Real Estate Tip of the Week: How to Better Use Instagram Stories

We all know social media is king – but have you been using all of the resources available for you to up your real estate leads?

Instagram stories is a great way to elevate your social media game, all while engaging followers and future clients!

In January 2019, Instagram reported 500 million daily active Stories users worldwide500 million. This stat alone should get you into using Instagram Stories.

How can you use this platform to better your brand and reach more viewers?

Behind the Scenes

Off-the-cuff and candid Stories help make you and your brand more relatable and creates a more genuine feel. You are more than a “real estate agent” – you are someone they can trust, understand, and even have fun with!

Think about sharing:

  • A delicious meal you’re enjoying at fun local restaurant.
  • Last-minute open house prep? Showcase a little bit about what you do to prepare!
  • A hike near town that you love.
  • Quick tips on the current real estate market.

Have Fun with It

Use the features Stories has within posting to give your Story a little more “umph.”

You can use:

  • The Poll button to create questions and answers – or, you can allow viewers to write their own questions!
  • Create a countdown to an event.
  • Share quotes.
  • Create a “before” and “after” of a staging. 

Highlight Stories

Definitely use the “Highlights” tool! This allows your Stories to be viewable for longer than 24 hours, and they will be featured directly on your profile. You can categorize your Highlights by:

  • Open Houses
  • Housing Stats
  • Local Restaurants
  • Etc.

Final Touches

Instagram doesn’t directly show posts by chronological order – they have their own algorithm that shows each user posts from the people they follow.

If you want to make sure your new post has been seen, upload the photo to Stories and cover it up with the sticker, “New Post” – that way, users know you have a new post, and have to go to your profile to see it.

There is an infinite amount of ways to utilize and play with Instagram Stories – make it engaging and make it fun!

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Time to Get Cozy: Fall Home Maintenance Tips

With Fall officially in the air, it’s time to break out your cozy blankets and apple cider recipes!

And if you’re a homeowner, you’ll also want to complete a quick maintenance check on your property. But what aspects of your home should you be looking after?

  • Rake leaves and aerate the lawn
  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters
  • Clean fireplace flues and check fireplace for damage or hazards
  • Power-wash windows and siding
  • Cover the inside and outside of your windows and doors to prevent drafts
  • Replace batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors & if you haven’t already, make sure a smoke detector is installed on every floor of your home
  • Drain and store hoses, and drain in-ground sprinkler systems
  • Protect outdoor faucets and pipes in unheated garages by using insulation
  • Inspect roof for missing, lose, or damaged shingles and leaks
  • Check water heater for any signs of distress

While these can all be checked by you, the homeowner, it doesn’t hurt to have a professional take a quick peak too. Getting your furnace and ductwork serviced can help your home become not only more safe, but also more energy efficient. Think about having a specialist inspect and clean your dryer vent as well!

For more homeowner tips, stop by Alliance’s Blog!

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Employee Spotlight – Kathryn Newbold

Please give a round of applause for our newest employee spotlight, Kathryn Newbold!

Kathryn is an Escrow Assistant for our Nampa, Idaho branch. She is responsible for funding files, ordering assessments, clearing title, completing lender order requests, helping work up files, and anything else her escrow officers need her to do.

As an escrow assistant, Kathryn loves the problem solving that goes into her job and how it helps clients buy their dream home. She enjoys being a part of the process from start to finish – she stops at nothing to make sure the transaction goes smoothly!

Of the Alliance Core Values, “Teamwork” is Kathryn’s favorite. She explains, “I have really wonderful coworkers in my office. Every day we help each other out and problem solve – whether it’s for our own files or not. I think that’s something that our clients love about us as well. If they call or come into our office, and their escrow officer or assistant isn’t available, someone is always willing to jump in and help.”

Outside of work, Kathryn unwinds from the day by stepping into her soccer cleats; she has grown up playing soccer, and still plays to this day with her family and husband. Kathryn also has a passion for photography, as well as going on walks or hiking with her husband and their three dogs.

When asked whom she admires most, Kathryn thinks of her mother and her husband. She illustrates, “My mother was a single mom to four girls and taught us how to be self-sufficient and work for what we want in life. Second would be my husband. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but it’s true. I’ve known him for 13 years and he has always believed in me and has helped push me to follow my dreams and become the best person I can be.”

Kathryn’s favorite quote, “Doing your best does not mean working yourself to the point of a mental breakdown,” is something she tries to live by. She reminds herself that “we are only human and we need to be kind to ourselves – mistakes can always be fixed.”

Now that you’ve gotten to know Kathryn a little more, stop by Alliance Title’s Nampa office and write them in on your next transaction! Kathryn looks forward to helping make your home closing a simple and smooth experience.

Kathryn Newbold – Escrow Assistant at Alliance’s Nampa Branch
1005 W Sanetta St, 83651
208.465.6600
kathryn.newbold@alliancetitle.com

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Real Estate Tip of the Week: SEO Tips for Your Blog

Let’s face it – your clients are using the internet to research homes before they come to you for additional help. With the internet at your fingertips, it’s easy to do a quick Google search and find information you’re needing.

