The Wow Factor: Virtual Real Estate

The Wow Factor: Virtual Real Estate

Oct 4, 2021
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RPR’s June episode of "The Wow Factor" is focused on virtual real estate. Our special guest is Ines Hegedus-Garcia, a Miami REALTOR® and Director of Strategy and Innovation at Avanti Way Realty. Ines discusses how she’s coping with the ever-changing market, and she also shares tips and techniques on virtual open houses and virtual staging. Make sure to stay tuned in until the end for a how-to on using RPR Market Activity Reports when conducting virtual open houses.

"The Wow Factor" is hosted by Reggie Nicolay, VP of Marketing, and Genie Willett, Director of Digital Marketing.

Hello, everyone! From REALTORS Property Resource®, this is "The Wow Factor." I'm Reggie Nicolay and I'm joined by my co-host Genie Willett. We're here to apply our 20-plus years of marketing experience to help you identify practical tips and winning strategies. They're going to help you gain the attention of your potential clients. Each month we'll explore new topic, interview an industry expert, and then break down the how-to with a quick tutorial all to help you wow your clients and close more deals.

Welcome to episode 4 of "The Wow Factor." They say third time's the charm, so it's gotta be all downhill from here. All joking aside, I am excited to talk about virtual real estate today. Question for you, Jeanne. When you bought your house, was it empty or was it staged?

Well, the owners were still living in the house, so it was staged with their furniture, but the walls were all crazy colors and the way in which the rooms were set up made it really hard to envision the potential of the house. Honestly, I think it's one of the reasons why we snagged such a deal.

You know, it's such a funny—our house was the same story. We even had bright purple walls.

That's why I'm so excited to talk about virtual real estate and virtual staging today. It's something that's really always been a great tool for a REALTOR® but even more so now with all the limitations the pandemic has brought. And all the safety issues people are still currently dealing with and I've heard that business is really starting to boom again.

It's crazy. It is. I mean I can tell, just with my wife Nicole, who's a REALTOR®, you know. She's been busier than ever, and there's certainly adjustments she's making to her business, which is why this is gonna be the perfect topic this month. And then, in "The Breakdown," I'm gonna dive in and do virtual open houses and share a few cool tips on how you can use RPR and you're not printing reports but instead sharing them with clients and prospects digitally.

And our guest today, Ines Hegedus-Garcia, is going to chat with us about her innovative real estate strategies, including how she does virtual staging, virtual open houses, and some key insights into how to differentiate yourself in the market.

And a quick reminder of the flow of the show: after interview, we'll talk to the "What's New and What's Next" guys, and then Reggie will do a quick tutorial on RPR in "The Breakdown." And don't forget—if you haven't already, subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up to date on all things "The Wow Factor."

All right, let's talk to Ines. Let's do it.

Today we're talking with Ines Hegedus-Garcia, a Miami REALTOR® and director of strategy and innovation at Avanti Way Realty. She was the 2019 residential president of the Miami Association of REALTORS® and is currently on the board of governors as well as the corporate board. We could spend the entire show on her list of accomplishments and credentials. She is definitely a leader in the industry.

Hi, Ines, so excited to have you here.

No, listen, I couldn't be more excited myself, so thank you for having me. Ines and I go way back. I was actually just thinking about what I believed was the original REBarCamp back in 2008. Andy Kaufman arranged the event. It was at the Swedish-American Hall in San Francisco. Ines, I remember you being there. Let's see, Todd Carpenter, Ginger Wilcox, Jeff Turner, Mike Simons, so many popular folks from the RENet. I think Gia and Grant even made those trading cards. I remember they were so awesome.

You know what, it's funny to think how long ago that was and how good friends like everyone still is. That's awesome. Well, let's kick this interview off.

So obviously there's been a lot going on in the world this year, but things seem to be kind of reopening. Can you tell us a little bit about the market you're in right now? What are you seeing?

So what's happening in Miami right now is that people started taking their houses off the market, so inventory is super low, and then once they started reopening the city and spaces, all of a sudden buyers are coming out of the woodworks. So we had a really captive audience at home looking at these amazing properties and now they're out.

That's great. That is great. You know, it's interesting just even here, I watch through my own wife's real estate business and I see a lot of what you mentioned in terms of, you know, folks did pull back at first, especially as stay-in-place was announced, but then a lot of people even may be at home became either tired of their home or wanted an upgrade and realized that, you know, maybe now is it time to transact and so it's actually picking up here, too. It's interesting.

