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Are you struggling with agent adoption across one or more of your systems?
A common concern we see with many brokerages is getting agents to adopt new technologies. We've got a tip for you: Create digestible strategies for agents by building a scorecard or report card. Here's how: Break down your technology systems into each category. For example: CRM, Video Platform, Listing Presentation, CMA tool, etc. Take each one and ask yourself: What does it look like with basic usage? Intermediate usage? Advanced? Create a scorecard. Here's an example: Technology Resource: Customer Relationship Management Basic Adoption: Are contacts loaded in the system? Is the agent assigning contacts to campaigns or using automation for this? Is the agent assigning tasks and reminders? Does the agent have social media integrated?
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iPad vs. Microsoft Surface Pro for Real Estate
The real estate industry has struggled with supporting the tablet needs of real estate professionals. Until now, the iPad has reigned supreme as the leader among real estate professionals. Now Microsoft has a legitimate contender in the race that deserves serious consideration among real estate professionals. It is called the Surface Pro. About Microsoft Surface Pro The Microsoft Surface is a tablet like the iPad. It offers touch screen computing like the iPad, and is similar in size (weighs 300 grams more than the iPad, or about 30% heavier). The Surface Pro is clearly the more powerful device in terms of computing power and memory. However, the key feature is that the Surface Pro runs the full version of Windows 8 that you may be running on your desktop today. Moreover, every application that you use in real estate will work 100% of the time. You will not run into any glitches with any of your business software because you are using a tablet instead of a desktop. You have access to the full MLS, forms, Internet, and all of your mail, calendar, and documents are mirrored seamlessly across your computers. Of course, the Surface Pro runs full versions of Microsoft Office including Outlook, Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. It also runs popular business software like Adobe Acrobat Pro and QuickBooks. Everything works exactly the same as it does today on your computer. It even has a camera like the iPad and offers apps for your favorite site like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Pandora, LinkedIn, Dropbox, Skype, Netflix, and more.
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How Are We Doing? Take Our Reader Survey to Let Us Know!
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The Most Overlooked Part of a Real Estate Contact Management System
What part of a real estate contact management system do you think people overlook the most? Its real estate newsletter? Its email template library? Its ability to group and search contacts? Run reports? Well, not quite... From our experience, the most overlooked part of a real estate contact management system is the contact screens. Now, you may be wondering, "Why do contact screens really matter? Other features like smartphone sync or transaction management capabilities have to be more important, right?" In some cases, yes. But from a usability standpoint, contact screens are very, very important and can actually make the difference between liking and using a real estate CRM and hating it and never using it. Let us tell you why.
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Tech Talk: iOS 6 Disappointing, but Worth Downloading
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Product Review: Neighborhood Navigator
Online property search has improved considerably over the years, but the team at Onboard Informatics feels we still have much room for improvement. More specifically, rather than limiting online searchers to traditional criteria (such as price, number of beds/baths, and square footage), we should also be helping them with something just as important: helping evaluate where they want to live. It's a valid point; after all, how many times have you seen a buyer compromise on price in order to live in their desired neighborhood? You can add value by holding their hand as they discover this desired neighborhood, and then transition them easily to looking at specific listings in the area with your traditional property search. Neighborhood Navigator from Onboard Informatics is a plug-and-play tool for real estate brokers who want to offer prospective buyers an improved online property search experience on their consumer-facing website. The functionality is focused on providing data about a specific neighborhood and offering comparisons to other areas. The upside for brokers is increased time on site, repeat visits, and cementing that "neighborhood expert" role. The benefits for consumers are numerous, as you can see from our walk-through of the product. Try It Yourself Onboard Informatics has made it really easy for you to experiment with this product. You can try it for yourself here. We suggest this as more than just a way to get a hands-on experience with the tool. It's also important to look at a countywide snapshot of your area and assess the neighborhood data available. While Onboard Informatics remains at the very top of the data "game" in real estate, it's a Herculean task to look both nationally and locally and achieve 100% accuracy on the fine nuances of both. You can also check out a few of the sites that currently use Neighborhood Navigator to see the different implementation options: Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate (you'll need to enter a city or a zip code), Mel Foster Co. Real Estate (see the "Neighborhood" tab on this property details page), and Lyon Real Estate. We'll talk more about implementation a little later on.