This is where you come in: having a reliable website that is easy to use and has a simple layout is key! Future leads and consumers want quick access to the information they’re searching for.

So if you’re wanting your website and blog to be the first thing audiences see when they Google for information on real estate, you’re going to need to use SEO.

SEO is all about search engine algorithms, and Google is constantly changing them to block bots from achieving rankings. Because of how frequently these are changing, it’s good to stay up-to-date, so your website doesn’t get penalized for sticking with the old rules. You can find Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide here.

Here are some quick Do’s and Don’ts within the SEO world:

Do

  • Research which keywords are more popular than others in your market
  • Think of secondary keywords that aren’t as popular but are still relative to your brand
  • Link to related businesses and services that relate to your market. Write about the best restaurants in your area, and link to a highly trafficked blog that discusses fun places to eat in the neighborhood

Don’t

  • Write your keyword multiple times where it doesn’t make sense (known as keyword stuffing). This will not gain your site favor in Google’s standards – Google and consumers alike are looking for websites that are useful to readers
  • Link to suspect content or unnatural links anywhere on your site. Don’t buy or sell links – as this will receive a harsh penalty from Google. Never include a link directory on your site, as your page can be completely removed from Google’s search results

For more, check out our SEO Strategy article, and be sure to stop by Alliance’s Blog to stay in the loop with all tings real estate.

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Common Fees Explained: Real Estate 101

Purchasing a home is an incredible milestone! But when it’s bogged down by all the mumbo jumbo of real estate jargon, it can get intimidating.

We’re here to help you sort through those confusing terms and help you feel confident in your decision! With knowledge, comes power – and also, just knowing what is what is a great feeling anyway.

Here’s a quick rundown on some of the common fees you’ll see throughout your home buying process:

Origination: This fee will be charged to the borrower from the lender and any mortgage broker for making the mortgage loan. Origination services may include processing your loan application, underwriting and funding the loan, and other services.

Credit Report: The lender will pull a credit report to help decide whether or not to approve your loan and how much money to lend you.

Owner’s Title Insurance: This protects the homeowner’s investment for as long as they own the property.

Lender’s Title Insurance: If you are taking out a mortgage, this protects the lender’s investment in the property.

Closing or Settlement Fee: This is the fee for escrow services, which are provided by a neutral third party that monitors your transactions, prepares documents based on instructions, coordinates the closing and more.

Recording Fees:  This fee is charged by a government agency for registering or recording the purchase or sale so that it becomes a matter of public record. Either the buyer or seller can pay this fee, depending upon your agreement of sale with the seller.

Real Estate Commission: The seller usually pays this fee. This is the total dollar amount of the real estate broker’s sales commission, which is typically a percentage of the selling price of the home.

Want to read through a longer list of real estate vocab? Check out Home Closing 101 for more, and be sure to stop by our Alliance Blog for guides and tips on all things real estate.

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Meet our Soda Springs, ID Branch

Soda Springs, Idaho – a place with a big town feel, but the support of a small town community.

Established as a city in 1919, Soda Springs sits in Caribou County and is about an hour south of Pocatello, Idaho. The city is rich in history – and isn’t afraid to control aspects of mother nature.

In 1934, “town fathers” were on the hunt for hot water for a hot pool bathing attraction – they had accidentally drilled into a chamber of highly pressurized carbon dioxide gas and cold water, which allowed a geyser to release. The town has since capped and manually releases the geyser on the hour every hour. Soda Springs has the world’s only captive geyser.

The town offers plenty of recreational activities; with campgrounds, pavilions, trails for hiking, biking, or cross country skiing, and access to swimming, fishing, boating, and snow machining, you’ll find something to suite your outdoor needs.

Only a minute walk from City Park, you’ll find our Alliance Title Soda Springs office! With 65 combined total years in customer service, our experienced team is ready to meet your real estate needs.

Our Soda Springs team strives to build relationships with their customers. The branch believes that getting to know customers on a personal level, as well as professional, helps in better understanding their goals.

Community is important to the Soda Springs team, and they make sure to volunteer and donate as often as they can. The branch participates in Toys for Tots, the Winter Carnival, the local pumpkin patch, and other various community events.

The Soda Springs branch has outstanding customer service and a friendly-fun atmosphere. Escrow Officer, Kim Black, loves to go biking, snowshoeing, kayaking, camping, hunting, and she loves to spend time with her four-legged kids. To their repeat customers, Kim is referred to as “the Property Profile Queen!” Escrow Officer, Emma Couch, enjoys boating, camping, fishing, riding, hunting, spending time with her family, and coaching kid’s sports.

Whether you’re buying or selling commercial or residential property in Caribou County, the professionals at Alliance Title’s Soda Springs location are delighted to help make your next transaction a success!

Alliance Title Soda Springs Branch
71 E 1st S, 83276
208.547.3660

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Homebuyers and Mortgage Rates: Where Do We Currently Stand?