So you recently shared about using BoxBrownie for virtual staging. Can you explain what virtual staging is and how it works?

You know, BoxBrownie's one of my favorite tools ever. This is what happened: we used to say, as agents, first start with curb appeal, then how is the best light that you can show a property? We have all kinds of designations to become stagers, we hire professional stagers, but the reality is that it costs a lot of money to stage a property professionally. So, I discovered the digital staging maybe, I don't know, a couple of years back, and what I do is I'd much rather have an empty house that I send over to BoxBrownie and they can actually do furniture in there virtually. So what happens is that I actually choose the furniture. I'll send them pictures of rooms that I like. I'd like this room to look like this, and they'll look something that suit—that's that's very very similar to what I'm presenting to them.

What I do with the MLS, just because of truth of representing a property, I'll put the empty picture and I'll do the virtually staged picture next to it. I'll let the agent know when they make the appointment to see the property, by the way, that the property is empty or it may not look like the digital staged or virtually staged property just so they're, they have expectations when they go see the property. But the reality is all about web appeal.

That's so great. I love that. So I've heard that you teach classes at your board occasionally and you recently taught a virtual open house. Can you share a little bit about what was covered in that class?

So, so this was it, it's, funny enough, um, and I I don't try to show off or anything by these, we were talking about, um, twelve years ago, but the reality is that there's a lot of brokers talking about this new technology and virtual open houses. I've been doing virtual open houses for ten years. This is kind of like my, my happy place, you know. I'm happy behind a screen, I'm happy behind technology.

The whole concept of virtual staging is that you can broadcast a property live. I would find hashtags that people would, like, get into. I have a very large following on Twitter and I would just, very impromptu, I would do a live broadcast of the property and next thing I know I have 800 people from all over the world asking questions.

So you're thinking, wow, if I do a regular open house, I'm lucky if I have two or three people walk in. I'm doing something that's impromptu, not planned, through Periscope and I have 800 people. So that was my eye opener. My second eye opener was I had an uncomfortable situation in an open house with safety, and I wasn't comfortable anymore unless I did an open house with somebody else. So I started planning the same way that you plan a regular open house virtually.

So one of the things that I offer is a market report from RPR. So it's, like, okay, it's about relevant content for an audience that's buying in a particular area. What better than to know what's going on in the market and nothing like an RPR market report to show them, you know, what's going on.

Love that. Love that. That's going to make a good breakdown. That could be really good.

So do you have any tips for agents right now that are looking to separate themselves from the competition?

Listen, I think my advice is not to go with the grain. We go to real estate school and they tell you put a picture on your card and they tell you how to do things, and anytime I've gone and deviated completely away that from that is when I've done really well. And so my advice is, identify an audience. There's nothing, you know, what's your passion? I happen to be an architect. My passion is art. Okay, that's easy. But guess what? Where did you come from before real estate? What was your life pre-REALTOR®? What are the things that you like? And then if you can, become the guide to that hero.

So if I can give one piece of advice, read the book "Building a Story Brand." Donald Miller also has a podcast that's fantastic so I recommend camp right now, like nothing else I can, and the reason the beauty of this is that your hero is different than my hero so it kind of breaks up competition to a beautiful level.

This is awesome. So many amazing tips for everybody. Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us today.

Thanks Genie. I'm Mike and here's what's new this month. We have some excellent pieces of content to share. We start with "The Ultimate Guide to Facebook Lead Ads for REALTORS®." This is a deep, multi-page guide that explains every last detail for you to learn how to create in place, using RPR data, your own lead-generating ad campaigns in Facebook. Now this is a really effective way to get your name and your brand in front of potential clients to fill up that pipeline.

Next up is how to use RPR and Canva to make shareable market charts. So right now, homeowners have several questions about the market and their home values, etc. You can reach them and make a connection with them by creating graphic market charts and posting these to your Facebook and Instagram. If you do this you'll position yourself as the local market expert in your social media circles. These social media strategies are a great way to get lots of attention and hopefully spark some convos.

And hey, commercial users, we haven't forgotten about you. We love those red "R"s. We recently published "How to Find Commercial Comps Using RPR." It's another step-by-step article that shows you how to search on and off market properties to gather history data and details so you can give your clients the best guidance possible.

That's "What's New." Here's Aaron with "What's Next."

