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Best Realtors – Here’s what they do different!

December 11, 2009

What exactly are the best Realtors in the country doing differently right now?

After attending both NAR in San Diego and the Triple Play convention in Atlantic City over the course of the last month, we have come to the conclusion that the most succesful agents are leveraging their website and social media as a way to “educate” and not “advertise”.  Luring clients with valuable insight about their local real estate market is more crucial than ever.  You are at a time in real estate where everyone and their brother is asking you “how’s the market”, good news is they REALLY want to know.  Saying “it’s great” when we all know it’s scary makes you a salesperson and what consumers want is a consultant.  Self promotion and endless personal advertising does not contain the information that todays internet savvy consumers are looking for.  As you browse the web daily, are you looking for salespeople or are you looking for information about products and services? 

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Take a step back and look at your own website objectively. Can a consumer instantly find home values the way they can on Zillow?  Can they search for properties quickly without giving up their email address the way they can on Trulia, Cyberhomes and countless other sites?  Are you just trying to “get leads”?  Are the tabs on your site my listings, about me, contact me, areas I serve, etc…?  By the way, how many leads is that approach getting you?  Why do you think those aforementioned sites get millions of visitors each month?   They provide quick, graphical, user friendly information that is all about the consumers needs and goals and not self promoting at all.

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While attending a seminar by Max Pigman, a national speaker and technologist for one of the largest real estate tech companies in the world, it became clear that social media and consumer behavior has changed the game.  While qualified buyers and people willing to list has gone down along with home values, social media and technology are allowing tech savvy agents to handle more contacts seemlessly than ever before.

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Max pointed out that contrary to what many Realtors believe, a lot of the automated systems available as tools can hinder the agents growth in the social media realm.  For example: a program like Postlets, that syndicates listings to several sites automatically and works well with sites like Craigslist, Zillow and Trulia, may cause Gen Y’ers in Facebook to ignore your future posts or even hide your updates because it is autoposting your listings which isn’t exactly why Facebook is so popular.  Interupt advertising is not kosher in the social networks.  Instead, try creating a Fan Page for your business like the one we have where once someone joins willingly they have then given you the okay to then provide real estate specific content.  You may also consider creating a Fan Page for the areas or neighborhoods you work in as a resource for the community to post garage sales, local events, things for sale, best front lawn pics, etc…as the admin of the page you can also post the recent solds, listings, links to your website and market trends which would be much appreciated by all those “nosy neighbors”! 

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Finding the balance on your personal account in Facebook between real life and real estate is very important and can be a make it or break it when it comes to social media. Try using the old 80/20 addadge as a rule of thumb. The 80 being personal and the 20 being business related.

To see an example of a team of agents who have figured this out and are in perfect balance with today’s tech savvy consumers check out one of our personal favorites:

Krisstina Wise and The Good Life Team

 

Good Life Team Facebook Fan Page

If you are a consumer looking for an agent in your market that “gets all this” then simply leave a comment below and we will make sure to get you in touch with the best Realtors in your area!

Best Tech Real Estate Agents – Cal Carter – Gulf Shores Life – Alabama Coast

November 9, 2009
Who is the best tech real estate agent in the country?  We just found one!
Our goal at Tech Savvy Agent is a simple one: to find the best tech real estate agents in each local market throughout the country.  It has become critical to today’s consumers that Realtors understand the way selling a home or the home buying process needs to be handled in this new age of social media and web 2.0.  Unfortunately, due to the rapid pace with which the industry, consumers, the market and technology are changing, not all agents have been able to keep up.  At Tech Savvy Agent we are building a database for buyers, sellers and investors of local agents for each market who have been proven through a series of tests and skills  to be proficient in Web 2.0, Social Media, Contact Management, Timely Follow Up and have a strong on-line presence both in their market and in the search engines.  Please help us in congratulating our first winner: 

Cal Carter and the Gulf Shores Life Real Estate group!

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Alabama Gulf Coast Gulf Shores Orange Beach Ono Island – North Georgia

When we recieved their application within 15 minutes of it becoming available we knew we had found someone special! Cal Carter and the team at Gulf Life Shores confirmed a database of over 9900, provided web site stats that most agents won’t see in 10 years and have an A+ website that is user friendly while at the same giving you no need to look elsewhere due to the depth of information.  If you are looking to buy or sell a home or know someone who may be, the obvious choice for the Alabama Gulf Coast is Cal Carter and the Gulf Shores Life team.

