Featured Feature: Analytics

Today's post begins a new series we will be sharing - "Featured Feature" - where we will focus on one of the many unique offerings Real Estate Ally has, taking a deeper look into how it helps agents and brokers manage their businesses.

First up is Analytics and Reporting.

Simple Interface

Agents and brokers know they need to crunch the numbers to analyze important things like days on market, properties sold, etc - but often dread the process due to complicated or non-existent systems. Real Estate Ally's reporting tool is super easy to use allowing users to run reports in seconds. And since Real Estate Ally is a responsive website that means agents can run reports from their phone or tablet in the field - without even downloading an app.

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Dynamic Insights

The interface may be simple but that doesn't mean it lacks substance. What's unique about Real Estate Ally is that it brings together all of the major platforms an agent or broker works with - CRM, MLS and transactions - allowing for reporting that could never be done in one easy step before. Now its super simple to not only identify the houses driving up days on market but immediately pull up the corresponding listings connected through interactive reporting links.

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Or perhaps it was the other way around and there were houses that sold like hotcakes, but why? Click through the report to discover linkages between sellers and customers!

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Better Business Management

In today's world, real estate agents are looking more like entrepreneurs, managing their listings like their own business. With Real Estate Ally's reporting tool they gain a better understanding of their opportunities and weaknesses, allowing them to adapt and make changes quickly - a necessity in today's fast-paced and competitive market. 

Interested in trying Real Estate Ally for yourself? 

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Cristina is a Marketing intern for the Real Estate Ally team. Real Estate Ally’s mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their businesses and manage for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based business intelligence solution. Learn more about how Real Estate Ally can revolutionize your business here!

 

 

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Customer Profile: Advantage Realty

advantage-logoAdvantage Realty is a small, independent brokerage located in Russell, KS. Over the past 12 years, they have overcome the difficulties of operating in an isolated rural market to employ 10 people, including 8 Realtors. They have created a lasting impact on their local community not only by providing an unrivaled level of professional service to their customers, but also through their activities to educate homeowners on the benefits of home upkeep, curb appeal and improvement.

Advantage was Real Estate Ally's very fist client and has been vital in helping us shape a product that provides concrete benefits to agents and brokers, even those working in challenging or unique markets.

Jeannine-Byers-LongJeannine Byers-Long, founder and managing broker of Advantage Realty, shares her thoughts on the struggles of independent brokerages, how Real Estate Ally has helped her create a thriving business, and what she hopes to accomplish for the future.

REAlly: What are some of the challenges you've faced with the growth of your agency?

Jeannine:

The biggest challenge was tracking the business and its growth in terms of numbers: Contract-to-Close days, Days on Market, Average Commission, etc. You always have dollars in & out, but that's not a very accurate picture of how your business is doing. You need to be able to see the impact you're having on the market and how significant that impact is.

REAlly: When did you realize you needed that information? 

Jeannine:

I think I always knew I would need it eventually but I didn't know how quickly. I had to get into owning my own brokerage, not just working at someone else's, to realize how much more information I was going to want.

Growth is awesome, but you have to know how you are growing and why if you want to be able to sustain it. Otherwise, you are just shooting from the hip and there are no guarantees. It very quickly became apparent that if we wanted to sustain any kind of growth what-so-ever, we were going to need a way to organize our business information. Otherwise, we were going to spend all of our time pulling and re-pulling files, and entering and reconfiguring information, every time we needed to know something, instead of actually having time to do anything with that information. 

As an active broker, or even just a managing broker like I am now, I don't have time to be tracking down information or doing all that data figuring, and I certainly don't have the budget to hire someone to do it for me full time, which is what it would take to stay on top of my business.

REAlly: How did you decide to fix this problem?

Jeannine: 

Initially, I relied on resources through my state association who directed me to several vendors, but none of them had what I was looking for. 

So then I went to the internet, but again I was only finding pieces and parts of what I needed. The options were also not cost-effective: I couldn't pay that much for the parts if they weren't even going to integrate together. 

So we initially decided to make our own. I decided, even a barebones database that was integrated would be better than pieces and parts of the picture that I would still have to spend time reconfiguring together. Once we decided we wanted to see the system taken to the next level, that database is of course what acted as the draft for Real Estate Ally. 

REAlly: What has Real Estate Ally helped you do better?

Jeannine:

Well there are the obvious things; We can easily see our own days on market, average prices and commissions and identify "problems" within our company that might be leading to these.

