Expert Advice on Making Your Move-Up Home Purchase a Success

by Grant Whittenberger

Buffington Signature Homes offers expert advice how to move up the right way.

Many factors can lead a homeowner to decide it’s time to move from their current home to a new one. Some move-up buyers have growing families that require additional living space and more bedrooms. Others may have been first-time homebuyers with limited budgets who now have money and equity to put towards the home they wanted all along. Still others may be hoping to move to a different part of town or a newer neighborhood. Whatever your reason for joining the ranks of “move-up homebuyers,” there are plenty of important factors to consider before moving on to your new home.

With the help of one local Austin homebuilder, we’ve put together a list of tips to ensure your move-up purchase is a success. Buffington Signature Homes is the newest homebuilding venture from veteran Austin builder and developer, Tom Buffington. The company currently builds in two of the area’s premier communities; Silver Leaf in Round Rock and Forest Oaks in Cedar Park. In the mid-May, Buffington will begin offering homes in South Austin at The Bridges at Bear Creek and Southpark Meadows. If you’re in the market to move-up or move-down, consider these important tips to ensure you get the home you deserve.

Selling Your Current Home
Before you can begin to seriously think about the home you want, it helps begin by focusing on the home you already own. How much is it worth? How much would you sell it for? In this process, an experienced real estate agent can be your best ally. Some agents specialize in helping move-up buyers sell their current home and find their new one at the same time. In fact, Buffington Signature Homes works with one of Austin’s premier realtors, Kevin Elliott of Keller Williams’ Home Resource Group.  “Buyers probably have a quasi-accurate assessment of what their home is worth.  I start off by talking about what separates their home from your competition,” says Kevin.  “Just like not all builders are the same, not all realtors are the same.  In the Austin area, the ‘average’ realtor sells less than 7 homes per year, our team of experienced agents averages over 35 homes per year.”

“People coming to see your home may have no imagination, no time and not much extra money,” says Grant Whittenberger, VP of Sales for Buffington Signature Homes.  “Image is everything.  In the buyer’s mind, what they see is what they get.  This is why Model Homes are always in such great shape.  No buyer is going to pay top dollar for a home that looks like it is in need of repair, updating, even just a good cleaning—that’s why the home you are selling must be in the best shape possible if you want the best price possible.”

Figuring Out Your Budget
Your real estate agent can provide an accurate estimate of how much your current home will sell for. Combined with your current spending and savings, you should use this information to develop a clear idea of the budget for your new home. Once you’ve established your budget, you can begin looking for builders with homes in your price range. It’s important to find a builder that specializes in your particular price range, because they should have the most experience in building homes at the best quality possible while still remaining within your budget.

Choosing What’s Most Important
Now it’s time to begin looking at houses. With a wide range of options in your new home’s location, size, layout and features, figuring our what’s most important to you and your family can help simplify the process. Narrowing your search to a few key areas of interest will help ensure you’re happy in your decision to move up.

The Location
For many people, the decision to move is essentially about the location. New communities and retail centers are cropping up in great areas all over the Austin area, and new roads are providing better access to work, recreation and entertainment. If you’re looking for a new home in a prime location, Buffington Signature Homes currently offers homes and homesites in Silver Leaf, one of Round Rock’s premier new home communities, and Forest Oaks, located just off the 183A Toll Road in Cedar Park. Later this month, they will also begin offering homes in The Bridges at Bear Creek and Southpark Meadows in South Austin.

The Living Space
While some buyers are focused on the location, others are more concerned with life inside their home. One of the most common reasons a buyer seeks to move up is the need for more space. Whether it’s additional rooms, a bigger kitchen or more family gathering space, additional square footage can make a big difference. But it’s not always about the numbers. Effective use of space in a home’s layout and design can make a big difference in how “livable” your home feels. Buffington’s innovative floorplans utilize additional spaces in useful ways, like setting aside areas for desks so that the spare bedroom doesn’t have to double as the computer room.

