Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Why video marketing is such an important part of selling your home

If you’re thinking of listing your home for sale, you want to work with a  real estate firm that offers cutting-edge technology and online marketing. Likewise, if you’re a home buyer, your time and effort are best used viewing video tours of homes.

Either way, video is now a critical part of the real estate marketing process that can’t be ignored.

For that reason, The Alfano Group real estate agency wants to share these statistics and facts about videos in real estate with you:

The prevalence of video in our daily lives
Every day, about 100 million people watch video on the Internet in the U.S.

In fact, the average video watcher sees 32.2 videos per month (more than one per day) and spends an average of 24 minutes each day watching them.

Astoundingly, 74% - nearly three-quarters – of all Internet traffic in 2017 will be video!

Why is video so powerful for marketing real estate?

According to Forrester Research, just one minute of video is the equivalent to 1.8 million words to the human brain – about the same amount of content as about 3,600 web pages filled with text!

We also retain what we see in video much better. A study by the Online Publishers Association found that 80% of viewers recall a good portion of the videos they viewed online.

In fact, 8 out of 10 internet users remember a video ad from a website they visited within the past 30 days!

Home buyers LOVE video!
At least four out of ten (40%) of home buyers surveyed say that virtual video tours of a home for sale are “very useful.”

Surveys reveal that 58% of current home buyers are looking for (or even expect!) an online video of the home they’re viewing online.

Even more swaying, research proves that home listings with videos as part of their marketing strategy receive 403% more views and inquiries than listings with no video.

What kinds of real estate videos are buyers looking for?

Home shoppers love watching online videos of the homes they’re considering viewing. In fact, 70% of online buyers watch video tours of the inside of the homes they’re browsing.

But home buyers aren’t just looking for quick videos spanning random listings. Instead, they’re looking for specific and tangible information that will influence their decision to make an offer and buy – or not.

Reportedly, 86% of home buyers use video to research the community they’re thinking of buying in.

Thanks to a tandem study conducted by Google and the National Association of Realtors, we have some key insights into the videos that consumers most want to see.

In their published findings, “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate,” they reported that consumers want to see:

                      86% videos that educate them about the community
                      70% video tours of the homes for sale
                      54% educational videos about the buying and selling process
                      30% testimonial videos from past clients and referral partners, which is important for building trust and a comfort level
                      25% videos about the real estate agent they’re working with and his or her company

Video and mobile are BFFs

For the first time ever, mobile was king. In 2017, social media and Internet browsing on our smartphones and mobile devices surpassed Internet browsing on desktops, laptops, and other devices.

In fact, almost 80% of time spent on social media is now on mobile devices, and we're expected to have 6.1 billion additional smartphone users by 2020.

Home buyers, too, are going mobile, and looking for content, conducting searches, and watching videos on their phones and devices – often on the fly as they go home shopping or walk into an open house.

In fact, consumers these days are watching videos for an average of 1 to 3 minutes on their mobile devices – much longer than on their traditional computers.

Video marketing your listing gets more clicks, likes, and shares

Just by including a video link in an email (such as one promoting new listings), your click-through rate goes up by 200% - which means more exposure for your house for sale.

A fascinating study of consumer behavior actually mapped the eye movements of participants as they browsed the Internet. The study found that when viewing Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) like Google and others, video results drew and kept our attention at a higher rate than other content.

Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the other search engines also give heavier relevance to video content as they’re algorithms rank them. In fact, once a video reaches the first page of Google rankings, consumers are 41% more likely to click that video thumbnail instead of just a link or photo.

Other real estate video facts:

Where are home buyers are searching for these real estate videos? These are the most popular platforms for buyers, sellers, or anyone interested in real estate videos to find them:

51% YouTube
41% Brokerage websites
37% Google results

***
Are most real estate agents properly utilizing video?

According to independent statistics, only 15% of agents are using videos for marketing, and only 12% of real estate agents have a YouTube account. But even more telling, of that 12% with a YouTube account, only 5% are active on that platform, creating and posting new video content regularly.

