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10 Technologies and Tools for Real Estate Agents
Armed with high tech tools and technologies, real estate agents have ventured out in the virtual world to simplify their lives and attract more customers. Read on for our picks of the top 10 tools and technologies that can boost your performance in real estate. Ten Tools for Real Estate Agents 10. Boomerang: Boomerang is a tool for Gmail users who want to keep track of the important mails and manage their cluttered inbox. It helps you compose a mail and schedule the time when it should be sent. It even offers reminders in case you get a lead. Setting up the Boomerang email scheduling tool allows you to mark mail to be sent at a later date. The Boomerang button next to a message brings the mail back to the inbox with the reply from the recipient. 9. DocuSign: Real estate work involves a lot of documents and paperwork that can be really cumbersome to manage. This is where DocuSign comes into the picture. It manages and integrates with the major CRM systems allowing you to save the documents on cloud storage. This simplifies data storing and retrieval considerably. An effective, reliable and responsive tool, DocuSign helps in exchanging documents and get past records with just the click of a button. 8. Evernote: Evernote helps users keep track of their expenses and other important pieces of information. A great platform to store all your tax files, documents and client information, Evernote offers cloud storage facilities at a very minimal charge (about $5 a month). From old receipts to important deals, you can manage it all here.
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7 Ways To Instantly and Greatly Improve Your Real Estate Blog
The following are tips that will instantly improve your website's SEO, Aesthetics, and Visitor Experience. The goal of this article is to quickly and significantly improve your site's visibility and user experience. If you have been actively blogging for a while then I can guarantee that you will find great value in it. SEO Improvement I'm not here to shove keyword density, PageRank, or backlink strategies down your throat. Here are just a couple of simple (and easily overlooked) tips for improving your website's SEO. 1. Run a Check for Broken Links Broken links refer to any link on your site where the destination is an error page. This can happen when URLs that you link to have changed, been removed, or they were entered incorrectly in the first place. Broken links on your site can not only be embarrassing to you and frustrating to your visitor, but they can also have a detrimental affect on your SEO. The good news is that it is easy to search for and repair your broken links.
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Promotion is Key to a Successful Original Content Strategy
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5 Simple Steps to Making the Best Real Estate Videos
Real estate professionals know how important video has become to the industry. There are millions of video tours on Youtube today and video blogs have become all the rage for top real estate pros. The problem with many real estate videos is that the quality can be poor. Just because you are taking an amateur video doesn't mean it has to look like an amateur video. Here are five simple steps to making great real estate videos with your smartphone: Step 1: Record Horizontally - Recording horizontally gives you a wider view. Conversely, when recording in a vertical position, you're only recording part of the image. This looks okay if the video is viewed from a smartphone, but since most real estate videos also make it to YouTube and other websites, vertically recorded videos do not present as well as horizontal views. Step 2: Tripod and Tripod Attachments - There's nothing worse than seeing a real estate video that is shaky or that moves around a lot. This can make people dizzy and it's a huge turn-off for viewers. There's a simple fix for this: use a tripod. Tripods are built for regular cameras, but there are low-cost adaptors available. Joby sells a great all-in-one tripod for smartphones called Gorillamobile for $40. There are other options for tripods, as well. For adaptor and brackets, photo retailer Adorama has a $10 product called the Heavy Duty L-Bracket that attaches to your tripod and holds your phone in place. Studio Neat Glif is available for $20, and does the same thing as Adorama's product. These sites also have iPad options. Other websites to check out are Amazon.com and HDhat.com.
