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4 December 2009

Week in Review: Things We Liked from the Week That Was

This week marked the official beginning of the holiday season and, as Christmas trees were being lit in Rockefeller Center and at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the real estate industry was abuzz. As a result of the “original” first time home-buyer tax credit, the number of homes with sales pending in October reached its highest level in three years. This is especially important and gives the industry needed momentum as we enter the traditionally slow months in the real estate market. Next April we are likely to see a similar sales jump as the extended home-tax credit ends, of which a reported two million Americans are expected to take advantage.

Also this week, the Treasury Department introduced plans to increase pressure on mortgage companies to complete more loan modifications and also provide financial incentives to reduce loan payments. Additionally, a bill passed by the New York State Legislature would require lenders to give all borrowers a 90-day warning before starting foreclosure proceedings. These efforts not only give home owners more time to get their affairs in order before a foreclosure but also may reduce the number of foreclosed homes in the coming year.

Also this week, we managed to learn lessons from the good, the bad and the ugly of social media. If we look at the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), for example, we quickly learn the importance of staying relevant and avoiding self promotion. It turns out the football selection system has treated social media platforms like a propaganda tool and, not surprisingly, has suffered the consequences of angry fans and followers. This is a valuable lesson for our industry as we straddle the fine line between being interesting and thoughtful sources of information and sales-oriented real estate agents or brokers. At the end of the day, it’s important to remember people want to be your friends, not your sales target. The only case in which advertising on social networking can work, according to Brandweek, is when it adds value to the communication in some way.

On the flip side, Black Friday provided an excellent chance for companies to use Facebook to interact with audiences. Toys R Us is a perfect example, promoting its deals to fans for the crazed shopping day, as is Best Buy, which offered an Idea Gift application that aggregated gift picks from real people to help with holiday shopping dilemmas. The key to using Facebook as a sales tool is to offer relevant and desired information or services to your audience. During the busiest shopping day of the year, people want deals. As real estate agents and brokers, we need to find out what our audience wants and then deliver it. Simple as that, right?

In other social media news, “Tweeters” are often worrying about their ratio of followers vs. how many people they are following. But, like so many other things, this week we learned it is all about quality over quantity. Data collected from a cross-section of sites shows that the more followers you have the less likely they are to click on your tweets because the follower-following relationship can be static if it exists only to gain higher stats. That’s not to say someone with a high following isn’t relevant; it’s all about communicating in a manner that people find interesting and, in turn, continuously listening to those you follow as well. So, on that note, follow me @BHGRE_Sherry – I need more followers! 🙂

On the technology front, Microsoft announced the availability of the Office Mobile 2010 Beta, which offers on-the-go professionals a new way to view documents from their smart phones. This is particularly relevant for our industry, as so few of us sit at a desk anymore. I hope it proves useful for some of you.

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