Active Rain August 28, 2011

How to Write a Market Report for your Real Estate Blog

Rye, NYWarning to consumers: this may be boring, as this post is written to my colleagues and not for the public. 

It’s raining here in Westchester County, and Hurricane Irene has brought a rare thing: some time off. My phone has barely rung all weekend, and in between battening down the hatches for the storm, I have been able to take a breather from a schedule that has been frantic for the lion’s share of August. I missed the hubbub about market reports on Active Rain, and since none other than Bob Stewart has praised me for my own market reports, I thought I would add my two cents to the dialog. 

First, market reports are a good thing for any real estate blogger who wants to be seen by their local public as a go-to person for information. They are also good for SEO, and another little fringe benefit is that they make you more knowledgeable about your market. They seldom get many clicks or comments and almost never appear on the feature dashboard, but that is not their purpose. Market reports build your business. I know this firsthand. So here is how I write a market report:

  • Be specific. Choose a clear area and time period, such as a school district, town or city, and make the report for a month, quarter, or week. And differentiate what property type you are covering, because in my area a 2-bedroom co-op apartment can cost $150,000 and a 2-bedroom house can be $400,000. They deserve separate coverage. 
  • With regard to charts and graphs, less is more. People glaze over after more than one graph. At least, I do. The good folks at Altos Research, as well as many MLS systems, can give you the means to do some excellent graphics, it just isn’t necessary to post a statistical Sistine Chapel to make your point. 
  • Add some commentary. Don’t just post data and leave people to interpret it. That’s work, and I have enough of it on my own. What’s the bottom line? What should we conclude? Are we up from last year or are we down? I always compare my time period to that of the prior year at the same time, and I let my readers know if volume is up or down, and how median price is faring as well. This makes the mundane report actually readable. 
  • Sell the area. Post a photo of downtown or a nice neighborhood. Talk about a listing you sold there recently, or how popular the place is for foodies, dog lovers or movie buffs. Great restaurants, parks and cultural attractions matter as much as median price. One village near me, Pleasantville, NY, has all of the above and a centrally located metro north train station right in the heart of the village, making it a great commuter community. Don’t keep these facts a secret in market reports. 
  • Keep it simple. Facts, overall message, and a pretty photo are three calling cards of my own reports. Median price, number of sales, how we fared compared to last year and what the outlook is for buyers and sellers are the elements I use. You aren’t figuring out the efficacy of bringing in a Home Depot to a boardroom of suits, you are telling a local owner if the time is right to sell or a buyer 30 minutes away if this is where they might see opportunity. 
  • Link to your prior posts on the area. This shows people all your commentary on the place, and if they are interested in the area they’ll spend a good deal of time reading you. This is where tags are crucial.  
  • Wrap it up with a call to action. If you have an IDX solution, link to it. THIS IS THE POINT. 
  • Syndicate. Tweet it with the town hashmark (#Scarsdale), link to it on your Facebook business page, and submit it to other media. Email it to clients or prospects. 
A few other thoughts: Market reports on an area where you’d like to gain market share can help you do so without spending a dime, because you’ll not only establish a body of content on the place, you’ll know the market pretty damn well after writing regular reports. They also help sell your listings in an area where you have inventory, because people googling a locale will find you if you post consistently on the place. 
I understand the decision by the folks in Seattle wanting to give the community a point incentive for market reports. Hyper local has always been content they have encouraged (ever hear of localism? Raincamp?), and with 210,000+ members and being in the blog platform business, they want their customers to succeed. One thing I have discovered is that people seldom do what they probably should (I have 22 agents, only a handful who blog, and few of my direct competitors have taken it up, even after having lunch with me), so a point incentive makes plenty of sense. 
There. You just got the keys to the kingdom. Bust a move.