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APR in the News

Alain Pinel Realtors Welcomes New Vice President of Marketing

September 8, 2015

Bay Area Firm Hires East Coast Marketing Executive

Alain Pinel Realtors (APR), the Bay Area’s largest independent residential real estate firm, has named Heidi Dittloff as Vice President of Marketing. Dittloff brings 19 years of sales and marketing experience, most recently as Marketing Director for Gloria Nilson & Co. Real Estate in New Jersey, and will oversee all marketing projects at APR, including the firm’s print and digital campaigns, communications strategy, and advertising initiatives.
In Dittloff’s previous position at Gloria Nilson & Co., she oversaw the implementation of a new luxury division, refined brand strategy, and oversaw all marketing components for the firm’s 21 offices that span seven counties in New Jersey and Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Prior to working in real estate, Dittloff also held a number of marketing and communications positions in the banking and publishing industries in New York City and New Jersey. Over the years, she has been elected to numerous boards and committees including Christies International Real Estate marketing committee, and in 2013, was named Marketing Director of the Year by the Shore Builder’s Association of Central New Jersey.
“Heidi’s reputation as a leader in the industry and her proven track record of overseeing the successful implementation of diverse marketing strategies make her an ideal fit for Alain Pinel Realtors,” said Rainy Hake, COO and Executive Vice President. “I look forward to applying her strategic insight and leadership as the APR brand continues to evolve in the ever-changing landscape, while maintaining our status as the Bay Area’s leading luxury real estate firm.”
Hake, notably named the youngest COO of the top real estate companies in the nation earlier this summer, has aggressively been courting top level executives from across the country to steer APR’s notable brand and its legacy as an industry leader. In 2014, Hake hired Tom Flanagan from Rhode Island’s Residential Properties Ltd to oversee the firm’s changing technology as Vice President of Technology.
“Joining an organization with such an impressive reputation and a clear vision for the future, through innovative digital and expansive global marketing strategies is very exciting,” said Dittloff. “In a time when real estate marketing is changing quickly, especially in the Bay Area, I look forward to bringing my leadership and APR’s vision together to continue to offer our agents and clients the truly premier services that APR is known for.”

APR in the News

Alain Pinel Realtors Names Rainy Hake Chief Operating Officer

June 25, 2015

Bay Area Firm Appoints Youngest COO of Top Real Estate Companies in Nation

SARATOGA, California — Alain Pinel Realtors (APR), California’s largest independent real estate broker, has promoted Rainy Hake to the office of Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer (COO), making her the youngest COO of the top residential real estate companies nationwide. Effective immediately, Rainy will oversee all of the day-to-day operations of the company, including managing the Marketing, Technology, and Training Departments, as well as leading the company’s strategic vision. Paul L. Hulme will remain President and CEO.
Rainy has been an invaluable member of APR since 2003, holding a number of roles including Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Affairs and her most recent role as Executive Vice President. As a member of the executive team, Rainy has led the strategic roadmap for the firm in all areas of operations. During her tenure, APR has increased its national ranking from 11th to 5th largest in the nation based on sales. In the past two years, she has overseen an increase in profits by 26%, greatly outperforming the market.
“Rainy’s contributions to the firm are immeasurable. She has helped introduce new innovations and modern marketing practices in our ever evolving brokerage,” said Hulme. “She has proven through her strategic leadership, diligent performance, and service that she possesses the experience, energy, and creative ingenuity to ensure APR remains the Bay Area’s premier real estate company.”
Rainy is a licensed broker with nearly 20 years of luxury real estate experience and is a member of FIABCI-USA International Real Estate Federation and the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA). In addition to her real estate experience, Rainy has also acted as an international brand strategy consultant for some of the world’s leading business brands including L’Oreal Paris, Wells Fargo Bank, and McCann Worldwide. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s in Business Administration in International Marketing and Strategic Planning from the University of Oxford, England.

APR in the News Buyer / Seller Information

Do "For Sale" Signs Out in Front of Homes Really Help?

