Hacking & ID Theft: Are You Next?

7 Tips for Protecting Your Identity & Money

At least 110 million consumers were affected by the hack involving Target and Neiman Marcus retailers. Whether or not millions more will have their identities manipulated and finances ruined within the coming months due to more breaches of security at other stores is anyone’s guess, says identity theft recovery expert Scott A. Merritt.

identity theft

“By necessity, I became an expert on identity theft. My information was stolen in 2006, and in repairing the damage, I learned some not-so-obvious ways we can all protect against identity theft in the first place,” says Merritt, CEO of Merritt & Associates and author of “Identity Theft Do’s and Don’ts.”

Merritt’s problems began quickly. While disputing financial charges and dealing with resulting business problems, in 2007 he was stopped for a traffic violation and arrested on a false outstanding felony warrant. He immediately knew why.

“I had to enlist my U.S. congressman and convince the state police, NCIC, FBI and Secret Service that I didn’t commit the felonies. For a few years, I had to prove that the prints did not match the false record in question. After legal action, however, I was able to have this corrected.”

Unfortunately, the millions affected by the recent hacks may be dealing with similar repercussions in the years ahead, he says.

Before you become a victim of identity theft, Merritt offers seven ways to guard against it.

Understand how and where it happens. Identity theft is like being robbed when you are away from home; most thefts occur in places where you do business every day. Either a place of business is robbed, a bad employee acts improperly or a hacker breaches the office through the computer.

Secure your wallet’s information. Photocopy everything in your wallet: photos, credit cards (front and back), membership cards – everything. Put the copies in the order the cards are arranged in your wallet, staple the pictures and place them in a strong box or safe.

Make sure your information is consistent. For all of your identity and financial documents, make absolutely sure, to the smallest detail, that all of your personal information is accurate and consistent! Discrepancies such as using your middle initial on some documents, and not others, or having different addresses, can wreck havoc in proving your identity, and can compromise your credit score.

Secure your digital habits and data. Change your passwords at least twice a year on a non-scheduled basis – don’t be predictable. Have a strong firewall if you shop online, and only access sites that are protected by a strong firewall and high industry standards. Access accounts of a financial nature only from your personal computer.

Protect your banking information. While in the bank, keep account numbers and other data out of sight, and avoid stating account numbers, Social Security numbers and similar information out loud. When planning a bank visit, have items such as deposits and withdrawal slips prepared in advance.

Account for your interactions with vendors. Every time you speak to someone with whom you do business, write down the time, date, name and the purpose or outcome of the call. If an identity theft occurs on the vendor’s end, you will be able to reference these prior conversations effectively. Be sure to note any animosity or reluctance from the vendor.

Don’t carry around your birth certificate or Social Security card. Unless it’s necessary, keep those vital items in a safe, or at least a firebox. If you know someone is going to need a copy of your tax returns or your driver’s license, for example, make the copies ahead of time. This avoids the need for a firm’s employee to leave the room with such information.

“Of course, you can greatly reduce being a victim of such recent hacks that occurred at the major retailers by using cash more often,” he says. “But if you’re going to use credit, use a card from a national bank or a national credit union and never a debit card, no exceptions.”

Author: Scott A. Merritt – Realty Times

Why Use AMPI?

AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals that have, since 1956, gathered under laws and codes of ethics and conduct to create a reliable, trustworthy an efficient real estate environment in Mexico.

AMPI consists of separate autonomous sections all throughout the nation, as well as more than 4,000 associates and affiliates. Each section is independent and has its own board of directors, only surpassed by a national board of directors comprised of twenty associates from all over the republic.

Developed over the years with the input and knowledge of its members, AMPI is much more than just a collection of offices. AMPI has been a solid and recognized institution in Mexico for the past 27 years. It was originally established in 1956 and was consolidated in 1980. AMPI is currently represented in all the principle cities and regions of Mexico stretching from Tijuana to Cancun.

The Riviera Nayarita, Vallarta and Compostela chapters of AMPI are dedicated to promote the best practices in real estate by providing its members with education to reinforce the standards of ethics that give our industry the credibility which our clients deserve.

AMPI is committed to giving our membership access to a multiple listing service that forms the platform from which our industry can expand locally and into other markets while giving our members precise and up to date information that is vital to continuous improvement and growth.

Vallarta Culture: Only People Who Live At The Beach Know

For most people the beach is somewhere to go on vacation, or for an occasional day out. The idea of living there might seem like a dream, but what is it really like for those who live right there and can see it every day? Here are 18 things that can only be fully understood by those who live by the beach.

1. You understand that the beach isn’t just for summer

Wrapping up warm and walking on a deserted beach in winter is a uniquely invigorating experience.

2. You always feel a little bit smug

After all, you get to live somewhere that people yearn to visit all year.

3. You’ve discovered that solutions to most problems can be found by sitting on the beach and staring out over the water

Similarly, if you’re in need of some inspiration, you will find it by digging your toes in the sand.

4. You take it personally when people leave trash at the beach

You wouldn’t leave trash in their backyards, so why do they leave it on your beach?

5. You always have something to do when you live near the beach

Even if it’s just sitting on the beach which is a perfectly valid way to spend time, unlike anywhere else when just sitting and doing nothing is clearly a waste of time.

