Hacker Connect January 16 in New York
An event for and by the real estate tech community

The biggest surprise at the National Association of Realtors’ tradeshow this year was the lack of new technology. Nevertheless, there were a number of new products that could help you build your business in 2008.

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the steady onslaught of new technology, it appears that current innovations are more about refining existing applications rather than the invention of entirely new technologies. The NAR tradeshow was packed with vendors, but there was little new in the technology field. What appears to be happening is the consolidation of services among vendors. For example, Point2Agent.com announced that their syndication service now covers 30 different Web sites including Zillow and CyberHomes (which is the feed for AOL.com).

Here’s a look at some of what’s new for 2008.  

1. Stazzle: The most interesting new technology comes from a company called Stazzle. The company’s system allows agents to generate “hundreds of leads” from just a few referrals, according to its Web site. The system looks like a genealogy tree that traces where each of your referrals originates. Stazzle allows you to track birthdays, anniversaries, favorite ball teams, and favorite restaurants. More importantly, it allows you to track who referred clients to you and then allows you to mail or deliver your choice of cards, flowers, chocolates, gift baskets, etc for every holiday. The simple layout of Stazzle makes it easy to see who is sending you referrals while simultaneously giving you a strategy for tracking and generating new referrals.

2. New mashup from RealBird: RealBird has a solution for one of the challenges faced by single-property Web sites (i.e., www.333ElmStreet.com). Normally, if the listing has sold, Web visitors surf to another site. The RealBird offering allows your Web site visitor to view other current MLS listings on a map, provided you have an IDX link on your site. According to CEO Gabe Gross, this new tool allows the user to share not only the single-property Web site, but the related search of other listings as well. Gross encourages agents to keep these Web sites active, even after the property has sold.

Single-property Web sites can be “emailed to friends, shared via social book-marking, or posted on Facebook,” he said. More importantly, the links created through use of this strategy increase the agent’s standing on Google. “Over time, as more and more properties are sold and kept, there will be a significant cumulative effect on the agent’s search engine standings deriving from the presence of all these Web sites.”

3. One-stop shopping for television, radio and messages on hold: For agents who would like to add television, Internet radio, or XM radio to their services in 2008, Rainmakers International offers a number of packages by which you can produce your commercial and distribute it using their media-buying packages. The fee for a typical radio commercial runs in the neighborhood of $400. They will also assist you with the placement as well. This company also provides a number of options for people who would like to have an advertising message on hold rather than music on hold.

4. Video and bandwidth: One of the challenges with using video e-mail or posting a number of video virtual tours to your Web site is bandwidth (i.e., storage and how quickly you can access the video.) A company called CoVideo Systems charges $95 per month to host your videos on its site. Your site can crash under insufficient bandwidth when you use video extensively and have high traffic. The CoVideo system aims to help avoid that disaster. They also notify you when your videos have been viewed, and provide tools for tracking visitors.

5. New low-tech products: In terms of low-tech ideas, the KWNashgroup.com will lease or sell you a moving truck with backlit sides. This really stands out from conventional vehicles that rely on a painted message or decal to advertise your business. The backlighting on the ad makes the truck look as if it has a television screen on its side. It’s definitely eye-catching. 

Two other fun products are designed to minimize the dirt buyers may bring into your listings. One product was a door mat that had a picture of the property and/or the agent. No matter who walked into the property, it was clear which agent had the listing. My personal favorite from the conference, however, was from the Bootie Butler. For less than $100, you can avoid having visitors track up those new hardwood floors or those recently cleaned carpets. All they have to do is to put their foot into the Bootie Butler, and it automatically wraps their foot in a protective covering. That’s a lot cheaper than having the carpets cleaned a second time.

Bernice Ross, national speaker and CEO of Realestatecoach.com, is the author of “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters” and “Who’s the Best Person to Sell My House?” Both are available online. She can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com or visit her blog at www.LuxuryClues.com.