However, 85% of buyers and sellers are looking to work with a real estate agent and company that integrates video as part of their home marketing strategy!

***


Please contact The Alfano Group real estate agency if you’d like more information about how video marketing can help sell your home or make home buying more fun and productive!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Examining the relationship between good schools and home values.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, there are a lot of factors that might attract you to a particular house, including square footage, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, how much remodeling has been done, amenities like pools and larger garages, and, of course, the asking price.

But there’s another factor that holds major sway over home buying decisions: the quality of schools in the community.

Ironically, that’s also one thing that we Realtors CAN’T speak to, as it’s a violation of Fair Housing laws to influence buyer decisions based on school systems or to even give information like school ranking to home shoppers.

But what we CAN cover is the direct relationship between top-flight schools and higher property values. In fact, if you want to ensure that your home purchase ends up being a wise financial decision and reaches maximum price appreciation, purchasing near an A-rated school is one of the most important things to look for.

You may think that it’s common sense that homes in neighborhoods with great schools cost more, keep their values better through hard times, and go up faster in price, but we searched near and far to come up with these facts, statistics, and studies that quantify that relationship:

When Realtor.com surveyed 1,000 home buyers and owners, they found that 91 percent of home buyers include school boundaries and school systems in their decision-making process when shopping for a home – a virtual consensus.

Even more swaying, for some of the 9 percent of those surveyed who said that schools were not a factor for them, a good portion did not have children or were even single buyers.

Furthermore, their survey found that home buyers were willing to make significant sacrifices in order to get into a home in a better school district. According to respondents, for every five home buyers, one would be willing to live in a home with no garage or one less bedroom if that meant access to a good school system.

Additionally, for every three buyers surveyed, at least one would give up some square footage and live in a smaller home if it meant being in a better school system.

Even more profound, more than half of the people polled in that Realtor.com survey said that they would gladly live further away from stores, shopping, and other amenities if it meant being closer to a better school.

Buyers didn't draw the line at giving up amenities and square footage for the chance to live within the boundaries of a better school system. The study also found that 20 percent of home buyers – one in five – said that they would pay an asking price six to 10 percent above their budget to live near the right school. One in ten buyers went so far as to say they'd kick in 20 percent more than their budget just to live in a community with a high quality school.

A 2013 survey by the National Association of Realtors found that 22 percent of home buyers said that a home’s proximity to a school was an important factor for them when purchasing.

While being close to a school/schools was important, it seems that the quality of the school district was an even bigger enticing factor for buyers. In fact, 29 percent of those surveyed reported that school quality was a “deciding factor” in their decision where to buy.

The trend towards looking at school systems as an indicator of a wise home buying decision was reinforced by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study in 2015. By ranking the factors home buyers look for in order of importance, they found that the quality of the school district was the 6th overall factor, behind price, home size, and other considerations. For home purchasers in the 35 to 49-year-old range, the quality of the school district for their potential neighborhood was even more important, the 4th highest factor.

One recent survey by a prominent national real estate website revealed that 35 percent of Americans with school-age children said that their dream home would be in a top-flight school district, compared to only 12 percent of those without kids that said the same.

Another well known real estate search website found that homes in neighborhoods with A-ranked schools cost an average of approximately $50 more per square foot than complementary homes with lesser-quality schools.

Aside from just surveys, plenty of research has been conducted into the correlation and influence of good schools on home prices.

A study by UK researcher Dr. Lorenzo Neri found that for every three percent increase in the number of students that performed above expectations on testing, local house prices rose by 1.5 percent as a result.

He also found that the effect of home price increases due to good tests scores was even more dramatic in areas with more than one high-quality school, a phenomenon called ‘Hedging" (where buyers try to move to an area with several great schools, not just for one school).

"What our study shows is that even very small levels of grade inflation can make a significant impact on house prices," reports Professor Battistin, a contributor to the study.