Yeah, thanks, Mike. How's it going, everyone? I'm Aaron, and this month we've got three new things to share, so let's jump right in to July's "What's Next" from RPR.

First up, we've got another awesome webinar coming up that you won't want to miss. On Thursday, July 9th, we'll be hosting "How Will You Work With Buyers in the Future? Virtual Solutions for a Virtual World."

You'll also want to make sure you check out NAR's MVP offer for July. All you gotta do is take advantage of any RPR resource and the Right Tools, Right Now program. Once you've completed the action, you'll get a free copy of "The Little Orange Book: Sales and Marketing Rules to Live by for REALTORS®." It's that easy.

And finally, RPR is excited to be a part of Virtual Tech Edge this summer. The next event, The Social Media Agent," is taking place July 23rd. Make sure you save your seat today.

And with that, that's that for "What's Next from RPR." Now I'm going to throw it back over to Reggie for "The Breakdown."

And now for "The Breakdown." In this segment, I'll show you how to use RPR to prepare for your virtual open house with tips from the interview with Ines earlier in the show. You'll recall that Ines mentioned she's been holding virtual open homes for years. For her, there were a variety of benefits

including increased exposure and safety. Ines mentioned using social media to help her market her virtual events, and she spoke to the importance of providing something of value to the people viewing the home. We'll call that item of value our "lead magnet." Market activity reports can make terrific lead magnets because they're very customizable. Depending on your audience, the report can be customized to show particular property statuses, property types, price ranges, and more.

Let's run through the steps you'll take to create a market activity report for your virtual open house, and then along the way I'll be dropping a few extra tips.

To start, visit RPR at From the home page, choose the "Market Activity" search type. Now enter the area your market activity report should cover. If you want to showcase a particular neighborhood, try searching by that neighborhood name and then add the city and state. If you're not having any luck searching by a specific neighborhood name, not to worry. You can create a custom area and create your own saved name. That name will appear on the report cover page. And that's what we're going to be doing in today's breakdown.

I'll enter a zip code now and then choose the property statuses to include, along with how far back I want the report to go. Now I'll select the magnifying glass to execute my search. Arriving at the search results, now I should confirm that I'm in map view, then I'll pan and zoom the map to isolate the general area that we're going to be reporting on. Now, select the "Show geographies" drop-down and then choose polygon. Now click on the map to begin outlining the search area. Join your last point with your first point. Now select "Save" and name the area. By doing this, your search will be available on your next visit to RPR in the "Saved" search drop-down located on the home page or in the "Use a custom area" drop-down here above the map. This makes accessing and running reports on the area quicker on subsequent visits. Next, after saving, select "Search this area." Notice the custom name is now listed at the top of the page. That name will also be featured on the report cover.

Now I'll choose create a report from the reports page. "Market Activity Report" should be selected. Click "More Details" to make any report modifications and then scroll down and create your report. It's as easy as that. Now we have a customized report that we can share with prospective buyers.

Before I wrap this tutorial up there's one powerful tip I'll leave you leading up to your virtual open house, use the RPR mobile app to create both a mini-property report and a neighborhood report for prospective buyers. These two lead magnets will be highly desired by those interested in the property and those prospects that are getting to know the neighborhood.

Also, for buyers with kids school-aged, RPR school reports offer a comprehensive review of any school for parents. And then, as the virtual open house attendees show interest, from your mobile device you can quickly send any of the above-mentioned reports via a text message immediately, and each of the cover pages will be branded back to you.

And just like that, we've reached the end of this segment. I hope you've enjoyed this week's edition of "The Breakdown."

That's a wrap on this month's episode. Ines was such a fantastic interview. So many great tips on how to differentiate yourself in the market and I love all the virtual ideas for real estate.

Definitely. Ines is a rock star, and it's a good reminder that the real estate industry has been slowly embracing virtual marketing for years now, but with the pandemic that the benefits and the impacts are more noticeable than ever. And I loved that she talked about story brands. Hey, it's been huge game-changer for us at RPR, and I love that Ines is using it to chart her own path and not follow the herd.

All right, as we wrap up the show, this is our reminder time. We're enjoying all these tips and tricks from REALTORS® across the country. Please keep them coming, and we want to know what you're enjoying, and if you have a story to share we want to hear about it.

Thank you so much for joining us today. This is Reggie and Genie signing off. Stay safe out there.

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