BlankSlate Real Estate now includes real time local market trends for sale and rental listings. Market trends can help buyers and sellers and owners and renters make informed pricing decisions by seeing how prices are changing over time (e.g. ‘where are we in a seasonal or macro-economic cycle?’) and also by comparing prices in one place versus another place (e.g. ‘how does pricing here compare to there?’). BlankSlate Real Estate Market Trends is also a valuable tool for real estate brokers, who can gain greater insight into the communities they serve and share them with their customers.
Here’s how BlankSlate Real Estate Market Trends works:
We receive feeds from listings sources throughout the day. Listings are checked to ensure they have complete and valid addresses and can be placed on a map. If they don’t have complete information, we try to complete it using various web services.
We analyze the location data and pass the listings thru map boundaries to aggregate listings by geography. The map boundaries are developed in conjunction with BlankSlate’s publisher partners, to really define the neighborhoods in the way locals understand them. For example, here is the neighborhood map of DC that listings for Popville are passed thru.
Next, we generate statistics — like average and median price, and price per square foot — based on the compiled location data.
For urban environments, the outcome is detailed pricing information by neighborhood.
Here is Washington DC’s sale pricing by neighborhood for today.
For suburban and rural environments the outcome is detailed pricing information by town or city, or neighborhoods if appropriate.
Here is upstate New York sale pricing for today.
Blank Slate Real Estate Market Trends also provides lots of charts that you can interact with. For example, you can broaden or narrow chart content and set date ranges from 7 days, to 30 days, weekly, and monthly.
Here is the weekly price trend for two bedroom rentals in the popular Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn.
Market Trends also includes snapshots that display overall information for a location. Here is a Williamsburg sales snapshot for today.
If you really want to give voice to your business and tell your story, you should consider sponsored content. A sponsored post is one that is written and created specifically for an advertiser. It is displayed right in the main editorial column of a publisher’s site. They are uploaded and published like regular blog posts and like any other blog post, tracked through a site’s analytics. Since they take the shape of a regular post and can fit seamlessly into a blog, they are a great choice for delivering the exact message that an advertiser wants in long form, supported by text, photos, video, or other forms of media.
Though traditional advertising can certainly be effective, for example the celebrity endorsements for Pepsi and Coke shown here, are not what we mean by sponsored posts.
When they are done well, sponsored posts do not sell or even have an advertorial sound (unlike the celebrity endorsements). Readers are smart and can sense when content isn’t genuine; people today prefer to read posts that are interesting and hopefully entertaining — but most of all, people prefer posts that are not directly selling something to them. By writing quality sponsored posts, an advertiser has the opportunity to leverage the voice and trust of the site to its maximum benefit. If an audience already trusts the blog, the sponsored post will fit right in.Sites that serve a community and often feature what to do in the neighborhood – such as Brooklyn Based for Brooklyn or PoPville for Washington DC – are natural fits for these kinds of posts.
Sponsored posts contain a native ad unit under the lead image for the advertiser’s logo, link and byline, as well as multiple target links in the body of the post itself. The posts contain social media buttons that are built in, which enable readers to easily share the content. The posts are optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. It is of utmost importance that it can reach an audience, regardless of where the content is viewed.
Case Studies: Creating Sponsored Posts for Columbia Waterfront Condominiums, BRIC House, Point2 Homes, and onefinestay
Take a look at this sponsored post that BlankSlate created for Columbia Waterfront Condominiums. Developer Marshall Sohne wanted to advertise his new passive condos in Brooklyn prior to the first open house. Using photos supplied by the advertiser, a lot of research, and relevant links, BlankSlate was able to create a post that could stand on its own regardless of who wrote it and why.
BlankSlate created the sponsored post above when BRIC House, BRIC Arts | Media’s new building, opened in October 2013. The opening of a huge new cultural center in Downtown Brooklyn attracted a lot of media attention. BlankSlate worked closely with BRIC’s marketing team to figure out how we could offer something different than what other news outlet would potentially offer, and came up with something very unique. The post utilized vintage postcards of the old Mark Strand Theater that was renovated to create BRIC House. BlankSlate syndicated this post out to Brownstoner, The L Magazine, and Brooklyn Based, each of sent out a dedicated email to their list of 30,000+ subscribers.
