At Real Estate Connect, Brian Boero, Dustin Luther and Kelly Roark outlined 90 different ways you can use technology to improve your business. Today’s column hits the highlights.
Agents today face numerous challenges when it comes to technology. Which solutions really work? How can I convert more leads from the Web? What do I need to do to motivate visitors to return to my site repeatedly?
For the last two years, blogging has been at the forefront as a solution for improving search-engine rankings and for motivating visitors to return to your site repeatedly. Nevertheless, most agents find blogging difficult. With the latest Web 2.0 real estate technology innovations, agents now have multiple options to turn their Web sites into a lead-conversion machine. Better yet, most of these new tools are free.
All Things Local
Your goal as an agent is to become the single go-to resource for your specific market niche. A number of services now make this easier than ever. Everyblock.com provides a wealth of information about the nine cities they serve (Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.) They display business reviews, permits, crimes, liquor licenses, real estate listings from Trulia and Redfin, restaurant inspections, zoning agenda items, as well as maps pinpointing relevant locations. Another local site, Eventful.com, claims to be the "world’s leading events Web site" and has a comprehensive list of events occurring near your local address. Both of these resources will motivate your Web visitors to visit your site regularly.
What’s Your Walk Score?
If you represent properties where people routinely walk to nearby services, this is another great addition to your site. With gasoline hovering around $4 per gallon, many people are leaving suburbia and returning to urban living. Walk Score allows your Web visitors to determine the "walkability" of various neighborhoods. Walkability is important because it supports local merchants, reduces fuel costs and strengthens local neighborhoods. Furthermore, it can be a major influence on where your buyers decide they want to live.
Plug in your address (or the address of any of your listings) and you’ll receive a score between 1 and 100 rating how "walkable" that address is. The site grades walkability based upon the convenience of various businesses to the residents, income mix, parks and public space, nearby schools, bike paths, and a "pedestrian-centric" design. They also evaluate how accessible the area is for the disabled, what the flow of the traffic is, and how comfortable and/or convenient it is to use mass transit if available.
One caveat: Walk Score does not rate the quality of the neighborhood. Just because there are facilities nearby doesn’t mean that they are places you want to visit. When you post a Walk Score, it’s also a good idea to post pictures or videos that provide your Web visitors with a sense of the area.
Find Cheap Gas
Gasbuddy.com links to the local gas prices in your neighborhood. Consumers report in real time the price they paid to fill up their tanks. This tool is another excellent way to motivate people to visit your site each time that they need to fill up.
Highlight Interesting Architectural Properties in Your Area
Ourbania.com is a site for real estate enthusiasts who want to share pictures and other information about "the buildings that shape our cities worldwide — innovative existing and future projects, from bridges to skyscrapers." Whether it’s the "lipstick" building in New York City or the Kodak Center in Hollywood, this site is a great resource to acquaint your Web visitors with the most interesting buildings in your area. It’s also an excellent sightseeing resource if you’re traveling to major cities both inside and outside the United States.
"Rat Out" Lousy Neighbors and Landlords
While you may not want to add RottenNeighbor.com and Introin.com to your Website, it’s an excellent idea to check these sites when you’re working with sellers, buyers, lessors or lessees. RottenNeighbor.com reports on noise, odor and other neighborhood nuisances. There is also a place to report great neighbors as well. Introin.com provides information about the availability of rentals as well as an evaluation of the buildings and their landlords.
Track Your Numbers
AltosResearch.com provides real-time charts that graphically display the median prices in your local area. They allow you to download this valuable information to your Web site and update it for you regularly. For sellers who may be reluctant about lowering their prices, you can show them if the market is trending down. You can also use the statistics to encourage your buyers to take action when prices begin to increase. The advantage is that you’ll have the data long before it appears in the press.
Another useful tool for your Web site comes from ListingNumber.com. Virtually no one evaluates the ROI (return on investment) for specific marketing campaigns. ListingNumber.com tracks this data for you and specifically shows you the cost of each lead that you generate.
While implementing this many innovations may seem daunting, you can easily add most of these solutions to your Web site. The result is that you will have a site rich with fresh local content that will keep visitors constantly coming back for more. Best of all, you didn’t have to research or create it — someone else did it for you!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her blog at LuxuryClues.com.
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