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9 Technology Productivity Tips: Do this, not that
Technology is supposed to save us time and make us more efficient. Most often, technology does. But sometimes you need to give tech a rest and do things the old fashion way because it's actually faster. Here are tips on when technology can make you more productive, and when it can be a time waster.
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Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Technology
One of the rituals of the spring – in addition to home buying season – is spring cleaning. It's a time when many of us clean, declutter and purge throughout our homes. But what about our technology: our laptops and smartphones? Spring is an excellent time for some spring cleaning for your tech too. Here are some ways you can clean, declutter and purge your way to a better tech experience the rest of the year with a tech spring cleaning. How to make your smartphone sparkle Do you know the best way to physically clean – and sanitize – your smartphone? To clean an iPhone, Apple recommends using a soft, slightly damp (distilled water), lint-free cloth. For a Pixel, Google tells owners they can use regular household soap or cleaning wipes. Most recent Samsung smartphones are water resistant, so Samsung recommends running these models under fresh water, shaking out excess water from the ports, and then wiping it dry with a microfiber cloth. If you need to do a deep-clean of a grimy smartphone, the easiest, fastest and safest way is to use disposable screen wipes, available from online retailers such as Amazon. The good news is that research tells us all of these methods do a pretty good job of eliminating most of the germs on the phone too. Cleaning your computer The host of the podcast "Ask a Clean Person," Jolie Kerr, told The New York Times you only need four items to clean a laptop: Rubbing alcohol, microfiber cloths, cotton swabs, and canned compressed air. The reason isopropyl alcohol is ideal is that it won't damage the computer's internal components. Kerr also says there's nothing wrong with purchasing specialized electronic or computer cleaning products, but they are most likely overpriced, and these homespun solutions will do the trick. The key to cleaning your laptop is to take your time. The first step is to turn it completely off (not sleep mode). Next, using the can of compressed air, go to work on the keyboard, then spray out all the ports. Experts say when using canned air, always use short bursts, as longer ones can cause condensation. The next step is to dampen a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol. Don't ever pour or spray fluid of any kind directly on your laptop. Now clean with the cloth between all the nooks and crevices. To clean your laptop screen, do not use any chemicals. You should only use a soft cotton cloth with a little distilled water. In fact, on a Mac with a Retina display, if you use a product like Windex, it will destroy the screen coating. Declutter and organize your screens If you save your files to your desktop as a shortcut timesaver and don't always remember to move those files to the proper destination, you could suffer from screen clutter on your laptop. Get your laptop organized during your spring tech cleaning by moving files into folders. For your smartphone, get your apps organized as well. On an iPhone, you can create different folders and group similar apps together to declutter your screen. At the very least, you should make sure you eliminate "widow" pages: screens on your phone that have one app – or a few – on an entire screen – requiring you to scroll more. That's a time waster. Consolidation of related apps on your smartphone screens can save you time. For example, keep all your travel apps on one screen with the ones you use most frequently positioned where you like to access best. For users who have access to Tech Helpline, they can reach out for help on setting up folders on their smartphones. For iPhone users who are do-it-yourselfers, Apple provides instructions here. For Android users who want to learn more about setting up folders on their own, this wikiHow article gives step-by-step instructions here. Time to purge How many apps are on your smartphone? Now, how many of those apps have you used in the last six months? If you don't know, the latest operating systems will tell you. If you have an iPhone, here's how to see when you last opened each app. First, select your Settings (gray gear icon) on your iPhone, then choose General (another gray gear icon). Go down and select iPhone Storage. You may have to wait until the data loads, but soon a list will appear of all your apps. They are ranked by the amount of data they consume and show that amount on the far right. Below the app is the information you want for purging: the last date you used the app. You may be surprised at the number of apps you have that you have not opened for more than a year. Don't be surprised if you have apps that have never been opened. We've all been there, done that, but the good news is you get a two-for-one: you purge the apps from your screen (declutter), and you will free up space to store more of what you want and use. To delete the app, you can do it on the next screen: select the unused app, and at the bottom, you will see a "Delete App" option. If you own an Android smartphone, it's also easy to clean up your unused apps by accessing the Google Play Store on your Android device. In the My Apps section, the place where you go to reinstall or update apps, you will see a list of all your current apps. The apps will show the amount of data they consume and when they were last used. The best part is you can sort these apps by "Last Used," which will group the least used apps at the bottom. From there, you can select the apps you want to purge. Your laptop probably also can use some spring purging. How many screenshots did you save for a quick email and then never deleted? Or created a duplicate image? Have you cleaned out your deleted files or trash lately? Have you gone through your programs to make sure you don't have any unwanted software – or bloatware – that you can remove? Going through your folders during the spring is a great ritual to start. Think about what you really need to save, what you can back up to the cloud or a portable hard drive, and what you can delete forever. Your tech devices, if they could thank you, would, because they may get even better without all that clutter. Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.