Website Stats

Extreme traffic = more buyers and less time on the market for your home!

As social media, the web and blogging have become necessary tools to properly reach growingly tech savvy buyers, Cal and the team have an excellent blog that leverages a live Twitter Feed, Facebook Badge and multimedia including YouTube videos of the properties.

Cal also runs his wife’s on-line presence for the North Georgia Life Team.  Both teams are utilizing an impressive map search tool, making it simple yet visually impressive to find properties that perfectly fit your criteria in seconds. 

Search by map

Easy to navigate and find properties by subdivision, price range, etc...

We are proud to crown Cal and the team Tech Savvy Local Agents for the Alabama Coast and North Georgia.  Spend a few minutes navigating their website/blog and you will quickly see why the choice was an easy one.  To contact Cal and the team simply click the button below!

Contact the team

Contact the Gulf Shores Life Team

Photography and Real Estate (Part 1 Cameras)

November 2, 2009

With the game changing faster than ever and literally 5 times the amount of places to market and promote your listings on the internet, one would think that real estate photography would go hand in hand and evolve with it. This isn’t the case. Looking through the MLS and various websites it becomes obvious, the photographic aspect of real estate is generally lacking. Your photos and their visual impact that is created , from the angles selected, lighting, and choice of equipment, matter more today than ever. When we posted a comment on our Facebook page, we were excited to see how many people actually use a professional photographer to paint their listings with the best light possible. Why not? Photographs are absolutely crucial for buyers in deciding if they want to see a home or not. Looking for a home myself, right now, I realize the importance of good photos more than ever. The homes I am most attracted to are generally the ones that have the best photos.

Here at Tech Savvy we recommend the use of a professional photographer to give your listings the best possible chance to succeed in these trying times. There are more agents now than ever hiring a pro, to come in and get the photos their clients deserve. The agents we talk to, use it as an excellent closing tool and a huge value added service that they provide, to justify that 6%. Judging from our experience here at Tech Savvy, (some) of the most successful realtors and teams offer this. If you are not offering professional photography, you better have the photographic prowess to back up your decision for not hiring one.

Again, we would recommend a professional but, if you insist on doing it yourself, here are some basic tips. We will break this down into two categories. Going over the equipment in this post and covering techniques in the next, to keep the information digest-able, in bite size portions.

Equipment

Honestly, a proper camera is crucial to today’s internet marketer. Photographing a $500,000 home, with a $199 point and shoot isn’t going to cut it. These little cameras cannot photograph a “true wide-angle” and won’t display too much more, than a small portion of even a large room. You will not be doing a home justice by photographing a property with one of these. There are some new, point and shoot (compact) cameras out there, that claim to have wide-angle capability and some get pretty close, but still fall short of a DSLR camera. For example the new Canon SD 940IS is supposed to have great wide-angle capabilities but, still only goes down to 28mm, falling way short of a DSLR 10-22 mm lens (16mm equivalent Canon body) on a DSLR. You can also buy small, magnetic snap-on wide-angle lenses, for a compact camera but, are not recommended due to the huge amount of distortion involved in these budget devices. When someone looks at a picture, they unconsciously process that picture in their head and awkward angles and lines in cabinets, tables and furniture, due to distortion of a lens, can actually cause someone not to like a home. Don’t believe me? There is a reason companies spend millions of dollars in marketing and appealing packaging for their products. How are your listings packaged?

What’s a DSLR? A digital single lens reflex camera allows the user to shoot with less distortion due to the construction of a larger lens and can shoot with a great wide-angle view. DSLR camera’s used to be really expensive but have come down in price drastically, in the last few years. Now you can pick one for as little as $500! These cameras offer the highest optics and will serve you well in real estate photography. Make sure you buy a wide-angle lens, like the Canon 10-22 mm for Canon cameras or the 12-24mm for Nikon cameras. Check out this review of the Canon 10-22mm lens review and look at the difference between the ultra wide 10mm view and the semi wide 22mm view of this lens, also shown below.  BTW, these photos are  from www.the-digital-picture.com and it is the best website, in my opinion, for evaluating Canon gear.