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A Primer for Blogging
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June Blogging Plan: 8 Topic Ideas
For June, we want you to set a goal to write at least one blog per week, and we're going to feed you the topics so you have no excuse not to! Here are some great ideas that will work for any real estate professional, no matter where you live. I've even provided four alternatives in case you don't like the first four topics or simply feel ambitious and want to post more often. Week 1: 10 Ways to Keep Busy During an Open House in [Your Town] This is a post targeted at sellers. Oftentimes, agents are asked, "What am I supposed to do while you are showing my house?" This blog post would answer that question, with highlights from your community. You should include: Movie theaters, with links so that they can get show times The zoo or museums Outdoor activities i.e. kayaking, hiking and cycling (with links to pertinent resources) Flea markets, farmers markets and other community events Favorite restaurants (with links to Yelp! reviews) Things you can do anywhere (visit relatives, chat with neighbors, go to the car wash) Week 2: Neighborhood Guides I'm counting this as one blog topic, but this could actually be a series of blog posts with an article for each neighborhood in your community. In each article, you'll write about the unique housing situation in one specific neighborhood, detailing recent sales, average home price, schools, etc. Include: maps, images of recent sales, pictures of schools, and a few photos you snap of the neighborhood yourself.
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What Is The Difference Between Free WordPress and Hosted WordPress?
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Mobile Friendly Real Estate Website Options and Pitfalls - Part 2
This post is a continuation of Part 1 of an article published yesterday. When we left off the article yesterday, Jim Cronin was laying out the options for a mobile-friendly experience. We continue this list of options below: Layout Altering Plugins for IDX/MLS Content: Instead of losing the IDX functions, you lose all your content, and the site, when viewed on a mobile device is simply a portal for property searching. All of the below require an approved and paid IDX subscription. These plugins offer similar features; searching, location based avails, contact agent, favorite listings, etc. iHomefinder Optima IDX Mobile dsSearchAgent Mobile IDXBroker Mobile Pros: Mobile IDX is awesome! Lead generation Easy to implement Fast loading Easy to read content Cheap (as long as you already have a compatible IDX) Cons: No posts, no pages! You end up with a site that is hardly similar to your actual site.
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Mobile Friendly Real Estate Website Options and Pitfalls - Part 1
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Choosing, Using & Organizing Categories For Your Real Estate Blog
  Our blog articles, like this one, are often inspired by the challenges that we encounter on a daily basis with new clients. One of the most common pitfalls for a new, excited blogger is overlooking the importance of properly categorizing their content. Note: This post is not about what Categories you should use. That falls under “What I Should Be Blogging About.” Because blogging is a marathon, and not a sprint, one has to expect that they are going to publish 100s of articles, possibly 1000s. One must employ a plan of organization at the outset so as to avoid an impossibly complex mess in the future.
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4 Functioning WordPress Themes for Real Estate
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Who Should I Host My Blog With?
I get this question a LOT – Who should I host my blog with? The problem with WordPress hosting (or hosting in general) may be there are just too many options to chose from. Sometimes I wish there were just two to three web hosting companies, not 500 million. OK, there probably aren’t 500 million web hosts out there. But there are MANY and as with any service, there are great hosts and lousy hosts. First let’s look at types of hosting. Free Hosting: While free is always appealing, please avoid free hosting. It’s almost always supported by ads – ads that you have little to no control over. You can get good shared hosting for less than $7 per month. You don’t need free hosting.
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How Do You Market Yourself as a REALTOR®? Web? Print? Cheesy Billboards?
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Helpful Hints for Real Estate Blogging
According to the 2011 NAR Member Guide, 90% of all dues paying members do not blog. What this means is that there is room for you, as an agent or broker, to get involved in this form of online marketing and be successful. Blogs can be a useful marketing tool in becoming a well known agent or broker in your area, which in turn gets you more business. The more exposure, the more potential customers! Here are some tips that can help you become a blogging expert:    
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Online publishing using Scribd
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Flowchart: Do I Really Need To Learn To Blog?
I had so much fun creating the first flowchart, that I couldn’t resist using another to answer a question from our jam-packed free webinar from last week. I bet you can expect more of these from us in the future.
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Mastering Your Blog Timing
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Name the One Thing Photography, Gardening, Bodybuilding and Blogging Have In Common
They are all things that seem easy at first, but prove to require a developed skill to be successful. Photography:Buy a nice camera and point it at things while pressing the button. Easy. Gardening:Dig hole, place plant (or seed), replace dirt, add water, Miracle Grow® and sunshine. Easy. Bodybuilding:Lift a lot of weights, eat a lot of protein, consider supplements. Easy. Blogging For Business:Start blog on Wordpress, type articles about real estate, publish. Easy. They all seem easy enough, but when it comes to measuring your success, after the effort, most will be left disheartened.