Much closer to home, a comprehensive study by the Brookings Institute found that housing costs were, in fact, higher in areas where high-ranking schools were located. The Brookings Institute study examined housing prices in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S., cross-references against school test scores. It found that there's an average difference of $205,000 in home prices between homes close to the best schools compared to poor school systems. They also found that there are 30 percent more rentals in areas near lower-performing schools.

Of course, that should come as no revelation that home prices are higher near good schools, but the degree and extent were surprising.

A 2010 Wall Street Journal article backed that assertion up, demonstrating that it’s easier than ever for home shoppers to research school rankings and test scores in communities they were thinking of buying in, in large part thanks to the Internet, standardized testing, and the prevalence of published school reports.

One clear example the Wall Street Journal offered was the case of one community in Florida, where they found that neighborhoods with A-rated schools had average home sale prices at least $10,00 more than similar neighborhoods save for B-rated school systems.

But the relationship between home prices and school systems may best be summed up by the report, “Using Market Valuation to Assess Public School Spending.” Its findings included the fact that for every dollar spent on public schools in a particular community, home values increased by $20 over time. Whether they had children in the school system or not, all homeowners in the vicinity of well-funded and top-quality public schools directly benefited.

That's good news for homeowners or buyers in the proximity of good schools!

Monday, November 27, 2017

Which segment of the population is buying more homes than any other? These days, single women are leading the charge with home ownership.

Today, I have three statistics for you to frame our whole conversation:

In 2016, an estimated 5.5 million single-family homes, condos, and townhouses were bought and sold, one of the most robust sales years in the last decade. 

There are about 109 million unmarried adults 18 or over in the United States.

About 53% of all single people in the U.S. are female, adding up to almost 58 million women.

So what do they all have in common?

It turns out that not only are women buying homes at record rates, but single females are purchasing real estate more than any other segment of the population.

Since homeownership is a gateway to a better financial life, it’s encouraging and endearing that so many independent, solo women are choosing to buy their own home.

Let’s examine these trends:

First off, we can look at the instance of married versus unmarried homebuyers:

Percentage of homebuyers

54% Married couples
44% Unmarried couples
2% Other

That means more than 4 out of every 10 home buyers is unmarried, a statistic that backs up the basic demographic trends in our country, as people are getting married later and not necessarily waiting to buy a home.

Now, let’s add gender to that matrix of current homebuyers:

                                                   Women     Men

First-time homebuyers:                23%        15%
Repeat homebuyers:                   15%          8%
Women that live
alone and own a home:                56%        47%
Spend ½ of their income
on housing:                                  25%        10%           

So we see that 23% of first-time homebuyers are women while only 15% of first-time buyers are men.

Even more pronounced of a gap, 15% of repeat homebuyers are single females, compared to only 8% of men – a rate almost double.

In fact, single women are the second largest group of recent homebuyers, behind only married couples and even ahead of unmarried couples such as boyfriends and girlfriends.

According to data from the New York Times, that mirrors the trend of single women owning their own home at a higher rate than single men over the last 30 years.

Here are some other statistics and trends about women and homeownership:

Female homeownership rates grew slowly but steadily over the decades but saw a big jump in the eight-year period from 1994-2002, when the number of unmarried females owning homes grew from 13.9 million to 17.5 million.

36% of single women live at home with their parents or relatives, the highest percentage since 1940.

The median age for single female first-time homebuyers is 32 years old.

The median income for single women who are first-time homebuyers is $49,000.

Bucking public perception, more women are now living alone than men by a significant margin; 15.5 million (women) to 11.8 million (men).

Of these single people that live alone, women were also more likely than to own their home (56%) compared to men (only 47%).

While women have come a long way when it comes to owning our own homes, we also have some progress yet to be made when it comes to financial independence.

About one-quarter of the eight million single mothers spend more than half of their monthly income on housing.

However, only one-tenth of single fathers pay more than half of their income on housing - a profound difference.

Another head scratching disparity between the genders is the fact that homes that single men buy appreciate faster than single female-owned homes. In fact, single men see their homes appreciate by 16% more than those belonging to single women.

