Climbing the social (media) ladder
Over the past year, the Real Estate Center has overhauled its social media accounts, adopting new technologies and techniques to determine how we can best reach our constituents.
HootSuite, a social media managing platform, has helped us create and schedule posts on our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn pages efficiently. More importantly, it’s provided us with valuable data that has taught us more about the audience we serve: you.
One thing we learned is that not all social media platforms are the same, and users’ habits vary by platform.
We found that women make up 57 percent of our Facebook followers, with most of them between 45 and 54 years old. Our fans are most active on Facebook between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and they prefer posts about RECON and the Red Zone podcast.
Meanwhile, our Twitter users prefer content posted between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Fridays. Fifty-three percent are male, and around 80 percent are homeowners. Links to third-party content and Center research are among the most popular, especially if the Tweet includes an infographic.
We joined Instagram in June 2016, making it our youngest social media account. Like Facebook, 57 percent of our followers are women, but they tend to be younger (25 to 44). We learned not to worry about the news on this platform, concentrating on beautiful images of Texas and our publications.
LinkedIn is our fastest-growing account, with the number of followers doubling in just a year. Those followers prefer to log in between 8 a.m. and noon on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are most interested in housing statistics and research. Our approach to LinkedIn is nearly opposite of our Instagram strategy. Instead of worrying about images, we focus on information and data.
The Center is relatively new to the world of social media marketing, but we’re growing faster than we ever imagined we would. Thank you to everyone who follows us and engages with our content.
Key to economic growth? More education, more training
The U.S. economy is growing at an average rate of 2 percent per year, down from its normal 3 percent. What will it take to get that rate back up?
The answer is complicated, but Center Research Economist Dr. Luis Torres told me one thing is clear: You can’t just throw money at the problem.
"Monetary policy isn’t enough. The Federal Reserve can’t make a person more educated, and that’s what we need," Luis said. "We have all of these structural issues — especially in the area of education and training — that are preventing our growth."
Luis had just returned from a national business economics meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, so this was fresh on his mind.
"Jobs have actually come back," he said. "Job openings are at a higher level than before the economic crisis. In this country, if you’re highly trained and educated, you’re probably going to have little trouble finding a job. But if you’re low-skilled with little training, you’re going to struggle."
By education, Luis said he’s not referring only to college degrees. He said that while we do need, say, engineers, we also need welders and mechanics.
He said other structural problems include a drop in workers because of an aging population, tax policies that could use some adjusting, infrastructure needing improving (airports, roads, internet, etc.), and immigration policies that need to be reformed.
Luis talks about this in much more depth on this week’s Real Estate Red Zone podcast. Click here to listen.
Three haunted Texas properties that’ll make your spine tingle
If there’s one thing Texans love, it’s a good ghost story. With Halloween creeping up on us, we thought we’d celebrate some of our favorite haunted Texas real estate.
The Grove is an 1861 home in Jefferson, a small East Texas town around 40 miles northeast of Longview. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a Texas Registered Historic Landmark. At first glance, you may mistake the building for a cozy old home. But this private residence is home to more than just the living.
Some call the house one of the most haunted locations in the Lone Star State. The chilling ghost stories date back over a century. The first sign of paranormal activity was in 1882 after T.C. Burke purchased the home. He and his family moved out after only a month.
Prominent specters in the home include a wandering lady in white and a man rushing through the garden as if late for an appointment. A rascally ghost in the den is particularly fond of the ladies.
In La Grange stands a beautiful Victorian Gothic building now home to the city’s visitor center and chamber of commerce.
The former Fayette County jail housed many infamous “guests” during its time, including two members of Bonnie and Clyde’s gang. But it’s rumored that some visitors never left.
The most disturbing of the apparitions is the Widow Mary Dach. The mother of three was accused of killing a farmhand who helped her after her husband’s death. Sentenced to death in 1933, Mary was to be the first woman sent to the electric chair, but she starved herself to death before the penalty could be given. The suicidal spirit is said to haunt the halls of the historic building.
Fortunately, not all Texas ghost stories are sinister.
The USS Lexington, a decommissioned aircraft carrier harbored in Corpus Christi as a floating museum, is home to a friendly ghost. Up to 200 visitors have reportedly seen this white-uniformed, blue-eyed young seaman.
“Charly” reportedly died on the ship after a Japanese Kamikaze attack off the coast of the Philippines on Halloween in 1944. But the sailor is no haunting figure. Reports claim the seaman is a “polite young man” who shares his knowledge of the ship with visitors.
It may be a coincidence, but the Lexington‘s nickname has long been “The Blue Ghost.” The Japanese Navy reported sinking the aircraft carrier four times during World War II. Japanese sailors believed that the ship was able to return from the grave.
There are so many more Texas ghost stories, but we’ll end it there. What’s your favorite piece of haunted real estate? Let us know by tweeting to us @TexRec with the hashtag #HauntedTXRealty.
An unusual request
Every so often we get a welcome reminder of how much our constituents value our research. Usually that happens when we expect it. For example, when we’re visiting with Realtors at the Texas Association of Realtors convention every fall, or when people visit our offices.
