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Best practices in managing real estate customer relationships

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Editor's note: Customer relationship management practices, or CRM for short, can be crucial in the Internet age, when many consumers are starting their real estate search 12 to 18 months before they're ready to work one-on-one with an agent. In this three-part report, Inman News looks into the meaning of CRM, best practices and an array of technology systems available to the real estate industry. (See Part 1 and Part 3.) "First, fast and frequent" might sound like a recipe for a very different kind of relationship, but it's one real estate marketing company's rule for customer relationship management. "You want to be the first agent in contact with the home buyer or seller," said Matt Heinz, senior director of marketing for HouseValues. "You want to follow up quickly. And you want to stay in touch – frequently. "We've found over the last seven years that leads aren't enough," said Heinz. "It's almost as important to have a system in place to cultivate relationships with peop...