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The Dumb Thing About Smart Homes
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New Technology for Real Estate Agents
Looking to stay ahead of the competition and the latest technology? Check out these three innovations that'll help you impress sellers, generate leads and build a name for yourself as an agent who is one step ahead of the rest.
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Green Home vs. Smart Home (and the Top 9 Features)
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10 Gorgeous Gadgets and Accessories for Road Warriors
Your car isn't just a way to get from place A to B: it's a mobile office, your space to sing and so much more. We've put together a list of 10 gorgeous gadgets and accessories that every road warrior could use. We tried to choose a mix of high-tech and low-tech items. We also looked at a variety of price points. Which is your favorite gadget or accessory?
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8 Cool, Affordable Tech Gifts
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How Agents Are Benefiting from Artificial Intelligence
WAV Group founding partner and RE Technology CEO Victor Lund traveled to Paris again this year to share insights on the evolution of technology in America. His talk highlighted how systems automation is relieving Realtors of many routine tasks. This process is called artificial intelligence (AI), which is the process of having machines do the work that humans normally do.
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Smart Homes: What Agents Need to Know in Order to Effectively Market Them
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Hot New Tech from NAR Midyear
Artificial intelligence, digital automation, hyperlocal marketing, and 3D posts for Facebook. These are just a few of the hottest technologies that new companies – and established ones –showcased at NAR Midyear. Officially called the "REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo," Midyear is where NAR members go each May to Washington, DC, for special issues forums, committee meetings, legislative activities and, of course, the trade show. Here are some of the hottest new tech offerings – both products and services – for agents and brokers that were on display: BoxBrownie It touts itself as providing "high-quality photo editing, virtual staging, floor plan redraws, and CGI renders at (an) unbelievable price." Grammar aside, BoxBrownie is all-pro when you see their before-and-after offerings. Their offer can be summarized in just two words: photo magic. If you have an empty room, but would love to show it fully staged with furniture, BoxBrownie does that. Have a dead, brown lawn in a photo because it's the middle of winter – or summer? Not a problem. BoxBrownie can give you lush, green grass and turn any season into blooming spring with bright blue, sunny skies to match. Or what about a house for which you need a nighttime shot with the rooms all lit? Other software that has tried to do this automatically have gotten the shadows and the interiors all wrong. BoxBrownie nighttime photos gets them all right. This is one tech company that stood out at NAR Midyear for several reasons. First, their technology looks fresh, practical and cool. Second, it's highly relatable as it attempts to dramatically improve what every agent does: post and use listing photos in all their marketing. Third, agents will love their price points: if you want to use their service for just one picture, you can, and it could cost you as little as $2.00. All of their pricing is far less than the alternatives. They are a NAR REach Class of 2018 member. Their website – with pricing and lots of before and after photos – is at boxbrownie.com. Streak If Google and Salesforce had a baby, they might very well have named it Streak. Streak is Gmail with a native CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software interface. If you know how to navigate Gmail, you won't have a lot of struggles finding your way around Streak. It isn't just a Gmail widget-like experience (think SalesforceIQ or Insightly). It is fully CRM entirely woven into your Gmail account. Its deep integration with Gmail eliminates a few of the biggest objections that agents who still don't use CRMs have: it's pretty intuitive, it's a program agents probably already use, and the leads that come in from Zillow or realtor.com and many other lead gen sources are automatically identified and readied for a response. The downsides? Some agents and brokers might find the price tag high. The monthly subscription isn't as expensive as most Salesforce options, but the $49 a month price tag for a single user isn't cheap. Then there's the fact that Gmail spam rules prevent any drip marketing campaign integration coming from Streak. The Streak salespeople tell you that's a good thing since email marketing barely works today anyway. Details at streak.com. zavvie This tech firm's DNA comes from a real estate brokerage. It was born out of the technology used by 8z Real Estate in Boulder, Colorado, the fastest growing brokerage firm in Colorado last year. Their focus: hyperlocal marketing. They practically wrote the book on it. Earlier this year, zavvie published the first white paper on hyperlocal