Technology

Rae Catanese: ’80 percent of my leads come from my real estate blog’

Florida Realtor talks technology and her blog's return on investment

Inman is interviewing real estate professionals in every area of the field to talk about technology use. Here’s Rae Catanese, a Realtor at Re/Max Bay to Bay and author of The Tampa Real Estate Insider Blog and an Inman contributor.

What kind of phone do you use and why?

I have an iPhone 5; it does everything I need it to do.

What are your top three apps on your phone?

Facebook, Hootsuite and Pinterest.

How do you split your digital time between mobile and desktop?

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About 75 percent desktop, 25 percent mobile.

Describe your job. What do you do every day? How does technology support (or not support) your daily job description?

I am a Realtor and real estate blogger. I spend a lot of time doing research for clients using our MLS (multiple listing service) and reading industry-related articles on both real estate and technology. I also spend a lot of time researching SEO (search engine optimization), SEM (search engine marketing), and keywords and analytics on my blog.

Do you consider yourself an early adopter of technology? Or do you wait to see what’s working for other people?

I was the first real estate blogger in Tampa in 2006, so yes, I’m an early adopter. I do like to see what’s working for others; however, I test many products on my own to see if they would be applicable to my business.

What’s the biggest technology-related challenge you face today? How do you solve it?

Keeping up with all the new iPhone and iPad apps and plug-ins available for WordPress. I try to select technology that I can use for free that complements what I’m already using.

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What do you think is the biggest overall challenge facing the real estate industry? Will technology be able to address it?

The misconception buyers have with “Zestimates” and other computer-generated home value websites. People believe what they see, but they have no idea that it is just an “estimate of value.” They put more weight in what a computer-generated report says than in my 13 years of experience as a Realtor. Trying to convince buyers and sellers that you have to look at various factors when determining a home’s value is a challenge. Today’s tech-savvy clients think they know more than you when it pertains to value, but their knowledge isn’t necessarily based on facts, just general statistics.

As agents, we have to dig deep into our data to come up with a true value. We look at lot sizes, age of the property, whether or not the home has been updated, and if it is in an undesirable location, such as backing up to a busy road, or has some other feature that would cause a home’s value to increase or decrease. These are all factors that the “instant” home value websites don’t take into consideration. Technology can’t address this because we need real human beings to assess values, market conditions and competition in the market. This is why having a seasoned real estate agent is crucial to any homebuyer or seller. They know the mindset of the buyer, what’s considered desirable in a particular neighborhood and so on. An agent can save a buyer or seller thousands of dollars even after a commission is paid by simply knowing what sells and what doesn’t.

How do you feel technology is changing the real estate industry?

I love technology, especially as an advertising tool and for word-of-mouth advertising. The agents who aren’t using social media and technology are not going to be able to keep up with the demands of the new generation of homebuyers who will demand that their agents use it. They want everything in an instant, including responses to questions and apps and websites that are easy to use. Zillow has become like crack for homebuyers and sellers. They are addicted to it. It’s easy to use and information can be obtained about a properties history instantly. Oh, yes, and let’s not forget the “preforeclosures” that they advertise that give buyers false hope. Even though realtor.com may have more reliable information, it did not catch on like Zillow did. I’m glad to see realtor.com now advertising that its information is the most accurate in the real estate industry, because we all know that is true. I always tell people to use realtor.com if they want to know what’s really on the market!

What email system(s) do you use? Which one is your favorite and why?

I use Gmail with Chrome. Chrome allows you to install all types of extensions that can be integrated with Gmail to make it more efficient and easily integrates with third-party platforms that I use, like Rapportive and Yesware.

Do you use a calendar app? Which one? What do you like about it?

I recently started using Sunrise. It pulls my Facebook calendar into my Gmail calendar and alerts me of birthdays, events I’ve registered for on Facebook, showings on homes and holidays.

What’s on your technology wish list — for yourself or for work?

For work, I’d love to find a program that I can use to track the leads I give to other agents. It seems there are quite a few out there; however, taking the manual process out of importing or inputting the data would be great.

Where do you get most of your leads: portals or other sources?

I receive 80 percent of my leads through my real estate blog. Every time I post an article to my blog, I also post it on social media, which then links to my blog. I have more than 480 articles since I started blogging in 2006. All of my articles pertain to my market, which is the Tampa Bay area, and most of them come from questions that buyers and sellers have asked me. I answer their question, and there’s my blog post. Chances are that if one person has a question, many others have the same question.

What is your favorite technology, one you actually get joy out of using?

I love technology … all types really. I like seeing the results my blog generates, and I’m always on a quest to learn more about SEO.

Read Rae’s article “How my listing became Zillow’s most-viewed home of 2014.”

Would you like to participate in Inman’s technology profile series? Email contributors@inman.com.