6. You know that any food tastes better when eaten sitting on the sand

Even better if it’s been prepared on the beach. You’ve perfected the art of preparing and eating food on the beach without ingesting gritty sand, this is a skill to be envied by the casual beach visitor.

7. You never get bored of the view

Especially the sunsets. And the sunrises. And during the midday sun.

8. You’ve accepted that your house will never be completely sand-free

Ditto your car, clothes, hair, and pets.

9. You can instantly categorize visitors into beach “types” just by looking at them

This categorization enables you to predict their behavior on the beach, providing you with hours of entertainment as you watch and nod knowingly.

10. You hope you never lose the childlike awe of the beach

The delight in finding and collecting pretty shells, or coming across small sea creatures in little pools of water, is not reserved for children or occasional visitors.

11. You know that there is no sound in the world better than the lapping of waves on the beach

And no smell better than the salty sea air.

12. You’re constantly torn about your feelings towards tourists

You understand that they are essential for the economy of the area, and you love to see them arrive, but you wish they could be less intrusive in your beach paradise. You aim to be friendly and welcoming to them, but wish at times they showed more consideration for their surroundings and the local residents when they visit.

13. Your wardrobe is 80% beach wear

In the summer you can easily forget that other types of clothes exist.

14. You respect the power of the ocean

You’ve seen it at its calmest best and at its roughest worst, and understand the need to always respect it.

15. You get defensive if anyone compares your beach unfavorably to other beaches

They clearly haven’t understood your beach, and this situation must be rectified immediately.

16. You mistakenly think you’ve seen it all

However long you’ve lived near the beach, and however many things you’ve seen there, every year when the visitors arrive you will be surprised by new things they do, wear, and say.

17. You can’t understand anyone who says they don’t like the beach

They might as well say they don’t like breathing.

18. You can’t imagine living anywhere else

You may leave for a while, but you’ll be back. They always come back.


Mexico is moving in the right direction, working to raise the real estate standards to protect buyer and seller interests. AMPI (our National Real Estate Association) plays a key role in the real estate industry in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, working closely with local, state and national governments. Our local AMPI Association is leading the country in developing and implementing real estate standards.  To become members of our local AMPI Association Real Estate professionals sign our Bylaws that require our members to follow our Ethical Code of Conduct;  to use our contract forms which have been legally vetted to protect buyers and sellers; to participate in and comply with our MLS Rules and Regulation along with using the shared database. Our Bylaws, Code of Ethics, MLS Systems, Contracts and our other systems are constantly improved on through the expertise and experience of our members.  Find a Committed AMPI Professional Here

Vallarta Culture: Shopping

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – In years past, shopping in Puerto Vallarta was an adventure that took us all over town, beginning in the early morning, extending through the afternoon as we made several stops. We traveled in style in our roomy combi (VW mini-bus), which had a side door that refused to close properly. No problem; we simply found someone to watch the combi and paid a security fee of ten pesos. These guards usually were denizens of the neighborhood, well on in age and knew everyone in town.

Customarily, our first stop was always Don Chuy on Aquiles Serdán across from the Rio Cuale. A well-stocked liquor store, Don Chuy supplied us with bottles of tequila, rum, vodka, gin, triple sec and Grand Marnier for our margaritas. Now we find those supplies at Vinos América on Basilio Badillo. Super la Playa is also a good place to purchase liquor, and there are often great sales at the grocery stores.

For wine, we often head over to Cork and Bottle at Los Mercados on the west end of Aquiles Serdán. Discounts for cases and chilled wine are a specialty. While we’re there we stop in at Don Fresco to check out prices on produce and perhaps pick up spices and grains we can’t find elsewhere. Mikey’s, in the same location, offers wonderful sliced meats, deli items and will whip up a delicious sandwich to sustain us during our journey.

The famed, now closed, and sorely missed, Rizo sits empty and forlorn. Though constant rumors tell of corporate takeover and a Soriana or the like in the south end, our understanding is the streets are prohibitive from allowing the large supply trucks.

Ground coffee and whole beans were once nearly impossible to find in Puerto Vallarta. Now we fulfill this need with several great competitors, including K’Rico, also located in Los Mercados. Coffee from The Hacienda Jalisco is another one of our favorites, when it is available.

We still buy fresh fish daily off the pangas (boats). Fishermen come in about noon until around 4 pm, often dropping their daily catch in contracted restaurants. If bargaining on the beach is not your cup of tea, there are wonderful pescaderias; our preferences are in the mercado at Palmar de Aramara, the fish vendor next to the Rosita Hotel on the Malecón, and in the south end on Calle Constitución, across from where we used to shop at Rizo. Shrimp is seldom local and usually comes to town frozen from places like San Blas and Mazatlán.

For everything from ham and bacon to custom-cut beef and pork, meat is still the best quality and bargain in Puerto Vallarta at Carnicería Colin on Venustiano Carranza. Be sure to ask what is fresh for the day; you might get the chance to barbeque goat!