marketing for real estate. They've been on a roll ever since and have expanded from Colorado to coast-to-coast. Inman News just nominated zavvie and 8z Real Estate for an Inman Innovator Award. NAR just announced zavvie is part of their NAR REach Class of 2018. zavvie creates a hyperlocal platform for an agent to dominate his or her neighborhood online. Through neighborhood websites, neighborhood Facebook Pages, and actively contributing to sites such as Next Door, zavvie helps agents digitally farm their neighborhood. While zavvie automates some of the social media content posts for agents, zavvie also makes it super easy for agents to post content from their mobile app on the go during their regular workday activities. zavvie targets brokerages, teams and even has an individual agent offering that starts at $299 a month. Learn more at zavvie.com. MoveEasy Technology is driving the rebirth of concierge moving services being adopted by brokerages. MoveEasy is one of the newest entries, and it is leveraging the use of APIs (Application Programming Interface) to reduce the stress of moving for home buyers and sellers. Let's face it: nearly everyone hates moving. Just the planning stage alone can be maddening: you have to make so many phone calls. You have to find a mover, get bids, worrying about packing and possibly storage. But that's just the beginning. You have to stand in line at the post office and pick up your moving kit. Then you have figure out which gas and electric utility providers, cable or satellite company, and Internet services firm provides services to your new home. Worst-of-all: you have to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get your new driver's license with your new address. The entire process takes so much time and is a significant stressor. Most agents just let their customers go it alone. MoveEasy is a service an agent can offer their customers for free. It acts as a virtual concierge and puts everything at the fingertips of the home buyer, so they can go online: click, enter and select. For agents, it's a free service that makes them look like rock stars because they don't lift a finger. For brokerages, it's a no-brainer because MoveEasy handles all the tech the setup and agent training. MoveEasy is fully integrated with MoxiWorks and say they can integrate with just about any CRM. Check them out at moveeasy.com. Chime IDX integrated with CRM Chime uses an ad management system to generate leads. Leads are directed either to your Chime IDX Website or your Facebook page. There, they are prompted to register. The inbound lead data is collected and goes into your Chime CRM. The Chime CRM then uses Artificial Intelligence to send an email to the new lead and an alert to the agent that they have a new lead. Chime's pricing model offers a starter version at $25 a month (no lead routing) and a pro version at $49. While it provides a team collaboration feature, teams have noted in online reviews that the product is not as well designed for a team as it is for individual agents. Chime has done well integrating with the major ad portals, all the primary email platforms, and many marketing offerings. It continues to integrate with other software. It is a NAR REach Class of 2018 member. The website is chime.me. Matterport From the folks that gave the world three-dimensional home tours without the need of headgear or glasses, Matterport has a cool little feature they added and were talking about at Midyear. Agents know that Facebook marketing remains one of their most powerful and cost-effective ways to maintain top-of-mind awareness and generate a new kind of lead process: inbound, where the leads reach out to the agent. That's the magic of social media marketing. Matterport has a neat feature for its users that is largely going overlooked. It will instantly generate a "mini-movie" for a Facebook post. These video teasers, just 10-15 seconds in length, showcase one's 3D Video Home Tour, and include a shorter animated GIF file for use as well. Here's the coolest part: Matterport used Deep Learning (aka Machine Learning) to create and automate this process. The agent or broker does not have to do a thing. These are generated automatically as Matterport Spaces with more information here. Check out their cover video on Facebook here at the top of the page. Find them at matterport.com. More tech ahead There were more great tech firms at NAR Midyear, and there are sure to be an exponentially higher number in Boston at NAR Annual. From Active Pipe, a hot startup that offers automated email marketing to Quigler, a high-tech compliance solution firm (both NAR REach Class of 2018 members), Midyear scratches the surface of what's out there. With innovations in areas like Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, we can expect to see even more breakthroughs for agents and brokers in the months ahead. For insight on other hot tech trends from Tech Helpline, check out these articles: Drone-in-a-box for real estate? How Drones Are Transforming Real Estate Marketing Future Tech: Tools that will change our work and our homes A Quick Review of Smart Home Technology Gifts and gadgets for under $15 Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®. Florida Realtors owns both Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.    
