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Best of 2013: Introducing WebsiteBox
Here it is--our top article of the year. For the first time ever, the number one spot goes to a product review. That reflects just how curious agents were to learn about WebsiteBox's unique pricing strategy after the company captured attention at Inman NY last year. Learn more in our overview below. See article #2 here. There are a plethora of real estate website solutions on the market today that are easy to set up. Tech companies have realized that most agents aren't technically minded, and that even those who are simply don't have the time to design and build a site. While this is great for agents (we don't have to tell you that a website is a necessity, do we?), narrowing down which vendor to use can be overwhelming. As one of the newest challengers in this increasingly crowded arena, WebsiteBox has differentiated themselves in a way that's hard to ignore--by appealing to agents' wallets. Their hook is powerful--for a one-time fee of $99, agents get a website, integrated IDX search, a CRM, hosting, and more--for life. Seem too good to be true? That's exactly what our readers have been wondering. Ever since WebsiteBox debuted at Inman in January, we've been fielding phone calls from RE Technology members who want to know, well, what we know. The truth is, we didn't know much until recently. We knew that WebsiteBox had created a tremendous buzz in a very short period of time, but we hadn't yet peeked under the hood to see how everything worked. Thankfully, CEO Peyman Aleagha gave us a tour of WebsiteBox and answered all of our questions. Now, we can answer all of yours! The Big Question Before we dive in, we'd first like to address what's on everyone's mind--is this for real? The skepticism is understandable. Too many companies draw consumers in with one price, only to tack on extra fees (we're looking at you, airlines). People are accustomed to looking for a catch.
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Last Chance to Take RE Technology's Reader Survey!
We've been sorting through hundreds of responses to RE Technology's inaugural Reader Survey. We've received a lot of great feedback, but something is still missing--YOUR voice. We're trying to gather as many responses as possible in order to find out how we can best improve RE Technology for the thousands of agents and brokers we serve. Are we meeting our goal of teaching you how to leverage technology to grow your real estate practice? In order to provide you with the most useful, relevant articles and information, we'd like to learn more about you and your reading experience on our site. Here are a few examples of what we'd like to know: Does RE Technology help you learn about/find technology solutions for your business? What could make our articles more interesting and relevant to you? What could make RE Technology easier to use? What topics are you most interested in reading about on RETechnology.com? The entire survey should take no longer than 10 minutes to complete. In doing so, you will have a voice in shaping the future RE Technology. Let us know how we can better serve you! Take RE Technology's Reader Survey!
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Product Review: WebsiteBox
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Product Review: WebsiteBox
There are a plethora of real estate website solutions on the market today that are easy to set up. Tech companies have realized that most agents aren't technically minded, and that even those who are simply don't have the time to design and build a site. While this is great for agents (we don't have to tell you that a website is a necessity, do we?), narrowing down which vendor to use can be overwhelming. As one of the newest challengers in this increasingly crowded arena, WebsiteBox has differentiated themselves in a way that's hard to ignore--by appealing to agents' wallets. Their hook is powerful--for a one-time fee of $99, agents get a website, integrated IDX search, a CRM, hosting, and more--for life. Seem too good to be true? That's exactly what our readers have been wondering. Ever since WebsiteBox debuted at Inman in January, we've been fielding phone calls from RE Technology members who want to know, well, what we know. The truth is, we didn't know much until recently. We knew that WebsiteBox had created a tremendous buzz in a very short period of time, but we hadn't yet peeked under the hood to see how everything worked. Thankfully, CEO Peyman Aleagha gave us a tour of WebsiteBox and answered all of our questions. Now, we can answer all of yours! The Big Question Before we dive in, we'd first like to address what's on everyone's mind--is this for real? The skepticism is understandable. Too many companies draw consumers in with one price, only to tack on extra fees (we're looking at you, airlines). People are accustomed to looking for a catch.
