Archives for March 2011

Looking Out For The Guy Next Door

The real estate downturn brought a lot of things with it, but none more heartbreaking than the victimization of distressed homeowners. It seems that every crisis brings a new group of scoundrels. Complete with their custom made schemes, readymade to take advantage of those who can least afford it.
I am glad to see action on the state and federal level to begin dealing with this issue. The Commonwealth magazine reported that Virginia is targeting mortgage-modification scammers, Click the following link to read the full article from the November/December, 2010 issue.
On the federal front, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has published the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services final rule (“MARS rule”). The MARS rule requires certain Short Sale disclosures from real estate practitioners. The rule also applies to individuals and companies that offer loan modification services to consumers.
Real estate practitioners are now required to comply with the MARS rule in their communications that are not directed at a specific consumer, i.e. print ads, web sites, anywhere they might advertise their short sale services.
In addition, agents are required to make a consumer specific disclosure when they represent a seller in a short sale situation in which they will be negotiating with the seller’s lender or referring the seller to a 3rd party loan modification service. The MARS rule also requires a disclosure when providing an offer of mortgage relief.
Under the MARS rule agents are not allowed to accept upfront fees in connection with short sales. In fact, broker models that depend on upfront fees may find themselves running afoul of the FTC if the transaction morphs into a short sale.
Short sales will be with us for quite some time. They present an extreme opportunity to come to the aid of sellers like never before. REALTORS® everywhere are contributing towards the rebuilding of our economy, one sale at a time. Nowhere can we demonstrate our value and professionalism better than by helping our neighbors through one of the toughest events they may ever face.

Setting Up Google Alerts Effectively to Monitor Your Brand Online.

We mentioned some reason why it is important to monitor your brand online with Google Alerts. Here is the how… 

1. If you don’t have a Gmail account, get one. You can set up your alerts with any email address but using a Gmail account will allow you to view, create, edit and delete their alerts using the “Manage your Alerts” page.

2. Go to   to manage your settings. (Or just Google “Google Alerts”)

3. Specify  your Search Terms. As Google indexes new pages it will look for these words and send you updates when they’re mentioned. a)   If you are too vague you may be overwhelmed with the amount of results so be specific if possible.  b)  To include an exact phrase use quotations: “The Real Estate Group”. c)  If you have a name or phrase that is common with something that is irrelevant to what you are interested in being updated on use the subtraction key to EXCLUDE certain words. For example: “The Real Estate Group –The Real Estate Group New York”. d)  If you’re highly specific, you might not get an email every day, but you will know when something new and relevant is published. You can also include usernames, phone numbers, addresses, and URL’s.

4. The “Preview Results” option allows you to see the type of current results as you create your desired search terms. 

5. Select whether you want to be updated when the search terms are mentioned in News, Blogs, Realtime, Video, Discussions, or in Everything (which includes all of the previous mentioned sources). I always choose Everything.

6. Select how often you wish to receive alerts. Depending on the popularity of the search term that you follow (you should create an alert for each term you monitor), you may want to choose to see the results once a day, once a week, or as-it-happens.

7. Your Email: Enter the email address you would like to receive your updates on and look forward to a simple and effective solution for monitoring your brand online.

I hope you have a better understanding of what Google Alerts are and how you can utilize them with ease. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below.

Are you using Google Alerts to manage your brand? You should be!


Signing up for Google Alerts is a fast, effective, and very simple way to stay updated on what is OR isn’t being posted online about your personal or business brand. You just may be surprised at what you find! The tool is fully customizable and gives results quickly by emailing you when Google finds something that has been posted containing the words or phrases that you specify.

Whether someone has written a blog or given a review about you’re service, this is certainly a great way to take advantage of positive mentions of your personal brand by giving a prompt response. It also is a way to manage and diffuse any negative comments and handle them appropriately and timely.

Just this morning, our Google Alert notified us that something was published that included the term “TREG”. We were pleasantly surprised to see that a site called had started a beta site and named us as one of their “Favorite Chesapeake Blogs”!

Although the most common use for the tool is probably to stay informed on what is being said about YOU, I strongly encourage you to be creative in your ideas of how to utilize it, such as:

  • Stay in the know on topics that are hot in your industry.
  • Stay on top of your competition.
  • Don’t forget to include usernames, website URL’s, email addresses, etc. in your search parameters.


Come back tomorrow for a quick how-to on setting up effective Google Alerts. 

As always…give us your feedback and let us know what questions that YOU need answered by clicking to add a comment below.