The downside of single woman homeownership – less equity:

However, studies show that single women actually build less home equity over time than their male homeowner counterparts. In a study of almost 80,000 homes purchased in 2012, women earned a median home equity of $171,313 over five years, while men accumulated $186,403 equity in the same time.

That’s a significant difference of $15,090 or 8.1 percent or, framed another way, women amass 92 cents in home equity for every dollar that men gain.

Reportedly, there are several factors that may explain this equity gap.

On average, women are spending $25,000 less than men when buying their homes, which means that they start out with less equity. In high-cost areas like San Francisco, that gap goes up to $52,000 or more, which means that men have a larger asset to appreciate to begin with.

Women are also putting a smaller down payment into their purchase by a significant margin, as women are more likely to use an FHA loan with only 3.5% down.

Women still lag behind in income, and their income growth rates have effectively flatlined since 1979.

The positive side of this is that women are far more likely to go to college than en these days. However, that also comes with more student loan debt, as 65% of the U.S. $1.3 trillion student loan bill is owed by females. This equates to a skewed Debt-to-Income ratio and less spending power when buying a home, and therefore less equity.


Women are also far more likely to have children than single men, with 82.5% of single custodial parents being female. That means costs are higher and there is less money available for a down payment, house payments, or paying down a mortgage loan than for men.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tips for home security around the holidays

Everyone loves the holidays, with Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas lights, New Year's parties, and plenty of shopping and festivities in between. But do you know who else loves the holidays, but for far different reasons? Home burglars and thieves.

In fact, there are 2.15 million home thefts in the United States every year, but five-or-so weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years Day report the second-highest burglary rates of the entire year. Why do the bad guys love breaking into your home and helping themselves to Christmas presents (your things) every year?
  • ·      They know there will be far more new purchases sitting around, including expensive items and brand new electronics.

  • ·      People are home less during the holidays, as they often are at holiday parties, celebrating with family, or even away on extended vacations.

  • ·      There are also far more people coming and going from every home, so they’re less likely to be noticed.
  • ·      People are also more distracted during the holidays so security may lapse – or your neighbors may not notice them coming and going.

  • ·      It’s dark much earlier, giving them cover, and, the best of all…

  • ·      There are plenty of packages sitting right out on front steps! They can literally follow the mailman, UPS, and FedEx driver around and help themselves.

It's also a lot easier than you may think for thieves to get into your house. In fact, about 65% of home thefts take place in broad daylight, and 1 in 3 thefts occur by unforced entry, meaning no doors or windows were broken because they were left open or unlocked. With the average financial loss of a burglary ranging from $2,400 to $4,000 these days, as well as the feelings of emotional violation they bring, you can't afford not to protect yourself and your family.

Here are some tips for home security around the holidays:

1. Burglars are 80% less likely to break into your home if they notice cameras and an alarm system on your premises. In fact, a study by Rutgers Univesity found that the majority of criminals purposely avoid a house that obviously has a security system or alarm. These days, there are so many great alarm systems that are easy to install and use, even mobile from your smartphone. They also don't have to cost too much but remember that it’s also an investment, and you’ll probably get a discount on your property insurance just by having one.

2. Other than alarm systems and cameras, the best way to deter would-be intruders is to install bright security lights that are triggered by motion sensors.

3. Since there are so many “package thieves” these days, it’s recommended that you have multiple security cameras on your front porch with clear footage of your front door area.

4. It's also a good idea to request a signature receipt when you order things online. That way, the mailman/UPS driver etc. needs to get your signature before delivering packages, and they won't just be left on your front porch. If no one will be home all day because you'll be at work (like most of us), simply have your things delivered to your work address.

5. If you’re traveling for the holidays, you might want to hire someone to stay at your house instead of just leaving it vacant. If nothing else, cancel your mail and make sure lights and even stereos and TVs are rotated on and off.

