How to Turn Your Yard into a Home Soccer Field

Excited to spend summer days outside with your family? Upgrade your fun in the sun with a home soccer field right in your backyard. As the official real estate company of U.S. Soccer, Century 21® Real Estate knows that the sport has the ability to unify communities. Give your family the best experience possible with their own place to practice with these four easy steps.

Prep Your Yard

Understandably, you might not have a backyard capable of fitting a full-sized field at 75-by-120 yards. Instead, create a rectangular field with smaller dimensions such as 15-by-20 yards or 40-by-50 yards. Remove any debris, then mow your lawn to create an even, trim field.

Level the Ground

Unexpected ditches or holes in your yard can be dangerous to those running around. If you find any low spots in your yard, fill them in with a mixture of two parts topsoil, two parts sand, and one part compost. Pack this filler into holes and add water to make sure it’s compact. Wait at least one week before walking on it to make sure that it has properly settled. Then, continue to perfect your green field by planting grass on the top layer of the newly leveled area.

Mark the Field

Use stakes to mark off the four corners of your soccer field. You may find it helpful to use a tape measure to ensure the lengths are symmetrical to one another. Tie a string from one stake to another and pull it taut. Double check that the shape you’ve created with the string and stakes is a rectangle with four 90 degree angles. Once you’re sure, spray paint over the string to create the field. Remember to add a midline in the center.

Add Goals

Depending on you and your family’s needs, you can choose between various sized goals made from different materials. A four by six-foot goal is optimal for children as young as six years old, with larger sized goals increasing with age. In terms of materials, plastic is recommended for low-impact play, since it is lightweight and portable. However, if your family is more serious about the sport, metal frames prove to be more durable. Whichever one you choose, make sure to anchor it into the ground properly.

Get started today and give your family a fun space to play one of their favorite sports all summer long. Who knows, you may have a professional soccer player in the making!

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How to Inform Potential Buyers About the Neighborhood

C21_May_NeighborhoodWorksheetCENTURY 21® Agents don’t just sell houses, they sell future homes. Potential home buyers must be able to envision their future in a particular location. To do so, they must consider every aspect of the home, including the surrounding area. While you should always be prepared to answer questions about nearby schools, hospitals, parks, and transportation, CENTURY 21 wants to help you go above and beyond client expectations. We’ve provided a professional template for you to customize according to each neighborhood where you have an open house. Download the image below to get started.

Hand these out during your next open house and you may stand out in the mind of potential home buyers. This is just one of the ways that the CENTURY 21 System helps you to be smarter, bolder, faster.

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How to Use Social Media Groups

Think you’re a master at social media when it comes to real estate marketing? Think again. Even after you’ve created a profile, established a following, and learned how to hashtag, there’s still more to learn. Social media groups, or communities built around a common interest, are yet another invaluable facet on social media platforms. To ensure that all CENTURY 21® Agents are smarter, bolder, faster, here’s some insight as to what these groups are and how to use them effectively.

What are Social Media Groups?

As mentioned previously, these online communities are formed around those who share a common interest. For you, these interests may be real estate, professional organizations, or those living in a certain geographic location.

Where Can I Find Them?

These networks live on Facebook and LinkedIn. To search for them, simply type in key words in the search bar at the top of your page and suggested groups will appear. Note that privacy settings may differ per group. An open group means that anyone may join, while closed groups require either an invitation or permission in order to be a part of them. However, it may not be the best idea to join any group at random. Start by asking friends or colleagues for recommendations or referrals.

Why Should I Use Them?

Social media groups play a different role in your marketing plan. While a Facebook or LinkedIn profile may be the best place to promote you and your business, these groups function better as a place to network, build your reputation, and develop skills. Depending on which group you join, you may be introduced to agents or homeowners you may not have met before. You can also engage in conversation to offer and seek advice.

What are Best Practices?

