How to Manage Cash Flow as a Real Estate Agent

Managing cash flow as a real estate agent can be difficult, because of the commission-based nature of the work. It’s not like getting a steady paycheck, and that can make it stressful for people if they are worried about their bills being paid on time or the level of savings they have in the bank.

What Does It Actually Mean To Manage Your Cashflow As A Realtor

Creating a predictable pattern of income and expenses for your business allows you to prevent a struggle with anxiety & financial hardship with careful planning.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options to consider that will allow for better cash flow management for anyone who works as a real estate agent. It’s not necessary to struggle with bills between commission checks or to end up stuck if something doesn’t come in on time or pay quite as much as expected. Here are some of the issues to address and things to think about in order to have cash around when you need it.

Have a Plan For Income & Expenses

The first thing any real estate agent needs is a cash flow plan. It’s important to be aware of all of the bills, how much they are, and when they need to go out.

 Use a system where you can clearly and quickly see all pending cash inflows and outflows. You can easily use an Excel spreadsheet or a Google sheet.

Paying them on time is very important to avoiding late fees and other expenses, and it also helps to keep your credit score high. But planning around commission checks instead of a more standard paycheck is not always easy.

It’s something an agent has to carefully consider, and it will need to be addressed early and revisited often. Bills and circumstances can change, and as they do any real estate agent will want to change and adapt. Having a good plan that is clear and direct, but that can be adjusted, is the right way to be prepared when it comes to cash flow.

Prepare for the Worst Financial Situations

While it is generally never fun to imagine the worst case scenarios, it is sometimes important. One of those times is when it affects cash flow. The more savings a real estate agent can put aside the better, because sometimes houses don’t sell for a while.

Deals can fall through when selling a home and things can go wrong. If that happens, having some cash available can help an agent breathe more easily.

It’s not always about having money, but when bills need to be paid having enough in the bank matters. When agents prepare for the worst, they are ready if things go very wrong. That puts them in a better position when things go well, so they can continue to save money for a “rainy day.” If that day never comes that’s a good thing, but if the day does come they will be as ready as possible for it.

That can provide not only extra money saved but also peace of mind.

Get the Financial Help You Need

Sometimes, no matter the best efforts of any real estate agent, there can be a time when they are simply going to be short on cash before the next commission check comes in. That’s never a good feeling, but it is one that happens to a lot of agents. Especially when agents are just starting out, or during times when the economy is down and real estate sales are slow, being short on cash can happen.

With a commission advance service, you can convert the commissions you have into cash right away. There is a fee, but it’s well worth it to make sure you have enough cash on hand.

Realtor Cashflow Resources

When you see a trouble spot developing in your cash flow projections, take action and make sure you get an advance. Then you won’t have to worry about any bills going unpaid or having to cancel that planned vacation just because a commission took longer to come in than expected.

Realtor SEO: How to Rank in Google’s Neighborhood

Welcome to the Neighborhood

The digital marketing and SEO neighborhood can seem to be a daunting and scary place for those who have yet step foot in this vicinity of the internet, but don’t worry, we’re here to guide you through an overview of what to do! We’ll explain the crucial elements of SEO and how you can best incorporate said elements into your next SEO strategy. Enjoy!

On-Site & Off-Site SEO

In SEO, there’s on-site SEO and off-site SEO. On-site SEO consists of, you guessed it, on-site configurations of your website. Off-site SEO consists of external factors related to your website.

SEO can move traffic up and to the right!

Both are extremely important in your overall SEO strategy and will help you significantly when optimized to the highest degree. On-site and off-site SEO are different slices of the pie, yet equally fulfilling.

On-Site SEO for Realtors

With on-site SEO, there are several different factors, but today we’ll be discussing what we believe to be some of the most important to help you start without overwhelming you. Below is a list of some easy to implement components of a proper, on-site SEO strategy:

  • Consistent Hierarchy
  • Site Speed
  • Quality, Authoritative, Fresh Content
  • Optimized Internal Linking Structure
  • Keyword Research & Implementation
  • Optimized Meta Data

Consistent Hierarchy

A consistent hierarchy of your website not only helps individuals better navigate your site and find what they’re searching for with ease, but it also helps search engines better navigate and understand what your site is about. When you make the search engine bot’s job easier, they in turn reward your site with higher crawl rates and this will in turn lead to higher rankings over time as long as you maintain a steady flow of fresh content production.