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Real Estate Software/ Technology: What to Invest In
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Friday Freebie: Website Evaluation from Dynamic Page Solutions
This week's Friday Freebie comes to us courtesy of a longtime site contributor. Dynamic Page Solutions has been educating RE Technology readers on the basics of Search Engine Optimization for almost two years. To learn how their expertise can help your website--keep reading! Free Website Evaluation from Dynamic Page Solutions How's the health of your real estate website? If you're not sure, now's a great time to find out. Dynamic Page Solutions is offering a free, no obligation website evaluation. Your website and its architecture will be evaluated on its ability to: Keep up with search engine algorithm changes Rank for focused keywords Generate traffic via longtail keywords And more Following the evaluation, Dynamic Page Solutions will make recommendations to increase your traffic and lead generation. This may include services like online branding, optimized IDX, SEO, and pay-per-click advertising. To learn more or start your evaluation, visit Dynamic Page Solutions' website.
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ValueAppeal™ Pro Helps You Save Your Clients Money
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Product Review: RBIntel
RBIntel is a very special data analytics program that is used by agents and brokers to educate consumers on what is happening in the local real estate market. The product is designed to allow MLS member agents and brokers to create almost any kind of market report they need, any time, on any device. It is amazing on the iPad or a smartphone, putting MLS market stats in your hands wherever you are meeting with customers. Today's real estate agent is bombarded by consumers who believe everything they read on the Internet. Unfortunately, even popular television news sites give consumers incorrect information about the real estate market. Consumers often encounter sources like Zillow, Trulia, and Case-Shiller that use outdated and incomplete data to talk about the market. RBIntel is different because it is built on MLS data and published every month to give you the advantage you need to help today's homebuyer or seller. RBIntel was developed by an MLS (MRIS). They fundamentally understand how agents and brokers use real estate market data today. The program supports the ability for reports, or any part of a report, to be communicated between real estate professionals and their customer, including print, website, newsletter, blog, social media, and email. It even allows you to export the raw data into a spreadsheet. Moreover, the market reports can be published as static reports or interactive reports. Think of a static report as a snapshot or photo. You might use this to tell your clients something specific, like today's list-to-sell ratio in their area. An interactive report has two features. First, it allows the customer to make changes to the report criteria. Secondly, the report will update automatically each month.   Update: Showingtime Acquires Real Estate Business Intelligence
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5 Things to Look for in a New Remote Bookkeeper
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iPhone 5 Hails and Fails for Real Estate Professionals
The countdown is over and the iPhone 5 has surfaced. Have you made the purchase? Or are you thinking about it? Apple sold over five million of these amazing pieces of machinery in just three days! Woah! Did you know that analysts were expecting between $6 – 10 million in sales? The iPhone 5 is a major hardware upgrade, while the 4S was only a software upgrade. Not to mention--it looks pretty snazzy. The 5 is slimmer and taller with a bigger screen for better viewing. Get ready, it's the first iPhone to be compatible with 4G, so it's much faster, too! With all the hype, there are some negatives that real estate agents should be aware of. Homes.com asked around and did some research, including input from our friends at Inman News, and have compiled a list of "iPhone 5 Hails and Fails." HAILS Faster: Thanks to "Long-Term Evolution" (LTE) network speed and the quickness of in-phone functionality. This has prompted agents to cut down on iPad use. The larger screen requires users to zoom in less than on the iPhone 4S, which is really convenient for agents to review and prepare contracts.
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Your Next Social Media Bible, Courtesy of Matt Heinz
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Do you use a Client Relationship Management Product? Tell us all about it!
RE Technology would love to have our subscribers that use Client Relationship Management or "CRM" products visit our site and leave a review. It's always better to get product information and reviews from fellow agents rather than reading about a product or listening to a sales pitch. Wouldn't you want to know the hands-on details about a company or product before purchasing it? Help your fellow real estate professionals decide what CRM tools works best for their business by taking a moment to post a review of your current CRM or programs that you've used in the past. Don't use a CRM? Read our articles about Client Relationship Management (CRM) tools to learn more about how they can benefit your business. Just visit the CRM category in our product directory, find a CRM solution that you use or have used, scroll to the bottom of that product's page and write a little about your experience.