Think of these groups as an ongoing relationship — you have to put in what you take out. Genuinely participate in conversation, don’t just fill up the page with your own thoughts, requests, or promotions. You may post about an open house or two if you think others in the group would be interested, but make sure that you actively share other users’ content as well. If you’re seeking advice, such as whether homeowners in your area prefer one thing over another, take criticism in stride. If you’re offering advice, make sure your comments are constructive and not belittling.

Join a couple social media groups today to get started. Observe how the particular community functions, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself!

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The ToolkitCMA™ Features You Need to Know

C21_CMAToolkit_Blog-HomeAs part of our promise to be smarter, bolder, faster, the CENTURY 21® System now provides its agents with the ToolkitCMA™ at no additional cost. The product, which is used by over 100,000 agents across the country and priced at around $200, is just one of the many resources that CENTURY 21 offers in order to support its members at the local level.

Among its features that you can view on the right, the ToolkitCMA offers the following:

  • 98% Market Coverage
  • Mobile & Tablet Branded Presentations
  • MLS Interface
  • Marketing Flyers

C21_CMAToolkit_Blog-FlyersWhat does this mean for you as an agent? Professional quality marketing, along with easy-to-read content from virtually any MLS in North America. Here, we’ve provided small sample of the various styles and formats in which you can create flyers, but you’ll find even more options one you’ve signed in under your account.

Of course, the ToolkitCMA allows for customization, as seen in the preferences tab of the program below. This way, agents can tailor the product to their individual work.

C21_CMAToolkit_Blog-PreferencesRemember, as part of the CENTURY 21 ® System, you’ll receive all of this at no additional cost. This is just one way that our brand gives you the edge you need to succeed in real estate.

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Lessons from Mom That Help You Be a Better Agent

This Mother’s Day, CENTURY 21 ® wants to showcase the values that the women in our lives have taught us to uphold, since they align with the ones that make our brand what it is today. These life lessons from Mom, Grandma, or even your Aunt, not only guide you through your personal life, but may also help you be a better agent.

  1. Do Your Best

While you may have first heard this saying in school, laboring over a late night project or term paper, this phrase fully applies to the real estate world. As an agent, you should always present your best work, whether it’s in the form of fully researched market analyses and listing presentations or well-staged open houses to elicit offers from potential home buyers. While only you can put in the effort, CENTURY 21 offers the support and resources you’ll need to make Mom proud.

  1. Learn from Others

Opportunities for growth aren’t just limited to the classroom, and Mom emphasized this at your young age when talking about your friends, coaches, and relatives. Now, take this lesson to heart when networking. Everyone you meet, from clients to fellow agents to industry leaders, has something to offer. It’s your job to discover what that may be with genuine conversation and active listening. Attend networking events, join social media groups, and chat up potential home buyers during open houses.

  1. Embrace Change

Moving to college may have been daunting when you were younger, but Mom was right there supporting you. Use this tactic with your clients who might be making an especially big or stressful move. Focus on the positives of the experience and instill confidence by showing them a new home sweet home that’s a perfect fit for their future life.

  1. Put Family First

Mom didn’t even have to mention this since she practiced it each and every day of your childhood. Today, make sure your clients know how important family is to you, by fully understanding and accommodating their family needs. For example, if you’re working with a couple who expects kids in the future, focus on neighborhoods with nearby schools, parks, and family friendly recreational facilities. You can even ask them which structural features are important to them when raising kids, such as the master bedroom placed close to the other bedrooms, or a finished basement that provides extra room for activities.

A strong career in real estate may be as simple as going back to the basics with these four core lessons. CENTURY 21 thanks all the women who have helped shaped our agents with their wisdom. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Popular Real Estate Hashtags

When you have a new house to sell, you can maximize the momentum behind posting its listing through social media. However, posting can get complicated; you want the right people to see AND interact with your content. To target the right people, use hashtags. They’re an easy way for someone to look up a specific subject (in this case, homes for sale) and find relevant content all in one spot. So what hashtags do you use, and when? Here’s a breakdown.

