I get emails and calls from agents in other areas of the country asking how I get so many visitors to my sites. The reason is simple, my sites show up high in the search engines! This is not an easy task as real estate is one of the most competitive industries for search engine placement. For example, there are 4000+ Realtors on the Central Coast and 99% of agent websites won’t be found by using a search engine. That’s just the way the Internet works.

Every agent with a website wants to show up in the Top 10 of search engine results for the most competitive keyword searches, which for the real estate industry is “(city name) real estate”. I use a multiple web site strategy to show up in the search engines and I’m constantly doing things to help with my rankings. It’s rare that you can have one site rank well in the three popular search engines (Google, Yahoo, MSN) for a particular search phrase so that’s why I use a multiple-site strategy. My main websites are www.SloCountyHomes.com and www.LocalLinks.com.

Not only are other agent websites in the area competing to be in the Top 10, but there are a lot of national websites wanting a spot in the Top 10 as well. There are Search Engine Optimization companies charging as much as $3,000 a month to assist Realtors to get their sites in the top 10 for a SINGLE search phrase.

Here’s where my sites currently rank in Google for the most popular real estate search phrase for each city. Of course my goal is to be #1 in all of the following search phrases!

Search term (Ranking in Google)
————– ——–
Arroyo Grande real estate (3)
Atascadero real estate (1)
Avila Beach real estate (2)
Cambria real estate (3)
Cayucos real estate (3)
Grover Beach real estate (3)
Los Osos real estate (4)
Morro Bay real estate (6)
Nipomo real estate (1)
Oceano real estate (2)
Orcutt real estate (2)
Paso Robles real estate (2)
Pismo Beach real estate (5)
San Luis Obispo real estate (7)
Santa Margarita real estate (4)
Santa Maria real estate (3)

There are other search phrases that people also use but not as much as the above ones. But, that doesn’t mean my sites don’t rank well for other terms as well. According to my web statistics for September 2006, I had a total of 7,038 people visit SloCountyHomes.com or LocalLinks.com through a search engine result page.

So, if an agent says they will market your property on their website, ask them how people find it. One thing about the Internet, it’s really easy to verify claims.

Realtor.com Listings

When you list a home with a Realtor, your home will appear on Realtor.com unless your listing agent says not to when they enter the listing in the MLS system. There is no cost to the Realtor to put the listing on Realtor.com as that’s part of our membership dues by being a Realtor. What you get for the free listing is basic information. One photo and some description of the property.

Realtors have the option of “enhancing” their listings on Realtor.com by paying adidtional money to the company that maintains Realtor.com. There are mutliple things a Realtor can do to enhance a listing including adding more photos, adding a virtual tour, putting in their own descriptions, putting a showcase banner around the listing in the search results, and other things. Most agents that pay for enhancements will do a couple of these.

You can see the difference between free and enhanced listings by looking at this page. You’ll see my 670 Silver Charm listing about half way down the list. Enhancing a listing helps to make your home noticed by Buyers searching Realtor.com.

If you are interviewing agents to sell your home, make sure you go onto Realtor.com to see if they enhance their listings. This will give you an easy way of seeing how they market their listings. Unless you are paying for a limited service, wouldn’t you want your home to be presented as best as possible?

Luxury home values posted slight gains in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco in the third quarter of 2006, according to the First Republic Prestige Home Index™ by First Republic Bank, a leading provider of wealth management and private banking services.

Full article here

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released its 3rd quarter report on home prices.

David Lereah, NAR’s chief economist, said market conditions are nearly the opposite of a year ago. “Last year we had a record sales market and historically tight supplies of homes with buyers bidding over the asking price,” he said. “With the market in full transition, buyers now have choices and sellers are more willing to negotiate – under these circumstances it’s no surprise that overall home prices are slightly below a year ago. We expect this trend to continue in the months ahead, but we’ll see modest appreciation in most of the country in 2007.”

Full article here

Sidewalks, parks seen as help in obesity fight

NEW YORK (Reuters) — Sidewalks, parks and neighborhood stores could be part of the solution to the ever-expanding U.S. waistline, according to a new report.

Writing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers offer a top-10 list of ways to turn sedentary cities and suburbs into “activity-friendly” communities. The point, they say, is to fight obesity by encouraging people to get more incidental activity into their daily lives.

One of the main goals is to give people reasons to get out of their cars. This includes building more sidewalks and intermingling residential and commercial buildings so that more people will walk to the store or the movie theater instead of driving.

full article here

The change in the real estate market is starting to take its toll. An article in today’s Trib quoted an owner of a San Luis Obispo brokerage saying that for the last 6 months, his business didn’t generate enough money to pay the office rent.

I don’t think it’s just the number of transactions that is the reason why Realtors are starting to leave the business, but the impact of the Internet as well. SloCountyHomes.com had its best month in October and November is shaping up to be a great month as well!

Smart Money magazine released it’s lastest “most overvauled” housing cities. They looked at 152 markets (SLO wasn’t one of them).

Here are the most overvalued areas (guess which state dominates the list?!):

1) Naples, FL
2) Miami, FL
3) Santa Barbara
4) Riverside-San Bernardino
5) Modesto
6) Salinas
7) Stockton
8) Los Angeles
9) Merced
10) Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce, FL
11) San Jose
12) Sarasota-Venice, FL
13) San Diego
14) Fresno
15) Vallejo-Fairfield
16) Ventura
17) Fort Myers, FL
18) San Francisco
19) Vero Beach, FL
20) Atlantic City, NJ

Read the article here

The 13th Annual America’s Safest (and Most Dangerous Cities) report was just released.

San Luis Obispo was included as one of the 344 Metro Areas but it didn’t appear in the Top 25 Safest Metro Areas. The good news is that it didn’t appear in the bottom 25 either. I didn’t pay for the full report to see where SLO was ranked.

See the top 25/bottom 25 lists here

Here is the SF Bay Area Housing Market data for October 2006 from DataQuick. It compares # of Solds and median home prices to October 2005. For the entire Bay Area, there were 24% fewer solds in Oct 2006 vs. Oct 2005 median home price was flat (0.0%). Here is the information by County. The percentage at the end is change in Median Home Price.

Alameda -27.5% drop in # of solds, 1.2%
Contra Costa -21.2% $drop in # of solds,-5.4%
Marin -27.6% $drop in # of solds .3.3%
Napa -25.1% drop in # of solds,-8.7%
San Francisco-13.6% drop in # of solds -0.9%
San Mateo -13.4% drop in # of solds.-1.8%
Santa Clara -22.9% drop in # of solds. 3.0%
Solano -35.4% drop in # of solds. -2.9%
Sonoma -28.9% drop in # of solds,-5.9%

From MSN Money- National Averages(APR): Low – 5.45% Average – 6.17% High – 7.17%

The big discussion is should I invest my home’s equity or should I be pushing myself to pay off my debts and live debt free? The article link for Huge Debts Paid Off Fast discusses ways to pay all your debt down. Read Article Here