Monthly Archives: January 2010

2009 In Review – Another Great Year!

January is the perfect time to look back and reflect on the past year.  It may surprise you to learn that despite all the dire predictions about the economy of 2009, traffic of interested home buyers on MHVillage continued to grow.  In fact, there were 5,239,483 visits to MHVillage in 2009 – that’s up 23% from 2008! Each year more and more people use the internet to start their search for homes, and those looking for manufactured housing start on MHVillage.

In addition to record amounts of browsers on the site, there were hundreds of upgrades and additions to MHVillage over 2009.  We’ve added a number of new services, products and tools to help you sell your homes.  Let’s take a look at just a few of what the year had to offer:

  • A New MHVillage Look – January 2009 brought a whole new streamlined appearance to MHVillage.  Some of the many improvements were slide-shows for home photos, larger floor plans, and more call to action email links on listings and communities.  We also made it easier to list homes, add photos and update company information.
  • Unlimited photos for Premium listings

  • Unlimited Photos on Premium Listings – Premium listings used to have a maximum of 10 photos. In 2009 we made it Unlimited!  Remember – buyers love to see photos of homes!
  • Bold, Italics and other Text Tools Added to Home Descriptions – No more cut and paste! We added new tools so you can write your perfect home descriptions and highlight your sales promotions right on MHV.
  • Phone Numbers for Showcased Communities – In February 2009 phone numbers began to display on Showcased communities.  Now these communities could start getting calls directly from MHVillage browsers who wanted to know more about their homes.
  • Track “Email a Friend” Statistics – Ever wonder how many times someone emails a friend or family member about your listings?  If they do it through MHVillage, we now track how many of those emails are being sent right on your statistics page.
  • Free Internet Marketing Kit – We want you to succeed online, so we added great articles and information about internet marketing to your Pro account.  Just download them straight from your Pro account – for free!
  • MHVillage on Facebook – We started our Facebook page in May, by the end of 2009 MHVillage had 175 fans.  Every week we have comments from folks interested in manufactured housing.  We’ve also added a number of tools right on your listings and communities so you can add them to your own Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites.
  • Chat with MHVillage – Have a question?  Need some help?  Just click the new chat icon in the upper left corner of most pages on MHV.  Now with just a click of that button you can quickly contact a customer service person when you need one.

    New Amenities Added to Showcased Communities

  • New Expanded Features on Showcased Communities – Want to really show your community off to its full advantage?  We added all these to Showcased communities:  Planned Social Activities, Gated, On site Staff, Waterfront, Boat/RV Storage. Fitness Center, Laundry Facilities, Library, Billiards, Golf Course, Shuffleboard, Tennis, Basketball, Volleyball, Bocce Ball, Horseshoes, Whirlpool, Sauna, or a Spa.  Log in and just check the ones that describe your community.
  • Communities Can Now Upload Their Brochure – As easy as adding a photo, Showcased communities can now also upload their sales brochure.
  • Homes for Rent Navigation Tools Added – Easier searches added to the web site so people can find available rental homes.
  • Listing Compliance – Per the request of some of our California Professionals, we’ve made the serial number more visible and added a field for a Department of Housing number.  Not sure what the regulations are in your state?  Be sure and check with your state manufactured housing association or regulators of sales in your state.
  • Contact Your Fans on MHVillage

  • “Watch This” on MHVillage – Added at the end of 2009, the new “Watch This” system allows home buyers to keep track of homes, communities, or retail locations and be automatically notified via email when they are updated.  Plus, you can now send messages to your fans at any time by logging in and clicking the “Talk To Your Fans” link.

These are just a few of the updates we’ve done to MHVillage, there are plenty more to come in 2010! Have a great idea for the site? Just email us and let us know!

MHVillage, By the Numbers

Here’s some fun facts and figures about MHVillage in 2009 –

Traffic on MHVillage Continues to Soar

There were 5,239,483 visitors to MHVillage in 2009 – up 23% from 2008. By the end of 2009, there were well over 400,000 people a month visiting our site, a number which just continues to grow.  In fact, January has traditionally been a fantastic month on the site, and 2010 is once again starting off with a bang.

217,224 home photos were uploaded. Perhaps it was the new Unlimited Photos option with Premium listings or maybe it was the new photo upload tools, but whatever the reason photos continue to pour in.  That’s great news, because the #1 thing we hear from buyers is that they want to see more photos.

148,896 brand new accounts were created by professionals, individual home sellers and home buyers, of these 133,915 looked at communities on MHVillage.  This is one of the many reasons we encourage community managers and owners to make sure their information is up to date – there are over 11,000 new users reading about communities and looking for homes in communities every month!

Leads were up:  122,367 emails were sent from buyers on MHVillage – up 36% from 2008. More people on the website means more buyer contacts.  These emails are sent direct to manufactured home sellers nationwide.

Website links on listings were clicked 46,670 times, community website links were clicked 17,888 times. This means that on average, we’re sending over 150 people a day to company websites owned by Professionals listing homes on MHVillage.  This increases traffic on their website and brings more leads to their door.

921 Open Houses were listed. If you are planning an Open House, make sure you advertise it on MHVillage.  Your home will shoot to the top of the search results and the times and dates of the big event will be advertised to hundreds of buyers.

22,615 Homes Have Fans! In 2009 we released our new “Watch This” program where with a single click, buyers can keep track of homes they are interested in.  These buyers are automatically notified when new photos are added, a price has been reduced or an Open House has been added.  You can contact your fans directly from within your account.

