Social Networking

Communities Share Hyper-local Content & Recommendations via Nextdoor

Neighborhood social app begins testing advertising

Perhaps as a result of our lives moving further into the digital realm, the tight-knit American neighborhoods of old have been replaced by communities of relatively disconnected individuals. According to a 2015 City Observatory report, one third of Americans today have never interacted with their neighbors, and a 2010 survey by the Pew Research Center showed that nearly a third of Americans don’t know a single neighbor by name. Social platforms like Nextdoor are attempting to change all that by using the Internet to create hyper-local communities and reopen the lines of communication between neighbors. Similar hyper-local social platforms are available outside of North America, such as Singapore’s NearCircles and the UK’s Streetlife.


How Nextdoor Works

Perhaps the most significant advantage to using Nextdoor—as opposed to other popular means of group communication such as Yahoo Message Boards and Facebook groups—is that the platform makes it very difficult to join and limits membership to individuals who live within the physical boundaries of the relevant neighborhood.

  • To start a new Nextdoor community, a member of the neighborhood must fill out a lengthy application and convince 10 or more neighbors to sign up within the first 21 days.
  • If the community leader fails to meet the quota, then Nextdoor will not approve their group.
  • To verify that an individual truly lives within the relevant community, Nextdoor either checks credit card information, calls a home phone number, or sends a postcard and special registration code to the listed address.

The high threshold for membership secures neighbors’ privacy and ensures the relevance of the content they will find on the platform. Nextdoor is aiming to facilitate active, robust groups that are always brimming with relevant content—not groups that peter out after a few weeks. And they’re finding great success.

A Trusted Information & Recommendation Exchange

Now present in over 89,000 neighborhoods across the United States, Nextdoor acts as a kind of message board wherein neighbors can share information that is most relevant to members of their hyper-local community: the time and location of a garage sale, road and school closures, recommended dog walking services, crime reports, lost pet sightings, or referrals to a plumber. All conversations are archived and searchable, so members can look up a handyman’s contact information months after the recommendation was made.

The platform also presents an alternative means of discovering local events, restaurants, and news. Rather than trusting the restaurant recommendations of complete strangers on Yelp or Google, individuals can now get the trusted opinions of their peers. The same principle of trust applies to service providers and businesses. According to Nextdoor, 20% of the daily 5 million messages exchanged daily are service recommendations, and 80% of those posts are discussing local service providers and businesses.

How Real Estate Professionals Can Use Nextdoor

The most obvious way for high-end agents and brokers to get involved is to launch or join your own neighborhood’s Nextdoor group. People are much more likely to trust recommendations from others within their own community, and your participation could easily yield referrals. Opportunities for referrals and networking will multiply for agents and brokers who live within the markets that they serve professionally.

As Nextdoor begins to test different avenues of monetizing their hyper-local social platform, networking and marketing opportunities will become more direct. In a blog post published on January 20th of this year, Nextdoor co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia wrote, “Starting this week, we will begin testing sponsored posts from a select group of businesses who have relevant content to share . . . Sponsored posts will initially appear in the neighborhood news-feed and daily email digest, but we will continue to experiment and take the time to get this right.”

Chinese Nationals Buy Luxury US Real Estate Via Social App WeChat


Affluent Chinese nationals are scrambling to invest their wealth in US real estate. As of last year, Chinese consumers are the biggest foreign buyer of US real estate, and they’re the nationality willing to pay the highest prices for their properties. Chinese nationals are also the largest group of luxury consumers in the world, accounting for 32% of global luxury consumption. But with traditional avenues of engagement such as Google and Facebook being banned in China, how do US real estate professionals tap into this high-volume, high-demand market? Believe it or not, one solution might be found in a smartphone app.

WeChat Connects US Brokers With Chinese Buyers

You’ve likely never heard of WeChat, but this social app currently boasts 650 million predominantly-Chinese users. (That’s more than double the population of the United States of America!) Launched by Chinese internet giant Tencent in 2011, WeChat is a one-stop super-app that enables users to do pretty much anything: watch movies, share photos and videos, play games, chat with friends, call cabs, buy clothing, and offer personal loans.

Not only has WeChat had a profound impact on Chinese internet culture and mobile usage, but it’s now becoming something of a gateway between US real estate professionals and Chinese buyers.