Quality of Construction
It’s always a good idea to remember that the most important features of your new home might be the ones you can’t see. Learn as much as you can about each builder’s construction standards and materials, and beware of discount builders that use shortcuts or inferior materials to cut costs. Every Buffington home is built to the highest quality standards, with engineered frames and foundations, traditionally framed roofs and detailed construction standards for flooring and walls. Ensuring your home is built to these quality standards can help protect your investment and virtually eliminate day-to-day maintenance.

Features and Finishes
Of course, when comes to a new home, what’s on the outside can mean just as much as what’s inside the walls. Another important point of comparison is in each builder’s standard features and finishes for their homes. Different homes can include a range of features from big to small, like appliances, window treatments or high-end plumbing and lighting fixtures. While some builders pass on the additional cost of  these “luxuries” to their customers, more than 90 high-end finishing touches, called Signature Features, come standard in every Buffington home.

Building vs. Existing Inventory
In many of the area’s premier communities, you’ll also have the option of buying a home from your builder’s existing inventory or building one for yourself. Each of these options can have benefits for different buyers. Of course, building your home from the ground up offers the opportunity to select the site, design and features that best fit your needs. Buffington offers a selection of innovative floorplans and prime homesites in their communities, as well as an additional Signature Options, or special features that their customers can choose to further personalize their new home. However, if you’re a little more flexible in your tastes or if you’ve found the perfect home on the perfect lot already, buying a home from your builder’s existing inventory has its advantages. Inventory homes are typically less expensive than customized or specially designed homes. Plus, when you buy a model that’s already completed, you can start the move-in process right away! Buffington Signature Homes currently offers a great selection of homes in Silver Creek and Forest Oaks.

These are just a few of the details to consider when you’re ready to move up to the new home of your dreams. For more information on moving up to a Buffington Signature Home, go to www.BuffingtonSignatureHomes.com/aas or visit the Silver Leaf Sales Center at: 209 Aspen Trail, Round Rock, TX 78664.

Important Tips for Finding a High Quality Home

by Grant Whittenberger

Buffington Signature Homes shares details on finding a new home that will last.

May 5, 2008 — Home Buying Season is in full swing and eager buyers are out touring new homes in Austin. But when it comes time to compare similar looking homes in similar locations, the most important features may not be so apparent.

Once you’ve settled on a specific neighborhood or area, it’s important to begin comparing the construction standards and features available from each of the homebuilders in that area. Grant Whittenberger, Vice President of Sales for Buffington Signature Homes, has gladly offered up a list of the most important features you should ask about to ensure the home you’re looking at is a keeper.

The Foundation

First, find out what kind of foundation the homes have. The soil in Central Texas is notorious for causing shifting and cracking in home foundations, which leads to sloping floors, cracked walls and sticky windows and doors. All of the foundations in Buffington’s homes are designed and approved by an engineer to ensure they remain stable and intact for the life of your home.

The Roof

The second most important part of a home after the foundation is the roof. Poorly framed roofs can lead to leaking and buckling on the outside, as well as cracking and nails that push through ceilings on the inside. While many volume builders use pre-fabricated roof trusses, Buffington’s homes feature traditionally framed trusses, where a little extra effort can ensure a much more stable and secure roof.

The Framing

The way a new home is framed also plays an important role in the overall stability and character of its construction. Buffington’s homes feature fully engineered, wind-braced frames. The extra bracing prevents the home from racking or twisting in higher winds, where even the slightest movement can lead to cracking walls and stuck doors or windows. The interior and exterior of these walls are wrapped in heavy-duty, half-inch OSB board, further preventing movement and also adding an extra layer of noise insulation. Additionally, all structural beams are sized by an engineer for proper load ratings, protecting against beams that are too small (and unstable) or too big (and unnecessarily expensive).

The Flooring

Many buyers are concerned with the floor coverings in a new home, but what’s underneath them can be even more important. To cut costs, many builders use pre-fabricated I-joists to build their floors, which can lead to floors that bounce and squeak. But Buffington’s floors are built with 16-inch-deep trusses, the deepest flooring support. The trusses are spaced 24 inches apart throughout the home, with just 16 inches of space master bedrooms and game rooms where the loads are typically heavier. On top of that, the homes feature three-quarter-inch tongue-and-groove sub-floors that are secured with screws and industrial adhesive, ensuring against squeaking, bouncing and those annoying nails that can stick up beneath floor coverings. Deeper floors and heavier sub-flooring also add extra noise insulation between floors.