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Is That Tech Investment Worth It?
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Product Review: ePropertySites Property Marketing Tools
ePropertySites describes their goal in their mission statement: "Perfecting the art of property marketing online and on site." For this reason, we've focused this review on several of their tools focused on marketing individual properties. However, their robust array of products also helps real estate professionals with personal marketing and much more. There are a few key strategic objectives that agents and brokers can accomplish with ePropertySites: Building a property website before the listing presentation enhances your ability to secure the listing Leveraging your iPad to exude your technical expertise and marketing savvy Highlight your seller's property with a single listing website Enhance your search engine optimization effectiveness Convey far more information to the buyer than what is offered through IDX property search The Basics ePropertySites offers several different pricing plans for their services. Each of the tools we're going to discuss here is included in every plan. For a better understanding of options and pricing, visit ePropertySites.com. Step One: Earn the Listing Property marketing cannot begin until the seller selects you as their agent. For this reason, ePropertySites offers their Flipshows for listing presentations. These "flipshows" or "flip books" combine your custom images and text. ePropertySites offers an iPad-friendly version of their Flipshows, recognizing that the iPad has become a favorite listing presentation tool. You can check out an example of a listing presentation Flipshow here.
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Product Review: ValueAppeal™ Pro
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5 Criteria to Grade Leads
When leads come in from your website or another source, responding promptly is important. Multiple studies have shown that a faster response has a more successful outcome. But how do you determine which leads are "hot" and which are not? A recent article from HubSpot may provide some insights. Inspired by their article, we're listing a few criteria that may be helpful for grading real estate leads. 1) Does the lead include complete contact information? A more valuable lead will include multiple types of contact information. For instance, it will include an email address, phone number, first and last name, and perhaps even mailing address. Someone who enters complete information is probably more serious than someone who throws just a first name into your lead capture form. Just as a side note – many real estate website developers will give you the option of requiring complete contact information if someone submits a form. Leveraging this functionality is probably a good idea. 2) What was the source of the lead? Some marketing channels generate leads that are more likely to convert. If you carefully track your Web analytics and marketing efforts, you may begin to notice these patterns. Leads that come in from the higher-converting sources are going to be hotter than leads that come in from sources that rarely convert. For more about tracking marketing results, read The 'Scientific Method' for Marketing Success.
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The ‘Scientific Method’ for Marketing Success
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Two Approaches to Commute Calculation
Offering information about commute times to people shopping for a new home is, quite simply, a great idea. This is particularly true in our current culture, one focused on reducing expenses and protecting the environment. Today, we'll take a look at two different approaches to doing just this – courtesy of Trulia and Walk Score. My Commute Matters I should explain that I don't live in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago or another thriving metropolis. However, I do have a commute to work (about 35 to 45 minutes, in fact). And it's a huge part of my day. Lengthening or shortening that commute will be a major consideration for me in making my next home purchase. I'm not alone. Many Americans are hampered by a long commute, and are looking for ways to cut it down. They want to save time, spend less money on fuel, and be kinder to the environment. So, like me, as they make their real estate choices, the length of the commute could be an important factor. Smart real estate professionals will recognize this priority, and will respond by offering information about commute times. New online tools, like the ones we're about to discuss, can be a great first step. Trulia's Commute Map I was actually inspired to write this article after spotting a recent post on the Trulia blog announcing their new Commute Map. I decided to give it a try for myself. Before I share my experience, I want to point out that Trulia's Commute Map lives on Trulia.com. In order to recommend this tool, agents will have to direct their clients to Trulia.com – away from their own website. However, the Commute Map represents another feature that Trulia offers to provide a richer home searching experience to online visitors and may encourage visitors to spend more time on the site (and, in a perfect world, more time viewing any listings that you have syndicated there). Alright, that being said, here's my experience with the Trulia Commute Map.
