June 18, 2018

Summer is a busy time of year for most real estate agents, regardless of region. In college towns, students are shifting in and out of new apartments for the season, and in popular beach areas, families and travelers are likely coming and going more frequently than the fall, winter or spring.

Despite the potentially busy season, this also a great time for you to consider a few mid-year updates that will improve your business for the next 6 to 7 months of the year. Here are some valuable updates to assess, and a few important details to consider as you do.

 1. Upgraded Photography

 One of the most important aspects of your apartment listings are the photos that accompany them. Images that are low quality or poorly lit are a turn-off for potential renters who know that most cell phone owners have access to high-quality photography features. As you look to make mid-year updates, this is an important area to address.

Start by looking at your current property photos. Compare them to competitors in your area to get an idea of how you can improve your own.

 Things to consider:

● Is the quality good, but the photos not focused on the best areas of the property? In this case, you may be able to update them yourself.

● Do you need to hire a professional photographer to do new photos for all of your properties?

● Will tenants allow you to photograph with their items in the apartment? If so, you can get “staged” photos.

 2. Business Expansion

It can be easy to get comfortable in your business, especially if you’re doing well and maintaining a consistent flow of long- or short-term tenants. The best time to expand your business, however, is when you’re already doing well. With enough cash coming in, you may have extra room to invest in a new rental building or simply purchase a new single-family property.

Before expanding, make sure you have your ducks in a row with your current properties, looking at details like your current debts, business plan, and even insurance. For example, do you already have your Business Owners Policy (BOP)? “A BOP will cover the cost of replacing the roof of your apartment building if it is damaged in a storm (if you have a building coverage). If an electrical surge destroys the appliances inside your apartment units, BOP will cover the cost of replacing those appliances that belong to you,” according to this apartment building insurance guide.

With those details nailed down, you can look to expand.

 Things to Consider:

● A meeting with your accountant: what does expanding into a bigger or second property look like?

● If this isn’t feasible, what are other ways I can drive more revenue with my business? Create an online course? Partner with local businesses?

3. Website Redesign

Your website represents your business online—an old, outdated website is likely to deter an entire segment of your potential client pool: millennials. As you look at the current state of your website, check out the features that searchers found most helpful in a real estate website, according to NAR:

● Photos: 89%

● Detailed information about properties: 85%

● Virtual tours: 50%

● Neighborhood information: 44%

● Interactive maps: 41%

Do you have any of these features already integrated?

Things to Consider:

● Should you hire a web designer to implement these changes?

● Do you need to do a total website overhaul? If working with a developer or designer, now may be a good time to do that.

● What changes can you make quick, on your own, if the budget is tight right now?

4. Accounting Check-In or Switch

 If you want to switch your CPA or accountant, now is the time to do it. With last year’s taxes behind you, it’s time to focus on the rest of the year and next April. For example, if any surprises come up in the most recent tax season, working with your current accountant to mitigate this issues for the rest of the year is critical.

If you’re not pleased with your accountant, take this mid-year update time to find someone new altogether. Not sure if you need to make a switch? Experts at QuickBooks suggest these are the signs you need a new accountant:

● Doesn’t understand your industry

● Has several complaints logged with the accounting board

● Doesn’t return your calls

● Doesn’t keep up with latest tax laws

●      Doesn’t explain financial statements or requirements

 Things to Consider:

● If you’re looking for someone new, ask for referrals from friends in the industry. This is always the best way to find a new service provider, especially when it comes to someone who’s handling your money.

● Should you expand to working with a tax accountant to set up a corporation, for example? This set-up provides a variety of tax benefits, and the sooner you do it, the better you’ll be next April.

5. A Better Marketing Plan

  Next to referrals, marketing is likely one of the single most effective (and regular) drivers of leads and tenants for your business. Now is a great time to think about how you can update your current plan to be most effective.

Start by assessing what you’re doing and what’s working. “Head to your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts to see what you accomplished in terms of metrics for your website, social media presence, email marketing, and online advertising,” suggests Matthew Bushery, Placester contributor.

 With these details in mind, you can determine necessary updates.

 Things to Consider:

● SEO: Are you creating content and optimizing pages related to appropriate keywords?

● Listings: Are your listings, local and otherwise, up to date? (Think: Yelp, Google, Realtor.com)

● Ads: Are your ads driving traffic, but no leads? What traffic sources are driving the most qualified leads? Which channel drove the most finalized tenants?

● Email marketing: Are you taking advantage of this platform? Are you even encourage website visitors to become subscribers?

● Do I need a freelance marketing consultant? Working with someone who knows what they’re doing is always worth it, whether they manage the day-to-day, or consult on the ways to improve.

Bring Your Mid-Year Updates Into Focus

Use these ideas to take your business to the next level this year. Now is a great time to create a plan for what updates you want to make and when. Perhaps you tackle your website redesign in the fall but start testing new Facebook ads next week. When you know what’s working, what’s not, and how you can improve, your business has a better chance of succeeding.

Author Bio: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and is now a professional freelancer and consultant. She's worked with a variety of real estate clients and has written for Forbes, Inman, House Hunt Network, Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

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