Site Speed

Site speed is a vital element to your site’s success. Here are a couple of site speed testing tools to gain a glimpse into what you can do to best improve your site’s speed:

The reason site speed is so important for rankings is due to search engines realizing over time users who visit a site and have a poor experience with load times will more often than not exit the site without even engaging with the site itself. This is considered a big red-flag for search engines and can potentially cost you a large amount of business over time. Bottom line, improve your site speed and watch your rankings improve.

Quality, Authoritative, Fresh Content

When you continually produce great content, you’ll not only appeal to new and existing users of your site, you’ll also appeal to search engines as they can discern what your site is all about through the keywords you use within your content. This will in turn allow you to eventually rank for keywords you would have never thought of which is fantastic as it can open up new opportunities for business to develop.

In addition to new keywords being attained, you can also expect search engines to appreciate your efforts for continually producing fresh content and they will reward you with higher rankings among those newly-acquired keywords.

Additionally, you’ll want to ensure your content is 800+ words as this often indicates to search engines your content is well-researched and provides a more valuable experience for users.

However, if you find your content is just as effective at 500 words, then feel free to maintain that length. Don’t just write to write. Write to provide value and a great experience for the users.

Optimized Internal Linking Structure

When you have an optimized, internal linking structure, you’ll spread out the “link-juice” within your site. Link-juice is basically the amount of “juice” other sites share with you when they give you a backlink from their site.

When this link-juice is solely concentrated on the home page of your website, you’re missing out on some valuable dispersement of said link-juice.

Connecting a structured web of internal linking throughout your website will allow other, lesser-frequented pages to receive some of the benefits of the home page’s authority. This will in turn allow the lesser-frequented pages to gain higher rankings themselves and potentially lead to higher conversions when users see those pages in the SERPs.

Keyword Research & Implementation

With keyword research, there are several different options, but one of our favorites is Ahrefs. It provides an enormous amount of valuable keywords and data to help guide you on which keywords to incorporate into your content based on keyword difficulty, search volume, and the average number of backlinks you’ll need to break into the top ten search results.

A much more affordable, yet less effective option, is Google’s keyword planner.

With Google’s keyword planner, you won’t be able to see in-depth metrics unless you create an AdWords account, but you can place a $0.01 budget on a single keyword and have full access to all of the valuable data within the keyword planner.

Google’s keyword planner is very effective for local keyword search volume and provides great insights on the seasonality of keywords as well. When you perform effective keyword research, you won’t end up wasting time on keywords nobody is searching for.

Unless you’re a huge brand and can create trends by coining terms of your own, you’ll want to have keyword research behind each and every one of your pieces of content. Overall, no matter which keyword research tool you choose to use, be sure to perform keyword research in some way, shape, or form for your valuable content. Your future self will thank you.

Optimized Meta Data

When you have your meta titles and meta descriptions optimized, you’re making a great first impression on both potential visitors of your site and search engine bots.

By incorporating compelling CTAs (call-to-actions) and relevant, valuable keywords into your titles and descriptions, you’ll be able to persuade users to click through at a higher rate and search engines to rank your content higher.

It’s one of the easiest fixes to implement, so don’t wait!

One of our favorite plugins for optimizing your meta descriptions is the Yoast SEO plugin. Check it out and let us know what you think!

Learning From Other’s Mistakes

The best way to learn is from errors others have made, so when it coems to SEO we can look to some data points from SEO tools companies to get an idea of just what’s wrong with other websites SEO efforts.

Most common SEO error infographic

Off-Site SEO for Realtors

With off-site SEO, it’s just as important as on-site SEO due to the fact it’s been proven time and time again the number of high-quality, relevant backlinks your site possesses directly correlates with where your site’s pages will rank within SERPs (search engine result pages).

In addition to backlinks, sharing your content across your social platforms can provide great signaling to search engines you’re doing a fantastic job with promoting your content across multiple platforms for users to consume.

There is not a direct correlation with sharing content on social platforms and rankings in Google but it can have an impact for Bing and Yahoo. Additionally, it can generate a decent amount of referral traffic from your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc… and this will only help in the overall, off-site SEO strategy.

