Leap’s Advanced Mobile Features

Today we’ll be discussing advanced mobile features for our users, and how they can take notes about their showings on location! For those of you new to Leap’s mobile world, please check out one of our earlier blogs about getting our mobile app here before going on.

Helpful tip: We highly recommend that BlackBerry users install the “Opera” browser.  The reason we recommend this is because BlackBerry’s own web browser can be rather sluggish and ornery when dealing with certain websites. You can find the website here and the mobile site here.

The main page of Leap’s mobile interface is something with which we hope you are all familiar, and it can be found at m.leapre.com. Once there, click on “Showing Notes”, and select yourself as the resource. A page similar to the image on the right is what you should see:



You will be able to choose which kinds of showings you are interested in entering notes for: past, recent and upcoming, and ones with or without notes.

Upon selecting the relevant property, a page will appear into which you can enter notes:

Once notes are entered, emails are sent and notes saved. You will later be able to find these notes in the feedback reports separated by each individual appointment entry. This can come in handy when sellers ask about specific buyer-interest months down the road, which you will now be able to show them because of the notes you have taken.

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Spelling, Abbreviations, and Punctuation in MLS Listings

Well here’s something fun for all of us: spelling! Being an agent is all about presentation and proving that you are the best for the job.  Part of doing both of these things well involves communicating professionally and copy writing. So, what we decided to do was to analyze how well agents do this in their first, most direct form of marketing – MLS listing descriptions. To do this, we took the first 280 listings from Leap Day and scanned them with our German-schoolteacher-with-ruler-in-hand brand of expectation for precision.

Our grading criteria included spelling errors, gratuitous abbreviations when space was not limited and tacky punctuation. Now, before anyone gets all wound up, we are aware of the character limit, so many abbreviations were permitted. Grammar and punctuation usage were mostly overlooked to save time. Of the 280 entries, 53 did not pass our test. That’s an F for nearly 20% of the listings.

We counted the following infractions:

Excessive abbreviation with extra characters available

10

Spelling errors

41

Tacky punctuation

8

Just a friendly reminder to the agent community to double-check work and maybe use a spell-checker when preparing marketing materials for listings.

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Text your sellers through LeapRE

Leap users can now easily send text messages to their sellers for showing notifications.  Before we start, let us provide you with a quick run through about the difference between SMS and MMS text-messaging.

An SMS gateway (Short Message Services) can transmit plain text messages only. Images, audio, and other media will not show up in this form of messaging.                                       An MMS gateway (Multimedia Messaging Services) can transmit multimedia text messages, i.e. photos and audio, in addition to text.

What, you may ask, is the advantage of one over the other?                                                       In the case of SMS, many service providers limit the message size to 160 characters, meaning a text that is larger will be broken up into multiple pieces.  MMS does not suffer the same issue, and will be transmitted and displayed as one text.  Additionally, MMS text messages can include specific details to the recipient about who the text is from, from what email address it came, etc.  Thus, we recommend that you choose the MMS over the SMS address.

Now, here’s how to set up the messaging:

1.     Determine their “text email address”:

a.     Determine the 10-digit phone number of your seller.

b.    Determine service provider (This can be most easily done by asking your seller).

c.     Assemble the “text email address” by including:

                             i.     The phone number (less a preceding ‘1’, and hyphens or parentheses) ,

                            ii.    Followed by the ‘@’,

                           iii.    Followed by the service provider URL (A list of the URL’s of most service providers can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_SMS_gateways).

d.    The number should look like this: 3125555555@domain.com

 2.     Add the email address to the sellers information in Leap. To do so:

a.     Select “Listings”.

b.     Select the desired property.

c.     Click “Edit Contacts” and, either search for the owner’s name and click “Contact Search” or, if this is a new seller, select “Manual Add”.

d.    In the expanded field, enter in the “text email address” by “Email” if this is their preferred form of contact, otherwise Email 2 or 3, but make sure to select “Notify Email 2/3.”

e.     Finally, select “Update Contact”

NOTE:  You may want to change your default seller showing notification message to handle the shorter character availability of SMS.  You can do this through “Scheduling” -> “Emails” -> from the drop down Seller notification email.

