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Agents making a big deal of 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 2.)  In 1992, Richard Ret had a list of 600 contacts and sold 30 homes. In 2005, the Augusta, Ga., Realtor sold 100 homes and had more than 5,000 names in his database – thanks, he says, to customer relationship management software. Though Ret says he spends much more time managing his database now, he believes it pays off with more closed deals. "I am spending more time on my CRM and it is more productive," he said. One reason CRM helped Ret's income nearly double in the last 14 years is because long-term leads comprise about 30 percent of his sales,...