May the 4th Be with You

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This May don’t forget to celebrate “May the 4th Be with You” – a fun holiday celebrating the biggest movie franchise in history, Star Wars!  It’s a story of the Jedi vs. the Sith, Rebels vs. the Empire, and Good vs. Evil – which reminds us of our galactic fight vs. hackers!

Much like the Jedi, we’re locked in an endless battle against evil, and much like the Sith, that evil can clone itself, change, and adapt to our defenses. That means we must be ready for anything.

Here are a few ways we’re helping protect you against the evils of the galaxy!

“Artoo Detoo, you know better than to trust a strange computer.” – C3PO

Our secure portal is like flying your ship through hyperspace to deliver your secure documents. Unlike traditional document delivery, such as emails or fax, our secure portal uses multi-factor authentication to ensure all communication between us and your customers is secure and cannot be intercepted.

“And now, your highness, we will discuss the location of your hidden rebel base.” – Darth Vader

Picture of Darth Vader

Mortgage payoffs are at a heightened risk from those determined to turn to the dark side. While other title companies are fighting against a barrage of fake payoffs sent via email or text, we’ve centralized our mortgage payoffs, like a hidden rebel base. If the payoff doesn’t come from our secure hidden base, we blast it into deep space.

“Never tell me the odds!” – Han Solo

All the security processes above would mean nothing if they failed when we needed them, so we rely on our SOC1 and SOC2 certification to help ensure we keep the odds of anything going wrong as close to zero to possible. Annually, these reports test and prod at our systems, like firing lasers at ourselves to test our shields. The SOC 1 report audits our ability to keep our customer’s financial information secure, and the SOC 2 tests our compliance for security, confidentiality, and privacy.

Those are just a few of the ways we’re fighting the never-ending galactic battle against outside forces coming after your customer’s money. If you’d like to find out how else we can help you, call us today to set up a meeting with one of our Jedi. They are truly experts – and not bad with a lightsaber either!

 

 

 


4 Content Ideas for Marketing Your Real Estate Listing

As a listing agent, sellers depend on your knowledge and expertise to sell their homes as quickly as possible. Since some listings are easier than others to market, we’ve put together 4 ideas every real estate professional can use when selling a house.

1. Lights, Camera, Action!

If you aren’t using video in your listing marketing strategy, you’re missing out. According to Biteable, real estate listings with video receive 403% more inquiries than those without video. Including a walk-through video gives potential buyers a better idea of the home’s layout and helps them imagine living in that home.

Utilizing videos on different platforms, not just in your listing or on your website, can help expand your listing’s marketing strategy. Creating video content for social media attracts even more potential buyers to your listings. There are many different ways to utilize video. One of those ways is by showing off the home’s community. Is there a park? Did a new restaurant open nearby? Is there a festival or farmer’s market in the vicinity? Think of the different features potential buyers might want to see near the property. Does the home offer a beautiful sunrise/sunset view? Are there customized features in the house? You can show potential buyers all of these special differentiators through videos.

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Creating videos doesn’t have to be complicated. We highly encourage hiring a videographer to help create an impressive walk-through video for your listings. However, hiring a professional isn’t always in the budget. There are multiple apps you can use to help create videos. For example, Animoto and Powtoons offer video templates, stock videos/photos, and animations for users to utilize in making customized videos.

2. A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Poor listing photos reduces the chances of selling a listing quickly. The longer a home sits on the market, the more likely you’ll have an unhappy seller and lose out on future business.

Again, we suggest hiring a professional to take listing photos. Professional photographers have a large collection of equipment and know the best ways to capture a home’s beauty. However, if you don’t have photography expenses in the budget or would prefer to master listing photography yourself, you have options. With a few keywords in a Google search, anyone can find all sorts of information on real estate photography tips and tricks. And, if you’re in a time crunch or don’t feel like learning Photoshop, you can find apps on your phone like Snapseed or Pixlr to edit all your photos.

3. Show the Data

Create infographics, videos, or pictures with market data and neighborhood statistics that correlate with your listing(s). Sharing this information helps educate potential buyers and make you the neighborhood expert. Sharing market data brings valuable insights to both sellers and buyers and empowers them to make wise investment decisions.

neighborhood pic example4. Discover the Neighborhood!

Another great way to boost traffic to your listing is by showcasing the neighborhood! Is your listing in a dog-friendly area? Does it have a high walkability score? Share that information with a video or picture of the surrounding as you’re walking through the area or visiting the dog-friendly establishments. Do you have a listing perfect for a foodie? Or, in the perfect school district? Create content promoting that information.

You can take it one step further by writing blogs about these property benefits to feature on your website. Doing so helps boost credibility with clients and fellow real estate professionals.