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Top-Ranking Cameras from Consumer Reports
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Top-Ranking Smartphones from Consumer Reports
Picking up the August 2012 issue of Consumer Reports was like Christmas for me; it features rankings for some of the gadgets that matter most to real estate agents (and thus to me). The tech tools ranked included tablets, Smartphones, and cameras. We've been publishing a series of articles to summarize Consumer Reports' findings, helping agents who have not made these important purchases yet or who are looking to upgrade their device. Consumer Reports organized Smartphones based on carrier. Considering you're tied down by your carrier's options, we'll do the same so you can scan directly to the section that's relevant to you. We've organized carriers alphabetically for your ease-of-use. It's interesting to note that Consumer Reports also ranked the carriers themselves in terms of reader satisfaction – Verizon was ranked the highest; AT&T scored the lowest. AT&T HTC One X: scored 76 Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket: scored 76 Samsung Galaxy Note: scored 75 LG Nitro HD: scored 75 Nokia Lumia 900: scored 71 Samsung Rugby Smart: scored 70 Noteworthy features: The HTC One X ranked highest based on a variety of features including the HD display. The Samsung Galaxy Note is (quite interesting to us) suggested as an alternative to an e-reader or tablet, based on its large display and impressive features.
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Trulia Launches Trulia Estimates
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REALTOR.com Goes iPad – Consumer Experience
The new REALTOR.com® iPad app launches officially at 6:35am EDT on April 26, 2011. You can read the full press release here and download it from REALTOR.com® now. With over 15 million people using iPads they can now start their home searches on REALTOR.com®. I have been testing it for a few days (gotta love a good embargo). The REALTOR.com® mobile apps have seen a 79% increase in usage over the last 4 months alone, serving the Android, iPhone, Windows 7, Blackberry and now the iPad markets. This is the first of two posts on my thoughts on the app. This first one is the post from the consumer perspective. I am still digesting it from another perspective.
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Part 2: Build a Mountain of Compliments!
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The Queue Episode 3: Facebook MLS App and More
Welcome to this week's TechSavvyAgent webshow episode 3!  We have had a great response to the first two videos of this series. This week's episode number 3 of the Queue is action packed! I covered an innovative new Facebook App that brings the full MLS Search to your Business Page. I did a how to video on adding Google Street Views to your website or blog which is sure to impress both buyers and listing prospects. I highlighted an amazing site called Which Test Won which will help increase your conversions online and get the phone ringing more. Lastly I discussed Klout which is a measure of your social influence that is really taking off and can quantify the ROI of your social media efforts. As always if you have any questions or feedback please leave them in the comments below and please help share this information on Facebook, Twitter and by emailing the link to the other agents in your office.
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Want the Inside Scoop about 5 New Products? Be the First to Know!
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Want to Market Intelligently?
Three recent events brought to the fore the concept there is marketing and there is intelligent marketing. The difference is using business information tools, not available in the past, to become more efficient and intelligent in your marketing efforts. And at no time can we recall how critical and pivotal being more efficient and intelligent is than in today’s market. The three events were 1) the results of a test program done by California based RealAgile using direct mail to a large audience of homeowner prospects, 2) a revealing statement made by an executive of Broker Metrics at the recent REAL Trends Leadership Institute regarding targeted recruiting and 3) a program launched by Quantum Training Systems in generating prospective new sales professionals from outside the industry. In each case the process of targeting prospects, whether potential sellers for real estate sales professionals or potential new or transfer sales professionals for a brokerage was refined using business information to make the process both more intelligent and efficient.
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RealtyTech123 Agent Website and IDX
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Cloud CMA
                                                      Introduction: Cloud CMA is an innovative online Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) solution, providing a buyer tour handout, and property profile report tool.  Cloud CMA automatically pulls comparative listing information from your MLS system and appends it with community information from a variety of information sources - Google, Panoramic photos, Education.com, Walk Score, Zillow, Cyberhomes, Yelp, etc.  into a comprehensive report. The key to Cloud CMA is ease of use.  Simply type in the subject property and your report is done.  Cloud CMA even has an email feature that allows an agent to send an email to the Cloud and have the report dynamically generated and emailed right back.  This action can also be performed from a smartphone, and if the client is copied on the email, the report will be sent to the clieint at the same time that the copy is sent to the agent.  This all happens in less than a minute! The three main services Cloud CMA provides are a CMA report, a buyer tour handout, and property profile report tool.