  1. #RealEstate, #Realtor, or #Realty

Let’s start with the basics. These three hashtags are the most obvious, which means that you’ll probably be pulling from the largest pool of users. For example, #RealEstate has been used over 3 million times on Instagram alone. When using these tags on their own, your content could get lost in the sheer number of posts. So what should you add next?

  1. #ForSale and #NewHome

These two hashtags are very popular. #ForSale might just as commonly feature a home being sold as it could a car. #NewHome could also come from people who have just moved in. Their popularity leaves an opportunity for you – especially when using them in tandem. Add the two consecutively, such as in #NewHome #ForSale, and people may easily find your listing.

  1. #DreamHome

This hashtag essentially shows off the beauty of the home you have to offer. So, if you have a great listing, #DreamHome is the perfect hashtag to use – especially on Instagram, which focuses primarily on photography. People might search for this hashtag at any point in their process (because, who doesn’t like to dream?). Consistently post great photos with #DreamHome, and you may build up your following, attract some long-term clients, and potentially find buyers for other homes you’re listing.

  1. #OpenHouse

This is an essential hashtag for the event. Posting a photo and hoping that someone will make an appointment isn’t always a reliable plan, but putting that news out on social may improve your turnout. It’s also a good practice to add the neighborhood or city of the open house as a secondary hashtag, to make it easier to find for potential buyers.

  1. #Renovation, #HomeMakeover, #OldHouseCharm

These hashtags are getting more into a niche market. If you’re selling a home that is a fixer-upper, this is a great way to go. Many people look specifically for homes that need a little renovation help – either to save money, or to flip. This way, being upfront with your hashtags may help you in the long run.

  1. #MillionDollarListing

On the opposite end of the spectrum, agents selling expensive real estate can take a page from the luxury lifestyle when trying to land a deal in the seven figures. #MillionDollarListing consistently appears on lists of the best real estate hashtags to use – and for good reason. Photography of luxury homes performs well on social media.

Hashtags can be incredibly useful in real estate if done right. Do you have a favorite hashtag to add to your tweets or Instagram posts?

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How to #Hashtag

The (#) is an ever-evolving symbol. Some may remember it as the pound sign. Others may think of it as the number sign. A small number may even know it as the octothorp. Today, you know the sign as a hashtag, a social media feature that may benefit your online marketing presence as a real estate agent. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of hashtag use, including which platforms suit them best and the difference between trending and custom tags. You’ll also hear about the dos and don’ts of hashtags such as the pitfalls of overuse and tagging without research.

What are Hashtags?
A brief refresher: Hashtags serve as keywords in a search function. You can identify one by the pound sign (#) followed by a word or phrase, as in #RealEstate. When used this way, hashtags group pieces of digital content on social media that share a common theme to create searchable topics. So, a search for #RealEstate on Twitter gathers all recent and popular content with that tag in one location for you to view.

Which Platforms Support Them?
Hashtags may be used on any social media post, but only on certain platforms. Instagram, Twitter, Google+, and Vine are all ideal because users can easily search for content and receive a list of posts containing a particular tag. Facebook has a similar search function, but doesn’t work as well due to a high number of private profiles. In turn, this makes tagging less prevalent on that network. Hashtags are not supported on Pinterest, Snapchat, or LinkedIn, so avoid using them on those sites altogether.

How Do I Label Content?
All hashtags should follow a certain format, and each platform has different guidelines for them. When using ones that contain multiple words, as in #RealEstate, do not separate them with a space, punctuation, or symbol. This means that signs like the ampersand (&), dollar sign ($), and even the pound sign itself (#) should not follow the hashtag. While there is no actual limit to length, six characters are optimal . Stay away from longer tags, as they’re harder to read. In terms of number of hashtags, you may find more engagement on Twitter with just two. You can add more on Instagram posts, since the platform allows up to 30. However, it’s not recommended to use such a high number because they may make your post seem cluttered. On Facebook, however, your content may actually fare better without any hashtags at all, due to their unwieldiness within the platform.

