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4 tools to increase your value as a real estate agent

New tech from Real Estate Connect

Editor’s note: This is the second of a three-part series. Read Part 1.

What were the latest technology innovations making their debut at this summer’s Real Estate Connect? While agent ratings, mobile apps and video were all hot at Start-Up Alley, some of the less trendy tools and services may be exactly what you need to kick your business up a notch.

Early adopters have a definite advantage over those who fail to keep pace with technology. Many younger clients love agents who have the latest tech tools. On the other hand, incorporating a new tool into your business only to see the company disappear a few months later can be a costly mistake.

While almost everyone acknowledges that being an early adopter is a way to stay ahead of the competition, the question is which set of tools and services will be the best fit for the way you do business? The list below contains a number of apps and services that are definitely worth considering.

The social network Nextdoor

Nextdoor was the most talked new social network at this year’s Connect. Facebook lets you connect with friends and relatives, LinkedIn allows you to connect with other professionals, and Twitter focuses on what is happening in the moment. In contrast, Nextdoor is a free private social network that allows people to connect who live in local neighborhoods. Rather than having to knock on doors to meet your neighbors, Nextdoor is a powerful alternative. Nextdoor allows people in a given neighborhood to complete profiles about themselves and their family members. It’s a great way to get to know others who live in your subdivision or condo building.

Nextdoor is dedicated to maintaining online privacy. For example, if your neighborhood wasn’t on Nextdoor, you could add it to the system. The process requires nine neighbors to sign up within 21 days. Each individual must accept a phone call on their landline or verify their address with a credit card. This level of privacy is what allows participants to feel safe about sharing personal information, including pictures and names of their children.

Nextdoor can be a very powerful tool for agents. Like other social media sites, avoid using this site for marketing or self-promotion. Instead, use it as a way to bring your community together.

For example, if you don’t already have a neighborhood watch, you could use Nextdoor to organize one. If there is a major storm or other disaster, you could use Nextdoor to seek help for neighbors who may need food, water or medical care.

Save money with is a free social marketing platform that provides discounts on a wide variety of home-related services. When you join, you can invite your preferred service providers to join. The site also offers both local and national product discounts that you can share with your friends. When your friends pass that discount along to their friends, Nest4Less links these new viral contacts back to you. The site also provides a weekly "discount of the week" newsletter with your contact information prominently displayed. Nest4Less helps your friends and clients obtain great discounts while simultaneously growing your contact list as well.

Do you have the contents of your home cataloged for insurance purposes? Do you know where the user manual is for your dishwasher? When was the last time that you cleaned your furnace? If you’re like most people, you probably can’t answer these questions. That’s where comes in. Homezada allows you to keep all the key information about your home in one secure online system.

If you’re thinking about remodeling or redecorating, Homezada helps you with everything from your budget, where to find the best deals, as well as ideas on how to control costs. It also allows you to track all the various tasks you must do to keep your home and its systems running smoothly.

For example, do you remember the date when you last changed the filters on your air conditioning or had your chimney cleaned?

One of the most powerful features on Homezada is its home inventory function. No one is ever truly prepared for a fire or some other home-destroying disaster. With Homezada you can upload your records as well as take photos of your home and its contents for insurance purposes. If disaster does strike, everything is stored safely in the cloud.

Call capture 2012 style is the latest entry into the call capture arena offering more functionality at a lower cost. This system provides the functionality of the old 1-800 call capture systems including call tracking that shows which ad campaigns actually produce results and which ones need to be dumped.

Like Google Voice, IfbyPhone has "find me call forwarding." Its "virtual receptionist" allows you to route your calls the same way a receptionist would: by asking for the person by name. This allows you to eliminate the "Press 1 to reach Susan, Press 2 to reach Ted," etc. IfbyPhone also offers "click to call." As soon as someone completes a form on a landing page or enters a phone number, you are immediately notified so that you can call that person back as soon as the form is submitted.

Are you interested in even more new tech tools from Connect? If so, don’t miss Part 3 of this series.

Bernice Ross, CEO of, is a national speaker, trainer and author of the National Association of Realtors’ No. 1 best-seller, "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success." Hear Bernice’s five-minute daily real estate show, just named "new and notable" by iTunes, at You can contact her at or @BRoss on Twitter.

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