For quick reference, the URL’s for major service providers are as follows:

AT&T -     domestic-number@txt.att.net (SMS)

   domestic-number@mms.att.net  (MMS)

T-Mobile – number@tmomail.net (MMS) (include the ’1′ at the beginning in this case.)

Verizon – number@vtext.com (SMS)

  number@vzwpix.com (MMS)

Virgin -    number@vmobl.com (SMS)

   number@vmpix.com (MMS)

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End-of-year Chicago Market data Bodes well for 2012

Though we’ve been a bit absent lately, we wanted to make sure we stopped by and dropped off some end-of-year data insights to the blog. We’ve been focusing our attention in other areas and have found it increasingly hard to make time to crunch numbers like we used to.

That said, here’s some nice food for thought on the Chicago market over the past year. The good news off the bat is that absorption rates are almost universally better as 2011 winds down than they were in 2010. Kudos to the savvy agents and hungry buyers out there.

Seems appropriate here to call out that every county saw an increase in 2011 for single family homes, except Cook. Kane county saw a close to 8% increase in single family closings:

Cook = -1.44%
Dupage = 5.61%
Kane =  7.94%
Lake = 5.07%
McHenry = 7.38%
Will =  0.82%

Whats more interesting though, is that transaction volume is on par with last year’s numbers, despite there being an decrease in the amount of listings practically across the board. This could be a positive sign that sellers are not willing to sell at the current price and more sellers are staying on the sideline waiting for pricing rebounds. This signals a potential shift the pricing momentum, and bodes well for 2012 upcoming.  The role of shadow inventory remains to be seen, but only time will tell.

Click the link for our full aggregation of closed and active listings by county and property type.

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A Picture is Worth…

Our most recent data pull continues to look at ways agents market properties. You may remember we’ve pulled data on how listings are entered into the MLS prior, notably with our post on the use of “green” terms in property descriptions.

Rather than terminology, this time we take a look at the number of photo’s a real estate agent includes in their MLS listing. The percentage breakdown is in the graph below.

While Chicago Agent Magazine focused on the startling statistic that the largest percentage of realtors (38%) have only 1 photo included, we find it interesting that the next greatest amount of pictures agents include is 16. It seems agents choose to do either the bare minimum or the absolute maximum, more often than not.

Why do you think that may be? And is either number an effective amount of photos?

Judging by a few comments at the Chicago Agent Magazine post, neither one nor sixteen is the best amount. One picture doesn’t convey a sense of the home at all; while sixteen is just too many to click through. As a best practice, a photo set should be based on the number of photos to needed to showcase a property not the arbitrary maximum or the lazy minimum.  If a floor plan is included, users will get a much better idea of the property. Homes with floor plans and high quality digital photos achieve both a sense of the space and its arrangement, as well as convey its condition and/or  noteworthy amenities.

Next time you’re adding listing photos, consider how much effort it takes to give a buyer a good, truthful impression of the listing, and what is overkill. Better yet, go the progressive route and have high quality photos shot for you. We’re willing to bet buyers will appreciate it.

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Moving Recently Built Inventory, Per Chicago Neighborhood

Here’s new data we pulled for this week’s Chicago Agent Magazine issue, published on Monday. The issue includes various articles discussing new builds and construction in the city. We took a look at new properties built in the past few years and how fast their inventory was moving by neighborhood. Only neighborhoods with at least 10 recorded closings during the previous twelve-month period and 10 active listings were rated.

You can see that Edgewater, West Town, and North Center all top the list, indicating the hottest and most frequent acquisitions of recently built homes. The bottom part of the list particularly suffered in the numbers due to the inclusion of 2007 statistics. 2007 of course was the last year the market saw upswings in new construction, and the Near South Side was one neighborhood in which numerous properties were created but went unsold in the subsequent market crash.

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Average Showings per week – August 2011

Showing Volume in Chicagoland August 2011Showing Volume for Chicagoland during the month of August: Market showing activity is following in line with historical trends over the past few years. Late summer showings were up throughout August, and typically showings drag downward toward the end of the year.

Remember that this information is available daily in the Leap Scheduling System but is posted to the blog monthly.

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