Interior Walls

When it comes to framing the interior walls, builders can cut costs by cutting back on materials and labor. Many builders frame interior walls with studs spaced 24-inches apart where the code permits, but Buffington’s homes are built with 16-inch centers throughout. The closer spacing adds stability and further protects against cracking and shifting as the home ages. They also secure all sheetrock with screws instead of nails, preventing against nails that can push through walls and ceilings over time.

Inspections

Throughout this entire building process, Buffington Signature Homes requires four separate, independent inspections on the structure of the home. With two separate inspections on the foundation, one at the framing stage and one final inspection when the home is complete, Buffington can ensure the structural integrity of their homes, and they’ll give you the paperwork to prove it.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that volume builders can cut corners and save money at the homeowner’s expense. But for Buffington, the extra effort and extra materials are a part of creating homes that their customers are proud to live in. A little hard work during construction can virtually eliminate the daily maintenance that many homebuyers find themselves stuck with in a new home.

Background

Buffington Signature Homes is the newest homebuilding venture from veteran Austin builder and developer, Tom Buffington. The company currently builds in two of the area’s premier communities; Silver Leaf in Round Rock and Forest Oaks in Cedar Park. Later this summer, Buffington will begin offering homes in Austin at The Bridges of Bear Creek and Southpark Meadows. Even in these highly competitive areas for new homes, Buffington Signature Homes stands out from the crowd with these important distinctions.

Buffington recently opened their first sales center at Silver Leaf. The Silver Leaf Sales Center offers customers a chance to experience the builder’s quality construction and innovative floorplans in person, and the sales staff is on hand every day to help interested buyers find their new home. In May, they will also open a model in Forest Oaks, located just off the new 183A toll road in Cedar Park, with two more models coming later this summer at The Bridges of Bear Creek and Southpark Meadows in Austin.

For more information on Buffington Signature Homes, visit www.BuffingtonSignatureHomes.com/aas or visit the Silver Leaf Sales Center at:
209 Aspen Trail,
Round Rock, TX 78664.

Sailfish & Safety – Important Tips to Make Your Deep Sea Fishing Holiday a Great One

Manzanillo is known for many things, but it is most known for being the “Sailfish Capital of the World.” Fishermen (and women!) come from all over to go deep sea fishing and hopefully catch “the big one.” But there are a few things you should keep in mind before sailing the high seas.

Tip #1: Check the Weather Report

Your boat captain should be doing this anyway, but it never hurts to just look at the weather report and make sure there isn’t a storm on the way. A good rule of thumb: if all of the other boats are staying docked, then you probably should too.

Tip #2: Double Check Your Gear

The day before your excursion, go through all of your equipment. Make sure everything works and that you have aren’t running out of anything. Try to get this done before noon so you can get replacements before the stores close.

Do the batteries in your flashlight work and do you have back-ups? Do you have a functional first aid kit? Do you have a waterproof bag for your wallet and cell phone and does it attach to your clothing correctly? Do you have rations in case you are stuck on the water for a couple of days? Do you have a couple of flares in case you need to signal someone in the night?

All of these items may sound small, but could be very important if something happened.

Tip #3: Make Sure the Radio is Working

Before you let the boat leave the dock, ask the captain if he has checked the. If they have a GPS system, check to see if that is working too.

Tip #4: Find the Life Jackets

Hopefully, your captain will go through some quick safety features before you leave. Make sure you know where the life jackets, rafts and/or lifeboats are located. In addition, find out where the fire extinguishers are located.

Tip #5: Learn Meditation

Sometimes a minor problem can turn into a catastrophe if everyone panics. Remain calm and offer the captain and his crew help in handling other passengers. If they are your family, make sure that you are firm in your instructions and show confidence.