But outside of the obvious, it has been a great tool in helping my agents plan their business. Since agents are independent contractors, it is just as important that each of them be tracking their individual "business" as it is for me to be tracking the brokerages progress. They don't necessarily think about doing that on their own though, and for the most part wouldn't track information like Listing Price vs. Selling Price or Contracts to Closing Ratios. When in the thick of it as an agent, you aren't thinking about any of that. You are worried about putting food on the table. By the time you notice something isn't going right and start to look into these things, its almost too late. 

But with Real Estate Ally, they can track those things on a daily basis. It makes it easy for them to get the important numbers so they can determine right away if a dip in their income is from a market event, or a slip in their listing practices, or a bad set of comps. They can identify those things quickly and focus on constantly improving themselves as agents and as Realtors.

REAlly: That's very interesting, because one of the most common frustrations we hear from brokers is that its impossible to get agents to commit to a system, and then, you know: Garbage In, Garbage Out.

Jeannine:

Oh, that's absolutely an issue. But now that they understand that the system can do those things, and how it can help them, my agents have come to rely on it more and more. They actually have a tendency to treat it like a magic genie, and are really surprised when they find something it can't do yet. Its not just the basic listing exercises anymore; they use it for Comps, Rental Property Reports, Financial Planning. They see how the system is benefiting them now, and they see the possibilities, and how it could help them in ever aspect of their job. 

REAlly: What is your favorite feature?

Jeannine:

I don't know if I have a favorite feature...But the one I use the most often is definitely being able to look at the Sales Log and the Pending Sales. Just from a cash flow basis this helps me get an idea of what is coming up, almost like accounts receivable in a more traditional business. Its huge to have the opportunity to be on the look out for any cash flow issues. 

REAlly: Alright, last question. What are your Goals for 2014?

Jeannine:

Overall, for me as a broker and for the agency in general, one of my big goals moving forward is to streamline and clean-up our operations, our processes. We've worked very hard to make our processes efficient, but they still feel squishy to me, I still feel that there is a lot of paper that floats around, and a lot of "Who had this file?" and "Does anyone know if this has this gotten done yet?" Not that the paper will ever totally go away, but being SO reliant on paper is a liability. It slows everything down.

From a sales forecasting and financial planning standpoint, making those processes more efficient, more transparent, more streamlined would be a huge benefit, as well as saving a lot of time and reducing errors. I feel like Real Estate Ally is going to help us immensely in this area.

For my agency, we are located in a small rural market. The pie is only so big; there is only so much inventory or product for us to sell. After seeing us max out for several years in a row, we have to start looking at other ways to grow. What does our market need? What do our customers want? The new housing development we spearheaded, Advantage 1st Addition, is part of that solution by increasing inventory. Taking on projects like that take a lot of resources and effort, and is just another reason why being able to easily make sure our core activities are running well is so important. Its the only way we can have the time and energy to take one these growth projects that in the long-run will determine our continued success. 


Advantage Realty PROFILE

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Company Size

In Business Since 2002

Total Customers: ~1400

Listings/Month: 10-15

Realtors: 7

Market Size

Population: ~7,000

$ Sales/Year: $8,000,000

Average Home Price: $85,000

Other Products Used:

ZipForms

Android Devices

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Jeannine Byers-Long is the Founder and managing Broker of Advantge Realty in Russell, KS. She has served as the Zone 7 Vice President of the Kansas Associaition of Realtors for the past 5 years. She has served on the Chamber of Commerce and Main Street Business Development Boards, and spearheaded the recent neighborhood revitalization plan. She consults with the city on housing issues and commercial district development.

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New Year Updates

To hit the new year off right, we've released a huge amount of updates for Real Estate Ally, and a few fixes as well. To see the full list click here, but the highlights are below: 

Customer History

Easily see a customer's past history with your company. What houses they've bought and sold, and what listings or sales they are currently involved with.

Outside Agency & FSBO

Now you can properly track listings you sell for FSBO's or Outside agencies, or sales that are made by Outside Agencies by selecting them from the agent dropdown.

Realtor Profiles

Now you can add a picture, bio, Realtor number and specialization to your Profile. In the future, this information will be used to create easy, one page websites for you customer to learn about you and search your listings.

Listing/Sales Search

Now handles "Nice IDs" so you can search by your L13-XXX or S13-XXX numbers.

Listings/Sales/Customers Quick Search

From Your Profile Screen, there are now three quick buttons to help you quickly narrow down your customers, listings or transactions.

Customers are Editable

Accidentally misspelled their name? No need to input the person all over again! Under a customer, you can now edit each persons' information.