10mm

10mm

22mm

22mm

What a difference the 10mm perspective can make, in showing all of small room or making a larger room seem expansive.  Do you see why a 28mm simply does not cut it?  These wide-angle lenses are crucial for your business.

You probably have another question….Canon or Nikon?  Ahh, the age-old debate.  The truth is, it doesn’t matter.  They both provide excellent cameras and you will most likely be happy with either of them.  Don’t worry about the brand that much.  I happen to be a Canon shooter but Nikon has wonderful options available too.  A great place to go to get camera reviews, for any brand, is www.dpreview.com.  They have pretty much everything there and also great forums to talk to other camera users as well and to ask questions.

Now buying of these cameras isn’t an instant solution for you.  Time will have to be spent learning how to use them too!  They are not as easy as a compact camera to use but, the results speak for themselves, if used properly.  In the next “photography post” we will go over some tips and tricks on ow to take better photos.

Stayed tuned for the technique section next….

We are also creating an album for our Fan page in Facebook so send your pictures and website info to:

techsavvylocalagent@gmail.com so we can put a face to our fans!  It is “Face”book right?

Do you have what it takes to be deemed Tech Savvy Agent?

October 26, 2009

Are you are Tech Savvy Local Agent?

Are you are Tech Savvy Local Agent?

So here it is. We have compiled a series of skills tests and questions that we will be using to select the Tech Savvy Agents for our referral network. Consumers will be made aware of the criteria that was used for your selection and thus feel more confident in giving you their business in this new tech age we are in. They can even leverage us in the process if they have questions as we will be providing 3rd party credibility of your savviness. You will also recieve a custom badge to place on your website and blog that will link back to your featured profile on our site, as another opportunity to build credibility as they are browsing your page. As technology changes, so will our criteria for selection. Due to the title being limited to 2 Realtors per market, there will be continued ed pop quizzes in the future to retain your crown.

All agents selected will be featured on our Tech Savvy Agent Blog, Facebook fan page, Twitter page, ActiveRain Blog and You Tube Video Channel.

Please return your submission within 5 days of downloading to:
TechSavvyLocalAgent@gmail.com
Best of luck and if you have any questions about the questions just leave a comment on this thread!

DOWNLOAD THE TECH SAVVY QUESTIONNARE NOW

Real Estate Live Chat – Converting Visitors into Paychecks

October 18, 2009

Could Live Chat be the way to convert your web traffic?

Could Live Chat be the way to convert your web traffic?


We are going to argue that the web is the new shopping mall. Lots of stores and products to buy and browse(window shoppers galore). One player noticably missing in the equation though are the sales people. You know, the ones who ask you if you are finding everything okay and you politely tell you are “just browsing” whether true or not. Concept is, that by the end of your shift at Macy’s, out of the 250 people you asked at least a handful actually did tell you what they were there for and even had a few questions that helped them decide to buy. See where we are going with this?

NAR has released statistics for 2008 that are very compelling;
(Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 2008)
• 88% of homebuyers shopped online for real estate
• Internet buyers earn 50% more than traditional buyers
• 87% of internet shoppers use a Realtor® compared to 72% of traditional shoppers
• In 2008 32% of homebuyers found their home online (up 400% in 7 years!)

So if 88% of buyers shop online for real estate, can having a live chat tool help agents
leverage this traffic and convert more unique and repeat visitors into appointments and leads? We do hear all the time about agents having trouble turning traffic on their website into paychecks! Could this be the answer?

The trend on the websites of most large companies(National City/ Bank of America/ Apple (support)/ Hoover/ Earthlink to name a few) at this point is to engage ASAP. They offer a live chat solution for their web visitors and can set criteria as to when and what to ask and what features to point out to that specific visitor. We don’t think these large companies would use chat services unless they worked. They give an advantage that’s hard to compete with, especially for smaller businesses.

Connecting with a homebuyer early in the process is critical if you are serious about becoming their real estate agent of choice. Being able to connect while they are doing their initial research makes sense, but how? You don’t have time to watch your site all day. Especially if you get a lot of traffic. Currently the internet is reactive and is more like a brochure than an interactive online store.

Does your website do this?

Does your website do this?


