marketingicon2June 2017 — How many times have you had one of your friends list or buy with another agent simply because they didn't think of you at the critical moment of making that decision?

Seeing another agent's sign in your past client's or friend's front yard can be bone-crushing, but the truth is, most agents don't deploy a consistent system of keeping themselves and their services top of mind among friends and neighbors. Most sales professionals will admit that they don't like to prospect, yet this system is the one habit that, when done consistently, yields measurable, impressive results.

This best-kept secret is outlined in the eBook "The Ultimate Marketing Handbook for Real Estate Agents That Want to Close 86 Deals or More a Year," which explains the "86-50-1" formula. The eBook*, authored by mega top producer Mike Parker and noted success coach Verl Workman, puts a pencil to a simple strategy that can generate more than one lead from each contact in your elite group of Top 50. This proven strategy works to save money, leverages your brand and reputation, and packs a fun factor.

social mediaJune 2017 — Real estate is an image-based business. Agents use photos and videos to both visually and emotionally connect with prospects. While many agents use social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, others are turning to different platforms to reach younger buyers. With 100 million daily users, Snapchat can be a great way to connect with this younger generation.

Last week, Snapchat introduced Snap Maps, a new feature that leverages users' location services. While Snapchat was relevant to real estate agents from the beginning, the update opens many new possibilities for connecting with clients and prospects.

What Is Snap Maps?
Snap Maps can be accessed by pinching your screen in the Snapchat app. By using your phone's location services, the new feature displays your customized Bitmoji icon to show your location in real time. As you travel, your icon moves to each new destination. Snap Maps also compiles your stories in the maps feature, so users can see your snaps from the past 24 hours. If they're your friend, the stories will appear under your username. All other users will see the stories from the location where you uploaded the snap, without knowing it's from you.

dollarMay 2017 — Renters are in better financial straits than they were just six months ago. Is homeownership next?

The answer, according to a recent Freddie Mac survey, is unclear. Although 41 percent of the renters surveyed reported having more cash left over after payday, up from 34 percent in September 2016—and ideal for saving on a down payment on a home—only 15 percent reported working toward homeownership, down from 21 percent in September. Thirty-eight percent of those surveyed do not expect to move in the next two years, also up from September, and 37 percent are unsure of their moving plans, again up from September.

Decidedly, 60 percent of the 35- to 49-year-old renters surveyed, as well as 55 percent of all renters surveyed, reported liking where they live, and staying put even if their rents rise. Fifty-nine percent reported planning to rent their next home—higher than the 45 percent who reported planning to own their next home.

UpMay 2017 — Home price growth in February bested analyst predictions, expanding 5.8 percent in the latest S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Indices.

Prices rolled along to a 32-month high in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, increasing from 5.6 percent the month prior. The Index's 10-City Composite rose 5.2 percent, while its 20-City Composite rose 5.9 percent. The 10-City Composite shows an increase from 5 percent the month prior; the 20-City Composite, an increase from 5.7 percent the month prior. Month-over-month, the 10-City Composite rose 0.3 percent and the 20-City Composite rose 0.4 percent.

smallhouseMay 2017 — The homeownership rate clung to 63.6 percent in the first quarter of 2017, virtually unchanged from 63.7 percent the quarter prior and 63.5 percent the year prior, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's recent Quarterly Housing Vacancies and Homeownership report. Will it ever budge?

The answer, potentially, lies in a different statistic. An analysis of the Census report by Trulia determined that owner households formed at double the rate of renter households in the first quarter—a clue that points to the possibility of a kickstart this year.

"Strong renter formation is one of the reasons why the homeownership rate has continued to drop since the onset of the housing crisis, so any sign this trend is reversing is something to take note of," wrote Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia.

UpApril 2017 — Home prices are on a hot streak, reaching a 31-month high in January in the recently released S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

Prices fired up 5.9 percent year-over-year in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, an increase from 5.7 percent the month prior. The Index's 10-City Composite rose 5.1 percent, while its 20-City Composite rose 5.7 percent. The 10-City Composite eked out a 0.3 percent increase month-over-month; the 20-City Composite, 0.2 percent month-over-month.