Because a flight from the east coast of China to New York City takes a staggering 15 hours, many Chinese prospects are understandably hesitant to personally visit US properties. Instead, some are choosing to carry out the entire process through WeChat—going from initial contact with a US broker all the way to closing without ever setting foot in the country, let alone the purchased property. Significantly, the real estate being bought and sold via WeChat falls within the luxury bracket; a recent Business Insider article features interviews with US real estate professionals who’ve used the app to sell properties worth up to $5million.

How You Can Attract Chinese Buyers On WeChat

If you’re considering getting a WeChat account to tap into the Chinese market, here is some information to get you started.

  • It’s free! Like Instagram or Twitter, it doesn’t cost anything to create an account on WeChat.
  • Blog to build trust. In order to bridge the great distance between agent and prospect, use your WeChat account as a personal blog. In addition to posting your listings, share personal thoughts and photos from everyday life to reassure prospects that you are a real, trustworthy person. A strong personality on WeChat will lead to sales.
  • Virtual tours. Real estate professionals can share photos, walk-through videos, blueprints and other information to “show” a property via WeChat. Clients may also have locally-based representatives tour properties on their behalf.
  • To make communication easier across a massive time difference, you can leave voice messages via WeChat, which your clients can respond to the next day.
  • All digital. Once a deal reaches its final stages, a legal representative will cement your digital communications as binding and send an electronic version of the contract to the client.

Want to know more about working with the affluent Chinese buyer? Checkout The Institute's upcoming Member webinar, on December 17th at 3 pm Central Standard Time. Members of The Institute can register at

New York agent uses Chinese social app to snag $13 million deal

According to the Wall Street Journal’s China Real Time Report, New York-based agent, Yue (Emma) Hao, with Douglas Elliman, received an unsolicited message on WeChat, China’s popular social media and messaging app, from a Chinese entrepreneur who had questions about the Baccarat Residences condo tower under construction across from New York’s Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan.

After gathering information from the building’s sales center and forwarding it to her prospect, Hao followed up by phone the next day and then negotiated two sales -- a $10.25 million three-bedroom apartment on the 39th floor and a one-bedroom unit on the 21st floor for about $3 million.

LogoHao used a confidential WeChat group among the buyer, the attorneys, and herself to facilitate the purchasing process. Active on WeChat for two years, Hao estimates she’s closed seven transactions using WeChat.

Are Your Listing Photos Swipeable?

If you don't have professional quality photos that tell the lifestyle story of every home you are marketing, you are doing yourself and your sellers a disservice.  End of story.

Have you looked at the key role that GOOD photographs play in connecting with buyers on's new Doorsteps Swipe app?  You should.  Especially if you are looking to connect with Gen X, Gen Y, or Millennial buyers. 

Doorsteps Swipe is a good example of the changing ways in which buyers and sellers are being exposed to and interacting with your marketing information. 


Hy-Lo-Mo-So: Real estate’s catch phrase for 2014?

Burlingame Properties

What in the world is Hy-Lo-Mo-So?  I’d propose it has a slightly different meaning in real estate than it does where you most commonly encounter it – in retail product sales.  Nonetheless, it will be what creates some of the buzz in real estate in 2014, especially in the luxury home segment.

Before we delve into this strange phrase and in order to have some context for the discussion, let’s start by defining today’s “Affluent” consumer and then take a moment to look at the technology in the pockets, bags, and briefcases of these well-off individuals, as revealed by the Ipsos Affluent Survey for 2013.

 Affluents are defined as those over age 18 with household incomes (HHI) of $100,000 or more.  There are now about 62.5 million U. S. Affluents, according to Ipsos.  On average, these folks have $200,200 in annual income, and just a bit more than $1million in net worth.  The average value of their principal residence is $408,000.  If we only consider those with $500,000+ in household income, the average home value jumps to $1,080,000. 

When it comes to a generational breakdown of U. S. Affluents, Ipsos says boomers dominate slightly:

Age                        Generation                        % of Affluents

18-31                     Millennials                                          20%

32-48                     Gen Xers                                             34%

49-67                     Boomers                                              39%

68+                         Seniors                                                  7% 

Smart phones and tablets are the mobile tools of these Affluents – 63% have smart phones and 41% have tablets.  In fact, tablet ownership is up a staggering 57.6% over 2012.

All this brings us back to Hy-Lo-Mo-So.  This translates to Hyper-Local, Mobile, Social. 