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When Too Many Real Estate Tools Are Overkill
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3 Things that You Need to Know About Smart Home Staging
New, highly accessible automated technology has a rapidly accelerated the proliferation of smart homes in America. That's caused home staging to turn high tech as well. Welcome to the new world of smart home staging. Here are three things that you need to know about the new trend in showing a home: smart home staging.
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3 Ways Technology Has Changed the Real Estate Game
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How $200 Can Make a Home Smart, and Add Thousands to the Sale Price of a Home
According to the National Association of Realtors, Millennials are currently the largest group of potential home buyers–and they're looking to purchase smart homes. A survey conducted by Better Homes and Gardens, found that 64 percent of Millennials "believe that smart technology makes their home safer and more enjoyable." So, what exactly is a smart home and how can adding a few simple switches and sensors not only increase a home's property value, but also help make it a hotter listing?
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Discover 42 Cutting Edge Tech Products for Real Estate in 2017
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11 of the Best Real Estate Agent Tools
Being a real estate agent is challenging, and it's especially hard when you aren't aware of the tools that can help you. Trust us – there's a ton out there that can help if you know where to look. We've compiled a list of the best real estate tools from mobile apps to CRM services to help you do your job even better. Read ahead to start adding to your real estate tech toolbox and become the best equipped agent you can be. Organizational tools: Being a real estate agent is hard work and there are a lot of moving parts. As a result, it's important to stay organized so that you don't miss important phone calls or double book appointments. Here are a few organizational tools to keep your life in check: 1. Deductr: Deductr, available both online and as a mobile app, was created to help track tax deductions so you're not leaving money on the table. You can track your income, miles driven, and your hours to make the most of your tax returns. Deductr also provides notifications and reminders to track your expenses so you have all your important information in one place. 2. OmniFocus: An organizational app available on all devices from your laptop to Apple watch, OmniFocus provides you with the tools to ensure that you're getting the most out of your day. It allows you to see your schedule, responsibilities, projects, and even your inbox from various "contexts" – personal, professional, etc. You'll never miss another work appointment or forget about a meeting at your kid's school – especially since it provides push notifications to remind you!
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7 Young Tech Companies Poised to Reinvent Real Estate
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5 Real Estate Tech Tools in 5 Minutes
When Jeff Lobb took the stage at Inman Connect in New York this past January, everyone got out their note-taking tools—five real estate tech tools in five minutes. Because in what was a whirlwind event of high-minded, conceptual talk, Jeff was ready to drop some serious knowledge and tangible takeaways. Jeff's message was clear — the tools alone won't make you a successful agent. It's how you use them. 1. Big data This phrase from the tech world has infiltrated real estate, but few really know what it means. "We are sitting on more money in our database now than ever before." But that's it — we're just sitting on it. And it's not complete. By harnessing the power of a tool like Revaluate Pro, agents can use data to "create the person behind the email," and know more about when buyers and sellers are ready to make a move. 2. Emotional marketing Agents need to connect with clients by being: memorable, mobile and visual. Be memorable, mobile and visual! Animoto has been around for a few years, but most agents aren't using it strategically. Using the personalized videos before, during and after the sale can help cement your brand in the sellers' mind and integrate you into the buyer's world.