Yardi, the company behind Point2 Homes and Property Shark, approached BlankSlate for a sponsored post highlighting their real estate search site. It was important to differentiate Point2 Homes from other real estate sites after all, since there are so many. We elected to focus on the site’s parcel maps that drill into a neighborhood’s details with info like FEMA flood areas, school zones and tax lots, and the detailed property reports from Property Shark. The post was boiled down to two reasons why one should use Point2 Homes to search real estate listings. The post was syndicated across the NYC sites Untapped Cities (pictured above), Brownstoner, Brooklyn Based, and Brooklyn Mag, and was modified to fit PoPville (Washington D.C.), ARL Now (Arlington, VA), Swamplot (Houston) and Candy’s Dirt (Dallas).
BlankSlate created a sponsored post for Onefinestay, which is like an upscale version of Airbnb, to be featured on Brownstoner. A few months later, the client requested a modified version the post with photos of some gorgeous new apartments. This time, the post’s audience was expanded, as the post also was published on Brooklyn Based, where it was both posted to the blog and sent out as a dedicated email.
Why is BlankSlate’s sponsored content successful?
There’s no question that the most important element in sponsored content is the content itself. Do Brownstoner readers care about another open house in Brooklyn? Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. The job of the sponsored content team is to find the angle that will grab the audience’s attention. In the case of the post that we made for the Columbia Waterfront condos, we saw a hook in the development’s innovative use of passive design principles, so the sponsored content team focused the post on that. The day that post was published, it generated lots of interest on Brownstoner and was reblogged by Curbed with a link to the article. Further, this demonstrates the power of sponsored posts: people don’t care that the posts are sponsored, so long as the story interests them. They will read and share these posts just like any other posts that they would share, and further, help advertise for the client without seeming too direct. Other publications might even pick up the posts and spread the advertiser’s message around the Internet.
It’s important to note that before anything is published, sponsored posts go through a quality control process and are sent to the advertiser for review. Advertisers should feel assured that they are in control of the message, not at the mercy of bloggers and critics.
Of course, it’s not enough to have good content; it needs to be distributed effectively. Through BlankSlate’s network of local sites, the team can directly reach over two million people per month. Throw paid and earned social media and retargeting into the mix, and we are able amplify this reach to many millions.
To find out more about creating and placing sponsored content with BlankSlate, you can contact us here.
This is not your typical commercial real estate site. The website belongs to The O’Connell Organization, a family owned and operated real estate development company that is behind many of the large Red Hook warehouses. The company has a substantial presence in the community, participating in many civic and economic development activities. Their marketing approach mirrors their business approach: accentuate the neighborhood’s unique attributes and focusing on the community while also promoting the role they play. The website has a key role in this strategy, acting as a place to display available commercial listings, while also serving as a blog for the community.
BlankSlate was engaged to create the site and on-going content for the site’s blog, as well as to promote listings and raise awareness of Red Hook by placing in-blog ads and syndicating the site’s blog content on other well trafficked Brooklyn sites.
The listings on the site are comprised of retail spaces, offices and warehouses that can range from $1,000 to $25,000 per month. The listings pages are filled with photos and include all the expected property information. All of the fields are customizable in the site’s admin, enabling listings to be showcased as needed.
The blog focuses on not only on O’Connell’s buildings, but also on the tenants who occupy them. Tenant profiles give the public — and prospective tenants — a glimpse into the businesses who are occupying the buildings. After all, when it comes to marketing a neighborhood, it’s not just about the buildings, but who inhabits them – particularly when it comes to businesses. For example, tenants include Red Hook Winery and Horus Bronze, businesses in vastly different industries, but both of whom chose to locate in Red Hook.
The Red Hook waterfront is a unique New York City environment, due to its southern location directly across from lower Manhattan, its cobblestone streets, and large industrial warehouses, so capturing the neighborhood in both the site’s photography and blog content was a must. The right person was needed to capture the mood.