May 12, 2014
Agents Sound Off
Tom Flanagan
Vice President of Technology

 Do ‘For Sale’ signs out in front of homes really help?
Answer: Technology has certainly had a significant impact on how real estate professionals market homes.
It seems like newfangled apps and platforms pop up every day promising to connect buyers and sellers. Despite technology, we find that people still like to drive around desirable neighborhoods looking for the perfect home. The “For Sale” sign is a tried-and-true advertising practice.
In fact, updated statistics provided by the National Association of Realtors state that 53 percent of home buyers found the yard sign useful in the home searching process. The yard sign is more than brand recognition. In some cases, they include calls to actions that leverage SMS and mobile devices as a way to access additional information about the home when passing by.
In terms of the customer experience, this type of signage presents a true value proposition.
Read more opinions on SFGate.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Where Do Buyers and Sellers Find Agents?

March 18, 2014

According to data in the 2013 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, home buyers and sellers consistently report that they truly rely on referrals from friends and family to find an agent or they use an agent they have worked with before.
Take a look at these stats:

  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of buyers and sixty-four percent (64%) of sellers found their agent through a personal referral from neighbors, friends or relatives or they used an agent they had previously worked with.
  • The next closest way a buyer or seller found their agent was through an online website; however, this was merely nine percent (9%) of buyers and four percent (4%) of sellers.

With these statistics, it’s more clear than ever that an integral part of your business’s success relies on good relationship with your past clients. How are you staying in contact with your past clients to build your relationships with them? Here are some ways:

  • Connect on Social Networks. Are you connected with your past clients on social network? Did you just add them but never interact? Social media opens a wealth of opportunities to interact with your clients in ways that was previously impossible. Learn about their interests, connect on a different level, and at your convenience. Dropping a comment, sending a gift, or even “liking” something they post – keeps you on their radar.
  • Monthly Newsletter. Are you regularly sending out information that is beneficial for your past clients? Are you keeping them up-to-date about their community and market?
  • Drip-Email Marketing. Staying in contact and making yourself a resource is crucial. Putting together a strong homeowners drip email campaign can be useful and establish yourself as an expert.
  • Be personal-able. While newsletters, email campaigns, direct marketing does reach consumers – often your clients want more from you – especially if they’re going to refer you to their friends. When’s the last time you reached out on an individual-level? Do you ask them about their families? Do you remember their hobbies? Did the birthday card you sent them include more than a generic message? No one likes to feel like they’re getting cookie-cutter service – so prove to them you’re not.

There’s many ways to reach out to past clients, but there’s no denying how important it is! Finding new ways to connect will ensure your business continues to grow.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

New Year Social Media Clean Up

January 7, 2014

Take the time right now to look at all your online and social media profiles – and I mean ALL:
LinkedIn, Facebook, Zillow, Trulia, Twitter, Google+, your profile on your broker’s website, YouTube, Trulia, Pinterest, Instagram, and whatever else you’re on (google yourself if you can’t remember!).

When is the last time you did this? Often times, even active users of social media create their accounts, fill out their info, and never look at their “profile” or “personal” information again.  I’m not talking about how many times you post a status or connect with someone on LinkedIn – I’m talking about the actual meat of your profile.  What do people that are looking at your profile for the first time see?
Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is your first impression of your profile? Does it look like how you remember it? Did they change the layout from last time you were here and you haven’t adjusted accordingly?
  2. Is your contact information updated? There are a lot of wrong phone numbers, broken website links, and bad email addresses out there. Make sure yours isn’t one of them!
  3. Is your “About Me” or “Bio” updated? Does you real estate bio say what everyone else’s does? Does it mention the areas you specialize in? Does it reflect your experience in the industry – or do you mention things from decades ago?
  4. Is your education / work experience updated? Does it have your current brokerage? Your current position? It’s shocking how many agents don’t change their profiles, logos, etc. when they have career changes.
  5. Does your picture look like you? Sorry folks – your 80’s hairdo and shoulder pads need to go. Still holding on to that old picture because you look younger? People notice. Don’t become a joke.
  6. Most importantly – does your profile reflect who you are? Do you seem just like any same-old, all-the-same REALTOR®? Or does it show a bit of who you are as an individual? Start connecting with people on that level. People are buying homes – it’s a personal process. Be personable.

Chances are as you went through this list, you found a few things that are out of date, no longer reflect you or your business, or just things that could use a little freshening up. Whether you plan to take yourself to the next level this year on social media (you should) or your just want to get your feet wet again (jump in!) – make sure you’re starting 2014 off right. Reviewing and updating your profiles on (at the very, very minimum) an annual basis is necessary. Happy New Year.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights Sales Insights

What Buyers and Sellers Want in 2013

October 24, 2013

Author: Diane Bravo, Director of Technical Training at Alain Pinel Realtors.
Do you know today’s home buyers and sellers expect from their real estate agent?