Hyper-Local:  When targeting and working with the upper -tier, recognize that they are looking for what’s relevant to them.  Community averages won’t cut it anymore.  These buyers and sellers want detailed local information and they want you to drill down to the individual neighborhoods and the specific price ranges that are meaningful to them.  Local has moved from MLS averages to what’s happening in their price range in the individual neighborhoods which are meaningful to them.  Local information isn’t as useful as hyper-local information.  It’s time to review the market update information you are providing to be sure it’s hyper-local.  Providing the level of detail the consumer is looking for will differentiate you in the market.  For an example of an agent who has gone hyper-local with his marketing, take a look at Institute member, Raziel Ungar’s  website.

Mobile:  Affluents are online an average of 41.6 hours a week.  Those making $500,000+ annually use the internet 52.7 hours each week.  You can bet that not all those hours are in front of a computer.  These folks are on the go, but want information immediately.  That means your website (you do have a website, right?) should be mobile friendly.  If someone has to work too hard to use your website and equivalent information is available somewhere else, they will most likely move on.  

Social:  Real estate professionals are still largely wrestling with how to make social networking pay off.  While we know that the affluent use social sites like Facebook (66%), and You Tube (62%).  The question is how luxury agents can use social networking effectively and appropriately to capture luxury business.  Instead, our ILHM members who are using social networking to capture business are generally targeting luxury agents in other markets -- in other words, they are using social networks to prospect for agent referrals.  For a great example of this, if you are a member, tune into the hour long December webinar, “A Social Media & Web Playbook for Luxury Realtors.”  Log in to the ILHM website and find the webinar in the members’ only section.  Webinar presenter, Jim Walberg with the Bay Area Team, Pacific Union in San Francisco’s East Bay area, has great ideas about how to use social networking to capture referrals from other luxury agents.  It’s a great way to add the social piece to a Hy-Lo-Mo-So marketing strategy. 

As you do your planning for this year, ask yourself how you can put a Hy-Lo-Mo-So strategy to work for you.

New mobile app gives you location information instantly

Sitegeist App
Want to know more about the neighborhood surrounding your latest listing or the property you’re showing?  Sitegeist is a mobile application that can help you in seconds.  Using publicly available information, the app presents solid data in a simple format.  From demographics about people and housing to the latest popular restaurants or weather, Sitegeist presents localized information visually.  Use it to answer questions about the neighborhood, or suggest your buyer prospects tap into it for quick information.  The download is free.  Here’s just some of what Sitegist makes available at your fingertips.

  • Housing units over time
  • Median home price
  • Resident age distribution
  • Political party contributions
  • Recommended restaurants
  • How people commute
  • Record temperatures

You can look into downloading the app here!

Webinar: Creative SEO

If you missed the ILHM webinar on the last day of September and are concerned about making your website more effective, you’ll want to tune in to the recording.  You can find it on the Webinars page in the members only section of our website (login required). 

Dustin Luther, Founder, 4realz Consulting shared lots of information on how to improve the volume and quality of traffic to your website.  If you’re not techno-savvy,  that’s okay, because Dustin makes Search Engine Optimization (SEO) pretty clear and simple.

 Dustin has also offered our members free 5-week training which includes these sessions:
  • Week 1: Your First Blog Post
  • Week 2: Adding Photos, Videos and Links to Your Blog Post
  • Week 3: Creating a Landing Page (SEO)
  • Week 4: Facebook Basics
  • Week 5: Twitter Basics
To take advantage of this free training, register on Dustin’s website. 

If you are headed for the National Association of Realtor’s NARdiGras  in New Orleans, mark your calendar for Monday morning, November 8.  Dustin and some fellow techies will be presenting Word Camp, a half-day Word Press event.  There will be two tracks, one for beginners, another for advanced Word Press users.  Check it out.

Making Social Networking Work for You

Social media can be a tool for increasing your market presence and branding yourself as the local agent of choice, according to Deborah Valledor the COO of the nation’s largest REALTOR® association, The Miami Association of Realtors, and our July webinar presenter.  Here are just five key points from Deborah’s presentation:

1.  Before you start your social networking here are some key decisions to make.
  •   What audience do you want to reach (Buyers?  Sellers?  A special niche?  Other agents?) 
  •   What result do you want to accomplish?
  •   What persona do you want to create?
If you don’t have clear answers to these questions, you won’t have a clear social networking strategy.  You may still have fun with your social networking, but you are unlikely to get good business results.