WordPress was used to build the site. It’s an effective system for a project like this because it’s familiar to many, it’s simple, easy to update and maintain, and of course, it excels as a blogging platform.
When you browse redhookwaterfront.com, you will see a simply structured website that achieves its goals: it conveys the feeling of Red Hook, it provides a place for The O’Connell Organization to display its commercial listings, and it demonstrates that the tenants are as fundamental to Red Hook as the buildings themselves.
BlankSlate is seeking an experienced web developer to help develop new paradigms in local publishing.
What is it like to work at BlankSlate?
You’ll join a senior development team that moves fast and values results over effort. We are passionate about creating the best experiences using the latest tools and technologies. We’re transparent about our individual strengths and weaknesses and work collectively to become better as a team. We want you to be self-motivated, detail-oriented, organized and bring your unique strengths to help us grow.
What am I expected to do?
Day to day, you’ll collaborate with cross-functional teams to transform concept to code. You’ll have freedom to implement your ideas but you should have strong communication skills. We’re all accountable for the quality of our work, so you’ll be expected to write clean code and ensure that bugs don’t get out of the door.
What technical skills should I have?
We use a mix of technologies and constantly look for the best tools to get the job done. Our current mix include PHP, JQuery, HTML5/CSS3, WordPress, MySQL and MongoDB on Linux platforms.
Programming languages can be learned, but personality traits are what they are, so we value fit over a specific technical skill. That said, we’re looking for an experienced developer who can hit the ground running so you should have expertise or familiarity in several of the following:
Swamplot is the newest site to join the BlankSlate network, leveraging BlankSlate’s inContext WordPress Theme and ad sales capabilities.
Swamplot, founded by Gus Allen, is an uncompromising blog about Houston real estate.
From the site’s about page:
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED in Houston real estate, buy Houston real estate, sell Houston real estate, invest in Houston real estate, dream about Houston real estate, or simply live in Houston real estate, . . . well, here you go. You’ll find informative and entertaining stories about Houston real estate here at Swamplot.
Swamplot dredges up and spills out news, leads, and information about Houston homes and commercial property for sale, home design, home renovation, architecture, landscape, and Houston neighborhoods. The site covers the entire Houston real-estate pyramid, from the con men who founded this city to the newcomers you’re hoping will buy your home for far more than it’s worth.
Swamplot uses BlankSlate’s inContext WordPress theme. One of the advantages of using inContext is the ability to customize and style everything from the header to the colors to the fonts in the WordPress admin without coding — and when we say ‘everything’ we mean a site gets automatically formatted for desktop, tablet, and mobile. That being said, if custom features are needed, inContext can be easily modified. Swamplot had some features that it wanted to carry over from its previous site, and a Wordpress developer was able to make these features in a couple of days work.
Follow Swamplot on Facebook and Twitter for news and updates to the site. To learn more about advertising on Swamplot thru BlankSlate, click here.
We’ve written this post before and we’ll probably be writing it again in the future. PoPville, founded and run by Dan Silverman, was named the best neighborhood blog by the Washington Post. Earlier this year it was named best local blog/blogger for 2013 by the Washington City Paperfor the second year in a row.
The Post notes, “Dan Silverman may have discovered the magic formula for writing a great neighborhood blog: several posts a day on real estate, restaurants and development … with cute animal pictures thrown in.”
We don’t want to give away any trade secrets… But if you’re looking for some tips, write about the things people care about, such as…
An in-blog ad is a large, graphic ad that is displayed right in the main editorial column of a site. Unlike a traditional display ad, an in-blog is not delivered thru an ad server. Instead, it is uploaded and published like a regular blog post and tracked through the site’s outgoing link analytics.
In-blogs have a large format (ie. 600 x 600 pixels) and give space for more detailed messaging and calls to action than standard display (ie. 728×90/300×250 pixels). Additionally, the placement brings the advertiser to the most premium area of the site–the editorial column. Compared to traditional display ads, in-blogs can draw higher click totals and click through rates over a short period of time.