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The One Thing That You Can Do To Improve Your Real Estate Blogsite
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The Science of Timing: Blogging
How many times a day or week should you blog to keep people interested? Do you know what time of day is best for blogging? Does it matter? The answer is simple: there is a science to blogging. With millions of bloggers, how do you make your message rise above the digital noise and gain traction within your industry? When are people listening? Don't worry, there are answers to this based on scientific research. Modern day blogging has evolved into a science. If you are interested in keeping a client and subscriber base informed and engaged with you and your message, it is well worth your time to invest in learning some of the research behind the science of blog timing. HubSpot social media scientist Dan Zarrella discussed his research on timing. He has conducted research on the Internet for the last 2-3 years. Of all the subjects he researches, the science of timing is the number one piece of data consumers want to know. He researches and identifies best practices. This webinar presents all the data to date that Zarrella has studied. It covers three marketing mediums businesses use for inbound marketing: social media, email and blogging. This article focuses on blogging specifically.
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The Queue: Groupon and How Facebook Marries Wordpress
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Social Media: The Art of Building Awareness and Capture
We use social media tools for different purposes. We might use it for distribution of media, for marketing, for customer service, for promotion, for communication, and most likely, for all of the above. How you use it depends on your end goals, obviously. But most times, people are being thrust into using social media without really knowing what the goals are, and without knowing what kind of workflow should accompany the use of the tool. Instead, they swing by Facebook to see if anyone commented on the wall update, and they visit Twitter to reply to a few things, retweet a few other things, and they end up feeling like they’re not sure why they’re doing this, let alone how it’s going to serve the cause.
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How to Show Facebook Comments on Your WordPress Blog
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Website Writings 101
In my last post, I talked about the human attention span (or lack thereof). Now that I have your attention again, I'll get started before I get side-tracked myself. Perhaps you simply prefer the 'DIY' approach, or perhaps hiring a professional web content writer isn't an option – regardless of the situation – a website needs words. Furthermore, a website needs more than just 'fluff' and generic content to capture the reader's attention. While some of us are more proficient with words than others, no matter how word-savvy you are, there are a few things everyone should keep in mind: The Landing Page The About Page Cut to the Chase
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Fannie Mae Look-Up Tool
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Have Writer's Block?
One question I get consistently any time I talk to people about real estate blogging is, “What do you write about and where do you find the time?” And a darn fine question it is. Actually, it’s two questions. We’ll attempt to tackle the first one now, ans the second one in a follow up article. What to write about Here is where I differ somewhat from many “blogging experts”. Personally, I don’t think a real estate blog needs to be exclusively about real estate. You don’t need to go all “hyper local” to have a successful real estate blog. “Blasphemy!” someone is saying.
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The Two Best Tools for Blogging
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Want to Increase Traffic to Your Home For Sale? Ask a REALTOR®
Q: "My house is listed for $339,000. We bought it three years ago for $368,000. There is a house directly across the street from me similar in amenities but 1,000 square feet smaller, listed at $249,000. (They bought it for $280,000 around the same time.) My question is, I see a lot of traffic at that house compared to ours. We listed on Sept. 24, and only have 5 brochures removed from our free info box so far. That house has already received an offer, but it was turned down by the sellers. We would like to increase the traffic to our property. Aside from our REALTOR® posting it on a multiple listing site, what else can we do? Would an open house help?"
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Set Blog Goals, Set Traffic Records!
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Tech-ing It To the Next Level
Branded web site. Check. Facebook fan page. Check. Document management solution. Check. Featured listings and listing syndication. Check. WordPress blog. Check. If you currently have a technology list like the one above, instead of adding the latest and greatest technologies, perhaps the best way to spend your time is to educate yourself on the technologies you already have.  With technology, consider the old adage "Less is more".  It is better to become an expert in a few technologies, than someone who uses dozens of technologies to half of their potential.  Maybe it's time to take it to the next level. REALTOR® Magazine recently posted a helpful article detailing nine strategies real estate agents can employ to do more with the technology they already have in their arsenal.