But we received a reminder recently that was a little out of the ordinary, and it caught us by surprise.
A couple of weeks ago, a woman from Houston called us. Her house had been flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Among the many things she lost were her copies of Tierra Grande magazine for the past three years, and she was hoping we could send replacements.
I imagine that for most people who’d just lost many of their worldly possessions, a stack of ruined magazines would’ve been the least of their concerns. But this caller told me she’d worked in real estate since the late ’70s, and she’s always relied on our magazine in her job. She said she frequently looks through back issues and shares information from them with her clients.
I assured her that we’d be happy to replace her copies of Tierra Grande back through 2015 at no charge. Now she was the one caught by surprise.
"But what about all the other people who call asking for replacements?" she asked. "That must get expensive."
I didn’t say anything, but I did chuckle. There was a pause on the line, then she said, "I’m the only who’s called, aren’t I?"
I informed her that she was so far, but that we greatly appreciate knowing there are folks out there who benefit so richly from our research. By the end of the day, replacement copies were in the mail and on their way to her.
By the way, should you ever lose back issues of Tierra Grande magazine, all of the articles are available on our website. You can read them online or print them for free.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: A first look at the mortgage interest deduction
The recently released “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” affects a wide array of industries, none more so than residential real estate.
Changes to the mortgage interest deduction is drawing significant attention across the country. The proposal decreases the cap on newly issued loans from $1 million currently to $500,000, while removing any deductions on second homes. Assuming a 20 percent down payment, homes selling for $625,000 would be the maximum price that allows the deduction of all mortgage interest.
The plan also establishes a $10,000 limit on state and local property taxes, which is particularly relevant to the Texas tax structure. In return, the legislation roughly doubles the standard deduction for individuals from $6,350 to $12,000 and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married couples filing jointly.
Here are a few facts to keep in mind as the debate wages on.
The fast and the (hopefully not too) furious
Last year, the Texas A&M University System announced plans for a $150 million research campus here in Bryan-College Station. While a wide array of new technologies will be explored at the campus, the one that caught my attention was autonomous (driverless) vehicles.
Until now, my knowledge of autonomous vehicles (AV) was strictly limited to “Johnny Cab” from the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie Total Recall and the self-driving cars in Minority Report. Also, Disney’s The Love Bug, but I’m not sure that counts.
Turns out, the concept dates back at least as far as the 1939 World’s Fair, where Norman Bel Geddes’ Futurama exhibit promoted advances in transportation, including aspects of AV technology.
But enough about history. How could AV technology affect real estate markets? Transwestern suggests some possibilities in its new report, The New Industry Driver: How the Rise of Autonomous Vehicles Could Impact Future Real Estate Strategy.
The report posits that AVs would cause a decrease in car ownership (by as much as 80 percent by 2030, according to one study). If so, Transwestern says the demand for parking across the U.S. may decrease 70 to 90 percent, cutting the need for parking spaces by approximately 60 billion sf.
Assuming widespread AV adoption, office owners and developers may have to rethink how they use parking, whether it is an adjacent parking structure or an underground garage. Transwestern says parking revenue averages 10 percent of a central business district office building’s gross revenue.
The rise of AVs also may add another pawn in the amenities war, the report says. “Features such as curbside pickup and ride-share lobbies could become more prevalent as building tenants and visitors increasingly demand them as next-generation Class A office conveniences.”
Transwestern says the industrial sector could be disrupted most by AV technology.
“With approximately 70 percent of goods delivered via long-haul commercial trucks (a percentage that is expected to widen in the future), the introduction of autonomous long-haul trucks would be a welcomed addition to an industry struggling from a shortage of drivers. There was an estimated deficit of 48,000 truck drivers in the U.S. in 2015, and this problem is only getting worse.”
What about retail?
“Retail properties that could be affected by greater adoption of AVs include auto repair facilities, car dealerships, and the nearly 154,000 gas stations nationwide,” according to Transwestern. “Auto car dealerships and auto repair shops may disappear as we know them if private car ownership decreases. Gas stations, which typically occupy locations at highly visible intersections, could be converted to autonomous charging stations as electric vehicles are forecasted to surpass gas-powered vehicles by 2040.”
On a personal note, I welcome AV technology. Outside of The Terminator movies or HAL in 2001, it’s hard for me to imagine a computer developing a bad case of road rage.
Open Houses -a Good Real Estate Marketing Tool
As per an article in The Washington Post, numerous real estate specialists don’t see open houses as a decent approach to sale houses. Rather, the lion’s share of the real estate operators counseled by the production for their article said that they do them just as a promoting apparatus instead of as intends to sale house. The Washington Post said more than 70 percent of the real estate specialists required in the overview arrange open houses just to “assuage dealers” while more than 50 percent said open houses help them just to create new contacts. What’s more, this was directed path before internet promoting has ended up basic. What set off the change? What’s more, ought to a real estate operator still lead an open house?