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Product Review: ListHub for Brokers
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A New Spin on Agent Ratings- Don't Criticize, Just Compliment
People like to evaluate and share experiences. When it comes to evaluating an experience and letting others know where they landed, the people that choose to take time out of their day are typically those who either had an exemplary experience or an awful one. Agent ratings serve two purposes: To give valuable feedback to an agent for him/her to understand areas of strength and areas that need to be strengthened To provide the agent with testimonials they can use to build their online reputation and establish local expertise As you are reading through this series about agent ratings and the available solutions to real estate professionals today, what is your motivation? Are you looking for a marketing tool? Are you looking for a way to stand out from your other local competitors? Or do you feel like you have reached a plateau as a professional and would like feedback to help you grow and expand your skill set? This series will help both types of people find the solution that fits their needs.
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Real Estate Agent Review Sites- Stop Whining!
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Light at the End of the Tunnel: New Products Bring Hope
Brokers, large and small, face significant challenges they did not face 20 years ago.  Profit margins have eroded and control over their independent contractors has been minimized.   The consumer has taken on a much more vocal role in the process and is forcing transparency and responsiveness never before experienced.   Some of these challenges are related to technology and the advance of the Internet while others are cultural challenges that have come about through the changing broker/agent relationship.  WAV Group’s new white paper explores the issues behind the broker’s challenge to gain better control and visibility into their companies while re-establishing a new value proposition for their agents! While part one of this five part series focused on understanding how brokers got into the technological mess they find themselves today.  The second part of this  series discussed how to get through the maze of broker technology. We have now come to part 3 of this 5 part series, to discuss the light at the end of this tunnel. Brokers are amazing people. They are leaders, motivators, trainers and counselors.
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Sifting Through the Maze of Broker Technology
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No Broker Backbone: How We Got Into this Mess
Brokers, large and small, face significant challenges they did not face 20 years ago. Profit margins have eroded and control over their independent contractors has been minimized. The consumer has taken on a much more vocal role in the process and is forcing transparency and responsiveness never before experienced. Some of these challenges are related to technology and the advance of the Internet while others are cultural challenges that have come about through the changing broker/agent relationship. Most Brokers really do not have a clear view of their operations from front to back today. With increased expenses and aggressive competition this is more important than ever. Broker systems have developed over time and are typically made up of multiple products from multiple vendors that were not developed to work in an integrated fashion. The result is numerous points of entering the same data over and over and not being able to share data easily between modules. Brokerages are experiencing cultural challenge as well. Consumer and industry pressures are forcing an evolution in the role of the Broker and the services they offer for today’s agents. The sense of community that used to be evident in every brick and mortar office is largely gone.Agents are mobile and more independent today. Smartphones, wireless Internet and even wirelessly enabled laptops, iPads and tablet PCs have changed the way agents do business. Many Brokers, however, still approach business the way they did before the Internet and this is a losing battle.
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Wanted: Backbones for Brokerages
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How is Your Marketing IQ?
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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Learn From the Best: 100 Homes Sold for Over $15M in 1 Year
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The Wireless Headset
If you are like me and live in a state where it is allowed to turn your car radio up full blast, and have a shouting match in your car, but not talk on your cell phone, you probably need a hands free headset for your phone. Most of the time, any product you choose is likely to disappoint you. Be sure to read product reviews before purchasing one. I just made the mistake of listening to the mobile expert in the store and buying the Plantronics Savor – boy was I disappointed, but it looked and sounded awesome in the store!  
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Top 15 Best Android Apps for Real Estate Agents and Brokers
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Why Small Businesses Using Social Marketing Are Making a Killing!
