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Special APR Discount for Inman Conference

June 14, 2013

Did you know one of the BEST real estate events of the year is happening in San Francisco this year? Inman News presents both Agent Reboot and Real Estate Connect this July at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
The events kickoff with Agent Reboot on July 9th. This one-day boot camp, revamped with all new content for 2013, is a crash course in digital marketing to make your upcoming year your best. Get expert advice via case studies, mobile marketing techniques to attract the digital consumer, strategies to foster and build relationships on social media, tips to ensure your website is personalized and local and so much more.
Next up is the main event – the 3-day, information packed Real Estate Connect from July 10-12th. Real Estate Connect is where real deals are made, new partnerships are formed, new technologies are introduced, start-ups are launched and hard issues are debated openly. Connect SF will position you to take advantage of tomorrow. This year, APR’s own VP of Relocation and Business Development Michi Olson will be speaking.
Unsure whether to attend? Check out our post from last year highlighting some of the take-aways and tools.
Even better – this year we’ve partnered with Inman News to make it easier for you to attend both events – at a reduced price. You can save $300 if you REGISTER NOW. This special deal for local agents will give you tickets to both events for the exclusive price of $649.
Register NOW – and secure your spot in this incredible 4-day event.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Quality QR Codes – Are You Doing It Right?

September 25, 2012

When QR (quick response) codes started popping up everywhere, marketers deemed them the next big thing. As with any new technology, the real estate industry was not far behind trying to think of creative ways to use them. From property signs, print ads, and business cards, QR codes are showing up on all different types of real estate marketing pieces. However, too often, they are done improperly – preventing them from being an effective tool. Here we’ll look at several things to consider when using QR codes:

1. Where does the QR code link to?
If you’re asking someone to scan a QR code, they will be using a mobile device. One of the most common mistakes is sending a consumer to a non-mobile friendly site. This makes absolutely no sense and will likely frustrate any consumer who has taken the time to scan your QR code. If you can’t read the site on a mobile device, you are wasting a consumers time. Additionally, what information is a user looking for? Likely, if they’re on a mobile and scanning a code, it’s because they want certain information right then. It doesn’t make sense to link to your homepage on a flyer for a home – it’s likely they want more information about that property right then. QR codes are beneficial to quickly display additional information that the consumer wants right then. Don’t make them navigate a non-mobile friendly homepage – that’s not a motivating incentive to scan a QR code.
2. Where have you placed your QR code?
You’re asking a consumer to pull out their phone, scan a code, and access something right away. This is incredibly important. First, make sure your QR code is scanable. Too often, you see QR codes in places that make it difficult to scan. I’ve seen QR codes on shopping bags – which rarely lay flat enough to scan. I’ve seen QR codes on billboard along busy highways – it is not only difficult, but unsafe, to pull out a phone and try to scan a QR code while flying down the freeway. Also, one of the most common mistakes I’ve seen REALTORS® make – they place them on internet communication – on their website and in their email signatures. This makes absolutely no sense. If a consumer is already online, what, if any reason, would they want to pull out their phone and transition to a mobile interface. Unless the QR code has a specific mobile action attached to it (e.g., adds contact info to your phone or is a link to download a mobile app), there is almost no reason ever to place a QR code online.
3. Have you educated your consumer?
Just because you know what a QR code is and does, does not necessarily mean your consumers do. Have you given them a reason to scan your code? You need to have a certain call to action that provides an incentive for a consumer. Does scanning the code show them a slideshow with more information? Does it download your mobile app? You need to clearly communicate to the consumer what additional information they will get by scanning your code. If you are not providing more information than what is already in front of them, there is no reason to scan. Also, for the less tech-savvy, do you still provide a way for them to access the additional information? Or are you cutting off that whole audience? Sometimes it’s not a bad idea to put a tiny URL by a QR code – so even if you aren’t mobile-savvy, you can still get the information you want.
4. Make sure your code works. Scan it.
This is pretty straight forward.
While QR codes might be considered by some as “cutting-edge” or a “must-have” in and increasingly mobile world, you always have to think of an individuals motives and the user experience. Before ever placing a QR code in your marketing – ask yourself if it makes sense. Would you scan it? Would you be happy as a consumer with what you see? If you aren’t – then don’t put it. Any benefit of looking like you’re on top of the marketing trends is immediately discounted if you aren’t using them in proper and creative ways.

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage. 

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Online Reputation and Yelp

September 19, 2012

In an industry that is built on individuals and relationships – reputation matters. How your potential clients view you, how other agents view you, and how your sphere views you all play a role in determining your success as a Realtor®. In today’s world, with the technology and resources that are available, your reputation extends beyond what is said among friends – it extends to the public on the internet. Sources say between 75-90% of consumers check online reviews before purchases. If consumers are looking for reviews before deciding what brand of camera to buy – there is no doubt they’re looking online before they make a decision about who will represent them in such a large life event like buying a home.  It is crucial that every REALTOR® knows how they look and what is being said about themselves online. Potential clients and past clients are reviewing and viewing reviews of you on Yelp whether you know or like it.
We’ll be talking about online reputation quite a bit on here, but this entry will focus on Yelp – a go to site for restaurant reviews, that increasingly is being used to review professional services. Here are some tips about how to manage your presence on Yelp:

  • Make sure you have a business profile there – this way, you’re in control of the non-review data that is there. This ensure accuracy of contact information. In addition, it makes a designated place where clients can review your services.
  • Make sure it displays your name – not just your brokerage. Too often agents post only their brokers name – and end up with reviews about completely different agents than intended!
  • Let your clients know you’re on Yelp -if they’re active, you won’t even need to ask for a review.
  • Do NOT mass solicit reviews – Yelp has pretty strict filters to weed out solicited reviews that don’t appear genuine.
  • It’s ok to have non-5 star reviews! The digital consumer is increasingly skeptical of reviews, and if the review doesn’t seem genuine and is filled with flowery praise, they won’t believe it.
How do I deal with negative reviews?
Often people dismiss Yelp as just a place where people go to complain. While sometimes it may seem this way, this is not the case – the majority of reviews on Yelp are positive. However, negative comments happen.
  • Don’t panic! Calm down. This is part of being a business.
  • Even if you believe it to be false, reviews are highly subjective and hard to prove false. Yelp rarely removes reviews and sets a high bar for what qualifies as a violation of their content guidelines. Only report a review if there is a clear violation – misleading information, misunderstandings and unfavorable reviews are not a violation.
  • If you feel it necessary, you can respond to a review – publicly or privately and try to resolve any misunderstanding. Empathize with the consumer, offer solutions, or reaffirm your dedication to the best customer service.
  • Legal action, or threats of, are can have very serious consequences and often escalates the situation. They rarely end with either party being happy.
  • Learn from it – why did this client walk away with a bad experience? Why do they believe they had a bad experience? What can you do to strive for better customer service?
  • Let it go and move on.

The best way to increase positive reviews on Yelp is to produce positive experiences for your clients. Overtime, negative reviews will be pushed down the page and or treated as less useful and reliable. What customer service is about is having your happy clients walk away with as much passion as the people who have a less than perfect experience – strive for this.
Yelp has frequently asked questions from business owners here that deal with common issues about reviews, Yelp’s filters, and best practices.

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage. 

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Inman Connect Takeaways: Mobile Apps and Tools

September 6, 2012

On August 1st-3rd, I was fortunate to attend the Inman News Real Estate Connect Conference in San Francisco. The 3-day conference highlighted where real estate and technology connects – from social media and marketing, to mobile apps and websites, and listing syndication and big data – it covered some of the largest topics and trends within the industry. The main conference featured notable speakers, including: Caterina Fake, Founder and CEO of Findery (and co-founder of Flickr); Joe Fernandez, cofounder and CEO of Klout; Adi Tatarko, co-founder and CEO of Houzz, and many more. While the Alain Pinel Realtors attendees and I took away more information than can be shared in one post, we did compile a partial list of some of the notable tools and apps that are worth checking out if you don’t already know about them:
Real Estate / Home Tools for You & Clients

  • Open Home Pro (iPad) – beautiful listing and open house management program – keep track of leads from open houses, automatically follow up and organize, export data to excel or CRM.
  • Route4Me (iPhone, iPad, Android) – enter multiple addresses and routes most efficient route, great for open house tours.
  • HomeSnap by Sawbuck (iPhone, Android soon) – snap a photo of a home and find out more about it (integrates with real-time MLS data in most places) and how much they think it is worth (from Sawbuck).
  • BrightNest (web) – Web-based service that helps homeowners by providing customized tips to care for their home.
  • (browser, app coming soon) – apartment rental search, create a renter resume.

Business / Self-Organization Tools

  • Drop-Box (all platforms) – Cloud storage system, synchs files and changes across all platforms, accessible anywhere. Can also share and collaborate on files. 2gb in storage free.
  • Google Drive (all platforms) – Similar to Drop-Box, store, edit, share files that synch across platforms. 5gb in storage free.
  • Evernote (all platforms) – Make and organize “notes” – can be text, full webpage, a photograph, voice memo, more. Share folders with anyone – great for collaboration. Synch across platforms and access anywhere.
  • Wunderlist (all platforms) – Free easy to use task-manager, with reminders, organize, and share. Access anywhere.
  • Twist (iPhone) – Start a “twist” and it will notify people automatically of your ETA to your appointments.


  • Videolicious (iPhone) – Easy do-it-yourself video creation (good for property videos!)
  • Blazing Tours (iPhone, Android) – Shoot and edit video home tours with this do-it-yourself app – add music, text, voiceovers, photos all from phone


  • (web-based, iPhone app) – analyzes your social connections on many social networks and determines your “klout score” – a measure of social influence – including what topics you are influential about


  • Hunch Mobile by (iPhone, browser) Free – gives recommendations about restaurants, movies, things to do, tv shows, more based on you “tastes” – gets smarter over time.
  • Uber (iPhone, Android) – On-demand requests for private driver, automatically charge card on file, and emails receipt. Classy, convenient, reliable experience available in most cities.

Have you tried any of these? Let us know your experiences –

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage. 

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Welcome to the Alain Pinel Realtors Insight Blog!

September 4, 2012

Welcome! Today we are proud to announce our new APR Insight Blog – an agent and industry blog that will be an invaluable resource.

We have transferred some old content from our previous blog – but our best is still to come. The new blog will covers a much wider variety of content. Check back often or subscribe via RSS or email to get the latest!