The trend could be disrupted if the Federal Reserve decides to raise the key interest rate three or four more times this year, which would result in a significant impact to mortgage rates, says S&P Dow Jones Indices Chairman and Managing Director David M. Blitzer. The Fed raised the rate in December 2015, December 2016, and, most recently, in March.

gifts presentApril 2017 — So your friend, coworker or daughter just purchased their first home and you want to honor the occasion with a housewarming gift—but the options seem limited. If you don't want to be that person who gives yet another blender or bottle of wine, you should give them something a bit more original and, preferably, a lot more functional.

Smart home gadgets fit the bill perfectly. The 12 home automation products below are organized into four demographics, but most of these gifts would surely delight any new homeowner.

The Working Professional or Parent

Belkin WeMo Switch Smart Plug
You won't spend a lot of money on the Belkin WeMo Switch Smart Plug, but it will deliver a powerful punch. When homeowners plug it into an outlet and connect a coffee pot or other appliance, they can turn the appliance on or off from anywhere at any time. They can also connect the lights to the plug to easily set schedules and synchronizations.

marketingiconApril 2017 — Every industry has increased their mobile efforts, with 71 percent of marketers declaring mobile marketing to be essential to their business. Real estate companies can make great use of mobile marketing to bring in new leads and to maintain customer loyalty.

Tools such as text messaging, mobile apps, social media, video, and online reviews are all accessed on buyers' mobile phones and can be used for real estate marketing strategies. Here's how to optimize your mobile presence:

Mobile Apps
Businesses that have mobile apps praise them for the level of customer engagement they provide. Customers who download a business' app tend to be more loyal to that business. They also spend more time on apps than they do on webpages—18 times more time.

For real estate customers, browsing through an app is easier than clicking through several different webpages. They can message, make appointments and get information all in one spot. Some great perks you can provide your clients on your app would be a collection of all the necessary documents they'll need to complete the purchase of their home and the ability to sign documents electronically through the app. Throw in a mortgage calculator and you're golden.

environmental engineerMarch 2017 — There are several factors that weigh on home value, including condition, location, and—in areas where they are most pronounced—environmental hazards such as poor air quality.

According to the ATTOM Data Solutions recent Environmental Hazards Housing Risk Index, 17.3 million single-family homes and condominiums have a high risk of an environmental hazard, with Denver, Colo., San Bernardino, Calif., and Curtis Bay, Md., facing the highest risk. Environmental hazards include brownfields, or property contaminated (or potentially contaminated) by a hazardous substance, polluters, poor air quality and superfunds.

"Home values are higher and long-term home price appreciation is stronger in zip codes without a high risk for any of the four environmental hazards analyzed," says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. "Corresponding to that is a higher share of homes still seriously underwater in the zip codes with a high risk of at least one environmental hazard, indicating those areas have not regained as much of the home value lost during the downturn.

facebookMarch 2017 — The real estate industry has been relatively slow to embrace technology, and a few years ago, agents could more easily get away without a strong social media presence. Social media is no longer optional for real estate professionals.

Consumers expect any and all the businesses they work with to engage on social media. The Pew Research Center estimates 72 percent of all online U.S. adults visit Facebook at least once a month. Millennials, who are the most active Facebook users, also happen to be the largest group of homebuyers. The good news is that social media marketing isn't rocket science. Here are five easy steps any professional, even those who don't consider themselves tech-savvy, can take to ramp up their social media game.

WaveFebruary 2017 — The New Jersey Realtors® Governmental Research Foundation recently released a report showing the impact of the National Flood Insurance Program on the state. While focused on New Jersey, the findings are applicable nationwide. The study, broken into two reports, Examining Flood Map Changes in New Jersey and Understanding the National Flood Insurance Program in New Jersey, was prepared for NJ Realtors® by Resources for the Future.

“With the National Flood Insurance Program expiring at the end of 2017, examining the program’s impacts on states and residents is extremely crucial for legislators to have at their disposal for careful consideration during renewal talks,” said Jarrod C. Grasso, CEO of NJ Realtors®. “It is critical for the NFIP to remain in place as both an affordable and sustainable insurance source for millions of Americans.”

The study provides an in-depth examination of the National Flood Insurance Program, and the impact of rate changes based on Flood Insurance Rate Map updates. Additionally, it examines the future flood risk conditions in communities around the state.