Sharing, copying and real estate blogging

I attended a real estate social media class and the speaker said, “Just cut and paste other people’s posts into your own blog. Boom. Blogging in just a few minutes”. What’s wrong with that?

blogging image purchased and used with permission by sacramento appraisal blog - 530

Is cutting and pasting someone’s entire blog content and using it on your own site really sharing? Or is it something else? This is important for the real estate community and really any industry to understand – especially when we hear advice like the speaker gave above. Blogging can be a very powerful tool to help build an online voice for your business, but it’s important to do it the right way. I hope this will be insightful for you, whether you have a real estate blog or you’re considering starting one (go for it). Additionally, I hope this article will help clarify what I mean when encouraging others to share my content (see 5 ways you can share my stuff). When I say, “you can share some of my content”, some people hear “you can copy my posts verbatim”, but that’s definitely not what I mean. Mostly this is just about having good manners online and creating content on your blog that will help grow your business.

What is the difference between copying and sharing real estate articles?

It is copying when…

  1. You cut and paste without giving credit.
  2. There is no link back to the original article.
  3. You didn’t ask permission to share an entire article.
  4. There is no reason why your reader would need to read the author’s website because you included all of the author’s content on your site.

It is sharing when…

  1. You clearly give credit to the author where it is due.
  2. You link back to the original article.
  3. You have permission to share an entire article.
  4. You include a snippet of the article, insert your own thoughts and leave room for your reader to visit the author’s website (just like Doug did last week with one of my graphs). In most cases it is probably okay to share snippets of posts without permission as long as you clearly identify the original author’s words and link back, but be sure to know the author’s sharing policy and realize it’s still a good idea to reach out and ask the author.

The Bottom line: Make it your ambition to respect other people’s original work. If someone took time to create something useful, honor them for it. Don’t just use someone’s content so you can get more traffic on your site or compensate for the lack of time you’re willing to put into developing your own content.

blogging-tipsSome Quick Blogging Tips:

  1. Original: Write original posts. Cutting and pasting is not blogging.
  2. You: People want to get to know you on your blog, so be sure to balance sharing portions of other people’s content with developing your own.
  3. Target Audience: Who are you writing for? Knowing this will help guide what you write about and how frequently you write.
  4. Content: What do you know that will help clients and future clients? Your blog posts can simply answer questions your clients are asking.
  5. Resource: Make it your goal to share helpful information on your blog. Be known for being an incredible resource to clients and the general public. Look in your “sent” email folder for post ideas because chances are you’ve answered questions recently that will make for great blog posts.
  6. Rhythm: Be consistent with your posts, whether you write once or month or even multiple times per week. Readers should know what to expect from you.
  7. Other tips? Comment below.

BLOGGING RESOURCES: If you’re looking for some more advice on real estate blogging or wondering how to get started, check out Quick tips for real estate blogging or How to develop original blog content or 10 ways to be a spammy real estate person online. By the way, I’m speaking about effective real estate blogging at the NorCal Real Estate Expo in two weeks. I’d love to see you there.

NorCal RE Expo Presentation Times

I hope this was helpful.

Thank you for being here. I sincerely appreciate it and I am truly honored when you share my content too (within the confines of my sharing policy of course). Seriously.

Question: Any insight, comments or blogging tips to share?

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5 things I’ve learned about blogging after 907 posts

I started scratching out blog posts almost five years ago, and I’ll admit I’m excited to hit post #1000 at some point next year. Along the way it’s been fun to build great relationships, learn, share information, earn some new clients, get speaking gigs and gain attention from local and national media. There are surely many ways I can improve, but I am proud to say I’ve had staying power thus far, and I think I’ve learned a thing or two about running a successful blog for business.

image of typewriter - purchased by Sacramento Appraisal Blog through 123rtf dot com

The truth is so many blogs start out strong, but then drop off the face of the earth for one reason or another. Yes, there is a season for everything, so inevitably some blogs will die. That’s okay. Yet if you want to have stamina and find success for your blog, I might suggest considering a focus on the following core issues. These are things I believe are key ingredients for a successful blog. Enjoy.