  • Backlinks
  • Social Signaling

Backlinks

Backlinks are basically a popularity contest in the eye of search engines. When you have several high-quality, high-authority sites linking to your site and/or the pages within your site, you’ll move up in the rankings.

Think of it as a word-of-mouth, yet technical advancement in your overall SEO strategy.

The more people talk about you while giving you a nod of approval (a link to your site), the more you’ll move up in the rankings.

Then the snowball effect begins to occur. The snowball effect consists of when you’re already ranking due to a great backlink acquisition campaign and then you in turn organically acquire backlinks from simply being one of the top search results within Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

It’s exactly the same principle as wealth. The more money you have, the more money you have. Backlinks eventually provide exponential, compounded growth and this is why it’s a vital part of any SEO strategy.

Social Signaling

When you share your great content across your social platforms, you’ll increase the potential for users to engage with your website through referral traffic.

When users are engaging with your website for extend periods of time, it will signal to Google, Yahoo, and Bing you’re doing something right, and when you’re going something right, they’ll reward you appropriately. ASD (Average Session Duration) is a strong signal for search engines.

ASD consists of the average time users spend on your site and/or within a specific page on your site. When ASD is lengthy, you’ll notice an increase in rankings as it’s deemed to be valuable to the user.

Why is SEO Important for Realtors?

Whether you’re a national realty firm or a smaller, locally-based, independent realtor; you’ll need SEO to stand apart from the competition. Even if there’s a relatively small amount of competition, why not be the best at what you do and show your excellence with some fantastic rankings in Google, Yahoo, and Bing?

Excellent SEO leads to inbound leads and inbound leads are significantly easier to convert into real customers for your realty business due to the fact they’re already halfway through the door when reaching out to you.

Overall, SEO is a crucial element of any modern-day business; especially in the real estate sphere.

How to Best implement a Proper SEO Strategy?

You may be able to successfully develop a great and efficient SEO strategy all on your own after experimenting and if there’s low competition in your general area. However, if your area is saturated with other realtors who are already ten steps ahead of you in relation to SEO, you may want to consult an SEO agency who can best determine exactly what you’ll need to succeed.

While a talented SEO agency or consultant may cost more in terms of dollars, you’ll save so much time and reduce the potential of costly mistakes from occurring. SEO agencies and consultants are similar to CPAs or law firms in the sense that you’ll save money by investing with a professional.

We hope this guide has been helpful in welcoming you to the Big G’s (Google’s) neighborhood and Feel free to contact us for all of your real estate commission advancement needs and we’ll be happy to consult you on the next best steps!

6 Staging Essentials for Home Sellers

Tips for home staging

If you’re thinking of selling your home, then setting up your home , known as Staging, can feel a little like navigating a minefield if you do not know what to do!

Don’t panic! Just get started on improving your home’s appeal to home buyers with these six staging essentials to make the process so much easier!

1. Get Rid of the Clutter

You already know that your home needs to be clean. What you may not understand is the level of decluttering you need to do. You might think of clutter as old mail or too many magnets on the fridge.

De-clutter the space

However, clutter can be defined as anything that makes a room feel too crowded and that can cause anxiety. Pare down on everything in most rooms so that the house has a comfortable flow that only attracts the eye to places you want buyers to see.

2. Depersonalize the Space

Part of the decluttering process involves making the home seem less like yours. The more personalized accents you have in the home, the more buyers are likely to see it as your space instead of theirs.

Staging tip: de-personalize the space

This does not mean you have to get rid of everything that makes your home yours, of course. Just adjust the design scheme to more conventionally accepted colors and styles, and thin out the unnecessary accumulations of the family.

3. Target Improvements

Sure, you could completely redo your entire home and get more interested buyers. However, most sellers do not have the funding or the time to pull this off.

Instead of just throwing money at the first problems you notice, take the time to create a game plan for low-cost, valuable improvements as you would with other parts of the home.

Painting is a cheap, easy improvement

You might not need to replace furniture if it can be safely and effectively cleaned. Painting a room is another inexpensive way to really change its appearance or you can redesign elements in your bathroom. You can also improve the curb appeal by adding a steel door, use DIY landscaping or get some custom granite countertops added to your home.

