Success as a real estate professional depends on being able to keep up with ever-changing market conditions and trends. Here’s a list of a few of the year’s top real estate apps that can help real estate professionals stay on top.
Developing and maintaining client relationships is a key part of being successful in the real estate industry. Freshsales gives real estate pros a cost-effective way to manage and stay engaged with their clients from sale to closing. The basic version is free. Paid plans start at $12/month (billed annually).
It all starts with a lead. RealScout is a tool real estate agents and brokers can use to match listed properties with client inquiries. A monthly subscription starts at $39/month per agent or $499/month for a brokerage firm.
Placester makes developing a real estate website quick and easy, allowing agents to focus their time on clients. The basic website plan is free, but agents and brokerage firms can upgrade to the Pro or Broker plans, which include a CRM and advanced websites, starting at $99/month.
Poorly staged, low quality photos will kill a listing every time. BoxBrownie.com can stage and enhance your images so potential home buyers can easily see themselves living in a property. When buyers feel connected to a property, they’re more likely to buy it. BoxBrownie.com offers a free trial and includes three image enhancements and one edit upon registration.
Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com and Trulia
You can’t talk about real estate apps without mentioning Zillow, Redfin, Realtor.com and Trulia. These sites that are heavily used by home buyers and sellers, as well as real estate professionals. All four services offer information like home values and neighborhood and school data. While each service is very good, they each offer something just a little bit different. For example, Trulia offers a street view of the property and Redfin offers information on things like HOA dues. The winner seems to be, however, Realtor.com because its listings are usually more current due to their relationship with the MLS.
Pittsburgh may be most famous for their sports teams and their reputation as the heart of America’s steel industry. It’s a reputation that would suggest blue collar sensibilities that aren’t necessarily in lockstep with the green energy movement. But Pittsburgh is taking a bold approach to their energy usage. The Steel City has announced a bold initiative that few other metropolises have committed to: transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2035.
And while Pittsburgh should be proud of leading the charge in taking a responsible approach to climate change, they aren’t the only city to do so. In the wake of President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Change Accord, 180 U.S. mayors committed to such a plan.
Mayor Bill Peduto made the announcement in June of 2017 as part of an initiative by the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 plan. This initiative ensures standards that actually go above and beyond the terms of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. And community organizer Eva Resnick-Day highlighted how important Pittsburgh’s commitment is. It’s the first post-industrial American city to sign on for such a commitment. Considering the amount of pollution inherent in steel production, it’s a bold move not just for the future of the city but for the future of the world.
And while the Sierra Club was the force behind the Ready for 100 plan, other non-profits are stepping up to bat to help Pittsburgh ensure a smooth transition. Local group Sustainable Pittsburgh has signed on to work closely with the Pittsburgh government in pursuit of those goals, and they’ve partnered with the Power of 32 and CEOs for Sustainability on a more focused model for change in the energy sector. Renewable Energy for the Power of 32 will leverage the influence of major energy users in the region like hospitals, businesses, and schools to speed up the process of adopting renewables. The logic is that the sectors that use the most change can do more good to change the conversation and the economics of the situation than well-intentioned but smaller grassroots movements could. Also assisting with Pittsburgh’s transition is a renewable energy advisory firm known as CustomerFirst Renewables. Based out of Washington DC, they’ve worked hard to negotiate renewable energy deals throughout the United States.
There’s no doubt that Pittsburgh has a tall hill to climb, but they’re fortunate to have partners in the effort. With powerful business interests and driven NGOs united in the push towards energy independence, Pittsburgh may be building a blueprint for other cities to follow.
Buying a home may be the biggest investment many people will ever make. In the United States, achieving home ownership represents success and an improved quality of life for many people. Owning a home, or any property, however, comes with the added costs of a mortgage, insurance, maintenance and property taxes.
When calculating the total cost of home ownership, it’s important to account for the expense of property and other local taxes, and to know you are getting the best services for the amount you pay. Property taxes pay for public education, libraries, transportation, road construction and maintenance, emergency services, parks and recreational facilities. While low taxes are appealing, excellent services are also important for maintaining quality of life and preserving real estate values.
Property taxes in Pennsylvania, as in most states, are determined county by county, and include county, municipal, and school district taxes. In Pennsylvania, homeowners are assessed property taxes that range from 1 to 2 percent of the assessed value of their residence, with an average effective tax rate of 1.55%. Tax assessors determine the tax burden for each property by assessing the value of the land and any buildings on the property. Pennsylvania uses a system called the mill levy for calculating property taxes, which assesses $1 in taxes for each $1,000 of property value.
For my full blog, please see http://jasoncohenpittsburgh.org/a-guide-to-property-tax-in-pennsylvania/.
By now, most everyone knows how to “photoshop” a basic photo, using a wide variety of programs. In most cases, doing so is harmless and can even result in more stunning photos. In other cases, however, digitally manipulating photos can cause scandal and even ruin to some. A new trend is on the rise in real estate which can run from the harmless and helpful to the costly and potentially downright fraudulent.
Photos and videos have long been a basic staple in online real estate listings, including 360-degree tours. While ordinarily, these can be incredibly helpful to home buyers, many of these images are now being digitally manipulated. In one sense, digital manipulation can be no different than staging a home in the first place. A professional photographer might help make a somewhat less-than-spectacular pool appear to be a crown jewel in a backyard oasis. Photographing your house at the peak of spring when the trees are in full blossom is preferable to the dead of winter when the grass is brown and the trees look dead and lifeless, but isn’t inherently misleading.
A number of virtual staging services are on the rise, however, that could create a problem…
Please see my blog at http://jasoncohenpittsburgh.org/danger-in-the-rise-of-digitally-altered-real-estate-photos/ for my full article.