Which Hashtags do I Use?
Since the basic function of hashtags is to reflect the content of the post, consider descriptive terms. For example, a photo of a loft in Boston might have the tags #Boston and #loft in it. As a realtor, you may want to incorporate industry terms, such as #Property, #ForSale, #JustListed, or #DreamHome to reach others interested in real estate. Make sure to search for the hashtag before using it to avoid obscure or even controversial topics. A seemingly innocent phrase may not be so. Try a search for your local area (#Boston, #Springfield, etc.) plus #RealEstate in order to find popular local tags your potential clients use. You could also utilize tools to find popular hashtags in your area, but only use ones relevant to your content. Your loft photo won’t benefit from the popular hashtags #foodie or #love.

Now that you know the ins and outs of hashtags, you can start using them like a pro!

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How to Manage Your Personal Brand

As a real estate agent, you represent something more than the company that employs you – yourself. After all, you’re the one who faces clients and deals with their needs on a daily basis. Just like the logo printed on your business card, your personal brand should be well maintained in order for clients to perceive you in a positive light. No doubt you’re already working on this with friendly conversation and trustworthy insights during open houses, but there’s more to do. Here are ways to manage your personal brand and create something that’s unique to you.

Get to Know Yourself
You can’t portray the image you want if you don’t know what it is. Take the time to sit down and write down the qualities you want to embody, as well as the ones you don’t want. Consider which ones you already own and play them up as your strengths. For the traits you want to have, make a clear plan how you’ll work on incorporating them into your personality. This list of qualities should serve as your edge. They are distinguishing factors that set you apart from your competition.

Develop Your Values
Most companies have core values that determine the personalities of their brands. Follow the example and develop a set of solid principles for yourself. Are you always timely? Do you prioritize transparency? Or would you rather highlight how you stay current on market trends? Once you decide on these values, don’t keep them a secret – let clients know what they are and how they define your personal brand. That way, clients will have concrete evidence of what you can provide to them.

Deliver Consistently
After you’ve defined who you are and who you want to be, stick to that. Your core values should be guidelines for how you do business. If you promise to be punctual, always deliver on that promise. If you have a bad day, as everyone does now and then, and for some reason don’t live up to the standards you’ve set, admit to it. Acknowledge what you’ve done, apologize for the less than stellar service, and offer a solution to ensure it won’t happen again. Clients might be more understanding of a mishap if you take full responsibility for it, rather than explain it away with an excuse.

Maintain Online Accounts
Social media is no longer just for you and your circle of friends. Assume that potential clients can see every post or photo on any account, and that you can’t delete anything permanently once it’s out there. Protect your image by only showing posts that you would deem appropriate in a professional setting. Also, set your Facebook privacy settings so that you must approve all friends’ posts before the public can see them, in order to control the type of content associated with your name. To be more proactive, consider creating a professional Facebook page. There, you can focus on information relevant to your business, such as helpful articles and current events in real estate. For example, CENTURY 21® has some valuable resources you can share, from mortgage calculators to a real estate focused blog.

Welcome Feedback
No one’s perfect, so don’t expect that you will be. However, you can still strive for perfection by regularly looking for ways to improve. For this reason, feedback serves as an invaluable asset to target your weaknesses. There are a few ways to ask how you’re performing as an agent, depending on who you’re asking and in what type of situation. Feel free to ask other trusted agents on a casual level how you’re perceived in the field. For clients, try emailing a questionnaire after you’ve helped them with their real estate needs, but always ask their permission to do so first.

Get started today on developing your personal brand with clear qualities and maintained values. You may find you have a more positive perception among clients because of it.

