Boost Your Search Engine Ranking!

Recently I read that the majority of real estate agents are missing out on a key strategy that will yield them much higher rankings on Web search engines. Most practitioners are competing with each other over short-tailed keywords, which are just a few words strung together that Internet users type in for searching purposes.

However, this is a misguided step on the part of real estate professionals, since as much as 80 percent of all search engine activity actually uses long-tailed keywords – phrases typically consisting of five to seven words. For property searches, many prospective buyers have very specific details in mind and therefore will not search under a broad term such as “Los Angeles real estate,” for example.

Rather, they are more likely to enter a phrase like “Los Angeles three bedroom home in gated community.” They say, because agents are focused on short tailed keywords, there are thousands of Web sites competing for those same terms; meanwhile, the competition of long-tailed keywords is virtually nonexistent.

To be effective and successful in using long-tailed keywords, an agent must write up and index dozens, possibly even hundreds, of them in order to generate traffic and results. The keyword phrases can be inserted in blogs, social media posts, YouTube videos, classified ads on the Web, and article marketing and portal sites.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.

Best regards.      

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI     

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors   (949) 753-7900

Homebuying with Caruso

Going Solo ~Buying a house is a complex transaction. It should be a team effort. You’ll need a real estate agent, lender, inspector, insurer, perhaps a lawyer and other team members to help you through each step of the way. Team build before you start the search.

Love at First Sight ~If you believe in fairy tales you probably shouldn’t be buying a home. You won’t live happily ever after if you emote your way through the home buying process. Your home should fit your real needs, not your yen for drama. Buy a home that fits your budget and your lifestyle. Be sure the home is in a community and neighborhood you desire. Visit neighborhoods several times before you buy to check out schools, noise and traffic patterns.

‘Loanless’ Shopping ~Being pre-qualified gives you a general idea of how much you can afford to borrow. It’s better to be pre-approved for a given loan. Sellers will take you more seriously. You’ll stay on budget.
Overbuying Home buyers buying more than they could truly afford, in part, led to the collapse of the housing market. Buy more than you can afford and your dream home will become the same nightmare. Analyze all your monthly costs including debts, food, transportation, entertainment, and savings. Your total monthly debts, including your mortgage, should not exceed 36 percent of your income before taxes. Don’t forget to budget closing costs (often two to five percent of the home’s purchase price), plus moving, redecorating and maintenance. Look ahead and allow for increases in ongoing expenses such as utilities and taxes.

Misplaced Trust ~You are engaged in what’s likely your most valuable acquisition ever. It’s a business transaction. Ask family, friends, co-workers, professionals and others you trust for referrals, but don’t take their word for it. Vet your team members.

Accepting Oral Agreements ~Get it in writing. The rate lock, the home inspection, disclosures, the contract. Always. Should a dispute arise, you’ve got the details documented.

Skipping the Fine Print ~Understand what’s really in any document before picking up a pen. Get documents in advance, take time to read them and ask questions. Get copies of your mortgage and closing papers a few days ahead of closing.

Forgetting or Betting on Resale ~Avoid buying a home that costs 50 percent more than neighboring homes. Reconsider buying the most expensive home on the block. Neighbors’ lower home values will weaken yours. Buy intending to flip your investment only to have the market fail means when it’s time to sell your price may not cover your costs.

Making an Unconditional Offer, protect yourself with these contingencies:

  • Mortgage financing. You may be preapproved but is the house? A formal appraisal confirms — or not — that there is sufficient value in the home to warrant the loan. If the house appraises lower than the sales price, the loan may be declined.
  • Inspection. Never buy an existing or new home without a thorough home inspection. Walk through the home with the inspector to learn more about the house and any concerns he or she may have.
  • Insurance. Confirm you can get adequate insurance coverage. In some areas, or following certain disasters, it can be difficult to get types of hazard insurance.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection

Best regards,

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

Going Green with Caruso


The Green REsource Council teamed up with a number of green industry groups and real estate associations earlier this year and developed guidelines and a tool kit to help MLSs green their systems.

Al Medina, during the March Webinar, talked about how the “Green MLS Tool Kit” emerged, discussed the importance of a green MLS, and outlined the key components of the toolkit, along with strategies for launching a green MLS program.