Some prefer the convenience of the big grocery stores like Soriana and Mega, while others love the convenience of running into an OXXO, or even Farmacía Guadalajara, both of which supply most daily needs. For an adventure, however, we recommend the old fashioned style of shopping… but don’t forget to bring your own bags.


 Thanks to our Guest Blogger Adam Garcia for this great article!


Mexico is moving in the right direction, working to raise the real estate standards to protect buyer and seller interests. AMPI (our National Real Estate Association) plays a key role in the real estate industry in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, working closely with local, state and national governments. Our local AMPI Association is leading the country in developing and implementing real estate standards.  To become members of our local AMPI Association Real Estate professionals sign our Bylaws that require our members to follow our Ethical Code of Conduct;  to use our contract forms which have been legally vetted to protect buyers and sellers; to participate in and comply with our MLS Rules and Regulation along with using the shared database. Our Bylaws, Code of Ethics, MLS Systems, Contracts and our other systems are constantly improved on through the expertise and experience of our members.  Find a Committed AMPI Professional Here

Your Key To Succesful Real Estate Decision Making

Do your home-buying discussions end up going over the same ground and getting you no where fast?

Whenever you and your partner, and any others involved in making your key real estate decisions, sit down together to discuss plans and possibilities, do stress levels gradually rise even though you never make any buying decisions you can all stick to? Do you harbor differing viewpoints on style (condominium vs house)? Do you disagree on rural vs urban, or are you stuck on which is the ideal neighborhood? When it comes to finances, are you battling over which price range makes sense, or are you back at the “rent vs own” starting line?

Succesful Real Estate Decision Making

Does one of you seem to expect more compromises of the other, or are each of you locked into your own definitions of “dream home” with no common ground in sight?

Are family pressures about lending or borrowing money or living closer to or further from family interfering with your housing dreams?

Are the fears or concerns of one of you regarding lifestyle changes or job security making it difficult to take a calm, rational look at all the options? Is one of you focused on the financial pressure of carrying a mortgage while the other is intent on possible positive lifestyle changes?

Are you frustrated because you’re re-hashing the same arguments and getting stuck with the same indecisive dead-ends, so you’re both ready to say “forget it” about home ownership when that’s not how either of you feel at all?

This column looks at “Decisions & Communities” because those are two of the most important elements of our lives, and yet they are two things we are most poorly prepared to handle. Search back through the +500 articles in this column and you’ll find practical, creative decision making tools and suggestions, and you’ll discover a wide variety of ways to identify “community” in every aspect of real estate ownership and buying. Here, I’m asking again: “Do you have a specific, practical decision-making process to help you achieve the best real estate gains with the minimum amount of hassle, financial and otherwise?”

Since you may be a first-time or first-time-in-a-long-time real estate buyer, you probably don’t have a complete process in place. If frustration, confusion, and stress keep popping up, you definitely have significant gaps in your decision-making process since this process is the key to reducing all negative feelings and reactions and transforming them into constructive action.

You are also probably overlooking a powerful resource – your real estate professional – who has years of experience successfully helping buyers and sellers make solid real estate decisions they can live with.

These professionals are trained to help their clients confidently make decisions they can live with, even if they have never made real estate or major financial decisions before.

Real estate professionals bring their foresight on location, financial, and other relevant factors into force so, in hindsight, you’ll know you’ve made the best real estate decisions. They are expert at translating overwhelming and varied lists of wanna-haves, must-haves, and didn’t-know-we-needed items into practical, creative real estate solutions designed specifically to fit the needs of each client.

These professionals are skilled, experienced communicators, who can help you and your partner, even your family, express ideas, suggestions, fears, and concerns to achieve harmony and common ground in what are often very stressful times. Once the lines of communication are professionally opened, you’ll see each other as a resource not as an adversary.

Are you using this valuable, knowledgeable, decision making resource to your full advantage? If you met with the real estate professional and presented your list of “gotta haves” with little discussion about how you arrived at the list and how you decided what was left off the list, then you may have short-changed yourself and your partner. Maybe you even emailed or texted your list so you could get started on the hunt—this is like ordering from a fast-food menu, not communicating what is unique about “your real estate appetite” to an attentive expert. Leaving the professional to fill in the blanks about you and your family needs can waste valuable time for everyone. You’ll never know whether you missed out on a property that would not make your list, but that was dream fit for you. You and your partner don’t have extensive experience evaluating properties and matching buyers with real estate functionality and long-term fit. Your real estate professional has.

These professionals are trained to find a “home” for “a family,” “a couple,” or “a solo,” but you reduce their efficiency if you withhold details about what “home” means to you and how it will be valuable in each person’s life and work.

If you want a perfect fit for your business and your life, the real estate professional can’t get really creative until they know all about your customers and what your business represents to them and to how you live.

Before you sit down to another conversation about buying (or selling, for that matter) real estate that will take you over the same ground with your partner, why not arrange for your real estate professional to join you to explore the topic fully before you try to make any decisions. If you aim for a fresh start, you’ll probably be surprised at what you overlooked, misinterpreted, and mistakenly assumed. With fresh professional perspectives and well-proven knowledge added to your conversation, your decisions will take on new life and guide you to your new real estate.

Author: 

Why Use AMPI?

AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals that have, since 1956, gathered under laws and codes of ethics and conduct to create a reliable, trustworthy an efficient real estate environment in Mexico.

AMPI consists of separate autonomous sections all throughout the nation, as well as more than 4,000 associates and affiliates. Each section is independent and has its own board of directors, only surpassed by a national board of directors comprised of twenty associates from all over the republic.

Developed over the years with the input and knowledge of its members, AMPI is much more than just a collection of offices. AMPI has been a solid and recognized institution in Mexico for the past 27 years. It was originally established in 1956 and was consolidated in 1980. AMPI is currently represented in all the principle cities and regions of Mexico stretching from Tijuana to Cancun.

The Riviera Nayarita, Vallarta and Compostela chapters of AMPI are dedicated to promote the best practices in real estate by providing its members with education to reinforce the standards of ethics that give our industry the credibility which our clients deserve.

AMPI is committed to giving our membership access to a multiple listing service that forms the platform from which our industry can expand locally and into other markets while giving our members precise and up to date information that is vital to continuous improvement and growth.

Real Estate Buyer Confidence Makes Big Leap Forward in Mexico

Real estate buyer confidence makes a big leap forward in Mexico and professionalism takes center stage for many realtors during 2016. This means buyers will be able to become new property owners without hassles or hesitation.

AMPI, the Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals, continues to push for real estate license requirements. The board wants to be sure that everyone selling real estate meets their business standards. Mexico has had almost no regulations on who can act as a real estate agent. Now AMPI is taking their profession to the next level because foreign buyers expect it.

“You have to remain vigilant when dealing with various property agents,” says Edward Padalinski, AMPI officer, “I review all local listings for MLS (Multiple Listing Service) to make sure agents are complying with AMPI rules and regulations.”

Edward serves as part of the MLS Service Committee. He is always evaluating properties and checking to make sure things like tax identification numbers are current and that nothing gets put into MLS without the proper paperwork. “This type of oversight is a great thing for the industry,” says Edward, “It gives buyers assurance in a very competitive market. AMPI also provides training for its members, so there’s a great system of checks and balances.” Edward also teach the computer software, FLEX, classes.

Although the government has been slow to respond with real estate licensing requirements, AMPI has taken a leading role by offering courses and certificates, and even collaborating with government agencies to offer a professional university degree in Mexico real estate. The AMPI board has been pushing for real estate license requirements in all states and may be well on the way to getting at least half the Mexican states to comply during 2016.

Mexico has long been overlooked as a retirement haven, but with proper promotion and integrity many will find that they can retire in luxury without spending a fortune. Over the past decade the number of buyers new to Mexican real estate and Mexico as a retirement destination, has been increasing drastically. There are about one million retirees from the US living in Mexico full or part time.

For real estate buyers, this points to a greater degree of confidence in the Mexico real estate system. By providing international standards of professionalism and service, it means that it will be easier for buyers to find the leading professionals to represent them. Buyers from the USA, Canada and Europe  should look forward to making plans to retire, buy a vacation or a rental property in Mexico safely.


Mexico is moving in the right direction, working to raise the real estate standards to protect buyer and seller interests. AMPI (our National Real Estate Association) plays a key role in the real estate industry in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, working closely with local, state and national governments. Our local AMPI Association is leading the country in developing and implementing real estate standards.  To become members of our local AMPI Association Real Estate professionals sign our Bylaws that require our members to follow our Ethical Code of Conduct;  to use our contract forms which have been legally vetted to protect buyers and sellers; to participate in and comply with our MLS Rules and Regulation along with using the shared database. Our Bylaws, Code of Ethics, MLS Systems, Contracts and our other systems are constantly improved on through the expertise and experience of our members.  Find a Committed AMPI Professional Here

Vallarta Real Estate: Taller OPC

The Office of Cultural Projects – OPC

We are very lucky to have the Ofincia de Proyectos Culturales here in Puerto Vallarta. This organization is only three years old and yet has made a considerable impact in the community. Located at 598 Juarez Street, two short blocks in El Centro off the Malecón, OPC embraces all types of art and expression. Puerto Vallarta has welcomed the discourse brought about by OPC with hearty approval. Contributors include architects, educators, curators, writers and artists of all mediums, the focus being local and global.

In the past three years the OPC has graced Puerto Vallarta with an impressive number of events. Their exhibitions have been extremely successful and well attended; they have presented instructive and enlightening workshops for local children and hosted informative music and literary affairs. This year, they opened their garden to the public for music and literary evens; it is truly a delightful spot to spend an afternoon or evening learning about the culture of Puerto Vallarta. Since their opening in 2014, OPC has presented twelve successful exhibitions, presented numerous lectures, educational experiences and participated in many events in Puerto Vallarta. Several local groups have united in the effort to lead Puerto Vallarta in keeping this enrichment going, including but not limited to Taller Pulpo Rojo, Colectivo Guerrero, Bodega Tres San Pancho and the Asociación Civil Pro-Museo. We encourage our readers to participate and learn more about these civically responsible groups. They all welcome inquisitive faces.

Crowdfunding is a great source for non-profit independent organizations such as OPC to raise the money for improvements and further developments. Private contributions have also made it possible for expansions and construction, which we are anxious to observe the commencement of, hopefully this year. They are currently in need of about $2000 USD and appreciate any small effort.