Tip #6: Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

Some deep sea fish are very strong and can pull a person off a boat. Be sure that your fishing rod is securely anchored and that you are also attached to the boat in some way in case your rod gets free. If you have children with you, this is extremely important. Little Billy isn’t going to win a battle with Señor Fish.

Tip #7: Leave Your Information

Make sure that somebody has a copy of your vital information before you leave. If your spouse is staying on the mainland, be sure that she knows what you are doing, the name of the charter company, when you should be returning and other information that will be helpful in case something happens. This includes any medical information and names and numbers of emergency contacts back home.

If you are traveling alone or your entire party is going on the trip, it is a good idea to leave your information with the front desk so that you have someone looking out for you.

All of these tips don’t take very long and they could save your life. Make sure that your trip is a happy one and not a disaster.

Happy fishing!

If you would like more information on fishing safety, go to Take Me Fishing. Not only do they have a great site, but they also have some wonderful information about fishing and safety.

This article was brought to you by Cascadas de Manzanillo, a new development of luxury real estate in Mexico located in Manzanillo, Mexico, the “Sailfish Capital of the World.”

Playing Golf in Friendly Confines

New trend in golf course design appealing to mother nature

When you think of golf courses, what first comes to mind?

The grass? The golf carts? The numbers?

What about the birds? Do you think about how many kinds of flowers line the 18th hole? Do you notice the wildlife that quietly nibbles the rough?

Probably not. But a new trend in golf course design is starting to change peoples’ minds when they are looking for a golf club to call their own.

I’m talking about an environmentally friendly golf course. Sound far-fetched? You’d be surprised at how many courses are currently involved with creating a green community. According to the Audubon International, there are 27 countries, including the United States, that are protecting and improving their courses. That’s more than 2,110 golf courses.

It’s more than a fad. It’s becoming a standard practice and statistics have shown that today’s consumer is looking for an environmentally friendly golf community to build their dream home.

What is Audubon Certification?

The Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses provides guidelines that help courses work to protect precious natural resources, habitats and the game of golf. Achieving and maintaining certification demonstrates a deep commitment to environmental management and protection. A course can achieve certification by implementing environmental practices and documenting the results. This demonstrates leadership as a steward of the environment and publicly recognizes and rewards environmental achievements.

Let’s take a look at two golf communities that are Audubon Certified.

The Golf Club at Briar’s Creek

South Carolina Real Estate is Known for its MarshesThe Lowcountry of South Carolina is known for its pristine wetlands, beautiful trees and abundance of wildlife. When the developers of Briar’s Creek were in the beginning stages of designing the award-winning golf course, they knew that they had something special and felt a need to protect the area around the proposed golf course community.

“Briar’s Creek has a coveted number of large oaks; some are spectacular specimens,” said Steve Koenig, founder and developer of the South Carolina golf community. “So we didn’t want to disturb our canopy of trees.”

They contacted the Audubon International and entered the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses (ACSP). By working closely with the group, Briar’s Creek became South Carolina’s first Certified Silver Audubon Signature Sanctuary and continues to this day to make sure that they meet the principles put in place by the society.

In Kiawah Island, real estate is in high demand and because of the high standards placed on the luxury homes in the area, buyers have become very discriminating in where they live. Creating an environmentally friendly golf community was a good way to give these buyers a reason to want to build at Briar’s Creek. Not only are the homes extraordinary, but they are surrounded by carefully protected South Carolina foliage and wildlife.

“We have an opportunity here at Briar’s Creek to kind of set a standard for development in the entire region,” Koenig said.

Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort

Cranes are a common site at Gull Lake ViewAnother golf course that became a Certified Silver Audubon Signature Sanctuary is Gull Lake View in Augusta, Michigan. When Darl Scott purchased 120 acres in the late 1950s, little did he know what his impact would be on Southwest Michigan real estate. In 1995, all five golf courses gained Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary status and they couldn’t be happier. The Scott Family views their courses not only as wonderful places for people to enjoy the game of golf, but also as great habitats for all types of wildlife.