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The Science of Selling

You know that there’s more to selling than charisma and a charming smile. Even when you’re showing the best house on the market, you have to stage it to appeal to potential home buyers or else they might not see its true value. However, there’s even more that comes into play than just a beautifully set living room. Here are some science-backed techniques that may help your clients make a decision when it comes to buying.

Emotions Come First
Though general advice consistently warns against letting emotions get in the way of decisions, psychology studies report that it still happens. Home buying decisions are emotional at their core: Clients are considering whether they can envision a future there. However, these same studies show that the buyers won’t admit to this reasoning. Instead, they want facts to corroborate their feelings. As an agent, use this information to wow clients initially with a warm, welcoming open house, and then further impress them with the reasonable price, new plumbing, or other positive concrete facts that could support a decision to live there.

Less is More
The notorious “analysis paralysis” is, in fact, true. When confronted with too many choices, overwhelmed decision makers freeze up and tend to withdraw from the situation. Don’t let this happen to your clients by inundating them with superfluous information. Only show them listings that you genuinely believe would be a good fit for them. If you show them houses that don’t meet their preferences with the good intention that they might be interested, you may be doing a disservice to both yourself and to your clients.

Outside Opinions Matter
Buying a home may be one of the biggest purchases of your clients’ lives, so they may not want to feel alone in the situation. Since they may be anxious about committing to something so big, it’s important for them to have support from others. Give them time to digest information and discuss it with their partners, family, or friends. Even better, ask a neighbor to attend an open house to answer your clients’ questions as an unbiased third party.

The Price Isn’t Always Right
Homeowners often succumb to the idea that everyone will see their home in the same loving light as they do. However, as the agent you should know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Whether you’re advising sellers on a listing, or working with home buyers through a negotiation, keep in mind that most people tend to overestimate their asking price by 5 to 10%.

Keep these things in mind when working with your clients, and you may find selling to be just a bit easier.

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5 Tips for Email Marketing

As a real estate agent, email marketing can be an invaluable tool in creating and maintaining relationships. Well-executed emails can help secure new clients, communicate information to current ones, or even rekindle the interest of those from a previous time. However, there’s some strategy behind it. The following five tips may make your online messaging more effective.

1. Acquire an Email List

Collect a directory of clients’ contact information by asking them specifically for their email address. From there, email them with a choice to opt in to regular content. This method ensures that everyone on the list is interested in receiving your information. Unsolicited emails may tarnish your reputation as a real estate agent or come across as spam. To encourage people to opt in, use gated content, or content that can only be seen after entering an email address. For example, e-books, webinars, or virtual tools should be available only after a client has chosen to receive regular emails from you.

2. Provide Valuable Information

Send an email flyer about recent home listings and closings that may genuinely be of interest to the email recipient. Additionally, send a newsletter with data on the housing market or tips about real estate to demonstrate your expertise. Think: market trends, real estate how-to guides, and government initiatives for buyers and sellers. Make sure to send these sparingly though—no more than once a week—so clients have time to digest the information.

3. Be Concise

Short, digestible messages are optimal, since most emails are read on smartphones that make blocks of text intimidating. Subject lines should also be short, specific, and interesting enough to entice the reader. Aim to have them between 28-39 characters, and definitely no more than 50. The body of the email should take no longer than two minutes to read through. To fit this requirements, try cutting out sentences that don’t pertain directly to the crux of your email.

4. Be Personal

Your email should sound like it’s coming from a trusted ally, not a salesperson. Create this tone by asking questions and using the client’s first name. Focus on using the word “you” more often to shift attention towards your client. Also, always sign the email with your first and last name rather than just your company’s name, and provide additional ways for them to contact you.

5. Send Transactional Emails

Sometimes simply known as thank you emails, transactional emails can be a great way to show clients you appreciate their interest. If someone has opted into your mailing list or responds positively to your newsletter by requesting more information, send a thank you email. It will show that you care about your customers and that your email marketing is genuine.

Almost all real estate agents participate in email marketing, so don’t get left behind! Follow these tips so your efforts may stand out.

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