Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before.
This week, we talked with Cindy Hamann, the VP/branch manager for Coldwell Banker United, Realtors in The Woodlands, an office that, with 90 agents and more than $263 million in sales volume so far in 2012, is Coldwell Banker United’s number one office.
Houston Agent (HA): Our report on NAR’s latest television ad garnered quite a bit of attention and comment from Houston’s real estate community; with the election season upon us, how can Realtors get involved with their associations make sure that housing is an important issue?
Cindy Hamann (CH): The local associations provide ample opportunities to get involved, from donating on behalf of TREPAC to taking the bus trip to Austin to speak with state representatives on matters close to the industry. Supporting “the cause” for proper and common sense regulations, reasonable tax policies that do not go too far one way or the other and ethical rules for consumers and the industry are all duties of those that work in real estate.
HA: How does syndication and the Internet factor in to your business? Do you use any of the big three syndication sites – Trulia, Zillow and Realtor.com – or have you found more success with another Internet-based strategy?
CH: Trying to create some points of differentiation within the Realtor/broker community is difficult with MLS giving all members equal access to the entirety of the Internet. All brokers go through the ROI exercise of determining how, or even if, they will enhance (through showcase agreements, featured properties/neighborhoods/agents, or other products offered by syndicators) what everyone has equal access to in order to increase leads.
Marketing is always a mix of things, not any one thing, that work together to generate opportunities, leads or awareness. We have found success in constantly tweaking that mix and looking at new programs that address marketing challenges in this technological age.
CH: Since we know that photos are the single most influential factor in a consumer’s search for their “dream home,” we focus on what they photograph, why they photograph something, the story they need to tell through those photos and how they use the photos in marketing.
Sometimes that requires professional help, sometimes not, and we encourage our sales associates to think about those factors. And with MLS and Internet sites wanting more and more photos (and by extension, videos), that may mean not only pictures of the house and its rooms, but the neighborhood, the amenities and the “rest of the story.”