And a happy golf course means happy Michigan real estate. Cranes Pond, a neighborhood next to Gull Lake View, adopted the natural outlook and stresses the importance of protecting the environment. There is a great deal of attention being placed on preserving natural resources and the habitat on the encompassing land. Considerable care and planning was done prior to design in order to assure that the very qualities that make Crane’s such a magnificent place to live, were not destroyed by the construction of roads and houses. A habitat and biological survey of the entire property was done for an entire year as part of the overall design process.

If more communities in the area take the torch and improve their neighborhoods to meet the Audubon standards, then Southwest Michigan will become one of the most stunning areas in the country and highly-sought after real estate.

What Can You Do?

If you are a member of a golf course and this program interests you, talk to your general manager, ask if they are Audubon Certified and, if not, when or if they are looking into becoming certified. Talk to your fellow club members and see if they are aware of the benefits of this certification. Urge them to talk to the general manager. Odds are that your golf club is aware of the program, but it is possible that they have never heard of it and might be very interested in becoming certified.

Imagine being able to raise your children in a place where they can learn to not only appreciate nature, but also to understand how the eco-system works as a whole and to better appreciate the game of golf.

You win and mother nature wins.

About the Author

This article was written by Kimberly Carrillo, who works with The Golf Club at Briar’s Creek and Gull Lake View Golf Club & Resort.

If you are interested in finding out more about South Carolina golf, consider contacting the good folks at Briar’s Creek. They are an exclusive, private golf club located in Charleston, SC with a limit of 300 members.

If you like Illinois golf or are looking for a Michigan golf course, contact Gull Lake View, an established, Michigan golf course. Gull lake View has five golf courses and a resort that make a great vacation destination and also a wonderful place to live.

Be sure to also check out the information about the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses.

2007 Park City Real Estate Transactions Reach Nearly $2 Billion

Home Prices Show Double-Digit Appreciation

30 January 2008 (Park City) – Big homes, big condos and big transactions led to a big year in 2007 for Utah’s premier destination ski area.

Find out about luxury Park City real estateIn the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2007, Park City real estate transactions reached $1.98 billion, an increase of 3 percent compared to $1.92 billion in volume a year earlier, according to a report released today by the Park City Board of Realtors.

“Our total volume in 2007 was the second best-ever year in real estate in Park City,” said Tyler Richardson, president of the Park City Board of Realtors. “I don’t think Park City real estate prices have peaked if we look at what has gone on in other resort destinations in the Rocky Mountains.”

The median price of single-family homes sold in Park City during 2007 climbed to $680,000, an 11 percent increase compared to $615,000 in 2006. Condominium sales in 2007 reported a median sales price of $559,750, a whopping 31 percent rise compared to $427,000 a year earlier. The median sales price of vacant land also climbed in 2007 to $549,000, up 17 percent compared to $470,000 in 2006.

While sales prices continued to rise, the number of single-family homes sold in 2007 fell to 828 units, a 13 percent decline compared to 957 homes sold in 2006, the report noted. The number of condominium sales showed a 3 percent drop to 778 units, down from 799 units a year ago. Land purchases dropped to 514 transactions, down 40 percent from 859 land sales in 2006. The average days on market for all types of listed properties increased in 2007 to 210 days, up 42 percent compared to 148 days the previous year.

The 2007 report included sales statistics of Summit and Wasatch counties and tracked sales volume, average sales prices and median sales prices. Sales figures varied widely among market segments and neighborhoods. Board President Richardson encouraged the public to talk to a local REALTOR® for a more complete analysis of the sales trends.

“The fundamentals for the Park City market are very good,” said Lincoln Calder, president elect of the Park City Board of Realtors. “The Park City real estate market has never been focused primarily on investment speculation.

People buy in Park City because it is a place they want to be and a place they want to bring their family and friends.”

Richardson indicated that the Park City area was less prone to the wild investment speculation that gripped many regions of the country, artificially driving up demand and prices. “People buy homes in Park City because they’ve got the income and they’ve got the ability to do it and Park City is the place that they want to be,” Richardson said. “They are making a lifestyle purchase, a family legacy purchase.”