Whether you’re renting or on the hunt for owning, paying monthly for a roof over your head isn’t the easiest of tasks.

But as of late, with slower home price growth and lower mortgage rates, potential homebuyers are paying less on their monthly mortgage payment than a year ago and building equity, something you can’t necessarily do when you rent a home.

The U.S. median sales price this past June was $235,433 – up 3.3% year over year. While this can be concerning, mortgage payments have dropped 6.1%.

Why the decline?

The fall is mostly due to decreases in mortgage rates. The typical mortgage payment in June was roughly 32% lower than the all-time high of $1,287 set in June 2006.

According to CoreLogic’s reports, forecasters predict annual gains in home prices to average around 4.5% on a monthly basis through June 2020. They also predict that a rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage during that time will be about 0.7% lower than a year earlier.

Freddie Mac reported the average on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage was 3.56% last week.

We’ll have to wait and see just how close the forecasts are to reality, but the reports are looking to favor the side of homebuyers.

Be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog for more real estate news and updates.

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Real Estate Tip of the Week: Content Ideas for Your Blog

Being an agent, you juggle many things – catching up on leads, going to networking events, showing homes, preparing for open houses – adding to the list just seems exhausting.

One of the more important tasks you do as an agent, is being active on social media. You post on Instagram, Facebook, maybe Snapchat or Pinterest – and if you have a blog of your own, you’re also uploading articles.

Whew, draining, right?

But what can be even more draining, is when writers block occurs. Hey, it happens to everyone! Alliance Title has some tips and suggestions for you to use the next time you’re running on empty.

Locations

You’re the go-to expert of the area, so why not share the best places to visit? Either through a quick video, or an article to post, present and future clients will appreciate what you have to share.

Talk about:

  • Restaurants
  • Parks
  • Coffee Shops
  • Kid’s activities
  • Bars
  • Hiking spots

Updates for Sellers

If someone is preparing to sell their home, they might feel lost as to what they need to do to update their home before putting it on the market.

Give some quick tips on what you would consider the most crucial updates sellers should do to up their listing price.

Spotlight the Area

Highlight some key businesses and people in the neighborhood. Think about showcasing:

  • School districts
  • Fitness centers
  • Churches
  • Grocery stores
  • Community involvement

While these are only a few suggestions to get you out of writer’s block, these can help generate new leads and give your clients some much needed and valued information.

Think about utilizing our Buyer-Seller Guide available on our website! Be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog for more information on all things real estate.

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Homebuyers Should Avoid These Painting Mistakes

Paint, paint, go away, come again when we’re feeling more motivated.

We know, we know – painting can be exhausting. But what’s even more tiresome, is committing a painting faux pas only to start over again.

If you’re getting ready to sell your home (or just wanting to give it a good update), a fresh coat of paint can do wonders on giving your home new life. While painting can give your home a great facelift, it can also ruin the “mood” of your room, if done incorrectly.

Here are some quick tips when it comes to whipping out the paintbrush:

Color Hues

Be very careful when selecting a particular shade. Baby hues – baby blue, pink, yellow – can make your home feel childish. Choosing, instead, a more saturated shade (colors that range from pure color to gray) for the space and then incorporating a baby hue into the room as an accent can diminish a toddler feel.

The Light in Your Home

Colors will change depending on how certain lights hit them. Experts suggest selecting a shade or two lighter than the paint chip, as it usually always goes on darker than it looks. If you can, test out the color on the walls with an actual paint sample to ensure it’s the color you want.

The Finish

After you’ve painted the room, you’re going to want to apply a finish before completing the task. Matte, gloss, and flat are some of your options for different finishes.

Ceilings Are Walls Too

Paint your ceiling with flat paint – light is reflected even more on ceilings, which could showcase shadows and uneven drywall. A low-luster sheen finish can help diminish any ceiling mistakes.

The Size of the Room

A cool accent wall can help make small rooms feel more open – a soft blue, gray, or green are great examples.

After you’re done, no need to sit around and watch paint dry.

Be sure to check out Alliance’s Blog for more news and tips on real estate!

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From Sad Renters to Happy Homeowners: The Latest Stats in the Real Estate Market

When you own, you’re happy.

At least, that’s what the latest news released from Bank of America points to.

The company released a new report that shows 93% of people who bought a home are happier than they were when they were renting.

88% of responders also said that they believe buying a home was the best decision they ever made, while 79% said owning a home has changed them for the better.

What are the top reasons new homeowners are so incredibly joyous?

Most agreed that the “emotional equity” trumps the financial benefits towards the “American Dream” of homeownership. More than half of current homeowners bought a home for a place to make memories, while 42% viewed it as a financial investment.

Not only does owning a home affect being able to grow a family, make memories, and help with your investments, but it also does wonders for your overall view of life.

78% are satisfied with the quality of their social life (hello dinner parties, birthday parties and barbeques), while three out of four homeowners have pursued new hobbies after buying a home.

Looks like a home is more than a financial investment after all!

Don’t forget to stop by Alliance’s Blog to stay current on all things real estate.

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