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How The 'Internet of Things' Affects Real Estate
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How to Use Google Keep for Real Estate
Google processes 40,000 searches per second and over 3.5 billion searches per day. That's incredibly impressive, but Google provides much more than just a search engine. Google offers internet users a large range of products free of charge. In this new article series, we'll share how you can use Google's free products to grow, manage, and organize your business. Here, you'll learn how Google Keep can help your business, where to find it, how to use it, and more. What is Google Keep? Google Keep lets you "Save your thoughts as notes, lists, and voice memos from anywhere." Basically, anything you want to remember, take note of, scribble down, photograph, or have available for quick and easy reference can be stored in Keep. Keep also syncs across all your devices (phone, desktop, laptop, and tablet), making it easy to access your data anywhere. Why use it? Keep allows you to share and collaborate with your contacts on your notes. Keep's advanced sticky note functionality also lets you add labels to your notes for easy sorting. Creating labels for things like buyer resources, seller resources, and individual properties or clients will create tabs in Keep that contain all items with that label, making it easy to keep track of notes relevant to a particular person or property. Where can I get it? Android iOS Computer Browser
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The 4 Best Content Curation Tools for Real Estate Agents
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Four Time-saving Tools that You Need For YOUR Real Estate Practice
Recently, I wrote an article about specific ways you can ensure consistency in your real estate marketing plans. One part of the article talks about using technology, and I am remiss in that I promised to share with you some of my favorite tools and have not. So today, to right that wrong, I am going to share some of my favorite time-saving technology tools that you can institute today to help you become more consistent in all your real estate marketing practices. 1. Boomerang If you are anything like me, you are getting hundreds and hundreds of emails per day. Some of them are simple interactions that you can handle right at that second and move on. Some, though, are things that maybe you want to temporarily ignore and come back to later. Or, even something you give an immediate response to, but also need a reply from whomever you sent that reply email to. The more emails you deal with, the more likely emails like those are going to end up buried in your inbox, or forgotten all together. Boomerang keeps this from happening. It works with both Gmail and Outlook. Using their "in browser" tool, you can take any email message and set it to reappear in your inbox, at a later date. For instance, if you just don't want to deal with a message at the moment, schedule it for a later date, and it will appear at the top of your inbox at that date/time. If you reply to someone, you can set the Boomerang reminder to appear at the top of your inbox at a specific date and time, as well. BUT, more specifically, you can specify that you only want it to do so if no reply has been received. That is a pretty handy way to instantly be reminded that you did not hear back from someone. How many times have you gotten leads, only to eventually have them fall through the cracks when communication suddenly broke down? Boomerang will eliminate that possibility.
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3 Real Estate Tech Tools This YPN Chairperson Can’t Live Without
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Forget Inbox Zero. Be an Inbox Hero with Boomerang for Gmail
For most agents, Inbox Zero is unattainable. Between automated listing emails, lead alerts and messages sent from clients, title and mortgage partners and more, you likely receive more emails than you can possibly pay attention to each day. That's where Boomerang comes in. Boomerang's main functionality is to help you put messages in a queue so you can read and respond to them at the right time. But Boomerang doesn't just help you cut through the clutter of email, it also helps you get focused on proper follow-up and makes you more likely to receive replies back. Here are three ways you can leverage Boomerang to get ahead in your real estate business. "Snooze" the emails that you don't need to answer right away There are probably a few times a day — or even a dozen times a day — when you react to the "ding" of your inbox, only to find that it's a general newsletter from your MLS or an invitation to a Chamber of Commerce meeting. What if those "time-insensitive" emails could be programmed to come back to your email at a time when you're more likely to respond? With Boomerang, you can do just that. By simply clicking one button, you can tell the utility to bring a message back to the top of your inbox at a specific time in the future. Get ahead with better inbox management Consider setting up one or two hours a week that are dedicated to managing these less important emails. If your weekly sales meeting is at 9am on a Tuesday, schedule these emails to Boomerang back on Tuesday at 7:45am. Get in a bit early, fire up the coffeemaker and hit reply or delete until you've achieved Inbox Zero on your long-term response messages.