We highly recommend a visit to the Juarez location; stop in and say hello, see the unique ideas at work, enjoy the latest exhibition and lend a helping hand if you are able.

The Taller OPC, which will be a multifunctional space promises to be a community effort that Puerto Vallarta can be incredibly proud.

Que es cómo es.



AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals that have, since 1956, gathered under laws and codes of ethics and conduct to create a reliable, trustworthy and efficient real estate environment in Mexico.

AMPI consists of separate autonomous sections all throughout the nation, as well as more than 4000 associates and affiliates. Each section is independent and has its own board of directors, only surpassed by a national board of directors comprised of twenty associates from all over the republic.

Developed over the years with the input and knowledge of its members, AMPI is much more than just a collection of offices. AMPI has been a solid and recognized institution in Mexico for the past 27 years. It was originally established in 1956 and was consolidated in 1980. AMPI is currently represented in all the principle cities and regions of Mexico stretching from Tijuana to Cancun.

Vallarta Are You Looking for Good Real Estate Marketing Ideas?

Some great advice from Travis Balinas at Outbound Engine: http://ow.ly/Tgs6H


Are you a real estate agent looking for marketing ideas in 2015?

My primary piece of advice is that you need to put your customers’ needs first. While all forms of marketing should encourage your audience to eventually do business with you, your approach needs to be subtle and less self-serving. In 2015, your marketing strategy should focus on humanizing your business and automating things when you can.

I recently put together an infographic that outlines how agents spend their marketing dollars and compared it to where they’re getting their leads from. As I researched this topic, two things became very apparent:

  1. 75 percent of a real estate agent’s business comes referrals and word of mouth.
  2. But agents are still spending way too much money on new lead sources, rather than investing in their existing clients.

Simply put, if most of your business is coming from your past clients and it costs you six to seven times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one, then you should focus your efforts on marketing to your past clients.

The post I wrote last year titled “7 Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Agents in 2014” quickly became the most viewed post on our site (over 20,000 unique viewers). So for 2015, I came up with 10 marketing ideas that agents can use to really help grow their businesses.

1) Be Mobile and Responsive

In 2014, I stressed that going mobile was important in terms of you posting to your social networks while on the go. This is still true today, but this year, I want to stress the importance of being mobile accessible.

You cannot avoid it anymore. Your website and emails need to be designed for all devices and screen sizes and be responsive. Sixty-six percent of emails are opened on a phone or tablet. Facebook has more than 650 million daily active users on mobile devices. And mobile traffic to websites now accounts for almost 30 percent of visits. In short, there are plenty of reasons why you need to be sure that your business is mobile ready.

How It Helps: Being mobile-friendly ensures whoever reads your emails or visits your website has a good experience and that this experience creates a positive perception of your business.

2) Use GIFs in Email

You’ve all seen GIFs before; they’re those soundless graphics that automatically play on a loop. They’re great for getting a quick laugh, but these days, they’re more often used to caption a situation and convey human emotion without using words. For example…if it’s Monday morning, and I’m having a tough time getting motivated, I might text or email this GIF to my friends:

Marketing ideas - GIF use in email

Did you know that you can use GIFs in email too? Our friends at Litmus have put together an awesome guide to using GIFs in emails. While you shouldn’t use them in everything you send, they do add a comical element you just can’t get from static images.

Even though GIFs have been around since the late ‘80s, they’ve had a resurgence in popularity. GIFs are a fun way to help show off the human side of your business.

How It Helps: GIFs can be used to give your business a touch of character and personality, and they may actually increase your click rate.

3) Automate Your Content Marketing and Sourcing

When crafting the perfect email newsletter and sharing content with your social networks, coming up with topics to write about and things to share can be challenging. You want to send your email subscribers informative/entertaining content with the purpose of helping them, not selling to them, and you want your social feeds to be filled with the same. However, getting this accomplished is no small task.

For email newsletter content, there are companies like Scripted and Contently that will connect you with freelance writers to do the writing for you. However, if you want to have the emails written, designed and sent for you automatically, we’re the only company that can do that for you.

To find content to share on social media, there are two tools I use: Zite and Flipboard. Both are news and blog aggregators that are topic based. Just plug in what you want to read about, and they’ll display an up-to-date visual collection of articles. Buffer has agreat list of newsletters to sign up for and tools to use for content sourcing too.

How It Helps: Automating some (or all) of your content marketing and sourcing can help free up your time to focus on more important things.

4) Experiment with Hyperlapse

Hyperlapse is a new app that Instagram launched this year. Using time-lapse photography technology and impressive image stabilization software, it essentially puts a few thousand dollars worth of video editing software and expertise in a single app on your phone…for free.

Hyperlapse’s biggest claim to fame is the image stabilization power it has. Take a look at this quick video that shows the difference:

I see Hyperlapse as a unique way for agents to liven up the content they share to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and also as a way to (almost) literally liven up their listings.