I recently attended a real estate conference in San Francisco, Inman Connect, where various types of home buyers were represented in a panel.  While listening to the seven panelists needs, common themes began emerging which I’ve classified into 10 categories.  If you take a look, you will see just a few simple things can WOW your clients if you choose to practice them.
10 Things the Modern Home Buyer and Seller Wants from their Agent 2013:

  1. Communication – Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Some of these panelists weren’t getting calls back from their agent for days.  Same day call back is a must, but within a shorter timeframe really shows a level of dedication that is appreciated by clients today.  Today more than ever, the early bird catches the worm.
  2. Professional Photos – Let’s face it, if the photos aren’t professional, the home is not being presented at its best. If you are a listing agent and are not displaying high-quality professional photos, you are behind the times.
  3. A Full-Time Agent –Every panelist wanted a full time real estate agent! Gone are the days when a part-time agent adds full service value. Buyers want agents who have the contacts, know the tools and have the time to commit and respond quickly.
  4. An Agent with a Smartphone – Some clients prefer a phone call, some an email, and almost the entire “y” generation wants a text!  Whoever you are and whatever your age, you need to know what your buyers prefer – and  they need to know you have the technology to communicate the way they want. This multi-generational home buyer group was tricky, but one thing they were sure about – no flip phones please.
  5. Teamwork & a Game Plan – These 2013 home buyers are ready and willing to pitch in and help with their search. All they want is a plan of attack, carefully assembled with their real estate agent. Not too much to ask, right?
  6. Pocket Listings – This may be specific to certain markets, but those who mentioned it like to feel they are getting the inside scoop.
  7. Quarterly Statistic Reports – While clients have access to lots of information on the internet, they want to get market reports from their agents.  Regardless of your technical skills, it can easily enough be done with an automated tool.  At APR, agents have access to weekly Altos Market Reports that can be sent automatically to their contact database.
  8. Weekly Inventory Newsletter – This may be the most time consuming of the lot and may pertain mostly to listing agents. The idea was to get a simple list of homes available, from all of the different sources the real estate agent has, combined into one communication. Sellers want to know what else is out there.
  9. Customized Service – This may sound complicated, but really it does not have to be. Know what they like to drink? Have it already in the car when you go to show them homes. One example that was given was an agent who arranged a private showing for the prospective buyer’s mother.  This meant the world to the buyer!
  10. Gifts – Oh, the gifts! Most favored gifts included show tickets, game tickets, expensive bottles of wine, or even dinner.  A dinner accompanied with their agent topped the list! If you’re giving your clients what they want, they will enjoy spending time with you – working or otherwise.

Are you giving your clients what they expect?

About Author:

Diane Bravo brings 20 years of technical training and implementation experience to Alain Pinel Realtors. In her current capacity as Director of Technical Training, she is responsible for helping all APR agents improve their business through the use of real estate software. Before moving to APR, Ms. Bravo worked for Integrated Device Technology as Business Systems Analyst.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Who Owns This Photo?

October 3, 2013

Author: Dan Mirsky, Director of Marketing at Alain Pinel Realtors.

It goes without saying that images are vital to real estate marketing. When it comes to property photos, we upload them to our brokerage site, send them to the MLS, syndicate them to numerous other industry sites, and use them in our advertisements – both online and in print.
However, who actually has permission to use a photograph and where? Who does the copyright belong to? The owner of the house, the photographer, the brokerage, the agent, the MLS? Unfortunately, the answer is not always clear and, like most intellectual property, the laws are a bit murky.

Legal advice aside, here are some questions you might want to consider when using property photos in your marketing materials:

  • Has the seller consented to having their house photographed?
  • In your contract with your photographer, have you agreed to how the photograph can be used and distributed?
  • Does your relationship with your brokerage or MLS grant them certain distribution rights? Do they align with your agreement with your photographer?
  • Do you have permission to use photos in print, online and in social media?
  • Does your photographer give you permission to alter the photos in any way? Can you crop them? Instagram them?