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Top Producer - Excellent CRM But Not For Everyone
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Instanet Solutions' Transaction Desk
Transaction Desk is the Transaction Manager in the Instanet suite of products.  It is totally integrated with the family of Instanet products including: Internet fax Contracts/Forms DocBox Digital signatures TransactionDesk allows the user to enter and track all of the information necessary to manage a real estate transaction for residential or commercial deals, on either the buyer or seller side, or both.  Instanet’s key advantage is an end-to-end transaction management product line and the fact that they also their own contracts and forms product, with the same interface. Instanet Solution’s transaction management suite recently updated their user interface and all products are available from a single dashboard.  Users can also customize what the want to see when they log in and have several options from the standard menu of products to a dashboard showing appointments, transactions and active documents.
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140 Character Conference & Real Estate: Onto Capitalism!
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Google Is Playing in the Twitter Sandbox
I came across a really interesting new Google user interface today called Follow Finder - followfinder.googlelabs.com. This is a new google application that helps link Twitter users with other Twitter users that share the same interests. I start by entering my Twitter user name—mmchone—and it quickly returned a list of people within our industry that I was absolutely interested in following. I was impressed with the results. I don't know if the list would be as useful for someone with a large number of followers, but since I am still in the beginnings of my account and learning the real estate industry, I found the results to be very useful. It did return multiple results of people or companies that I was already following, but it was interesting to see the mix. I was looking at an industry snapshot of Twitter users.
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MRIS Launches XactSite
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Track My File
Track My File is currently marketed directly to real estate companies and they emphasize that what you get with Track My File is more than the product. They stress the importance of learning how to integrate transaction management processes into the business culture and their ability to help companies do this. The Document Management and Transaction Manager Product are combined. They pride themselves on offering a user-friendly system that all agents can use. Track My File is easy to navigate though the interface appears a bit dated. The Track My File team schedules a one-time consultation with new clients to get to know them, the processes they currently have in place and the way they work. Then they create custom software tailored to both the currently office requirements and workflow. This tailored, consultative approach sets Track My File apart from the competition in this regard where most vendors expect the client to adapt to their system.
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Settlement Room by Emphasys
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Develop Online Applications with dataFloat
IDC Global is a software development company that focuses on database and data processing specialized to improve the performance of Internet and other networked applications. Their new product, dataFloat, offers significant improvements in performance and scalability for Internet and mobile applications and also allows clients to develop e-business and multilingual applications easier and more efficiently.
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AgentOffice: Managing Relationships
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9 Favorite iPhone Social Media Apps
Technology expert Jason Yormark, found at Jason Yormark.com recently wrote My 9 Favorite iPhone Social Media Apps. This article provided great suggestions for how to use your iPhone to stay connected with Social Media channels. Real estate agents and brokers are always on the go, thoughout their busy week. These applications provide ways to market, stay connected with their clients, and expand their network 24/7. It can be overwhelming to weed through the countless iPhone applications that have already been created to aid consumers on the road. This article gives you just nine of these to consider, but these are well worth the time to read and learn about. To read Jason Yormark's recommendations, please continue...
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10 Things Not to Buy in 2010
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New Real Estate Book Website Review
The new Real Estate Book website provides an excellent value to their print advertisers—extending the effectiveness of print advertising to the internet. They support consumers who start their buying or selling process by picking up a magazine. They support their advertisers by providing a website that effectively competes for online consumers against the top sites for search engine optimization. The realestatebook.com impressed us when we began typing. Like the best online forms the system automatically ‘guesses’ what you are typing as you enter each letter of text. As I began to type in my city name, it auto-filled, and it immediately showed me homes near to our address. We were hoping that it was noting our ISP address and finding nearby properties, but, unfortunately, after a few refreshes of my browser, we realized that the first listing was a fluke—random luck.
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AgentOffice
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