You can use Hyperlapse for quick home walk-throughs to show off a lot of space in a short amount of time. Maybe use it to do a quick drive through the neighborhood, giving your listing’s viewers an even more in-depth view of the area. Or my personal favorite, if a house you’re selling has a killer sunset or sunrise, take 10 minutes to film it and include it as part of the listing. Here is an example of what this could look like:

How It Helps: Hyperlapse gives your business and listings a little flair and edge that not everyone else is offering…yet.

5) Avoid Zillow/Trulia

Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia aside, paying for leads from these websites is expensive and not that effective. On average, agents spend $320 per month on leads from Zillow, and it’s estimated that leads from these websites convert to new business only one to four percent of the time. Not the greatest use of your marketing dollars.

Zillow and Trulia provide a service that many casual home shoppers want: a consolidated list of available homes for sale in a centralized location. However, most agents (with good reason) don’t like the idea of their listings being submitted to these services only to then have to pay to be featured as the listing agent. There are some multiple listing services that are now sending limited data to these services to attempt to remedy this problem for their agents too.

How It Helps: Spending your money on new leads isn’t as cost-effective as investing in your referral business through your existing clients.

6) Boost Your Facebook Posts

Facebook has made a lot of changes this past year and the big one was the reduction of organic posts from business pages in the News Feed. (I’ve written about why this isn’t a bad thing for businesses here.) The upside is that they’ve made it very easy to spend a little bit of money to get guaranteed exposure.

A few times each month, go to your Facebook Business Page and find a blog post you’ve written, a video you’ve posted or something that is worth making sure plenty of people read or see. For example, our real estate customers might boost their posts that link to their email newsletters. All you have to do is click “Boost Post” and enter your parameters. That’s it!

Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Agents in 2015 - Boost Facebook Posts

Start experimenting with $5-$10 boosted posts to your existing Facebook fans. This is a low-cost way to get high traffic from your posts.

How It Helps: When people like or click boosted posts, it tells Facebook that they’re interested in your brand and posts from your company will appear more often in their News Feed.

7) Utilize Browser Plugins

There are some awesome plugins out there that you can use for your business to help automate some of your marketing activities. I touched a little bit on this in my post last year, but I cannot stress enough just how much time these little tools can save.

Being on the go a lot, real estate agents can really benefit from using browser plugins to help automate some of their social media. To save you time when looking for things to post to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, here’s what I would do.

Use apps on your phone or tablet like Zite and Flipboard. When you find an article you like, save it to Pocket. From your computer browser, you can open all the posts you bookmarked and then schedule them through Buffer. In less than 10 minutes, you can have a week’s worth of social media posts scheduled and ready to go!

How It Helps: Being able to find content while playing on your phone/tablet at night or on the go and then having it ready to post from your desktop browser is a huge time saver.

8) Revamp Your Email Strategy

In my post last year, I mentioned that you should stay in touch with your past clients through email. This has not changed a bit and should be a foundational element of your marketing strategy.

You need to make sure that the content that you’re sending is both personal and something that the recipient wants to read. Good content marketing is meant to help, not sell to, your clients. Send consistently timed emails with compelling content to your audience to brand you as an industry expert and increase your sphere of influence.

Earlier this year, I wrote two posts that are worth checking out to help you fully understand how email marketing working and how to make the most of it:

  • Building Inbox Credibility: How to Get into Inboxes (and Stay There)
  • What Is Email Automation and Why Can’t You Do Without It?

How It Helps: Email is the best way to stay in front of your past clients and is a smart investment because they’re your best source for new business leads.

9) Grow Your Email List

Sending emails to your past clients is a must. But you can also use those same email newsletters to keep your name in front of potential clients as well. That’s why you should always try to snag email addresses in any situation.

The easiest way is to have your lead capture form front and center on your website. Here’s an example from sites we create for our real estate clients:

Marketing Ideas for Real Estate Agents in 2015

We’ve covered a wide range of ideas on how to grow your email list before. The two big takeaways are: never be afraid to ask for an email address and always work on growing your list, no matter the situation.

How It Helps: You never know where your next sale will come from, but if you’re continually in front of a large audience, your chances of landing a new client are much greater.

Wrap-up

Your time is valuable and limited; embrace marketing automation tools that help offset the amount of work that you have to do. As you make your 2015 plans, remember these three important things.

  • Your marketing needs to be less about you and more about your clients.
  • You need to humanize your brand and make it accessible through mobile.
  • And whenever possible, look to marketing automation as a way to help save you time while increasing the effectiveness of your efforts.



Mexico is moving in the right direction, working to raise the real estate standards to protect buyer and seller interests. AMPI (our National Real Estate Association) plays a key role in the real estate industry in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, working closely with local, state and national governments. Our local AMPI Association is leading the country in developing and implementing real estate standards.  To become members of our local AMPI Association Real Estate professionals sign our Bylaws that require our members to follow our Ethical Code of Conduct;  to use our contract forms which have been legally vetted to protect buyers and sellers; to participate in and comply with our MLS Rules and Regulation along with using the shared database. Our Bylaws, Code of Ethics, MLS Systems, Contracts and our other systems are constantly improved on through the expertise and experience of our members.  Find a Committed AMPI Professional Here

Agents: How to Generate Leads in Today’s Market

3 Tips from Real Estate Agents to Real Estate Agents

Whether you’ve just started in the real estate business or you’ve been active for several years now, it’s always helpful to know what tips and tools other agents have been using to generate leads. After all, nothing happens without leads, so the more tips you get, the better!