Another tricky situation is with advertising SOLD properties. While you may ask the listing agent to use one of their photos, getting permission from both the photographer who took the photo and the seller is something many don’t consider – and failure to get consent can land you in hot water. Recently, we were contacted by a photographer who saw his photos being used on one of our agent’s “Just Sold” postcards. While we were able to resolve that particular issue amicably, some photographers might not be as understanding.
Moral of the story: If you do not own the rights or have permission to use a photo – you shouldn’t be using it in your advertising. Only by consulting all parties involved can you protect yourself.
For more information about using non-property photos in your marketing, see this post: Beautiful Images Ugly Copyright Violations and Fee.

About Author:

Dan Mirsky began his career with Alain Pinel Realtors (APR) in 2003 and brings over 10 years of marketing, advertising and communications experience to the company. In his current role as the firm’s Director of Marketing, he is responsible for defining the corporate marketing strategy and communicating that message across multiple channels – both internal and external.

APR in the News APR Tools

Alain Pinel Realtors Announces Photo & Property Tour Program

April 1, 2013

Alain Pinel Realtors (APR) recognizes the importance of high-quality, professional photography and how it can help increase the exposure and value of listings. That’s why the firm is excited to announce their APR Photo & Property Tour Program, powered by Tour Factory. APR has joined forces with TourFactory, who has been navigating the internet for seventeen years as a high-end real estate marketing system, to create a real time experience through presentation, positioning and photography. The program ensures that with each new listing, the listing agent will be paired with a professional photographer who will take high-end photographs of the home.

Property photos are essential to consumers using the Internet in their real estate search process. According to the National Association of Realtors, 98% of home buyers find photos useful, and 88% of home buyers consider virtual tours useful when using the Internet in their real estate search process.

“The importance of visual marketing in successfully selling our client’s properties has become increasingly apparent, and that is why we decided to partner with Tour Factory to create a turn-key, high-quality visual marketing program for our agents that optimizes the synergies created in combining photos, video and listing syndication into a powerful online marketing platform,” said Rainy Hake, Executive Vice President, Alain Pinel Realtors.

Through the new program, all APR agents will automatically have access to a virtual tour of their property linked to APR’s website,; a slideshow video tour of photos on the firm’s YouTube channel; a large-screen photo carousel on; have their listing displayed on flat screens in APR conference rooms; and have access to enhanced analytics through Tour Factory.

New Photo Viewer for Select Homes

By taking advantage of this new program, APR agents are ensuring their clients that their home will be professionally photographed and displayed beautifully on, the firm’s 100+ website partners to which they syndicate their listings, and all of their property’s marketing materials, both online and offline, ultimately marketing a visually compelling story of their home internationally for maximum exposure.

Alain Pinel Realtors Insights Industry Insights

APR's Year in Review

January 18, 2013

Here’s a look back at many of the major initiatives Alain Pinel Realtors launched for their agents in 2012. For a high-resolution pdf of this document, please see the following link : 2012 APR Recap

We have a lot of exciting things planned ahead in 2013. For a sneak peak, see what Executive Vice President Rainy Hake shared with Inman News: “4 Brokerages Share Their 2013 Game Plans.”


Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Presenting Effortlessly: Keynote Remote

January 10, 2013

When it comes to winning listings – presentation matters. There are countless stories about agents winning or losing listings based solely on their listing presentation – and in a tech-savvy marketing like the Bay Area you have to bring your A game. We know it’s not just a gimmick to use an iPad at a listing presentation, it works. With the ability to make dynamic presentations on an iPad, you can showcase your professionalism, while making a visually appealing experience. That’s why here at Alain Pinel Realtors, we introduced a comprehensive, APR-branded, and customizable iPad CMA tool for our agents back in 2011!

Did you know there is an app where you can control your keynote presentation from your iPhone? It’s fantastic and it’s called Keynote Remote. With Keynote remote, you no longer have to by physically touching the iPad as you present – you can just set it up in a stand or let your potential sellers hold it. You can walk around the room! At a price of $0.99, you can completely control what is being displayed on your iPad – from your iPhone. While the iPad is mobile, this brings your presentation to the next level.
One of the greatest features about the Keynote Remote is the ability for your “iPhone remote” to display notes about your slides. So – you can be looking at the slide and your notes on your iPhone – while the iPad just displays the slide. This is a great tool to use so that you don’t forget to mention important details as you go through your presentation. And with a little bit of tact – your audience won’t even know you have notes. If you’re already using an iPad in your listing presentation, and you own an iPhone, this is a must have app.