Reports are Printable 

Reports can now be easily printed from your browser. When printing, all the collapsible headings will expand to display all information in the report so you only need to print each report once.

Pending Commission

You can now enter a flat fee or % commission for Pending Sales.

See All Tasks

Just click the "See All" link under the Tasks heading to see all your current and upcoming tasks. On this page you will see listings and sales with tasks. Click a listing heading to expand it to see what tasks have been completed, which are currently assigned, and which are coming up soon.

Coming Up Next: 

  • Calendar view that integrates with Google Calendar to show upcoming due dates, deadlines, and closings, and help you manage your showings, meetings and personal stuff around them.
  • New reports to manage your cash flow.
  • Search or Create Feature to make adding listings and sales more streamlined than ever.

FIND A BUG? HAVE A SUGGESTION?

We've added an easy feedback module so you can let us know. Maybe something looks weird on your tablet, or your analytics aren't updating properly, or you just had a fantastic idea bout how to make scheduling open houses easier. Any kind of feedback - Question, Comment, Complaint or Suggestion - can go in this box.

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We want to build a system that you want to use! Let us know what we can do better and we'll get on it.

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The Simple Mistake that is Killing Your Website Traffic

When is the last time you looked at your website?

Come on. Be honest. I don't just mean the front-page either. When is the last time you really clicked around and read through your site?

If your answer is "Ummmm...," or "I checked it when it was built!" or even "A few months ago," chances are good that your website is suffering from this simple to fix problem and it is killing your conversion rates!

Broken Links 

You know all the links on your site were working when it was built. You probably got a report showing there were working, or even meticulously clicked through them all yourself. So how can they be broken?

Sites like Google and Facebook give us the incorrect impression that websites and web content will always be where we first found it. The truth is that most content on the web moves around, A LOT, including the pages on your site! Now the positive is your website is always presenting a fresh, updated face to your customers. The negative is that, if you aren't being careful, you could have links on your site that point to nowhere!

Broken LinksThis is bad for two big reasons.

It is really confusing for customers on your site and makes your site look "unfinished". 

Its also puts a big ding in your search engine and online marketing scores. That means not only is it harder for customer to find you online, it is also harder to compete online against your competitors when someone searches "Real Estate Agents in Your Area."

3 most common places you'll find broken links:

You might think all you need to do is is check your site's main menu. That's where most of the links are and what people use most to get around the site, right? While that might be true when they hit your homepage, once people are actually browsing your site, they use more conveniently placed links (like links in the content or sidebars) much more frequently. 

Here are the most common places broken links crop up: 

  1. 3rd-party versions of your site* (Like IDX search pages, your Blog, or Marketing Landing Pages)
  2. In the text content of your website
  3. The header and footer of your website

*What does this mean exactly? If some of the links on your website go to a URL that isn't yours — if instead the go somewhere like "mybrokeragename.idxsearch.com" or "blogger.com/mybrokerage" these are third party versions of your site. They may have been dressed up to look like they are on your site, but they are actually a completely separate copy and are running on separate files. So when you make updates to your own sites content organization, design or menu, they won't be reflected on these other sites! The third-party sites will still be pretending to be an old version of your site, which can mean LOTS of broken links. Third party web services can be a great way to offer more resources to your customers, quickly, easily and for a great price. Make sure you understand how they work with your own website though, so you can keep them updated accordingly. 

5 ways to easily find, fix and avoid broken links:

  1. Run a link check. 
    This is the big one! Xenu Link Sleuth is our favorite tool for this — it might look ghetto, but its free and provides the most easy-to-use results to help you track down and fix any broken links on your site. It takes about 30 seconds to get a report, so you have no excuse not to check all the time! Its certainly faster than clicking through every link yourself! However, you will have hitor miss luck trying to find the broken links on your third party sites because a lot of them block "crawlers." That the little piece of code Link Sleuth uses to click through all your links. That leads us to our next recommendation...

  2. Keep your 3rd-party templates to a simpler version of your own site.
    You don't need to totally recreate your menu, dropdowns, header, footer and sidebars for the other version of your site. People just need to feel like they are in the right place when they get to those pages. Leave out the stuff that could change often and just hit the high points. To create the illusion of sameness, really all you need are your colors, your logo and a link to get them back to your homepage!

  3. Use "relative" or "permanent" rather than direct links.
    This kind of link will usually not look "friendly," (i.e. http://www.yourrealestateally.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=8&Itemid=228 instead of www.yourrealestateally.com/blog) but they won't change unless the content is completely deleted. CMS systems likes Joomla and Wordpress have plug-ins to help you make these for your own content. Content providers from other sites will often provide them at the bottom of the article or around where the facebook share and print buttons are. 