How to Generate Leads

We wanted to learn first-hand what has brought success to other agents so we asked a couple of them to share with us their most effective techniques for marketing their listings. While some might expect quick-fix, silver-bullet lead generating solutions, the agents we talked to seem to back robust real estate marketing solutions which have proved their effectiveness over and over again. Here are 3 tips they have for their fellow agents:

Get a search-engine optimized (SEO) real estate website

You know that in today’s real estate market you need to have a strong web presence, but the question is, will any website solution do?

Melanie Press, an award-winning agent based in Prince Edward Island, wants her website to be firstly easy to set up and maintain, and secondly fully customizable. “I’m big on looking different from anyone else. I have very little patience and, if I can’t get what I want from a website quickly, I’ll find an alternative site. I’m sure I’m not the only one like that.”

But there’s something else agents really want from their websites nowadays. With so many home buyers and sellers doing their searches directly in Google and using mobile devices, having a search engine optimized (SEO) and mobile-friendly real estate website has almost become a requirement for achieving success in this business.

Amy Jones, a top real estate agent in the Chandler, Arizona area backs up this idea. She revealed that a big portion of her business comes directly from her real estate website and this is because it ranks on page 1 in Google for many local real estate search terms.

And if you’d like to take your website to the next level, she suggests you not only adapt the information to what people are looking for in your area, but always provide some fresh, up-to-date content to your visitors. One thing we’d like to add to her advice is make that content easily available on any mobile device, too!

Distribute your listings extensively

Because time is one asset every agent lacks, listing advertising is usually done on just a couple of the largest consumer portals. After all, manually adding listings on dozens of websites is not exactly a fun activity especially when you’re not too convinced about its effectiveness.

However, agents who have tried a data distribution network such as the one offered by Point2, believe it really helps their listings achieve their full potential. Marta Andre, a real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Niagara Premier, has been syndicating her listings since 2008 and loves the results.

“The only thing better than exposure is more exposure,” says Andre. “I constantly receive new leads from Point2 syndicated sites such as Kijiji, The Housing Block, and Point2 Homes. I do syndicate my listings as well as posting them on my website [and] I usually get 2-3 leads a week.”

Point2’s data distribution network currently consists of 24 syndication partners, which range from large and mid-size listings portals to Canada’s most popular classified websites. The key advantages of using this solution are that you don’t have to manually add your listings to all syndication websites and you can also opt to syndicate only on a couple of preferred websites.

Secure priority placement for your homes

Marta also believes that success in real estate comes faster if you vary your marketing options. As she started to look for ways to get more traffic to her listings, she discovered the featured advertising options available on Point2 Homes.

The first thing she noticed after trying this solution was that “the amount of people viewing my listings increased dramatically. […] Prospects now come from a much larger geographic area. This has resulted in many sales of local listings to buyers from far outside of my region. This to me is the biggest asset of the exposure.”

The great thing about featured listing ads is that they secure your property a top place in local search results on the website you advertise with, which, in turn, can more than triple your leads without you having to do too much.

What marketing solutions have you used that worked like magic for your business? Let us know below!

Author: Point2

Why Use AMPI?

AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals that have, since 1956, gathered under laws and codes of ethics and conduct to create a reliable, trustworthy an efficient real estate environment in Mexico.

AMPI consists of separate autonomous sections all throughout the nation, as well as more than 4,000 associates and affiliates.

Each section is independent and has its own board of directors, only surpassed by a national board of directors comprised of twenty associates from all over the republic.

Developed over the years with the

input and knowledge of its members, AMPI is much more than just a collection of offices.

AMPI has been a solid and recognized institution in Mexico for the past 27 years. It was originally established in 1956 and was consolidated in 1980.

AMPI is currently represented in all the principle cities and regions of Mexico stretching from Tijuana to Cancun.

The Riviera Nayarita, Vallarta and Compostela chapters of AMPI are dedicated to promote the best practices in real estate by providing its members with education to reinforce the standards of ethics that give our industry the credibility which our clients deserve.

AMPI is committed to giving our membership access to a multiple listing service that forms the platform from which our industry can expand locally and into other markets while giving our members precise and up to date information that is vital to continuous improvement and growth.

 

Ten reasons why Puerto Vallarta should be your destination of choice

Puerto Vallarta is a popular choice among vacationists because of its picturesque views, beautiful flora, clear-blue waters and magnificent mountains. Regardless of your interests, there’s something for everyone in Puerto Vallarta. The town offers a plethora of activities, spectacular views and superb hotels and resorts, making it the perfect destination for your vacation. If that is not enough, here below we’ve listed 10 reasons… need more to come to Puerto Vallarta this year?

vallarta

1) Named the Friendliest city in the World! by USA Today.

2) Named “Among top 10 safest cities in the world! by USA Today.

3) Recognized as “One of the most Beautiful Bays in the World” by “Le Club des Plus Belles Baies du Monde” Organization.