Enter ActivSalesAgent They have a unique solution that transforms your site from informational to conversational through a live engagement tool. They invite your online visitors to have a conversation about their needs (aka discovery interview), and connect with them as an extension of your sales team. The goal is simple, help you convert your web traffic into live prospects.
activsales3
Prospective buyers are shopping online; offering them a handshake over the internet when they get to your site seems like a logical path to not only get more buyers, but to also stand out from the crowd (tech savvy if you will). Take a test run of their service at www.activSalesAgent.com and let us know what you think! They will greet you and answer questions on pricing, logistics, etc…using the same system they are offering you as a broker or agent!

Tech Savvy Agent Product Score for ActivSalesAgent:

Tech SaVVVy

Scoring System:
Tech SaVy = Outdated
Tech SaVVy = Worth Checking Out
Tech SaVVVy = Cutting Edge
Tech SaVVVVy = Must Have Product

Are you a pushy Realtor?

October 13, 2009

This clip may just be a quick laugh for you as it was for us, but it raises a good question.
Is this the way real estate agents are still percieved by the masses, not each other, real consumers? Yes, there are realtors that are tech savvy, hip and using social media properly, but aren’t they the exception? What percentage of agents fall into the tech savvy/good with 35 and under catergory vs. how many are still percieved at least a bit like the agent in this clip; pushy, outdated and desperate? Seems the Tech Savvy Agents are creating blogs, websites and marketing pieces that are educating as opposed to advertising. “Edutising”. Better than pushy.
Enjoy.

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Real Estate domain names – OWN a neighborhood with a simple strategy!

October 11, 2009

Want to become a neighborhood expert immediately? A $10 domain name is all it takes. We are amazed at how many marketing pieces we receive in our mailboxes with no call to action on them except……”if you’re thinking about selling your home, give us a call”. Yeah, right. WHY should we call you? More importantly WHAT can you do for me? Talk about finding a needle in a haystack, trying to utilize that method. Thus the return using direct mail for real estate is historically one fraction of 1%.

The Tech Savvy Agent is not only about uncovering people ready to transact now, but also ensuring their success for the future by capturing early stage leads and setting them up on a “real” follow up plan.

Try this out for size. Let’s say we wanted to target (farm, Just listed/sold cards) a neighborhood called Radley Ridge that has about 300 homes. Go to www.godaddy.com or any other site where domains can be purchased and buy http://www.radleyridgehomevalues.com. This will set you back about $10.

Go Daddy is known for their great customer service!

Go Daddy is known for their great customer service!


Now we create a mailer that reads as follows:

“Attention Radley Ridge Residents!(alliteration never hurt either) Ever wonder what homes are being listed at and selling for in your neighborhood? Find out instantly on your own website! Simply go to http://www.radleyridgehomevalues.com to get all the info on what’s going on in your neighborhood while the market is scary.”

Let’s examine why this works so effectively:
1. there is an extremely strong call to action that addresses the concerns and fears of the home owners in Radley Ridge(the market is scary right?)
2. personalizing the domain name hits home with the residents and is a refreshing change from the http://www.JoeAgent.com’s of the world
3. we have a deliverable that’s of value to our client!

The key word in that call to action is the word instant. People want their info now!

Ok Mr. Tech Savvy guy, what in the world do we do with that domain name. How are we supplying that info with only our great new domain name?

Well, there are a few automated services out there that can supply the info for each neighborhood automatically but, today we are going to talk about the free method, which just cost you a little “sweat equity”. Take that domain name and forward it to a page on your website that you designated for the stats of that neighborhood.

Make sure to forward and mask

Make sure to forward and mask


Post the most recent transactions from Radley Ridge and a market synopsis and you are almost done. We want to capture these people right? Add a lead capture form (most websites have them) and tell them that if they sign in here they will receive updated market info once a month, sent right to their email for their neighborhood specifically?

This is the data our consumers want guys, if you are not sending out regular market updates you are missing the boat! This method is a sure fire way of capturing more leads and breaking out of the stale mailers. We have had feedback from agents that this approach turned their 1% return into 10% or better with their next mailout! You just have to deliver the goods by following up with relevant data. KNOW YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD.

See if the neighborhood you are working in is still available in less than one minute by clicking the link or image below!
Tech Savvy Agent is in no way affiliated with Go Daddy, we just buy our domain names from them and know they have excellent customer support which is always important when it comes to tech companies.
GoDaddy.com
godaddy
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