Within Park City proper, the median sales price of single-family homes sold in Old Town climbed to $1.3 million, up 28 percent compared to $987,000 in 2006. The Prospector area witnessed a 28 percent increase in its median sales price – from $622,250 to $797,000. In Park Meadows, the median sales price rose to $1.6 million, a 14 percent increase compared to $1.4 million a year earlier. At Jeremy Ranch, the median sales price increased to $873,500, up 17 percent compared to $745,000. In Pinebrook, median prices fell to $748,000, down 2 percent compared to $764,950 in 2006.

The median single-family sales price in Kamas and Marion increased to $329,450, a 20 percent jump compared to $275,000 in 2006. In Heber City and Daniel (Wasatch County), median sales prices also climbed 20 percent, from $264,500 to $318,000. In Midway and Charleston (Wasatch County), the median sales price inched up 4 percent to $528,000 from $507,500 a year ago.

“Research tells us that the demographic trends look very positive for resort areas like Park City. Baby Boomers are now hitting their peak earning years and one of the main areas they are investing that income are second homes to enjoy with their family,” Calder said. “As more and more Baby Boomers invest in second homes, Park City real estate sales are likely to benefit.” In fact, according to the most recent data of the National Association of Realtors, vacation-home sales rose 4.7 percent to a record 1.07 million units in 2006 from 1.02 million units in 2005, while investment-home sales fell sharply, down 28.9 percent to 1.65 million in 2006 from a record 2.32 million in 2005.

“The demographics point to an increase in second-home ownership,” Calder said. “Park City has a lot of great things going for it. It is very easy to get to and from anywhere in the country. Delta Air Lines is adding an international flight from Salt Lake City to Paris this year. In addition to Park City’s world class resort facilities and year-round recreation opportunities, our community offers a wide range of cultural events including the Sundance Film Festival, Kimball Arts Festival, Park City Jazz Festival, the summer concert series and Eccles Center events just to name a few. There are a lot of great reasons why Park City is such a great place to be.”

If you would like to learn more about a private golf community being built in Heber City, Utah, contact the good folks at Red Ledges. This community is right next to Park City and Deer Valley real estate and has access to some great skiing, equestrian center, spa, adventure cabin, a Jack Nicklaus golf course, an on-site Jim McLean golf school and a Cliff Drysdale tennis academy.

Tuscan-style is All the Rage

Old World Italian Architecture Gains Popularity in US

Old World aesthetics have recently been embraced by the United States. The proof is in the architecture! By far, the most popular housing style in the United States these days, including the Southern state of Texas, is Italiante, also known as Tuscan, the Lombard or simply, the bracketed style.

New homes in AustinTuscan-style home plans typically feature distinctive stucco exteriors and low-pitched barrel tile roofs. Tuscan-style designs may also include arched windows, raised entries and a courtyard in addition to the following:

  • Balanced, symmetrical rectangular shape
  • Tall appearance, with 2, 3 or 4 stories
  • Wide, overhanging eaves with brackets and cornices
  • Square cupola
  • Tiles
  • Porch topped with balustraded balconies
  • Side bay windows
  • Molded double doors
  • Roman arches above windows and doors

About the Tuscan-style

The Tuscan-style originated in England in the 1840s. Prior to that time, British homes were more formal and classical in appearance. With the picturesque movement, builders began designing elegant recreations of Italian villas. When this style was adopted by the US, it was reinvented again with an American twist. By the late 1860s, the Tuscan-style house was the most preferred architectural style for homes in the US, and it has maintained its popularity to this day. Why?

Historians say the Tuscan-style became prevalent for primarily two reasons:

  • Tuscan-style homes can be built with many different kinds of materials, and the style can be adapted to a wide range of budgets
  • New technologies have made the production of cast-iron and press-metal fast and affordable

If you’ve ever had the good fortune to travel to Italy, then you are already well-acquainted with the richness of the warm colors and beautiful style of this type of architectural design. Now, you no longer have to travel abroad to experience Italy; make your next house or give your current house a taste of Tuscany.