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"Move-In Ready" Increasingly Means Smart Home Technology for US Consumers
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2 Must-Have Tech Tools for Real Estate Agents
As a real estate agent, you should be spending time calling prospects, meeting with clients, and showing properties. You shouldn't be spending a ton of time scouring the internet for cool tools, apps and gadgets to help you be more productive. That's my job! Every so often, we'll be checking back in with the latest tools and tech tips for successful and struggling real estate agents alike. Here are a pair of fantastic innovations that can help you focus, stay on track, and make you look like an expert. For Working on the Go, Try the Dell Venue Tablet Looking for a tablet designed to meet the needs of busy road-warrior real estate agents? The Dell Venue tablet provides a great alternative to an iPad, with an attractive price tag. It comes in two sizes, an 11-inch or 8-inch screen. Consulting firm Prowess Consulting looked at how real estate agents spend time and use (or misuse) technology. They wrote a white paper on the subject, commissioned by Intel, which makes processors for the Dell tablets. Here's what they found: Agents need intuitive file management that is optimized to work seamlessly with a cloud software program. Photo editing needs to be easy and streamlined. The tablet needs to support virtual tours. Images should be fully visible and not obstructed by other elements on the screen. Easy support for digital signatures. Speed when using mapping applications. Local storage – so you can store and show property information without an Internet connection.
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A Look at the Latest and Greatest in Smart Home Technology
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Top 8 Real Estate Gadgets for 2016
In 2015, technology became even more necessary, wearables more popular and smart phones got even smarter. We've reached the golden age of gadgets, and it's time to begin planning for what will come in the year ahead. We've made a list of the top gadgets that will help drive your business forward in 2016. 1. Activity-tracking wearables If you're burning the candle at both ends, you're going to wear yourself down and your work will be affected. It's important to take care of yourself so you can be at your peak to help keep your clients happy. Activity-tracking wearables can help you take even better care of yourself by tracking your exercise, sleep patterns, calorie intake and more. Fitbit, Jawbone, Garmin and Microsoft all make wearable activity trackers with styles to fit any budget. 2. Wearables to keep you safe Agent safety has always been a top priority. Cuff is a smart device that fits into jewelry or keychains and pairs with an app on your phone to monitor your location. If you ever feel like you're in trouble, you can activate an emergency alert through the device. A notification will be sent through your phone to your VIP contact list so they can call the police and direct them to your location. 3. Picture-Printing Phone Case Let's face it. We have so many pictures on our phones that, most of the time, we can't even remember what's on there. With Prynt Case, you can turn your smart phone case into a photo printer. The case attaches to the back of your phone, and the compatible app prints images right from your phone. No ink required, Prynt Case prints on the provided ZINK Paper. What better way to connect with potential buyers than to send them home with snapshots of their favorite listings?
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Best of 2015: Hate Writing Listing Descriptions? This App Does It For You
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Hate Writing Listing Descriptions? This App Does It For You
For many real estate agents, writing is a dreaded, but necessary, chore. There are listing descriptions to write, market reports to draft, and even blog posts to create. If you're not a person to whom writing comes naturally, these tasks can be a massive time and energy drain. Fortunately, there's a new app that takes that pain out of writing--by doing it for you! Wordsmith from Automated Insights can take data from a spreadsheet, like market analytics or property information, and automatically generate a reader-friendly article, report, or listing description, among other options. Here's how it works. Let's say you need to write several listing descriptions. Rather than slaving away at each one individually, put the property details for each listing in a spreadsheet, like in the image below. Once the data is structured--with individual columns for address, square feet, number of bedrooms, etc.--the user then uploads the spreadsheet into Wordsmith. The next step is to create a template for your content. This gets at the heart of what makes Wordsmith successful--it knows that much of what we write is fairly formulaic already. Listing descriptions always mention the number of beds/baths, square footage, the local neighborhood, etc. Market reports typically talk about the latest sales data and compare it to the previous period. By creating a master template for each type type of content, generating future content becomes as easy as uploading a spreadsheet.
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What Will Buyers Want in 2016? Smart Homes!
