ADA Compliance: Fact or Fiction

For whatever reason the various real estate news portals across the web circulate a story about the importance of ADA compliance every few years, sending ripples of panic and fear through every real estate website owner online, as well as their poor tech people who manage those sites. To help dispel some myths, and offer some comfort to those confused we’ve prepared this article with helpful information you may want to consider.

Some Basic Info: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

While it is certainly important to make sure your website is as usable and available as it can be for everyone, concern over these standards at this point in regards to your website is largely a non-issue, here’s three reasons why:

  • Most visually or hearing impaired internet users already have hardware and software that makes the web readable.
  • There are actually NO standard approved ADA compliance rules for websites.*
  • The only way this even becomes a concern is if a suit is brought against you, at which point you have over 14 months to get your website “compliant”.

Some of the items listed as being part of compliance are already taken care of in our system, or in basic standard web design best practices. These include:

  • Text alternatives for images
    Most major images in our system allow for users to edit alt tags as they please.
  • Captions for videos or other multimedia
    These are a standard part of almost all video. Especially via services like Youtube which we support.
  • Presenting content in different ways
    Very vague. Our content is provided in a fairly standard way. Text. Images. Links.
  • Making content easier to see and hear
    Very vague. Most browsers, and other softwares, also handle this on their own already.
  • Making it easier for everyone to use and navigate
    Very vague. Best of all, our websites already do this.
  • Website use from a keyboard
    These settings are generally able to be controlled via the users own system settings.
  • Giving users enough time to read and use the content
    Taken care of! We don’t encourage fast changing slides or page forwards.
  • Making sure the content you present doesn’t cause seizures
    None of our sites use seizure inducing content.
  • Having text that’s readable and understandable
    All of our text is readable.
  • Consistency of content and navigation throughout the site
    Consistency is part of any good web design, and just one of the things that we excel at.
  • Use of error messages and ways to get back to where one started
    Our system always provides error information and a means to go back or reload a page.
  • Content is compatible with various web browsers
    Our sites are tested to be available on all major browsers and screen sizes.

Curiously enough, most of the websites that are announcing this urgent need for compliance themselves are not ADA compliant. We can only assume these radical scare tactics from these sites and news sources is yet another way to Cry Wolf for attention in hopes of increasing interaction and web traffic.

Take Heart!
Once a standardized set of ADA compliance rules is released we will work diligently to include them into our system as part of our frequent, regular updates.

Should you make the decision to future proof your web presence with ADA compliance, we here at Tour Real Estate Inc, your providers of stunning real estate technology for over a decade, are happy to provide custom design towards this goal. Our attractive custom real estate websites provide a visually striking way to define your brand and stand out from the competition. Contact us to find out more!

*In July 2010, the DOJ released an advanced notice of proposed rule making seeking comments on website accessibility issues. The comment period closed in January 2011. The proposed rules have been delayed several times since that date. It appears that we will have to wait a little longer to see those rules—until at least 2018.

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Real Estate: The Secret to More Leads

It’s a common misconception: If you build it, they will come. Unfortunately that field of dreams ideal doesn’t work when it comes to the world of websites; truly it hasn’t worked for some time. Years ago, when the web was new, there were relatively few people actively using the internet and thereby fairly low competition. These days all but the most behind the times brokerages have at least a nominal online presence and the competition has gotten FIERCE – to have any hope of getting your share of this lions market you need to be online and bringing your A game.

One of the best ways to do that is by using social media and channeling all of your traffic to the best place for it to go – Your Website.
So how do you make that happen?

You Gotta Work It!
You could be the best REALTOR® in the world and if you don’t tell anyone about it they will never know. The same can be said for your website. It’s out there on the web with a billion other websites, all trying to be number one in the search engines. Your best bet to eliminate some of that noise is to refer real live people you know to your website from the get-go. Tell all your friends, tell your family, look up old high school buddies – shout it from the mountain tops! However you choose to do it, whether it be social media, coffee meet ups, or even print marketing – you’ve got to let people know you have a site if you want them to use it. The website that works the best is the one you promote the most.

More Traffic. More Leads.
It’s really that simple. It comes down to numbers. If your site isn’t getting traffic you won’t be getting leads. If your site is already getting traffic and you’re still not getting leads that tells you there may be problems in what visitors are finding – or not finding! – when they hit the site itself. So how does one get more traffic? Start by telling people about your site as mentioned above, from there get active in local community events to find sponsorship opportunities, put out door hangers, post local classified ads, and leverage social media. Make sure you include your website address on every piece of advertising you create, whether it be printed or digital. Focus your online efforts by stopping posting links to the big box real estate sites to show your listings; send those links to your website instead.