Though 2009 has been a great year for MHVillage, we are not resting on our laurels.  We have plenty of new ideas and innovations for 2010!  Keep your eye on the newsletter to find out what is ahead and please feel free to email us anytime with your thoughts and suggestions.

Is Your Community Up-to-Date?

In the last 30 days, over 146,000 people used MHVillage to get details on communities they were interested in. Make sure your community profile is up to date – the wrong information could turn buyers away! For example, a recent survey found that almost half of residents of manufactured homes have a cat or a dog.* Have you made sure your pet restrictions are listed on MHVillage? Go to MHVillage today to ensure that buyers get the best – and the right – information about you.

* (Foremost Insurance, 2008)

Make Social Networking Work for You!

Did you know that:

  • Facebook is now the fourth most visited website in the world. (TechCrunch 2009)
  • 75% of US on-line adults are active on-line social participators. (Forrester, 2008)
  • Users put great trust in their social networks. One-half of respondents said they considered information shared on their networks when making a decision. (eMarketer, October 2009)
  • 90% of buyers now start their home search process on the Internet. (NAR Nov. 2009)

If you are not using online social networking tools, I understand. They can seem confusing and complicated, but in today’s world, they are creating too many great sales opportunities to ignore.

Not that long ago there were only a few ways to contact potential home buyers – you could send out direct mail, have on location sales events, use very expensive classified or display newspaper ads, or even start cold calling and “dialing for dollars.” All are expensive and time consuming. The beauty of social networking is that it allows you to connect with potential customers easily, again and again, and at a very low cost.

Social networking is defined as any web service that “promotes interaction between people who share a common interest.” Examples include chat, instant messaging, email, video and photo sharing, blogging, electronic newsletters and so on. It allows people to share information electronically, (including sales promotions, open houses, recent listings, special offers and more) with prospects who are already interested.

Social networking is much less expensive and far more targeted than traditional marketing. For instance, what would you pay to be able to open the newspaper to your circled classified ad and put it right on the kitchen table of someone who you knew was already interested in buying a manufactured home? Using social networking sites and tools you can, and at almost no cost!

The key is to use social networking tools to link all your individual marketing campaigns into one large marketing net in order to capture as many prospects as possible from as many angles possible.

One example is to add a link on your company’s website inviting prospects to join your Facebook page. You do have a Facebook page, right? Then use the tools on MHVillage to quickly and easily post all of your listings to your Facebook and other social networking pages so that those prospects are regularly notified when new listings become available. By the way, the MHVillage Facebook page receives messages just about every day from prospects interested in manufactured homes. It really does work!

If you’re still using classified newspaper ads, make sure to add a link to your online home listings. Classified ads are expensive, but at least they can send prospects to your full page MHVillage listing, which includes much greater detail and all your color photos. Once at MHVillage, your prospect can then easily view and track your listing with our new Social Networking tool called “Watch This”.

“Watch This” allows buyers to track and follow homes on MHVillage with just one click by becoming “Fans” of your listings (or your community or company). We’ll automatically notify your “Fans” of any changes to your listings such as new photos, open houses, or price reductions, and you can send emails directly to your fans as well – all at no cost.

Another great example of creating a marketing net is a community manager who holds a weekend sales event with open houses on five homes in his community. He does all the traditional open house signs and takes out ads in his local paper. However, in his ads he goes one step further and includes the MHVillage listing numbers of his homes so that prospects can easily view the additional color photos and detailed descriptions of his homes and his community. In addition, two weeks before the event he posts the event and the listings to his Facebook page, and he places MHVillage Open House notifications on his listings, so they display at the very top of web search results. This also triggers MHVillage to instantly notify all of his “Fans” of the big event. He even follows up by sending a reminder email to those Fans the day before the open house.

The results are outstanding. A record number of prospects show up on-site. Not only locals, but several families from well over 100 miles away who are planning to relocate to the area and already searching on the internet. Three of the five homes are actually sold that weekend, and he’s personally met five additional qualified prospects. Coordinating all the marketing activities and tying them together with the Social Networking tools was the key to success.

Our prospects are using the Internet and they’re using their Social Networks to shop for homes. Our competitors in the site-built world have adapted and have a large head start on us. Social Networking tools are effective at increasing sales and are available at costs far less than traditional print advertising. Ignore them at your own risk.

Provide Your Buyers With Peace of Mind

National studies confirm that the #1 unspoken fear preventing buyers from purchasing a pre-owned home is the fear of major, hidden repair costs. In today’s economy, a large unexpected repair bill can spell disaster for a new homeowner, and prospective buyers know it.

Now you can attract more buyers and close more sales by eliminating that fear with a comprehensive home warranty covering the home’s structure, systems, and all major appliances. And the best part is that there is NO ADDITIONAL FEE to advertise and promote the new, comprehensive MHVillage Home Guard Warranty with every Pre-owned home you list. The warranty fee is not due until the home is sold, so the cost can easily be included in the price of the home. (Homes must be in good condition and less than 20 years old.)

To learn more about how you can attract more buyers and close more sales by providing your buyers with complete peace of mind about their purchase decision, go to http:\www.mhvillage.comWarranty.

Remember, adding the Home Guard Warranty Seal to each of your qualified MHVillage listings is absolutely FREE!