on the Internet before they found your contact information? And if someone did contact you based on an Internet search, how long would it take you to answer?
Here are the five minimum things you should do to make sure prospects and colleagues can find you with ease:
- Have a LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile serves as an online résumé that will come up whenever anybody googles you name.
- Have a Google profile. Google also lets you create a profile, in which you can write a description of yourself, upload photos, and provide links to other applications you use on the Web.
- Be on Facebook. A Facebook Fan Page is ideal because it lets you keep your friends and family separate from your professional image, and because the person looking for you wouldn’t have to have a Facebook account to find you.
- Check Your Broker’s Site. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and up to date on your broker’s website. If you can’t control what’s on your broker’s site, get your own website.
- Have Your Own Website. Even if you do have input regarding what appears on your broker’s site, you should have your own website. On your own website, you can express our individuality, show your professionalism, and demonstrate how you differ from your colleagues. A blog is even better than a static website because it allows you to easily update the site’s content.
There is more you can do. But if you can’t find yourself when you google your name, start with these.
If sitting down and writing a blog is not your thing, consider podcasting as an alternative.
A podcast is a special kind of audio file that you create and that your “readers” can download and listen to whenever they like. Typically, podcasts are made to sound like mini radio shows with lead-in theme music and a different topic each week. Prospective listeners can subscribe to your shows so they never miss out and they can listen on an iPod or simply through their computer speakers.
Podcasts are relatively inexpensive and easy to make. If you get in the habit of producing and posting them regularly, people will get in the habit of listening, especially if you offer information that’s valuable, informative, and entertaining. Podcasts can position you as the real estate expert in your community, the go-to person when a journalist needs a knowledgeable real estate resource. They can also help you build a following among prospective buyers and sellers in your area.
To be fair, podcasting is not as exciting a tool as it was a few years ago. The rise of YouTube, along with iPods and smartphones that can play visual content, have pushed podcasting to the side a little bit. But it still has its place.
Take a look (or rather have a listen) at how these real estate professionals are using podcasts:
Need help getting started with Twitter? Watch this presentation for ideas on how you can begin to use Twitter for marketing.
Several months back, we wrote about 12 Terrific Topics for Your Real Estate Blog. But this is even better: 50 specific ideas.
Fifty-four, actually. That’s enough to get you through the rest of the year and easily into 2010. Some may require a bit of research and some will require you to use pseudonyms to protect the privacy of your clients. But all will help you position yourself as a mover and shaker in your community, and a knowledgeable real estate professional.
- Describe how the Internet is changing (or has changed) the real estate industry
- Write about how technology is changing how real estate agents work
- Review the provisions for the first time home buyers credit and remind your readers to get moving if they want to get in under the wire
- Offer a list with links to the best web sites for finding property
- Write an article that reviews the best new homeowner websites, like HouseLogic or HomeSpace
- Create a step-by-step lesson on how to log in and use the consumer features of your local MLS or your company’s property search website
- Offer a list with links to local economic data
- Offer your predictions for the 2010 housing market based on what you’ve seen so far
- Write about neighborhoods or communities where buyers are finding real estate bargains
- Create an article that offers resources for homeowners who need to refinance
- Have a loan officer write a guest post
- Offer links to useful, need-to-know information for homeowners who are thinking of renting rather than selling
- Offer easy or inexpensive home updating ideas for sellers who will be putting their homes on the market this year
- Post a list of questions prospective sellers should ask prospective listing agents
- Write a down-to-earth article about the realities of selling in today’s market
- Describe what to look for when choosing a home inspector
- Have a home inspector write a guest post
- Describe what to look for when choosing a lender
- Post a list of financial documents and personal information prospective buyers will need to assemble in order to be pre-approved for a mortgage
- Write an article (or a series of articles) about what buyers can expect when purchasing a foreclosure
- Write an article (or a series of articles) about what sellers can expect when doing a short sale
- Write an article for homeowners about how to contest a property tax increase
- Describe how you help buyers quickly and easily find the perfect home despite the huge inventory
- Offer several quick and easy home staging tips
- Have a home staging professional write a guest post
- Explain why buyers and sellers need a real estate agent (that is, describe what real estate professionals do that they can’t do for themselves)
- “10 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Putting Your Home On The Market In This Economy”
- Write an article for first-time home buyers telling them what they need to know about owning a condominium
- Invite a real estate attorney to write a guest post
- Consumers often don’t understand the difference between a real estate sales agent and a real estate broker. Write a post that explains the difference between these two types of licenses
- Write a post about how you use Twitter and how your readers would benefit by following you
- Ask a question and poll your readers to get their response
- “8 Social Media Tools I Use Each Day and How They Help Me Help You”
- Or, “Why I Don’t Use Twitter, Facebook, or Other Social Media”
- Tell about a client who sold a home quickly in the past few months and how they were able to accomplish that
- Tell about a pair of homeowners at risk who were able to restructure their mortgage and keep their home.
- Invite your readers to submit their tips for frugal living in the current economy and write a post which includes the best tips
- Create an article with links to green living resources for homeowners
- Describe 5 things you do for clients that most other real estate professionals don’t do
- Describe 5 things your brokerage does for clients that most other brokerages don’t do
- Summarize the conferences you’ve attended, the training you’ve undergone, and the required courses you’ve taken in the past 12 months and how those experiences translate into better service for clients who work with you
- Describe the biggest problem a client had in the past year and how you helped that client solve their problem
- Share a testimonial sent to you by a client
- Write an article about the recent FHA changes and how they will affect buyers in 2010
- Write an article to help sellers understand that they don’t determine the selling price of their home, the market does
- Lease with option to buy: explain what it is and how it works
- Post a story with pictures of an important local event (e.g., the high school team winning a championship)
- Write about a person or an organization doing good things in your community
- List the “best places” in your community (e.g., the best place to picnic, the best bike path, the best beach, the best place to ice skate, the best place for tobogganing, etc.)
- Invite your readers to submit their lists of best places
- “25 Free Activities for Families” (or singles, or couples, or seniors)
- Write about a local organization in which you’re active and encourage your readers to get involved
- Write an article about a special property (e.g., historic landmark, famous former owner, luxury property, etc.) your brokerage is listing
- Write a article that reminds your readers of their fair housing rights and includes links to fair housing resources