“This came about because of a need in marketplace. Not only our members, but builders and appraisers as well have been asking for it,” commented Medina, the director of the National Association of REALTORS’® Green Designation “It’s not a mandate for MLSs, but a free tool for MLSs that are ready to go through the process,” he emphasized. In addition, he pointed out that the toolkit was a collaborative effort with numerous organizations and an industry-wide initiative, not a solo act by the GRC. After all a green MLS benefits everyone.

Consumers looking for green homes, for example, can locate properties with green features quickly in an MLS that highlights sustainable features.

MLS participants have an easier time locating green properties for home buyers and best promoting green homes for home sellers.
Appraisers can use a green MLS to better value properties with green features.

In addition, builders have an incentive to build green when they see that green homes are in demand and are selling. And being able to quantify the return on green investments and having a stronger method to market green properties also can motivate more people to go green. Thus, a green MLS can contribute to a better environment in the long term.

The MLS Toolkit offers recommendations for navigating everything from the approval process and developing green data entry forms to localizing the MLS to a particular region.

It also includes links to information, examples of MLS greening successes, and ways to plan, roll out and promote a green MLS. 

Here are some key aspects of the toolkit, including:

  • Case studies–Entails write-ups of various ways that MLSs have gone green and the challenges that participants encountered. “The common element among them all was that realtors® were the ones who spearheaded the effort,” said Medina. He pointed out that those with the GREEN designation can be the ones in a community to organize an effort to green the MLS.
  • Snapshot of the Green Home Industry–Includes statistics, along with questions and answers about green homes.
  • Why an MLS with Green Fields— Outlines the social and economic demand for greater efficiency and the ways that a green MLS benefits everyone involved in a home transaction.
  • Recommendations for a Successful Green Program–Offers strategies for establishing goals and objectives for greening the MLS, assembling a team and cooperating with other green organizations and professionals.
  • Green Home Certifications–Addresses incorporating green home certification programs, such as LEED® for Homes, Energy Star® and NAHB Green, the legal concerns that can ensue after any change to the MLS data. It also illustrates how to best deploy and promote a green MLS and educate users.
  • Recommendations for Data Entry Forms–Outlines various strategies for representing green in an MLS in ways that make it simple for users to search for specific efficiencies. It also makes suggestions about avoiding the legal pitfalls and risks of overstating a home’s greenness and avoiding green washing.
  • Green MLS Data Entry Form Examples–Offers specific ways to express green features in the MLS. Examples include intermingling green attributes with other attributes and using color to highlight green features.
  • Glossary of Terms

For those committed to green real estate, a green MLS can help in marketing and selling sustainable properties and making a case for the value of green. For example, practitioners in Atlanta discovered that green-certified homes sold more quickly and closer to list price than non-certified homes. Without a green MLS, tracking such data either would have been more difficult or wouldn’t have been possible.
He also made the point that residential real estate is changing and though short sales and foreclosure are dominating many markets, green soon will gain prominence. Those with NAR’s GREEN designation will have a leg-up when that change happens, and he encouraged practitioners to get involved in any MLS greening efforts that emerge in their cities.

The toolkit will be rolled out and promoted in the coming weeks and you’ll see an array of marketing blitzes through the media, e-mail and social media. All NAR Green Designees will be notified when your MLS receives this Tool Kit. You can see a preview of the toolkit at the GRC website.

 And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection

Best regards,

 Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GREEN GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900

For more information please visit


Bills Seem High? Blame Sticky Prices…

Have you ever heard of the term “sticky prices”?

In real estate, we experienced sticky prices when sellers were in denial (not a river in Egypt) about the housing price correction and falling prices.  Eventually, sellers got the message and began to price homes competitively.


Well, now the same “sticky price” phenomenon continues in other areas or the economy.  Like when companies raise prices or add a surcharge on products and keep those prices higher even when there is no longer a reason…like soaring oil prices.


Let’s take a look at pricing.  Consumer prices are set by companies.  Commodity prices are set daily on the open market.  So, once a price increase is set in place it virtually never goes away.  The only factors that can drive the price back down is a lack of demand, or a competitor in a category cutting prices to lure customers away from another brand.


Unfortunately for us consumers, the brands and banding together raising prices in unison…and none are worried enough about one trying to break away with another’s customers by cutting prices.  That is very bad for us guys.  But, as soon as the first in a category drops a price, others will follow to protect their consumer base.


Seems like consumers are always in a mess these days….your comments are welcome.

And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.


Best regards.

Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CRB CRS GRI

2007 President, Orange County Association of Realtors