6. Close curtains when you’re not at home – not being able to glance inside deters thieves.

7. Keep all doors and windows locked. Double check places like bathroom windows, garages windows, etc.

8. Sliding doors are particularly vulnerable to access from burglars. You can install a secondary sliding lock and/or use a pole that fits in its tracks so the door won’t slide (called a “Brooklyn Lock.”

9. If you're away for long periods, put your lights on a timer. But thieves even watch for homes that have the same lights on at the same time every night, so use one of the easy new timers that turn them on and off randomly, or you can control them from your smartphone.

10. Take a careful inventory of all valuables in the house, with model numbers and serial numbers, etc. Make sure these are covered and submitted to your insurance company. It’s also a good idea to register items with Immobilise.com to make any thefts easy to track if they’re resold online.

11. Close up and lock the garage as it’s the easiest place for thieves to get into your residence without attracting attention, and then they can go to work on getting into the rest of your home. Too often, people treat garage security as an afterthought, leaving doors unlocked or with flimsy locks and windows not hooked up to alarms. Instead, frost the windows and door glass in your garage and install security bolts.

12. Likewise, bolt and frost basement windows if you have them.

13. Clean up the outside of your house, cutting back shrubs and bushes that make ideal hiding places for thieves. Likewise, cut landscaping back from first-floor windows and tree branches that would easily lead them to second story access. Don’t leave ladders outside if you’re putting up Christmas lights or cleaning gutters, etc.

14. Get to know the neighbors, leaving them your contact info at work, and join the local neighborhood watch.

15. Even more than alarm systems, thieves are scared of dogs. So why not buy a vicious killer (cute puppy) dog for your family this Christmas. But if you’re not interested in having another four-legged family member, simply purchase Beware of Dog signs and leave BIG dog food bowls outside on the front and back porches.

What NOT to do this holiday season:
  • ·      Don’t post your name on your mailbox, and don’t use a mailbox unless it locks.
  • ·      Don’t put boxes and packaging from expensive items like computers, TVs, etc. in your garbage or visibly in your recycle bin.
  • ·      Don’t leave spare keys under doormats, under planters, over doorways, or in other obvious places.
  • ·      Don’t use a cheap lock that can be easily opened by a bump key, a tool that burglars employ to quickly break open 90% of the standard locks on the market.
  • ·      Don’t reveal too much on social media. Be very careful what you post on your Facebook and other social media accounts during the holiday season. A simple Facebook post like “We’re going to pick out a Christmas tree today,” or about how crowded the mall is, etc. and clue thieves in that your home will be vacant. Front there, it’s very easy for them to find your home address, either on your social media accounts or via public records.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

Everything you need to know about the Run to Feed the Hungry - Sacramento's Thanksgiving tradition

What is your Thanksgiving tradition? It probably involves getting together with family, eating enough to keep you stuffed until mid-December, and maybe watching a little bit of football from the couch. 

But for many Sacramentans, Thanksgiving Day is also synonymous with the Run to Feed the Hungry, one of the most spirited and celebrated fun races in America – and all for a great cause.

Here are some more facts about the Run, sometimes also referred to as “the Turkey Trot:” 

The Run to Feed the Hungry will commence its 24th annual event this Thursday, November 23 – Thanksgiving morning

This year, the 5k and 10k run (or walk) is expected to break its own record for attendance, with more than 30,000 runners registering to participate.

The current record for attendance at the Run to Feed the Hungry was 29,002 in 2016 and, before that, 28,544 in 2013 for the race’s 20th anniversary.

Not only do we have an impressive drove of runners, but tens of thousand supporters, bystanders, well-wishers and volunteers at the race every year.

That makes this “Turkey Trot” one of the largest Thanksgiving Day runs, charity fundraiser, and events in the entire country.

Of course, the whole point of getting out too early every Thanksgiving morning, often braving the cold and rain, is to raise money for a great cause, the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services.

The charity race was established in 1994 when a modest 796 runners and patrons showed up for the first Turkey Day road race through East Sacramento.