Be Active and Helpful.
Whether it be on Facebook through answering questions or making insightful posts in groups on a regular basis ( you ARE active in local Facebook Groups, aren’t you?! ), or publishing articles on LinkedIn you should do whatever you can to establish yourself as a resource to the people you’re connected to. Become an authority in your field by creating useful information and helping those you engage with to accomplish their goals and overcome challenges – you will gain more trust and a better reputation through being of service to others than through any spammy or self-serving methods. At some point someone who is thankful may want to “pay you back” for being so helpful; rather than ask for money or coffee just politely ask them to leave you a kind review or to keep supporting your online efforts by liking or interacting with your posts.

Establish a Routine – and Stick To It!
The biggest place any advertising efforts, particularly on social media, fail is in consistency. So post daily and interact often, the worst thing for people to see is a page that hasn’t been updated in years. While still not yet a major factor, one of the growing indicators of importance in search engines is incoming traffic numbers and one great way to boost that is by channeling your audience to your website. Do this by posting quality content and always, always, including a link to your main domain. It’s easy enough to do at first when you’re new to social media, it’s the sticking with it month after month that can be a challenge but it’s also what makes the effort pay off.

Do you currently have a real estate website that’s under performing? Maybe you’re just not satisfied with a page and a paragraph on your office site, or some freebie site from your national office, no matter what the reason we can help you step up your website game and move more real estate! We would love the opportunity to talk with you about what you’re currently doing and how it might be improved to help you get optimal visibility online. Contact us today to see how we can help!

The Modesto – Our Latest Mobile Responsive Real Estate Template

We hate to brag, but our latest template THE MODESTO is pretty great!
Mobile responsive and currently available in 4 different color themes this elegant, modern real estate website design is sure to please.

We’ve made sure to include all the features you want like easy searching, intuitive navigation, and great images combined with all the things the search engines love like fast load time and data rich content.

Even our templates stand out from the crowd! Get in the game and show them you mean business – seize your digital destiny and move more real estate!!

Ready for Winter? Is your business?

Winter has always been a little bit slower paced for real estate. People are generally busy getting ready for the holidays and budgets tend to run a little tighter. Rather than sit it out practicing your Maytag Man impersonation the slower months in Winter are an ideal time to keep your game sharp.

Here’s some tips on making that happen:

Play Catchup.
Organize files, clean that bottom drawer, comb the database, unsubscribe to spam, defrag your hard drive…Sounds like a blast doesn’t it?! Fact is these are all day to day drudgeries we put off that tend to build up and kill productivity – so take the time.

Get In Touch.
Get in touch with past clients – hey, the holidays are all about cards from people you haven’t talked to all year, so make one of them yours! Get in touch with your market too – review data and study trends. Get in touch with your media – if you’re going to be spending all that time crushing candy on Facebook you could just as easily be engaging your audience and building a following to help jump start your Spring.

Update All the Things!
This means that agent photo you took when you passed CE. This also means updating old text on your bios and taking a look at your website as well. Chances are there have been some new features or tools released that you can make use of to leverage a better position online.

Play Price is Right.
Winter time sales can be tough, so it’s all about nailing that right price and making things perfect for prospective buyers. Take a little more time, or even expense, and get listings looking great – even consider house staging to help seal the deal.

Plan to Be Awesome.
Being amazing doesn’t just happen. If you do nothing else spend some time taking a look at this past years success, focus only on the good, and then put that down as part of your plan for the coming year. Planning is essential to success, so make sure you take the time to look forward and decide where you want your path to lead.

REALTORS: Are You Winning?

REALTOR WEBSITES
With big players like Zillow and Trulia joining forces the competition in real estate has never been hotter. Combine that with the fact that there are more REALTORS and brokerages online than ever before and it can feel overwhelming just to keep up with what’s popular – much less what actually works.

With all the misinformation, hype, and down right myths going around the internet about the best practices of leveraging those tools even those with the motivation and determination to handle their own marketing strategies can feel lost. Worse still…some agents have all the tools, know how to use them, and still drop the ball.

