(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2.)
Direct from Real Estate Connect in New York City, here’s what the real estate industry’s most talented leaders had to say about two of the most important trends that will reshape your business in 2009.
1. Put it local but take it global
Most real estate agents distribute their listings to as many local sources as possible. The latest trend, however, is to "put it local, but take it global." On average, agents who have international clients make 50 percent more than other agents do. Furthermore, if you have an international client, there is a 50 percent chance they will actually close a transaction. Since the U.S. market has already experienced the flattening of the "bubble," many foreign buyers are electing to pull their funds out of other volatile international investments and move them into the relative safety of the U.S. real estate market.
There are many ways to tap into the global real estate market. If you are fluent in another language, translate the key pages of your Web site into that language. Post your listings on Immobel.com, which will translate listings into 13 different languages. Immobel currently serves about 500,000 U.S. agents through their local MLS or company. You can also join as an individual agent. Another strategy is to use Proxio.com to build international agent-to-agent referrals. Proxio also provides an international multiple listing platform in seven languages. A third strategy is to syndicate your listings using an international syndication service such as Point2Agent.com that makes your listings available in more than 100 different countries.
To build your Web presence, provide rich content that illustrates what it is like to live in your market area. Since 85 percent of your visitors go directly to listings, make listing and comparable sales data easy to access. Make your site "sticky" with a well-produced video tour of your community and multiple pictures of your listings. The typical international buyer locates the listings they want to see online before traveling to the U.S. to purchase. Your goal is to make your site the one place they can find everything they need to know about living in your area.
2. 2009 is the year to add video to your online marketing
Video will quickly become the preferred communication medium for both personal and professional contact in the real estate industry. While you probably have been doing virtual tours of your listings, 2009 is the year to expand your use of video to your other marketing efforts. Video is an excellent alternative for those who would rather talk than write. For example, video e-mail messages are usually more personal and meaningful than a simple text e-mail. You can also use video to create "vlogs," i.e., a video post to your blog.
Working with video is now cheaper and easier than ever before. Many new computers have a built-in video cam that allows you to create personal video messages from the convenience of your own desk. The new Mino Flip video cameras cost around $150. To shoot Web videos, all you have to do is aim and tap the record button. Downloading is also simple. The camera plugs into the USB port on your computer. These cameras are best for personalized videos. If you’re shooting a video of your area or doing a virtual tour, hiring a professional videographer is usually the best approach. No matter what type of video you are shooting, keep in mind that the best videos generally tell a story.
Two new video applications include Eyejot.com and Tokbox.com. Tokbox allows you to have up to 36 people on the same video feed. Use these tools to conduct online meetings, send highly personalized messages, as well as to collect testimonials. If you’re scared of being in front of the camera, start by using 12seconds.tv that limits you to a 12-second message. It’s great for sending a personalized birthday or holiday wish. For your listings or community tours of your area, use TubeMogul.com to syndicate your videos to YouTube, Google, Yahoo and other major video sites.
Video also improves search-engine rankings. Adobe has a new program that allows Google to translate video content into searchable data. This means that Google and other search engines can "read" the content in your videos and use that in calculating your rankings. To maximize your search-engine results, make sure that you narrate your videos. Also, avoid creating videos that use only music because this does nothing to prove your SEO. In fact, some SEO experts suggest that Google’s ranking system places the most weight on videos followed by podcasts, blog posts and then static Web site content.
In 2009, working globally and working with video may be two of the easiest ways to build both your business and your search-engine ranking for little cost.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, trainer and author of "Real Estate Dough: Your Recipe for Real Estate Success" and other books. You can reach her at Bernice@RealEstateCoach.com.
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