LOS ANGELES — Smart timing, short titles and intentional misspellings can boost page views for online ads; 48 percent of home sales in the Los Angeles area in the first quarter of 2010 were bank-owned properties; and the Apple iPad could be revolutionary for the real estate industry.

Those were among the highlights for real estate marketing, market conditions and technology during the latest of the Inman News Agent Reboot conferences, held Thursday at University of California, Los Angeles.

The one-day Los Angeles conference was the second in a series of 12 Agent Reboot conferences scheduled across the U.S., concluding Oct. 27, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

The tips to boost online ad performance came from David Vivero, CEO of RentJuice, which recently analyzed some 700,000 real estate rental classified ads in six cities. The analysis found that while most ads were posted in the afternoon, ads posted at 7:30 a.m. or 8 p.m. attracted more attention.

Ads that used variations of keywords, like "Westside" and "West side," came up more often in searches, and ads that were more professional and used "regular, formal, normal capitalization" and shorter titles were also much more likely to be viewed, Vivero said.

Vivero spoke on a panel, "Maximum Exposure: Publicizing Your Listings," with Amanda Wernick, director of social media at Seven Gables Real Estate in Orange County, and Eric Bryant, vice president of Internet services at Coldwell Banker Coastal Alliance in Long Beach, Calif.

Wernick suggested agents should focus less on sales messages and more on interacting with people in social forums.

"Facebook people don’t want to be ‘sold.’ They want to find out about you," she said.

Bryant suggested using a blog and social media to become "synonymous" with a specific, very localized community.

Hyperlocal marketing was a theme of the Agent Reboot morning sessions as well, and the message resonated with Jamie Duran, northwest regional district manager for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Studio City, Calif.

"I do a lot of social networking," she said, "But we need to be doing more community and more local (networking), rather than broad."

Mobile apps for real estate

James Dwiggins, chief strategy officer of Realty World of Northern California and Nevada, presented 20 mobile applications and five software applications he suggested would be worthwhile for real estate agents.

A few of Dwiggins’ top recommendations were DocuSign, which offers electronic document-signing technologies; mobile real estate search tool SmarterAgent, which he touted as "a competitive advantage" for real estate agents; and Expensify, a tool for compiling and managing paperless expense reports, which he said was his current favorite on the list.

Dwiggins also suggested the Apple iPad would be "a game changer" for the real estate industry, and during an earlier presentation at the event he listed 10 must-have technologies.

REOs sell at huge discount

The foreclosure and short-sale market data came from Rick Sharga, senior vice president of real estate data company RealtyTrac in Irvine, Calif.

Sharga said the level of foreclosures in the greater Southern California area was "historically unprecedented," and he grouped the region with Las Vegas and South Florida as nation’s top three foreclosure hotspots.

Sharga said that, in his opinion, the situation isn’t likely to change for quite some time — and he counts himself among the most optimistic of economists.

"Foreclosure activity will continue at historically high levels through 2012, and there will be a glut of distressed inventory through 2013," he predicted.

Preforeclosure and bank-owned (also known as real estate owned, or REO) homes in Los Angeles sold at huge discounts in the first quarter on an average-price-per-square-foot basis compared with non-preforeclosure and non-bank-owned homes in the Los Angeles market.

Sharga suggested that means real estate agents should incorporate more information about these homes in their marketing materials.

Also on the panel, "Going Local: What Does It Take to Win in Los Angeles Real Estate?" were Mike Hickman, CEO of Seven Gables Real Estate, and Gary Gold, executive vice president of Hilton & Hyland/Christie’s Great Estates in Beverly Hills.

Hickman said real estate brokers need to "take their business to the consumer" because the federal homebuyer tax credit has ended and mortgage interest rates are low, but demand from homebuyers has dropped off and "the cavalry isn’t coming."

Gold emphasized that technology, properly used, is a great tool. He said agents need to be master communicators, need to engage people, and need to be original in their marketing strategies.

The upcoming Agent Reboot schedule:
Seattle: Aug. 18
San Diego: Aug. 25
Denver: Sept. 8
Las Vegas: Sept. 15
Portland: Sept. 22
Houston: Sept. 28
Chicago: Oct. 6
Boston: Oct. 13
Ft. Lauderdale: Oct. 20
Washington, D.C.: Oct. 27

Marcie Geffner is a real estate reporter and former Inman News managing editor.

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