The event raises donations for the Sacramento Food Bank (the official name is Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services, or SFBFS). While exact totals aren’t available, it’s expected to bring in more than $1,000,000 in donations in 2017.

The SFBFS provides food, clothing, education, and other support services to about 50,000 men, women and children every month in our greater Sacramento community.

They do this by implementing their 15 signature programs with 210 other local agencies, all focus on educating and empowering people so that they can achieve financial independence. The SFBFS focuses on education, not giving hand-outs, to foster self -sufficiency.

The Sacramento Food Bank operates with the help of 10,000 volunteers, putting in 85,000 work hours every year for free.

Free programs offered in the community include:
  • Emergency goods
  • Adult and parent education
  • Youth education
  • Immigration legal services
  • Refugee resettlement services
  • SMUD EnergyHELP services
  • Produce For All
  • Commodities for Communities
  • Nourishing our Neighbors
  • Partner Agency Network
  • No Student Left Hungry
  • Food for Seniors
  • CalFresh
  • Health & Nutrition

While it’s quite a production, the Run to Feed the Hungry is able to keep their operational costs low, thanks to corporate sponsors, generous individual donations, donated goods and services, hard-working volunteers, and the continued support of so many regular people in the community.

Some notable highlights from the Run to Feed the Hungry over the years:

The record for the coldest temperatures for a Run to Feed the Hungry was in 210 when it was a bone-chilling 28 degrees on Thanksgiving morning!

While this race is for charity and there is plenty of family fun to be had, it’s also a serious road race. In fact, some of the top times for the 5K include 14 minutes and 50 seconds for the male group, or 17 minutes, 10 seconds for the female group.

For the 10K, best times include an impressive 30 minutes, 13 seconds for the male group and 36 minutes, 4 seconds for the female group.

Celebrating diversity and access to the event for all Sacramentans, there is now a wheelchair race category at this Turkey Trot. Racers with lower body disabilities or other injuries can compete with hand-powered cycles.

Joining a team to raise money and run as a group is a big part of the race’s fun. In the past, it took a minimum of 20 registered runners to form a team, but now, it’s much more fun since only four people can sign up as their own team.

The record for the largest group at the Run to Feed the Hungry was by Christian Brothers High School, when 449 students, teachers, and parents ran in the same team, barely beating out rival St. Francis High School’s 446-person team.

Fun and funny hats, costumes, and other props have become an entertaining tradition at the Run, whether for racers, walkers, or even bystanders and volunteers. You’re likely to see everything from hats resembling turkeys, corn cobs, slices of pie, full turkey and bunny suits, plenty of men and women in tutus, painted faces and brightly colored socks and gear.

Along the race course, there are even bands set up intermittently, playing lively music to entertain and encourage the crowd. One of my favorites is the Elvis Impersonator that usually plays near the 65th Street junction!

The unsung heroes that make the Run to Feed the Hungry possible every year are the volunteers. In fact, about 650 caring citizens signed up to help out at this year’s race, showing up as early as 4 am to perform tasks like setting up, directing crowds, passing out water, working the registration tables, and cleaning up and picking up trash. If you’re at the race, thank one of these warm-hearted people in orange shirts!

If you’d like to run, attend, or even volunteer, here are some more details about this year’s Run to Feed the Hungry:

What:
10K Run & 5K Run/Walk to support Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services

When:
Thanksgiving morning - Thursday, November 23, 2017 — Rain or Shine!
10K - 8:15 a.m. • 5K - 9 a.m.

Where:
The race starts on J Street just west of the entrance to the Sacramento State campus and runs through the beautiful tree-lined streets of East Sacramento.

How much?
Regular Registration (Friday, November 16 - Wednesday, November 22) - $40
Race Day Registration (Thanksgiving Day, November 23) - $45 *Race day registrants will not be timed

Registration:
https://raceroster.com/events/2017/13212/run-to-feed-the-hungry-10k5k
For more information, visit www.runtofeedthehungry.com/

For more information:
For general information call (916) 456-1980.