Take a moment to view an extensive photo gallery of homes that stress Tuscan design.

This article was written by Jeff Watson Homes, a custom home builder in Austin, TX who specializes in Tuscan home design. If you are looking to build a Tuscan home in Central Texas, drop Jeff Watson a line and he will be happy to talk to you about your ideas.

As a Design/Build company, Jeff Watson Homes can assure you get exactly what you are looking for. Whether you purchase one of our new homes for sale on our lot or let us help you design a new custom home to build on your lot, Jeff Watson Homes is committed to see that you remain satisfied every step of the way.

Superman Has a Great SEO Guy

Here in Metropolis, online advertising is at a premium. You have to make sure it is catchy and if it isn’t, you have to sign a superhero (or villain) to a contract to endorse your product. It’s a cut-throat world and in constant change.

So how does Superman stay at the top?

I’ll tell you how… he has a great SEO guy.

Mind you, the hero won’t tell me the secret identity of the genius behind his online image, but it is clear that he knows what he is doing.

Owning Keyword Phrases

It’s always important to own your keyword phrases especially your company name. If you don’t own this, then you are going to lose money faster than Lex Luthor lost his hair.

Superman’s SEO guy understands this and has spent hours ensuring that the word “Superman” points straight to the superherp. Open up Google and type “superman”. He owns the first three pages. Don’t you wish you could get the same for your client?

Try typing some other phrases.

  • “Superhero” – The third link should be to Wikipedia. Who is the first hero that they mention? Superman.
  • “big blue Boy Scout”, “dc” and “daily planet” – He is listed in the description of the first link.
  • Even if you put in “Lois Lane”, you get info about Superman.

To do this, you need good content, effective META tags and strong H1 tags. (And it helps if you save a school bus or two to get some good buzz.) This just goes to show that writing good content with great keywords can do you wonders.

The Importance of Good Link Campaigns

It also helps that Superman’s SEO guy has spent time building legitimate linking campaigns throughout the web, starting with Wikipedia. Inputting a legitimate page on Wikipedia became a goldmine! There are 8,756 pages linked to the Wikipedia page. Fourteen of these links are from inside Wikipedia, creating some excellent inner-linking campaigns. If you branch out and check all fourteen of these links, you’ll see that there are thousands and thousands of secondary links built in that eventually lead back to Superman.

Are Taglines or Mottos Important on the Web?

You bet they are! If you are known for a certain catch-phrase, then use it to your advantage. That’s what Superman does.

The Man of Steel? The Man of Tomorrow? The Last Son of Krypton? All of them lead to Superman.

Faster than a speeding bullet? More powerful than a locomotive? Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Even though all of these phrases contain common words, the SEO guy has spent years flooding the internet with the phrases in content near the word Superman. You can’t go to the web and type in those keywords without seeing Superman on the page.

The Love of the People

Because of his noteriety and high visibility, Superman shows up all over the place on forums and community message boards. Don’t forget that this can be extremely valuable. Those messages usually stay on the web forever and if you get a link in there, it will build history. Who knows? Maybe it will even gain you new fans.

History, History, History

Speaking of history, did you know that Superman is 70 years old? He’s also been on the internet since its inception and continues to build up his reputation with Google. I hope Google still knows who I am in 40 years. Heck, I hope they still know who I am in 10 years! You can’t buy that kind of history.

We can all take a lesson from this ingenious, unnamed guy who continues to retain his secret identity (until some villain uncovers it). He has taken basic SEO principles and applied them in a manner that is natural and unassuming. It’s almost as if he has super powers.

This article was written by Kimberly Carrillo, an SEO Specialist with IF marketing & advertising and IF Development and is also the resident comic book nerd of the company. Kimberly has spent much of her adult years reading comic books and continues to get annoyed when someone forgets to put them back in the protective bags. IF marketing & advertising is an agency in Austin, TX that specializes in making you and your website a superhero on the WorldWideWeb.

Tips for Small Business Success

Originally posted in Strategies, Austin Business-Journal, January 11, 2008

ASK THE EXPERTS

Jeff NovakHas your experience as a professional athlete been a blessing or a curse in the business world?