4) Puerto Vallarta is truly Mexico! Located in the state of Jalisco where Mexico’s symbols were formed: “Tequila, Mariachi and Charros”.

5) Seven World-Class Golf courses and host of the EMC2 World Cup Golf Championship in 2002.

6) Outstanding Art Destination. from November to June, cultural activities occur weekly with local and foreign artisit displaying their talents in various events, concerts, exhibits and performance.

7) Gourmet dining. Chefs come from all over the world to prepare culinary delights in more than 20 different restaurants to celebrate Vallarta’s annual International Sailfish Tournament.

8) World Class fishing all year round peaking in November with Puerto Vallarta’s Annual International Sailfish Tournament.

9) Shopping. silver, leather, artworks, handicrafts, pottery, jewelry, clothes, shoes, furniture and more are accesible for every budget.

10) Many activities and events throughout the year including the sea turtle protection programs (August to October); Mexican Patriotism month (September); Virgin of Guadalupe processions celebrating Mexico’s Patron Saint (December 1-12); spectacular Humpback Whale watching (December to April). Year-round excursions including Dolphin Adventures, Tree Top Canopy Tours and many, many more.

Who should Go?

Families, Honeymooners, Golfers, Fishermen, Adventures lovers, Eco-Friendly tourists and Everybody!

What makes Puerto Vallarta a better place than other destinations?

The people of Puerto Vallarta love their city and love to share it.

I fully recommend and endorse these 10 reasons to choose Puerto Vallarta as your next destination.
I can assist you with your new home or condo.
Best Regards,

Ron Sitarski – Ron Sitarski In Puerto Vallarta

 

Why Use AMPI?

AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals that have, since 1956, gathered under laws and codes of ethics and conduct to create a reliable, trustworthy an efficient real estate environment in Mexico.

AMPI consists of separate autonomous sections all throughout the nation, as well as more than 4,000 associates and affiliates. Each section is independent and has its own board of directors, only surpassed by a national board of directors comprised of twenty associates from all over the republic.

Developed over the years with the input and knowledge of its members, AMPI is much more than just a collection of offices. AMPI has been a solid and recognized institution in Mexico for the past 27 years. It was originally established in 1956 and was consolidated in 1980. AMPI is currently represented in all the principle cities and regions of Mexico stretching from Tijuana to Cancun.

The Riviera Nayarita, Vallarta and Compostela chapters of AMPI are dedicated to promote the best practices in real estate by providing its members with education to reinforce the standards of ethics that give our industry the credibility which our clients deserve.

AMPI is committed to giving our membership access to a multiple listing service that forms the platform from which our industry can expand locally and into other markets while giving our members precise and up to date information that is vital to continuous improvement and growth.

Hey Vallarta… What Is Amate & Cartoneria?

Aztecs were meticulous record keepers and developed their own paper long before the Spanish conquest. Amate paper was banned by the Spanish conquistadors for the simple reason it was used in Aztec religious ceremonies. It was considered by Aztec shamans to have magical properties and the Spanish weren’t interested in finding out why. However someone was smart enough to keep the secrets of amate production and not let the Spaniards completely demolish this beautiful art; it lives on today in many forms.

Amate is made from bark from the fig tree of the same name and the maguey plant, which is, among other things, also the source of tequila. For practical means and purposes, amate was replaced over the centuries by European papers, white smooth, unforgiving… but this beautiful handmade paper eventually made a huge comeback.

When it was discovered that the paintings done on amate paper could bring a fair price at bazaars and flea markets, the production of amate increased. By the mid-twentieth century, detailed and symbolic paintings, created mostly by the Nahua and Otomi indigenous people, were fetching a fair amount of revenue. Production increased and with it, artistic uses.

Amate, with other papers, including recycled newspaper, is used in the construction of cartoneria, often referred to as Mexican papier-mâché. Painted with colorful acrylics, figures take the shape of animals, clowns, imaginative and original creations, and dolls with moveable appendages. In more recent decades, La Calavera Catrina (fancy dressed up skeletons with elaborate clothing, hats, shoes, accessories) has become one of the most sought after souvenirs and though many are ceramic, less expensive ones are being molded with paper. They are light weight, easy to pack and less likely to break in transit.

Amate is also used in the production of ceremonial masks and much easier for the bearer to tote around on their head all night in what usually turn out to be lengthy parades. Piñatas made traditionally have a clay center, resulting in much difficulty to shatter when pounded with a broom handle, but layers of amate or papier-mâché bring shape and life to popular (and in some cases unpopular) characters and create themes for fiestas.

Paper is one of the original arts of Mexico. It is elaborately made, sturdily constructed and perhaps magical.

Que es cómo es.


 Thanks to our Guest Blogger Adam Garcia for this great article!


Harriet Cochran Murray, Director of Cochran Real Estate, is a seasoned Real Estate professional both here in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and in the United States. Harriet has served in many capacities as a board member and President for the local Real Estate Association AMPI (AMPI is the national association of real estate professionals). She is also a member of FIABCI and NAR in the United States. Harriet’s expertise and experience in the Real Estate and especially in the Mexican market makes her Viewpoint blog articles both informational and intriguing. Harriet is a Buyer’s Agent who specializes in getting the best deal on the right property for her clients.