Justin Britt, a founding partner and self-described "head Web-head" responsible for online marketing and Web site usability at Hawaii Life Real Estate Services, located on the island of Kauai in Kapaa, Hawaii, is coming to the Real Estate Connect conference, which runs from Aug. 5-7 in San Francisco.

Britt has worked for several online businesses and served as a search-engine optimization consultant for the real estate, travel, music and sporting goods industries. He describes himself as a "part-time surf bum, wannabe poker pro and sometimes world traveler."

He has previously offered consulting services to Coldwell Banker Bali Hai Realty, RE/MAX Kauai and Century 21 All Islands — all in Hawaii.

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

What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2009?

As Google’s new search algorithm continues to give preference to larger Web sites, I see an authority real estate site (such as Zillow or Trulia) coming to a search near you. I also predict that vertical search will play a bigger role in the search-engine results pages … are you signed up with Google Local?

What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?

When the market was booming, everybody and their grandmother became a real estate agent. To stand out from the crowd, be a consummate real estate professional and make yourself invaluable to buyers and sellers. Consider working in teams to take advantage of multiple skill sets. Also, be creative and look at where the business is going.

What sparked the idea to start your company?

We were helping major franchise brokerages … make a splash on the Web in our market. But they all continued to focus a majority of their advertising dollars toward print. We predicted real estate buyers would make a shift to the Web and decided that if these other brokerages weren’t going to follow the buyers, then we would.

What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?

When we made the shift from a referral-based business to a brick-and-mortar brokerage, we had no idea what we were doing. Luckily, we found a savior in our principal broker. Together, with my other partner and lead designer, we’ve been able to create a profitable business model.

What new features are in the pipeline?

Simplify, simplify, simplify. While everybody else is adding heat maps and other "cool" features, we’ll be dumbing-down our search. To do this we’ll be using semantics (aka "Web 3.0"). …CONTINUED

Can you share any future plans, goals?

We hope to find brokers in other states willing to adopt our business model and use our software and search-engine marketing knowledge.

What lesson did you learn in the last year?

As a referral-based model, you don’t earn the repeat real estate business. The money is in the long-term relationship.

What would your second career choice be and why?

I’d be a surf bum living in Hawaii because that’s what my father did. Wait … I probably already qualify as a surf bum.

What is the biggest problem in the real estate market today, and how would you fix it?

I think the biggest problem in our industry is that brokerages aren’t listening to the consumer and lack the creativity and willingness to change even if they did. I don’t want these brokerages to fix what they’re doing. That’s what gives us our competitive advantage.

What do you most enjoy about working in the real estate industry?

I would say the people, but that’s a cop-out. I really thrive on the competition. I want to have the best brokerage in Hawaii.

Tell us something we don’t already know about you …

I grew up and live on Kauai; my wife’s from the South of France; I can ride anything with two wheels; and I haven’t shaved in three months.

Hear Justin Britt speak during an Internet Marketing Summit workshop at the Real Estate Connect conference, which runs from Aug. 5-7 in San Francisco, Calif.


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