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Food for Fodder
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7 Reasons Why Your (Future) Clients Care that You are a Real Estate Blogger
In the collective discussion that took place on this topic, there was lots of writing on why blogging helps you gain the trust of your audience, and how blogging helps you connect to your potential clients, but pinning down why they should care took some time to uncover. Paula Henry from IndyRealEstateTalk.com broke through with the concept that a well executed real estate blog gives clients a sense of the agent “beyond the slogan.” Many real estate agents use slogans such as: “Knowledge Is Power” “Service You Deserve. People You Trust” “Experience Is The Difference” “Always There For You” “We Care” “Your Local Expert” …and so on. Without the substance to back up these slogans, they are nothing more than sentences.  Your clients and potential clients are in fact looking for an agent that has superior knowledge, rich experience, is trustworthy, offers excellent service, knows the area and cares about them. It is through blogging that your audience is able to recognize that you are the embodiment of the aspects they are looking for in the agent that will guide them through the most important financial decision of their lives.
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Get Plugged into WordPress with the Latest
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How to Target Your Marketing Efforts and Master Your Business Niche
If you want to make more money in today’s competitive environment, then you need to master your business niche. Let me show you a perfect, prime example of niche marketing at its best: The AARP card appeared in the mail again. This time I actually opened the envelope and reviewed the material included with the invitation to join. Offers of insurance, magazines, on-line registrations and general information related to aging spilled out across the table. Everything in the packet maintained the specific intent of enticing a middle age person to join the group dedicated to senior citizens. A scant five years ago, I wouldn’t have acknowledged the promotional material. It would have been swept into the nearest garbage can as I briefly wondered why this organization wasted its marketing dollars on me. Now, as I scan the introductory letter, the supporting messages delivered in the envelope are beginning to make sense. I’ve discovered that the magazine is dedicated to providing me with information on medical advancements for cholesterol control, suggestions to slim the middle age bulge and tips to improve my memory. That last one caught my attention. Startled, I realized that I aged into the targeted demographic of The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and didn’t feel it coming on. When, for god’s sake, did I stop being 35? AARP knew it would happen and patiently primed the pump for several years as it waited for me to emotionally recognize that my body and brain would change. My perspective would alter and this organization graciously waited until it was needed. Now, that’s niche marketing!
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Blogging Brainstorm Contest for REALTORS®
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Real Estate Blogging: Quantity, Not Detail!
Beginning a blog is hard. What do you write? How long does it have to be? Does it fully capture who you are and what you can offer your readers without making you sound lame? Jim Cronin of Real Estate Tomato hears these types of questions all day long, when working with real estate professionals who want to begin to blog. In answer to these frantic, initial questions, here's what he has to say: "The following is based on a phone rant that I have let loose so many times that I’m starting to feel myself on auto-pilot, almost thinking about something else, as I explain the basic formula to guaranteed blogging success. It struck me that I need to write this down before I mistakenly consider it to be no longer relevant. The fact is that it couldn’t be more relevant for new and struggling real estate bloggers. I am adding this article to the Pre-Class Homework that all of our new clients will receive, for it is the foundation of their path to blogging reward.
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AgentPress: The Ideal Theme for Real Estate Bloggers
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What’s in Your Real Estate Tool Kit?
It’s surprising to me that REALTORS® are unaware of items to have in their coveted real estate tool kit. It doesn’t need to consist of a bunch of disjointed tools like in recent history. Make it is easy for yourself and utilize the technology that is now available to you. Can you believe there are still some REALTORS® out there with a Hudson’s map in one hand and the steering wheel in the other? Yes, it’s sad but true. Time to get with the program all you real estate professionals and check out these latest time savers and productivity gainers. Without a system that automatically assumes mundane non-revenue producing tasks, you might as well be an order taker. The following tools are great finds for your real estate tool kit.
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