The adjustment is the pattern more than not been activated by open house. Nothing unexpected there, since the Internet has unquestionably changed the way individuals work together. Rather than setting off to the area itself, potential purchasers just go to https://www.theopenhouse.com/ to search for properties. When they see a property they like, they will contact the real estate specialist to take a gander at the property themselves. The Web has killed the requirement for open houses-at any rate from the purchaser’s perspective. Still, there are some who go to open houses, particularly the more seasoned, more develop customer base are not very mechanically wise or skilled. Some additionally incline toward the way out forefathers would have done it of searching for a house. All things considered, nothing can pummel seeing the property close. Real estate showcasing can undoubtedly be controlled to make a property appear to be more profitable than it is; an open house disperses whatever falsehoods advertising makes.
From the real estate specialist’s side, they’re not so very much wanted particularly today since it creates little salary and a little intrigue. Notwithstanding when taking the entire business to thought, they just record to a little rate of the sales in the real estate business. There is too minimal chance for a specialist to take. Theopenhouse.com has made the entire manage executing with potential customers and purchasers diverse. It is advantageous to the client as well as to the real estate agent.
In any case, there are numerous reasons why open house is finished. As specified before, open houses are done as such operators can produce another rundown of contacts market outside the Internet one. The real estate specialists who said they do open houses to pacify proprietors said despite everything they do open houses in the trust of making them different properties from you.
The person who doesn’t turn out fulfilled by them is usually the merchants. Sellers believe that sorting out an open house is still a need since it is the main apparatus of the specialist that is substantial to them. Be that as it may, at last, the specialist is the person who turns out with the most a short time later.
Numerous experts trust that open houses are no more exceptionally lucky and are no savvy, with every one of the worries checked. New real estate operators may profit by it; however, at last, a real estate agent should first know whether he or she is doing the open house for the right reasons.
Ask that the house is as spotless and sorted out as would be prudent. The less mess that is around, the more open the home will feel. Just attempt to have anything that is not completely relevant like old mail or magazines set away or disposed of. Kid’s toys ought to likewise be flawless and set away. Beds ought to be made and garments ought to be in storage rooms and dressers.
Light scented candles. Theopenhouse.com is truly imperative. Usually, individuals can review recollections best from their feeling of smell over some other sense. Pick something that could bring back great memories like treats. Sugar treat candles are all over and are dependably a champ. They will bring back a few one’s memory of Christmas or when mother used to make treats for occasions or heat cakes for gatherings which will cause the house feel more like home.
Tips For a Successful Open House When Your Home is on the Market
An open house is an incredible approach to draw in individuals to your home when it is available. It can work whether you are offering the home all alone or with the assistance of a real estate organization. An open house implies that on a predetermined date and for particular hours individuals can travel every which way in the home however they see fit. They don’t have to get in touch with you or the real estate operator to plan an arrangement.
Some individuals haven’t yet dedicated to purchasing a home. They are as yet taking a gander at the choices. Lots of clients might visit www.theopenhouse.com as a way for them to push ahead with that idea. They likewise don’t feel forced by the proprietor or a real estate operator when they can simply go in and see it all alone.
So as to get a decent turn out with an open house, it should be reported no less than two or three weeks before it happens. Individuals have occupied timetables, and you need them to have the capacity to fit this into their day. Ensure you have a lot of hours to give those that need an opportunity to do as such. A few people are morning individuals, and others are more dynamic toward the evening or early night. There are work routines to consider too.
Utilizing numerous strategies for publicizing on theopenhouse.com is essential also. You need to get the word out there through the greatest number of courses as you can. It incorporates daily paper promotions, the internet, hanging up fliers, and notwithstanding putting a sign in your yard that individuals can see when they drive by.
It is an excellent thought to have fliers made that can be given out at the entryway as well. It is an exciting approach to welcome individuals to your home. It ought to have essential data about the home including the offering cost on it. Anyone desiring the open house ought to be by and by welcomed by somebody as they approach the front door. That way they feel welcome, and they will take as much time as is needed glancing around.
Ensure that individuals can get their inquiries addressed too at an open house. You don’t need them to leave disheartened because they couldn’t get data that they required. It could transform them off from looking further into purchasing your home, regardless of the possibility that they cherished it. If you have reported, the evaluation and assessment then show them where all intrigued can see them. Odds are you will get loads of inquiries relating to them, so it is best to have that data promptly accessible when conceivable.
Think about selling some homes for those that go to theopenhouse.com. Keep it financially savvy and something that can be served rapidly. You additionally need to ensure each that comes is expressed gratitude toward for their time before they take off. That way the whole experience they had while in your home to the minute that they leave is extremely positive.
An open house can be a capable approach to convey numerous individuals to take a gander at the home you have available to be purchased. The way that those intrigued by it will see other individuals there will likewise urge them to make an offer. They would prefer not to hazard another person that was at the open house getting an offer submitted before them. That feeling of direness that can be made is something you don’t get when you are demonstrating a home to individuals one on one.
The operator ought to likewise draw in different types of print and promoting media to accumulate consideration for your home. It incorporates daily paper advertisements, purchasers bundles, and fliers that can be left on the “available to be purchased” sign for intrigued buyers to take at their relaxation. The condition is truly very basic, the more individuals that see your home in some media, the more forthcoming purchasers there are. Print out your declaration for the open house. Thought of a drawing in the ad and have them posted on daily papers, grouped promotions, and indexes.