5 Essentials for Running a Successful Blog for Business

1)  Be original: Take the time to craft your own thoughts. Who are you and what do you know that will help or entertain your audience? Let readers get a sense of your personality and expertise. Share photos, video or words. Do what works best for you and your readers, and be sure to not copy and paste other people’s articles and consider them posts.

2)  Know your audience: Who are you writing for? What types of people and business do you want to attract? This is your target audience, and each post should keep this group of people in mind. You are not doing hardcore sales, but rather focusing on providing helpful information (be a resource). What questions are your clients and potential clients asking? Share information like this by posing an issue and then simply providing the answer. In fact, check your sent email folder for post ideas because you’ve probably already answered some questions recently that can turn into fantastic posts. Remember, each post doesn’t have to be home run, but if you get on base here and there, eventually you’ll score runs over time (connections and business). If you cannot quickly say who you are writing for, it’s time to give that some thought. My audience? I write for real estate agents, home owners and the real estate community in general.

target audience - image purchased by Sacramento Appraisal Blog from 123rt dot com 2

3)  Be consistent: Having a regular blogging rhythm is important so readers can know when your posts are going to show up. I write two to three posts a week, so my subscribers know what to expect from me. I know multiple posts each week would be exhausting for some, so I might suggest starting out with once a month, bumping it up to twice a month and then maybe once a week. If you want to be dominant in your niche online, you simply have to find the time to create new content and do that with some sort of frequency – even when you feel too busy. Remember that regular posts keep you in front of your target audience, they build your expertise and search engines like to see fresh content.

4)  Get organized: I would not be able to write regularly if I woke up each day and thought, “hmm, what should I write today?” This is why I created a blog fodder sheet that helps keep 10-20 post ideas in front of me at any given moment. This single-page as shown below hangs in my office on a cork board behind my computer screen, and I use it to jot down post ideas whenever I have them. I also keep a few folders on my desktop called “Things I’ve seen lately” and “Market Trends” to help keep a running group of photos and stats that might work at some point for future posts. When you get into the rhythm of blogging, you’ll start to think, “oh, that’s going to be a great post”, and you can simply save a photo or thought for a future time when you’ll actually write it. This system is simple and it’s worked extremely well for me to be more organized, save time and stay focused on my target audience. Download blog fodder sheet on Slideshare.

blog fodder sheet

share-posts-on-social-media5)  Get Face Time: Part of being successful online is finding ways to connect your business offline. Blog posts, tweets and Facebook statuses can be great for connections, but it’s also important to be intentional about getting in front of clients regularly. Yes, I mean in person. Go to lunch, join a committee, serve on a board, give a presentation or drop off coffee and scones. Just do something. As an example, this year I made it a goal to teach classes and speak in at least one real estate office per month (I ended up doing two per month), and I’ll say it was very good for business. Why? Because I was able to share helpful information in person, answer questions and build connections. In all cases strangers became acquaintances at the least, but in some cases they also became blog subscribers and then clients.

Did I mention anything revolutionary? I’ll be the first to say no. That’s good though because it means virtually anyone with a little focus and intention can be a successful blogger. Yes, it is a time commitment, and I won’t water that down. But putting in the time to become a dominant trusted force online can be profoundly rewarding (and fun).

Thank you: By the way, thank you to all who have subscribed and followed the conversation on my little corner of the web. I’m humbled by that and I greatly appreciate it. If you’ve been tinkering with blogging yourself, send me an email or share the link below. I’d love to see what you are doing.

Questions: Any other blogging essentials or tips to share? What have you learned along the way? Also, do you have any creative ideas for me on post #1000?

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Top items to review in an appraisal report: Part 1

Let’s be honest. If you are in the real estate industry and you regularly come across appraisal reports, do you really read them? If you’re like most people, you simply look at the bottom line value in the report and then call it a day so long as the numbers work. While that makes sense to a certain extent, why not learn how to quickly scan an appraisal to look for quality? This can help you and your clients know that the value is solid, but also help you challenge a bad appraisal too.