 

 


5 Ways to Stay Safe Financially During the COVID-19 Pandemic

woman animation planning her financesWe’re all experiencing an unprecedented time in our history; most of the country and large parts of the world are under some type of stay-at-home orders. While our team members at Hillsborough Title are working hard to make sure your transaction closes on time, unfortunately, there is an army of unscrupulous people that are using this time to attack you financially.

As the world has turned to online services for financial transactions, 22% of Americans have been the target of fraud attempts in the past few weeks. They hope that you’re too preoccupied with the immediate need of social distancing to notice that the threats of fraud are still quite high.

With that in mind, here are 5 ways to stay safe financially during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic:

  1. DOUBLE CHECK YOUR CLICK – At least half of all COVID-19 related websites that have registered during this time are suspected of malicious activity. Be wary of ANY coronavirus specific website and pay attention to your clicks on social media or the internet. Before your click, check that the link is going to the expected website – preferably one you know already and trust.
  2. BE AWARE OF FAKE NEWS – Scammers are creating fake news stories on contaminated websites in hopes that you’ll not only read them, but share them online – all to get you and your friends to visit their malicious websites. While some of these websites may look legitimate, they can hide spyware or be phishing for your data. Check all news stories to ensure they are from mainstream media sources.
  3. VERIFY THE SENDER – The FBI warns of a significant threat of phishing emails relating to economic stimulus payments, charitable and relief contributions, fake cures, vaccines, and testing kits. If you’re not sure, click on the sender’s EMAIL ADDRESS (but not any links in the email) to see if the email matches the sender. If you’re not 100% sure who the sender is and that you were the intended recipient, do not open or forward the email.
  4. CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS – While you should always be cautious about your passwords, it’s good practice to change them during times of accelerated fraud activity. Some experts recommend using pass phrases instead of complicated passwords, which may be easier to remember. Also, it’s not OK to share passwords among websites and other places to prevent your passwords being stolen from one website and used on another.
  5. DON’T TEXT BACK – Have you heard of SMISHING? It’s a new form of information phishing that hackers are using to send you text messages that include links or will appear to be from legitimate sources. Remember the same tips from your emails and don’t trust anything unless you’re SURE who the sender is. Delete anything you’re not sure about. Also, no one will ask for your password via text messages, so if you get a text asking for ANY passwords, it’s delete-worthy!

Those are just a few ways to help you stay safe while we all are trying to keep our distance from one another. Remember, while you should always use caution when banking, communicating or shopping online, now is the time to be EXTRA vigilant.

 


New Decade, New Decor – 5 Home Decor Trends to Try in 2020

As stay-at-home orders begin, #QuarantineLife can get mundane and make anyone stir-crazy. In honor of National Decorating Month, we thought it would be a good idea to help you dress up your home! We’ve put together a list of decorating trends to incorporate around the house, bring back joy, and start enjoying your time at home.

Check out 5 of our favorite 2020 decorating trend predictions:

#1 Vintage Accents

Maybe it’s time to throw a little “Granny Chic” into the decor mix? A new decorating style popular with “Grandmillennials” (it’s a thing), the Granny Chic trend mixes the nostalgia of vintage decor like chintzes, scallops, needlework, and everything your grandmother loved with today’s clean, contemporary designs.

Or, if you’d prefer to shy away from a vintage explosion, try mixing a few old pieces with the new. It can make your space feel less big-box-decorating and more customized.

#2 Bold Colors

monochromatic blue room

This decorating trend is not for the faint at heart. It takes a confident person to embrace Pantone’s 2020 color of the year as the driving force in a design concept. However, we love bold colors, and we encourage you to incorporate them into your decor!

Go for a monochromatic color scheme in your space, slap a bold color on your kitchen cabinets, or go crazy with bolder colors in your guest bathroom. These colors are the perfect way to let your personality shine.

#3 Rattan and Wicker Furniture

Rattan and wicker have a special place in our hearts and bring back memories of growing up. (Are you sensing a theme here?) When done correctly, wicker and rattan can bring natural color and texture into a room, making it warm and inviting.

#4 Non-Granite Countertops

While granite is always a beautiful option for your countertops, why not be unique and try something different like a faux marble or even butcher block? Both are stunning alternatives and have minimal upkeep.

#5 Antique Art

antique art

Repurposing art (and any other home decor items) makes us feel less wasteful, and we’d like to think it helps the environment. Another selling point of antique art is the history and stories that come along with it. You can relish in the uniqueness of antique art.

As you can see, 2020 is about making your space feel customized and unique to you. Since you’ll spend much of your time at home, what better time than now to give it a facelift? It’s up to you whether you go all out with your decor choices or simply incorporate a few new ideas.

As always, we urge you to prioritize your safety when deciding what to use when redecorating your space. Shop online, select pick-up options when available, wash your hand often, and make wise choices. If you choose to get started on your new decor, feel free to tag us in your social posts. We’d love to see what new design trends you’re bringing to your home for 2020!