Dustin Luther, a real estate consultant who founded 4realz.net and 4RealzEd, is coming to the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco, which runs from Aug. 5-7.

Luther is also the creator of Rain City Guide, a popular Seattle real estate blog, and he served as director of interactive marketing at Realtor.com parent company Move Inc.

Luther responded to a set of questions posed by Inman News:

What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2009?
So far this year, I’m definitely seeing mixed results. Things are mixed between looking really bad and potentially bottoming out. With that said, I’d like to think I’ve mastered the art of not speculating about the future of the market.

I’d much rather rely on the expertise of experts who closely follow the market on a regular basis than assume I’m going to have any special insight into where things are going.

What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?
Completely reevaluate all of your marketing. In any market, including down ones, there are always going to be people who come out on top. Most important is to not assume that things that worked in the past will work just as well going forward.

Obviously, agents should be looking for ways to cut back on marketing efforts that aren’t proving a good return on investment, but more importantly, they should be looking for interesting and unique opportunities going forward.

What sparked the idea to start your company?
I really do love strategizing how companies can improve their business, so when the right opportunities were in place for me to start my own company it was a no-brainer. I’m currently focusing on social media because so much is untapped in this area.

But social media isn’t for every business, and there’s clearly not a strategy that works for every business. Just as often as helping companies understand how they can manage social media profiles on sites like Twitter and Facebook, I help companies develop search-engine optimization and affiliate-marketing strategies because those tools often provide a better short-term ROI.

What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?
Prioritization. I get presented with a ton of opportunities and it’s been a learning process for me to identify the ideas that are not only great, but that have the team and support to implement them effectively. I love great ideas, but more importantly I love to see great ideas well implemented! …CONTINUED

Can you share any future plans, goals?
I’m always cooking up new things. Right now I’m particularly excited to have recently launched a radio show with the Notorious Rob called "RE:RnD." The two of us have teamed up to provide an entertaining look into real estate and marketing on a regular basis. It’s been fun to watch people get excited about the possibilities for the show, so I’m excited to see where we’re able to take the show in terms of potential promotions and sponsorships. Any way we go, it’s going to be fun!

Another thing that excites me is Facebook Business Pages, and I’ve been having a blast helping companies strategize how they can tap into this resource. This is clearly a tool where a few early adopters in any given market are really going to hit a home run because of the ease with which a company can engage and capture users for long-term marketing opportunities.

What lesson did you learn in the last year?
The biggest lesson has to do with setting expectations appropriately. It’s pretty easy for me to get executives excited about the latest social media tools/Web sites (and even "old" ones like blogging), but getting results takes time. Unless a company has one hell of a PR machine behind a campaign, the reality is that it takes time to get great results using social media.

What would your second career choice be and why?
Until a few years ago, I was a transportation engineer working mostly in the area of city planning. I really enjoyed that field, and had online marketing in real estate not provided some ridiculously great opportunities, I’d happily still be doing that work!

What is the biggest problem in the real estate market today, and how would you fix it?
That’s a tough one, but the biggest issue is probably credibility. On Rain City Guide I hear from consumers who simply aren’t sure who to trust in this market. There’s a huge opportunity for agents who are willing to speak with a voice that engages potential clients around issues that they are concerned about. But that’s a much more difficult conversation, and not one I see a lot of real estate agents taking on.

What do you most enjoy about working in the real estate industry?
The people. I’ve made some wonderful friends in the industry, and the fact that I often get a chance to work with these friends while making a living developing social media strategies is nothing short of incredible.

Tell us something we don’t already know about you …
In high school, I worked myself into a summer job scooping ice cream at a Haagen-Dazs store in Paris, France. It was a ridiculously great experience. Getting the job, keeping the job and ending the job all involve fun stories that I’d be happy to share with people if we get a chance to meet up at Real Estate Connect.

Hear Dustin Luther speak during a Bloggers Connect workshop session, "Blogging by Numbers: How to Measure, Analyze and Optimize Your Social Media Plan," at the Real Estate Connect conference. Click here for event details.


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