Image purchased at 123rf dot com and used with permission - 14688774_s - smallerOver the next few weeks we’ll be looking at top items to review in an appraisal report. I’ve split this into several posts so it’s easier to digest, and at the end I’ll include one example report with all of these items highlighted. In the mean time, you can subscribe by email to get future posts delivered to your inbox.

Let’s hit on three areas of that are located on the very first page of the report:

1. One Unit Housing Trends: This is a section on Fannie Mae’s appraisal report on the first page of the report. It gives the appraiser the opportunity to characterize the direction of property value in the neighborhood, the amount of housing supply on the market and how long it takes properties to sell. If a different form was used for a non-lending appraisal, the appraiser should still comment on these items, but there is no little box to check, so you’ll need to scan the report to find where the appraiser might have discussed the market.

carmichael increasing or decreasing - example found on an appraisal a client sent to me in May 2013

Why does this matter? If this section is not filled out correctly, the appraiser might not understand the market. As an example, consider the box above in Carmichael, which is a census-designated place in the Sacramento area. Values have been increasing, there is an undersupply of listings and properties are selling in very short periods of time, yet this report stated values were stable, supply was balanced and it is taking 3-6 months to market properties (all not accurate). If the fundamentals of the market are clearly incorrect, maybe other things like comp selection and adjustments are also inaccurate.

2. Neighborhood Boundaries: It’s so important to know exactly where one neighborhood ends and another begins. Misunderstanding neighborhood boundaries can have a dramatic impact on perceived property value.

neighborhood boundaries in an appraisal report

The Fannie Mae appraisal report form is used for most lender appraisals, and it asks the appraiser to identify the neighborhood boundaries on the first page of the appraisal report. The section looks just like the box above.

neighborhood boundaries in an appraisal report example by sacramento appraisal blog

The example above is perfect in that there is a huge difference in value between West Tahoe Park and the portion of Oak Park that is just west of this area. Stockton Blvd acts as a “line of demarcation” in this market, so “comps” really shouldn’t be borrowed across the street since these are two distinct markets. Even more striking is the “Med Center” boundaries outlined in red. There is a huge value difference between properties located inside and outside the Med Center boundaries.

3. Market Conditions: The Fannie Mae report asks the appraiser to discuss the conditions of the neighborhood real estate market and give support for the direction of property values, marketing time and inventory levels.

market conditions in appraisal report

In many cases this section of the appraisal report in a bad appraisal will include very limited information that is basically text that is transferred from one appraisal to another. Ultimately if this portion of the report includes erroneous information, we’ll have to wonder if comp selection and adjustments are going to be bad also.

market description for Elk Grove May 2013 - by Sacramento Appraisal BlogThis section is often far too thin in shoddy appraisal reports, but it is actually very important because it should give the reader an idea of the trends in the neighborhood. On a side note, I have been giving great attention to describing the market in my reports, especially since values have been increasing rapidly in some areas. In future years when loans go into default, and the lender is looking for somebody to sue, I want them to see that I gave a detailed description of the volatility of the market. If put on the stand in court, I will at least be able to say, “Did you read the appraisal report?” or “Did you read the section where I talked about rapid appreciation being unsustainable?” Click on the thumbnail for a recent example during an Elk Grove appraisal.

Any questions or insight? Feel free to comment below.

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Monthly real estate trends in Sacramento County

Here’s a quick update to highlight some monthly real estate figures in Sacramento County from January through April 2013. In a nutshell, we are seeing less foreclosures, the same amount of cash as Q4 2012 (but up 5% from one year ago), and fairly steady levels of FHA and conventional loans. For reference, we saw about 18% less sales during the first four months of 2013 compared to 2012. You can get a more in-depth context for the market in a previous post, Tour de Sacramento Real Estate.

What stands out to you? What are you seeing in the trenches?

Monthly Real Estate Trends in Sacramento County - by Sacramento Appraisal Blog

If you have any questions or Sacramento home appraisal or property tax appeal needs, let’s connect by phone 916-595-3735, email, Twitter, subscribe to posts by email (or RSS) or “like” my page on Facebook