The good news? It’s not a slope too slippery to climb back up.
Here are a few good tips to refocus your efforts and make the most of what you’re [hopefully] already doing online:

Tell Your Story
Don’t make your marketing just about selling. Yes, you need to showcase your listings and services, but be sure that you’re providing more value than just that. With everyone having a site, that in most cases all provide search functions and similar mls data, the things you share about yourself can be the defining difference in having a recognizable brand that stands out from the rest.

Do the Followup
With so much of a real estate agents long term business being return clients it’s shocking to learn that only bout 17% of them are rehired due to the fact that clients do not remember their agent’s name. Keep your contact close; followup at least a few times a year. It may seem trite but that “Don’t Forget to Set Your Clocks” email or card might be the thing that keeps your face fresh in people’s mind.

Go Real World
Despite being a tech company, and despite the fact that the internet drives so much of todays real estate industry, the face to face interactions you have may be where your biggest progress is made. Attend small business networking groups – or even create your own “Coffee With Your Realtor” events to make yourself visible and available to old clients and new. Don’t rely on technology alone to provide all of your potential leads.

These are broad brushes to pain the picture, so think about ways you can apply these ideas to what works for you. Ultimately it’s not following the trends that will lead to the greatest success but rather finding what resources will bring the most return to how you move real estate and also attract the right kind of clients for you.

Have questions about your real estate marketing?
We have plenty of answers and ideas to help!

Should You Start a Real Estate Team?

Real Estate Team

It’s not rocket science, it’s simple math: the sum of the parts are greater than the whole. This logic applies to real estate too! But, does that mean it’s a good idea to team up with other agents?

There are definite pro’s and con’s to consider, and real estate professionals who are just starting out or who are struggling to find enough hours in the day to get everything done will definitely find the idea tempting.

Reasons to consider forming a team include:
Having more clients than you can handle

Not having enough clients

Difficulty meeting deadlines

Just not enough time

A lack of important skills or experience

Advantages
Pooling talents and resources can lead to greater reach and exposure.

Working with others may allow you to free up more time for things…like eating. And that thing they call “sleep”.

It can be more impressive to clients to have a group of professionals working with them.

You can designate clients to the agents best suited to their personality.

In some cases team branding can save on marketing costs.

Disadvantages
It only takes one sour apple to ruin the bunch.

Too many cooks can spoil the meal.

Every link in the communication chain can be a potential point for miscommunication.

If things go South you could be left holding the expense of team branding.

So as you can see there are good things and bad things about teaming up. Overall the most important thing is to build your team correctly from the ground floor. Consider agents you have a good past repertoire with already. More often than not it is personal conflict coming into the business relationship that ends up turning a good team into a bad one.

If you’re ready to make the move and get your own real estate team started we are glad to help! Besides offering the best in individual agent and brokerage websites we can also create great team sites that will feature the listings of all your team members! Contact us today to find out more about how we can help your team get on the scoreboard!

MORE Than Just Another Website

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Working in the real estate technology industry for over the last decade we’ve seen it all. Fast talkers, smoke blowers, and deal breakers coming and going – imitating rather than innovating – making promises of unimaginable returns and then simply vanishing from the scene.

We’ve seen websites go from something hardly anyone had to being something no one in business should be without; we’ve seen a booming business spring up around that fact – web design.

Now, we realize you can toss a rock and hit 5 web designers in the head with one throw, but very few of them specialize in any one industry. When their client is a handyman, they become and expert on handymen. When their client is a window washer, they become the foremost window washing website maker around.

Us? We’ve specialized in real estate and have done so for over the last decade. We do what we do and we do it VERY well. But, what makes us stand apart?

For one, with most design houses you will get a website and a website alone.
Even if they offer a content management system (CMS) that system can many times be confusing or hard to use; if they don’t you are stuck trying to get a designer to make the changes you need.

Often you will have to use multiple companies to get the things accomplished that you need to do: a website company, a contact management company, a virtual tour company, a print marketing company.

Wouldn’t it be easier to get all those things in one place?
We think so too!

Every website from Tour Real Estate includes not only the front facing website that is your storefront to the world, but also comes bundled with a digital toolbox of comprehensive marketing tools.  We put the control in your hands; encourage our customers to use their website as the tool it was intended to be.

Whether it’s a simple single page website to showcase your latest listing, a development website for your featured community, or a full custom real estate brokerage design – we can do it all!

So before you talk to just another web designer come talk to us. We know real estate technology because we’ve helped build the industry!