2.  Once you’ve made these decisions, you are on your way to creating your image or brand.           
  • Use your photo, logo, and content of your message to create the image or persona you want.
  • Be consistent across all media--print, online, social media.  This will reinforce the positioning you are trying to establish.
3.  Create value for the reader/viewer
  • Think “content rich”
  • Ask yourself is your information valuable, relevant, correct, and would you be interested in the information?
  • Do give, give, give.   Don’t sell, sell, sell.
4.  Work to create a following
  •  Communicate in a “voice” that sounds like you are talking to someone you know
  •  Try to create discussion and keep it positive
  •  Acknowledge anyone who responds
  •  Don’t ignore negative comments.  Be polite, positive, and try to turn negatives around
  •  Be authentic and trustworthy
5.  Use your blog as a "hub" for your online information and identity
  • Use other social media to drive traffic to your blog
  • Put all the info on your blog
  • Let your audience “pull” the information
Hear more from Deborah at our Leaders In Luxury event scheduled for October 20-22, in Austin (TX).


Fundamentally, modern marketing is all about finding a group of people with something in common and tailoring your business to their wants and needs.  Done right, it is much more efficient than mass marketing, and results in the marketer and client often having shared interests and values and a "relationship" beyond the transaction. 

As our personal lives and business lives become more data rich, marketers have adopted increasingly sophisticated approaches towards gathering and analyzing data.   Their goal of course is to improve their offerings and their communications and to sell more with less invested.  The catch is that as people we don't know have access to more and more information about us and our families, it can start to feel a bit "creepy."

There is an interesting article in Smart Money that looks at how nonprofits are increasingly using data-based marketing techniques and more and more information about potential donors.  The article is titled "Are Charity Fundraisers Spying on You?"  The answer of course is "Yes," but the fundamental questions are "How do we feel about this?" and "How should responsible marketeers behave?"

When your favorite nonprofit isn’t busy saving the whales, chances are it’s making a serious behind-the-scenes effort to know you better—and using increasingly sophisticated technology to do so. Whether it’s the local museum or an international relief group, a charity’s prospect-research staff can survey your salary history, scan your LinkedIn connections or even use satellite images to eyeball the size of your swimming pool. And if it’s really on the ball, it’s keeping better tabs on your financial life than you are. Should your stock holdings double, your friendly fund-raiser can get an e-mail alert prompting her to make an impromptu call...

Data is playing an increasing role in when, where, how and with whom marketers seek to create relationships.

...the rising tide of data on hand can speed the getting-to-know-you process. Suppose a fund-raiser gets a candidate’s business card at a cocktail party. The next morning he can download an instant report on his new prospect from data providers like Blackbaud or WealthEngine. The summary starts with a simple numerical score assessing the prospect’s net worth and whether she’s likely to donate. But the details in these reports, which can run past 10 pages for a top executive, can include a prospect’s career history and education, stock holdings, pension, charitable-giving history and campaign contributions. If she owns a plane or a boat, it’s in there, along with the names of family members and board cronies.

There is no doubt that when done right, data-based marketing can be very effective.  It is also a tool that can be misused.  Beyond the obvious privacy issues that all of this data aggregation raises, there is the "creepiness factor."  At the heart of this creepiness factor is the issue of TRUST.

Does it bother me that my financial advisor knows my investment portfolio?  Of course not, we have a relationship built on trust.  Does it bother me that some random telemarketer knows it too?  Yes, it feels downright creepy. 

Relationships are built on trust, not information.  Our friends aren't necessarily those who know the most about us, but those who have earned our trust.  Information tools are invaluable in the marketing tasks of segmentation, targeting, and positioning--finding prospects and creating an offering--but it is important to remember that customer or client relationships are built on trust. 

Successful luxury agents are good target marketers.  Of course few are doing the type of intensive data-mining or data-driven marketing discussed in the article.  Nonetheless, in our increasingly data-rich world of market research firms and social media, it’s a point worth remembering.  I think we’d all rather be trusted “friends," not “creeps.”

New tools from Proxio to help build your network and promote your listings


ProxioPro, the International MLS and Global Referral Network, has added 5 more languages.  You can now easily connect with thousands of agents in almost any corner of the world, build your referral network, and share listing with the click of a button in these 16 languages :

  • English
  • French
  • Spanish
  • Portuguese
  • Italian
  • German
  • Russian
  • Chinese traditional
  • Chinese simplified
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Dutch
  • Turkish
  • Hindi
  • Hebrew
  • Vietnamese 

They've also added the ability to publish  your listings to Facebook and Google Base.  Nice!

Of course Institute Members get a free standard account on ProxioPro.  Just one of the many benefits of membership.