When it comes to social media and Internet marketing, real estate professionals everywhere are calling for ROI.  What will I get out of it? Where is the payoff? The answer to these questions are being quantified daily. Today Forbes.com published a summary of Chris Treadaway's thoughts on local business marketing. Paraphrasing the point of his article, Chris Treadaway says, "I really do believe that local businesses are being forced to develop a core competency in Internet marketing across major channels -- email, social media, search, etc." He goes on to say, "Companies that get it are killing it, and those that don't will suffer." Real estate brokerages are both local and predominately smaller business models. The below article brings Internet marketing home for brokerages.  To read Chris Treadaway's article as posted by Forbes.com, please click here.
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Give Buzz Another Look
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Third Parties Making Money from Disorganized Real Estate
WAV Group has been pretty outspoken about third party listing websites. They exist because brokers, MLSs, and Associations have not elevated their thinking about listing syndication. I think that it is time for CMLS, NAR, Realty Alliance, or some mutual benefit organization to step up and harness listing distribution and revenues from listing distribution to return revenue to its rightful owner - the brokers. Here are the problems 1.  Data that appears on third party listing websites is grossly inaccurate - as high as 40% in some markets. Inaccurate data leads to bad leads, irritated home buyers and sellers, and throws egg on the agents and brokers face. 2.  Third party listing websites are deriving significant revenue and (moreover) consumer trust on the backs of broker listings. Without the broker’s listing, they would not have a website. 3.  Terms of Use for third party listing websites extend too many rights. In most cases, the third party listing website has the right to reuse, repurpose, and re-syndicate the listing information in any way they wish.
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Top Producer - Excellent CRM But Not For Everyone
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DocBox Review
While this review is on DocBox you really can’t review the Instanet product line without noting the entire family of Instanet products.   The reason is the fact that customers can start virtually anywhere in the product line and then add features that incorporate virtually the same user interface.  Many users, for example, may start with the Internet Fax product or the Document Management product “DocBox” and later on add the full Transaction Manager “TransactionDesk” functionality.  Or they might start with Instanet forms and later add the Document Manager.  This full suite of products from Internet Fax through Digital Signature is a significant strength of the Instanet Solutions product line. DocBox has always been a solid product but with the recent changes made to the user interface the product, along with the entire Instanet suite of products, is even more attractive.
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Rethink Your Web Presence
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Global Wolf Broker Website and Extranet
Introduction Lone Wolf is a real estate technology company that cut its teeth in the development of real estate brokerage financial management systems (Since 1989). As their company has grown and evolved, they have leveraged their understanding of technology and broker business practices to diversify their product offerings to include broker website solutions. Today, their offerings support the broker’s customer relationship from inception as a prospect through settlement of the transaction.   RE Technology staff was invited to talk a tour of their broker website solution called Global Wolf. Since the front-end design of the website is customized to meet the specific branding of each broker client, this review will say little about the look or navigation of the site. Rather, focus will be on the tools that the broker has to manage their website, manage customers, manage offices and manage agents. At the core of Global Wolf is the understanding that the broker should be in full control of their website with no need to contact the developer to make any changes after the launch.
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7 Myths of Personal Branding
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MRIS Launches XactSite
MRIS has long offered premium products and services to their participants and subscribers. Below you will see the announcement of a new service of offering agent and broker website and IDX offerings. It looks to be a very complete solution that will cover the needs of the majority of their customers. You will also notice that they are rolling it out as they would any other MLS service - complete with localized information and training classes through collaboration with shareholder Associations of REALTORS.