  4. Create permanent (301) redirects when you update your site.
    These are great for when you are doing a BIG redeisgn or reorganization. If you delete, rename or move pages of you old site, create 301 redirects to send anyone with that link to an appropriate location on the new site. These redirects also help you keep the search engine scores from your old site. Your web developer can do this, or again, if you are on a CMS system, there are free handy plug-ins to make it easy for you to set-up.

  5. Avoid linking to content on someone else's site.
    This one is pretty hard to avoid, but good to keep in mind. Like third-party versions of your site, any links you have to PDFs or content on someone else's site are usually the first ones to break. You just never know when the original site will change or delete it! Instead, especially with PDFs, you can often download the content and upload it to your own site. Now the only person that can move it is you. Don't forget to credit them for their work though!

We all know web has become the most important factor in the home search process. When people click on a broken link, getting sent to that 404 page is the web surfing equivalent of hitting a brick wall. Don't miss out on that million dollar listing call because your website wasn't up to par!

Brittany is a founder of Real Estate Ally. She has a hands-on background working in the real estate field that has allowed her to bring to the company a pragmatic view of the real needs of agents and brokers. Real Estate Ally’s mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their businesses and manage for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based business intelligence solution. Learn more about how Real Estate Ally can revolutionize your business here!

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Drones in Real Estate?

It's a bird..it's a plane..no it's a drone! With the recent buzz over Amazon's announcement to start using drones for deliveries in 4-5 years (despite the current FAA ban for commercial use) we wanted to take a look at what this technology means for real estate in 2014.

Look Ma, No Hands!

The views and images that can be captured using drones are nothing short of amazing. Aerial footage and imagery has been around for years, but drones allow for much more intimate and in-depth views of properties. The Wydler Brothers, a brokerage in the Washington D.C. area, used a drone to create an elegant 'neighborhood walk-through' of Westmoreland Hills in Bethesda, Maryland.

Source:Wydler Brothers Realty
 
Here's another great example of the amazing vistas captured by drones out of Prudential California Realty:

Not for the Average Joe

While there are plenty of affordable models that the average consumer could use, available on Amazon.com for anywhere from $100-$600, they won't produce as great of a result as you see above. For high-quality imagery you're better off hiring a professional who uses more sophisticated equipment. But be careful - with the FAA ban on commercial use, some photographers have been warned with a cease-and-desist.

What's in Store?

The Federal Aviation Administration plans to announce proposed rules for small drones later this year. According to SFGate.com, there still remains the question whether the FAA has jurisdiction over private drones that operate under 400 feet. While the FAA has until September 2015 to finalize the rules for the commercial use, they are behind schedule on their plans. We anxiously await their announcement and how drones will change real estate in 2014.

Cristina is a Marketing intern for the Real Estate Ally team. Real Estate Ally’s mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their businesses and manage for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based business intelligence solution. Learn more about how Real Estate Ally can revolutionize your business here!

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Real Estate Resolution Solutions

Happy 2014! It's a new year, a fresh start, the perfect time to "start over" and envision how you want the next year to unfold. We thought of some common resolutions agents like you might be making for 2014 and how we can be your ally to make those resolutions a reality!

 

Learn something new

Ready or not, emerging technologies are making a huge impact on the way business is done in the real estate industry. But who's to say that the transition and learning process can't be fun?

Solution: Try downloading a new app once or twice a month. Whether you stick with the app or not, keeping up with what's new will give you an edge. We love the Magic Plan app, that let's you create 3D floor plans instantly just by using your iPhone or iPad.

 

Be more organized

We are all human, so it's natural to have some things fall through the cracks. But are you starting to feel like you can't keep up? As business picks up its easier and easier to keep track of all of your to-dos.

Solution: With Real Estate Ally's Task feature, your to-do list will automatically update as you update leads, listings and complete sales. Created and modeled on best practices, you'll never forget to complete paperwork, call a customer or send a closing gift ever again!

 

Boost your social media presence

Did you start a Pinterest or Facebook page but haven't been keeping up with it? Do you have trouble remembering to update?

Solution: Dedicate a time slot each week for social media and create a content calendar. With Facebook and Twitter features that allow you to schedule posts, you can plan out content and announcements you want to share in advance. Don't spin your wheels either, learn about the Facebook lead generation process here.