My experience as a professional athlete has been a blessing. Anyone who reaches the top of their profession, be it in sports or in business, understands what it takes to win. Proper preparation, dedication, sacrifice, hard work, accountability to your team, striving for a unified goal – all the things you learn in sports transcend athletics and become applicable in the business world.

Jeff Novak
CEO, IF Development
Former offensive lineman, New York Giants, Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars

About Jeff Novak 

Jeff is the chief architect of business direction at IF Development . He is responsible for translating a client’s financial objectives into a master sales and marketing plan, complete with sales forecast, financial outlook, sales compensation plan, and identification of key marketing milestones. With the master sales and marketing plan in hand, IF Development clients have clear visibility to execution and measurement of the overall strategic game plan. Jeff Novak, who played out a career of eight full seasons in the National Football League as a hard hitting offensive lineman and is a possible future Hall of Famer, is known for his natural leadership and high moral standards. Along with Will and Tony, Jeff is also an active public speaker who is passionate about motivating young people, being a positive influence in his community, and being a person who delivers results with integrity.

Reviatalizing Yesterday: Is Urban Renewal Important to Residential Real Estate?

This is Part Two in our discussion about 2007 Real Estate Trends.
Read Part One: The Next Big Thing: Green Building

Another big trend in 2007 was urban revitalization.  In an effort to attract more people to move to their towns, city planners are remaking their downtown residential and business districts into inviting, accessible areas.

This could be something as simple as redoing the landscape to a full-blown renovation project on the town square.  Planners are also taking care to build parking areas and plan traffic around what they hope will be new hot spots of activity. 

Developers have an opportunity to find those hidden gems around the nation and start planning a residential development nearby that will offer access to these revitalized areas.

It takes a lot of research and you will need a good business network, but if you can find that part of town that you know is going to be the next Greenwich Village, then you have the perfect opportunity to put your name on the map.

For more information about Urban Revitalization, we recommend that you visit the Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org).  They have some great resources including a one-day conference called the Urban Marketplace which gives you the opportunity to look at some investment opportunities and hear more about urban strategies in neighborhoods.

Where do you go from here?

Once you find that special place to build your new development, you have months and maybe even years of work ahead of you. It can be overwhelming to someone new to the game and even to a veteran. Don’t try to do everything on your own! Be willing to find help to take some things off your shoulders so you can concentrate of creating a great space in the newly revitalized urban area.

Understanding what the market will accept is fundamental to a good real estate marketing program. A consultative marketing plan in our process will assist in establishing a baseline for all discussions with the development team as it relates to programming, product mix, product size, development schedule, etc. Need more help? Talk to a luxury real estate expert and find out what your next step needs to be.

Reference

Maltz, John. “Real Estate Trends for 2007.” The Queens Gazette. 27 Dec. 2006. The Queens Gazette. 6 Nov. 2007 <http://www.qgazette.com/news/2006/1227/features/020.html>.

Hollywood Getting into Pay-per-Click Advertising

I noticed recently that “Googling” the movie “Gone Baby Gone” brought up two pay-per-click ads – one from Moviefon and another from Miramax. The landing page for Moviefon brings you to a review of the movie along with show-times in your local area, which makes sense since it is a destination site and they are generating money by arbitraging the eyeballs they collect into visitors for their banner ads and clicks for the local theatres.

Here is what the pay-per-click ad looked like when you searched for Gone Baby Gone.

Google Pay Per Click Ad for Hollywood

But the landing page for the Miramax ads brings you to a page that displays the other award-winning movies that are potential Oscar candidates, including “No Country for Old Men.” The message on this page isn’t so much as to see the movie, but to be convinced that these movies should win awards. Clearly, Miramax is looking to spread some PR about how their line-up of movies should get Oscar nods this year by displaying pay-per-click ads.

Who said that corporate America wasn’t looking at pay-per-click ads as a way of spreading their brand messaging?

Here is what the landing page looks like when you click on the PPC campaign.

Landing Page of the Pay-per-Click campaign being run by Miramax