Add custom granite countertops

4. Emphasize Room

People are hoping to find a property that is everything they want out of a home. You can help achieve this goal by emphasizing the natural space of each room. Limit the furniture pieces, and make sure they do not impede the overall flow.

Avoid stuffing closets with clutter, because buyers want to see closets that provide effective storage. Always aim to show that you have more than enough room, because buyers make decisions on it.

5. Accentuate, Don’t Hide

Remember that the goal of home staging is to shift the focus to the aspects of the home that are wonderful.

If there are problems with the house, you do not want to use staging to hide them. Besides the fact that this can make you look bad once the home inspection report comes in, trying to conceal certain issues can actually make you financially liable later on.

6. Keep It Simple

Despite what the home improvement and home buying shows you watch on TV might say, you do not have to deck out every room like it is Buckingham Palace. Buyers are looking for a reasonable design that shows a comfortable room, without a lot of distraction. By avoiding adding too much color, furniture or accents, you can help to create a good feeling in the room.

Keep rooms simple

You understand that you need to take your home to the next level to get a good sale price, but you should make sure that you do not go overboard with the home staging. With these tips, you can impress buyers on the home’s design, without distracting them by unnecessary additions.

Digital Marketing 2017: The State of Real Estate

If you’re a real estate agent then chances are you’re behind the times when it comes to digital marketing.

It’s nothing personal! But it’s unfortunately true that only a very small minority of agents actually have a handle on this part of their business. In fact some agents might even need to take steps to lower their blood pressure  after dealing with “that web stuff”.

But truthfully this situation isn’t  really all the fault of individual agents for several complicated reasons, let’s dig in!

There’s Gold In Them Thar Hills

Brokers often make promises to new agents that they’ll handle the digital marketing. The reality of the industry is that 87% of agents don’t last more than a year so there’s a reluctance to invest TOO much into newbies. To make things worse, most 1st place pages in Google search are over 2 years old! This means that less than 13% of new realtors even have a real chance of actually getting rankings that actually send traffic. But that’s assuming you have a clue about the science and art of SEO and aren’t just hiring the first company that calls you up promising #1 guaranteed rankings (By the way, if anyone calls you and GUARANTEEs #1 rankings hang up on them immediately!)

Because of the great annual turn over of Realtors each year, that means less training & education is given and it’s hard to reap the LONG TERM benefits of digital marketing & SEO if you can’t stick around!

What is REALLY The Best Route To Rankings?

Google never stands still. The search engine Realtors are ranking in today is not even close to what Google was using 8 years ago, during that time tactics and strategies have shifted and gone away. Because of the Gold Rush mentality of many agents, they’re early adopters (and abusers) of every trick in the book. Google knows this and has adjusted the difficulty of real estate SEO accordingly! Did you know that different industries face different algorithms? If you’re a plumber, a locksmith or a Realtor you face not just more competition but also you face a tougher set of criteria in Google for what qualifies as worth of #1 placement organically.

Opinion: Links Are Still Links & You Need Them

If you’d talked to Greg Boser, Bill Slawski or any other SEO luminary from 2002-2007 they would have told you that you need links from other sites to act as vouchers of your authority and credibility in order to rank for the keywords that will generate leads and revenue.

It’s still true. You need links.

Of course, you also need a credible reason to get those links, so either you need to create content worthy of digital conversation or be a participant in those digital conversations! Here’s a shotgun list of ideas:

  • Find and participate in tweet chats about real estate & digital marketing. #seopub,#semrushchat, etc
  • Reach out to local sports teams in your community looking for sponsors and become a website sponsor.
  • Look for opportunities to contribute to events, charities and organizations that build your community and also give you recognition in the form of links.
  • Make yourself available on HARO (Help A Reporter Out) and get cited and linked from various journalists reporting on your industry.
  • Create content relevant and really worthy of links from other authorative sources and not just self-congratulatory pablum. Then reach out to site owners who have already linked to similar articles via email to add your link as well.
  • Connect with other businesses in verticals that also provide services to your clients and see if there are opportunities to get them to link to your site. Painters, appraisers, roofers, landscapers and all the other professional home service experts are all fantastic opportunities for link building.