 

Manage your time better

Better time management means less time in the office and more time out in the field selling homes (and at home with your family!). Are you frustrated with the amount of time it takes you to input the same information across multiple places (your MLS, CRM and transaction systems)?

Solution: With Real Estate Ally you'll have open platform integration, meaning everything you use to manage your business will become syncronized and controllable from ONE PLACE. Create a listing in REA and it will automatically be updated in your MLS and CRM, your to-do list will be generated and you'll be able to push through to your social media channels all with a click. You'll be saving a third of your time, if not more!

 

If you're interested in learning more about the Real Estate Ally platform contact us, check out the demo, or start your 60 day free trial today!

Here's to a robust 2014!

 

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Top Real Estate Trends in 2013 Infographic

As the year comes to a close and agents and brokers alike start gearing up for 2014, there isn't a better time than now to reflect on some trends from 2013. We designed our own infographic to illustrate some trends found by realtor.org. What we found most interesting: "Nearly every REALTOR® and brokerage in the country introduced a mobile app this year to make it easier for buyers and sellers to access information from their smartphones and tablets, including realtor.com®". You can read the original article here. Enjoy!

Housing-Trends

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Why Real Estate Technology Isn't as Scary as You Think

CartaviGSDRE-300x110

Inman hosts a series of FREE webinars throughout the year, if you haven't had the chance to tune in to any, definitely check them out in 2014! You can access past webinar recordings here.

We're particularly excited about their latest webinar from last week, a discussion panel with brokers about how to bridge barriers in real estate technology adoption. Changing or updating systems can seem overwhelming or frustrating. Hear some real world tips and tricks from brokers Joe Schutt, Tammy Stuart and Kim Knapp.

The panel helps answer other questions like:

  • As you move towards creating a digital/paperless office how do you determine which digital platforms are best?
  • Are you settling for the technology that is given, or do you choose your own?
  • What are the biggest challenges in choosing and adopting technology?
  • How do you manage employees with lower levels of technical ability or those who don’t want to adapt? 
  • What are your biggest challenges with using technology in your transaction work flow?

Check out the recorded session here. Tammy mentions the value of technology coming down to how it can streamline processes and make your day-to-day simpler.

Real Estate Ally prides itself on its simple and easy-to-use interface. The REA platform unites the three core systems real estate agents and brokers are already using (think MLS, Cartavi and your CRM system) and gives them the empowering ability to manage it all from one place (instead of having to constantly move between them all!)

Check out our demo to see for yourself! We're also running a free 60-day trial!

 

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Cristina is a Marketing intern for the Real Estate Ally team. Real Estate Ally’s mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their businesses and manage for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based business intelligence solution.

 

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The Best Holiday Gifts for Real Estate Agents

christmas gifts

Looking for that perfect gift for your boss or coworker? Want to thank your agents for all their work in 2013? We're sharing our favorite gift ideas for the real estate professional in your life.

 

Nest Protect nest protect smoke co alarm

Silicon Valley start-up, Nest, is revolutionizing one of the most archaic yet necessary devices in our homes -the smoke alarm - with a smart and intuitive product: Nest Protect. Gone will be the days of swinging towels and incessant I-don't-know-what-why-its beeping. Give the gift of savvy safety this year for only $149 - purchase online - or at your local Home Depot.

Touch Screen Gloves

With winter upon us your agent will need to stay warm, but connected! You could go for the simple cotton kind or up the ante with leather/cashmere for $59 a pair from L.L. Bean.

Gas Cards Save 460x305 54719

It might seem impersonal but there's no doubt that this gift won't get put to use! With rising gas prices you might be surprised how appreciative receivers will be of this gift. Many stations including Exxon even allow you to use the card for more than just gas - on-the-go needs like snacks, a car wash or repairs! From broker to agent, this could be a great way to say thank you for all their work in 2013!

 Massaging Insoles

Being out in the field means being on your feet all day long, so why not give the gift of Happy Feet! Right now HappyFeet is running a holiday promotion: Buy 2, gift 3 free! That's 5 gifts for under $100, with enough to maybe keep one for yourself :) HappyFeet Original Liquid Insoles are clincally proved to increase blood circulation in the foot, allowing you to stand, walk or work 16 hours per day pain free! Starting at $44.99.Bogo-gift-buy-2-gift-3

 Happy Shopping!

Cristina is a Marketing intern for the Real Estate Ally team. Real Estate Ally’s mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their businesses and manage for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based business intelligence solution. Learn more about how Real Estate Ally can revolutionize your business here!

 

 

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