For example, the in-blog ad below was published on Brownstoner for a commercial real estate listing and received a very high click through rate in the initial 24 hour period after it launched. That said, the rate diminished quickly after day one. Display banners, on the other hand, will give more or less consistent click-through rates during the duration of the campaign over a longer period of time, i.e. 30 days, 90 days, etc.
The reason for the high initial numbers are the size and placement of the ad. The reason for the quick decline is that like any content in the editorial column, the ad will move down quickly, and then drop off of the first page.
Given this shorter shelf-life in comparison to traditional display ads, in-blogs are best used to market events, like open houses, classes, sales and other time-sensitive items. Here the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce used in-blogs on Brownstoner and BrooklynBased 2 days in advance of the event’s launch to create awareness and drive interest during a period of time when readers made their weekend plans.
Done in a series, they also have the ability to build brand with readers. Businesses like real estate brokers promoting open houses, venues with regularly changing schedules, or restaurants and retailers with weekly specials can use these ads on a recurring basis to establish a regular presence with readers, but maintain the flexibility of promoting different offerings and messaging. Below, an example from an in-blog ad series created by Leman Manhattan Preparatory featuring different students for a one month enrollment driving campaign.
To find out more about creating and placing in-blog ads on the BlankSlate Network, you can contact BlankSlate here.
Now all that engrossing content that keeps readers entertained and informed is optimized for consumption on desktops, tablets, and mobile; has improved SEO and social integrations; and is presented with a cleaner design and bigger photos.
Like many publishers today, Northside chose to refresh their site by moving to WordPress, and happily they also chose to expand their relationship with BlankSlate to help get this done.
BlankSlate inContext Theme Customizer
BlankSlate used its inContext WordPress theme to enable Northside to get the sophisticated, minimal aesthetic Brooklyn Magazine is known for. The inContext theme enables publishers to create a site that meets their design vision, usually with no programming.
Brooklyn Magazine will generate more ad sales through BlankSlate’s sales team too. BlankSlate has been working alongside Northside Media’s internal sales team for several months, helping to optimize their digital revenue by offering the scale of BlankSlate’s publisher network. The sales relationship, plus the advertising capabilities built in to the inContext theme — rich media units, site takeovers, and sponsored editorial widgets — have already resulted in increased revenues and a more diverse ad portfolio.
With this spankin’ new site in place, the Brooklyn Magazine editorial staff can now create the witty, quirky, sometimes critical content their readers know and love and get it out more easily, to even more readers, and generate more revenues.
If you are interested in learning more about this project, the inContext theme, BlankSlate’s ad sales offering, you can contact BlankSlate here.
Good news for the publishers in the Blankslate network and the readers of their blogs! We added new social buttons across all of the blogs using our InContext theme for WordPress. Now, as pictured above, readers can share their favorite articles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, StumbleUpon, Tumblr and Pinterest. In addition, the Twitter button pulls hashtags from the categories and tags in the articles. As many of our publishers are actively sharing content via social media, these additional buttons will make it even easier for readers to spread the news too!
Brownstoner, the largest site in the BlankSlate network, has just announced the addition of Manhattan rental and sales listings to their already extensive real estate marketplace. This is great news for home buyers and renters, as well as the brokerages represented, many of whom already feature listings in Brownstoner’s Brooklyn, Queens and Upstate marketplaces. There are now 13,500 listings in Manhattan. We could spend all day drooling over these gorgeous Manhattan apartments, like this one at 1025 Fifth Avenue!
In addition, real estate agents now have their own pages, which are search engine optimized to make finding a particular agent’s listings as easy as possible. You can find an agent’s page using the formula http://manhattan-realestate.brownstoner.com/agent/agents-name. Agents who list their properties on Brownstoner’s Marketplace can easily login and view their stats to see how many people have been interacting with their listings.
We’re excited to see how people react to the new Manhattan listings. The pages started getting hits before the announcement went live!
Check out Brownstoner’s Manhattan Marketplace here.