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How To Use Your VOW Website To Retain Clients for Life
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Sell Homes More Quickly with a VOW Website
In this fourth of a series of five articles about Virtual Office Websites, or VOWs, we are going to discuss the ways to use a VOW to work more effectively with home sellers. The value of a home is exactly equal to the amount a willing seller and a willing buyer agree to at a given point in time. It can sometimes be difficult or impossible to convince a seller of the a realistic asking price, especially if they purchased their home within the past few years. Virtual Office Websites can help you work more successfully with a seller by allowing them to watch the local market dynamics along with you. The pivotal concept is that if both the agent and the seller are looking at the same information, they should derive a similar opinion on how to price a home, or at least have a shared set of facts to enhance their positions. Here are a few tools that VOWs offer to help increase the chances of selling a home:
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Using Your VOW Website to Communicate with Buyers
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How to Use a VOW to Generate New Customers
Looking for ways to make your website and the Internet work harder for you? A virtual office website, or VOW, is a great solution to consider. It is an excellent way to create and grow relationships with consumers that will lead to future transactions. Why do VOWs make sense for today’s real estate consumer? According to the Swanepoel 2009 Trends Report, “It’s crucial to make sure that your customers trust you before you try to sell them anything. The goal is to create an ongoing, non-pressured dialogue with the prospect. This is best accomplished by not providing just the basic information they can get from any number of other sites.” VOWs are a great method for accomplishing this important goal. Historically, in agent-consumer relationships, the flow of information was one way—the agent would find the information for the client and send an email or a link. You can differentiate yourself using a VOW to provide many high-touch services. With a Virtual Office Website, the flow of information is bi-directional. VOWs can help create a conversation with consumers. Think of your VOW in the same way as you think of your IDX website. The only difference is that it requires registration to get access to the deeper level of information like listing history, tax data, and sold listings. Virtual Office Websites allow an agent to create a “conversation” with a customer using automated tools. We know that registration requirement rule is the top “no-no” of a successful online strategy, but access to this deeper level of listing information is the tradeoff for the consumer.
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What is a VOW and How Can it Help You Grow Your Business?
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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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Property Info's SureClose
SureClose transaction management originated in the Title world and was designed to be used by transaction specialists. It is a very full-featured and powerful transaction management system but was not designed to be used primarily at the agent level. To make certain functionality available to both agents and consumers SureClose has been designed with two separate views, the Professional interface and the Basic (or Guest) interface. The Professional interface is used primarily by the internal title and settlement staff, such as the processor, escrow officer and/or transaction management coordinator, to manage the real estate transaction. The professional interface is the deepest product with all functionality enabled. The Basic interface is used to provide views and limited editing control in the transaction to the agents and their clients. There are two methods to create a new file in SureClose. You can input all of the data directly into SureClose, or you can import the order data into SureClose from AIM+ or AIM for Windows. AIM is a production system widely used in the title and escrow industry for order entry, document preparation, escrow closing, escrow accounting and 1099-S reporting. While SureClose was designed for use by transaction coordinators any user with reasonable technical skills could successfully navigate the system. There are various wizards that walk users through the different operations, such as adding contact information in which data and photos can be stored. The bigger issue for a product as deep as the SureClose system is understanding “how” to integrate the power of the transaction system into a company’s overall business procedures, which is likely to be more successful if managed by a dedicated staff person.
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Property Info's SureClose Archive
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CoreLogic MarketLinx Document Manager
Ease of use is a strong point of the CoreLogic MarketLinx Document Management product. It has been designed as a stand alone product but can be fully integrated with CoreLogic MarketLinx MLS systems, their Internet Fax product as well as the CoreLogic MarketLinx Transaction Manager product. Like the CoreLogic MarketLinx Transaction Manager, the CoreLogic MarketLinx Document Management product is very easy to use. When the user signs on they are presented with a list of files that can be named as a property address or any name they want.
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CoreLogic MarketLinx Transaction Manager
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SureClose Wins Wright Kingdom's Vote
Wright Kingdom Real Estate recently deployed SureClose® within their company, and they have already begun to enjoy the benefits of their decision. Lew Kingdom, managing broker of the firm, spent time researching various transaction management software, available to real estate professionals.  Lew Kingdom choose SureClose for his firm and then recorded a video to spread the word about why SureClose worked for him. He explains the process he went through to decide on SureClose, and the specific technical needs SureClose meets. Continue to view the video...
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Develop Online Applications with dataFloat
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10 Things Not to Buy in 2010
Ten years ago, most homes relied on dial-up connections to access the Internet and iPods, flat-screen TVs and the Nintendo Wii didn't exist. In 2010, consumer should expect to see more revolutionary products supplanting old mainstays. In media, DVDs, books, newspapers and magazines will continue to lose ground to services like in-home movie rentals and gadgets like the Amazon Kindle. In big-ticket items, the push for energy efficiency will continue to influence consumer decisions on cars and home upgrades.  
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New Real Estate Book Website Review
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