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Best Online Tools and Apps for Real Estate Agents
It's a wonderful time to be an agent with all the helpful tools available to the real estate industry. Technology offers us so many ways to stay connected, safe, organized and keep learning about real estate. Are you taking advantage of the powerful apps and websites online to help you save time? We've compiled a list of 10 terrific online tools and apps for real estate agents to help you accomplish more and make your life easier: Wi-Fi Finder - For members of an industry who spend a lot of time on the go, searching for Wi-Fi can be a tedious process, but still preferable over data charges! Check out Wi-Fi Finder, a free app that will help you locate free or paid Wi-Fi wherever you are. The app uses the GPS function of your smartphone to tell you exactly where the closest Wi-Fi hotspot is, and how to get there. Bonus: it doesn't require Wi-Fi to use the app! Prezi - Looking to make a real estate listing presentation that will really wow your audience? Check out Prezi. This visually stunning presentation editor allows you to display information on or offline, collaborate with teammates, and import images and videos. Since Prezi is a cloud-based program, you can use it to present from your desktop, iPhone, or iPad, making it a terrific option for displaying information at an open house or a last minute meeting in a coffee shop. Prezi is free if you're okay with all of your presentations being public. There is a low monthly cost for making your presentations private. Google Alerts - One of many useful tools from Google, this free service allows you to receive notifications every time your name, business name, or any topic that interests you is mentioned online. You can control how often alerts will be emailed to you, keeping you in the loop each time your business is mentioned. Try setting up an alert for the geographical area you farm, or homes for sale in your city.
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Homes Are Getting Smarter: Can Real Estate Agents Keep Up?
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7 Real Estate Agent Must Haves
Real estate is not always an office job. In fact, more often than not agents find themselves doing business out in the field. Meeting prospective sellers, showing buyers around, organizing marketing and events...a lot of this gets done on the go! Whether you're working from your car, a coffee shop, a vacant listing, your vacation destination or somewhere else, here are the seven essentials every real estate agent needs to conduct business from anywhere: 1. Smartphone Your constant companion, it's probably by your side when you go to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning. Smartphones are just so darn versatile! Besides helping you call and text clients, your phone enables you to check emails, take photos of listings and even legally sign and deliver documents. How neat is that? 2. Business Cards In a field where you're always meeting new people, you're definitely going to need some business cards. Printed or digital, business cards give contacts a way to remember and get in touch with you. Today's agents might want to add more than just a name and phone number. How about your Twitter handle? Here are some tips to help you optimize your business cards and stand out from the pack. 3. Mini Office Suite Find a good old fashioned pencil case and pack the following in your car, laptop case or travel bag: trusty pen, notepad, stapler, white out and tape. You won't regret it when you are the most prepared agent at any meeting.
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Pocket PCs, iPad, and Outlook Tips
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How to Create the Perfect Real Estate Marketing and Lead Cultivation Platform (a Tutorial) - Part 2
Last week, I shared part one of building the perfect real estate marketing and lead cultivation platform. If you missed part one of my article, you can read it by clicking here. Let's pick right up where we left off and address the last four critical considerations related to the creation of this platform. 4) It has to be multi-channel It might be enticing to just find one great product (a mass email tool, for instance) because it does take time to research and select many different tools. But never lose sight of the fact that there is no "one size fits all" type of marketing vehicle. This is because there is no one type of homeowner in the world. Everyone responds to different things. To have a truly successful platform, you must have a little bit of everything. You want to have a comprehensive platform that includes email marketing, text messaging, print marketing, inbound marketing and social media. 5) Data integration (across all platforms) is KEY No matter where your leads are coming from (your website, your broker's website, your email system, Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, open houses, etc.), ALL data must flow seamlessly into your platform in an automated fashion. If you have to manually do any data input, you do not have a good platform. This is a critical step and there is no wiggle room here.
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How to Create the Perfect Real Estate Marketing and Lead Cultivation Platform (a Tutorial) - Part 1
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How a 72-Year-Old Realtor Embraces Technology
Are your so-called selling tools behind the times? Afraid you're too old to jump on today's technological bandwagon? Even if you didn't grow up with a mouse in your hands, the technology to streamline your business is not out of reach. Just ask 72-year-old real estate agent Ed Robinson about his tips for Realtors®. Ditch the filing cabinets. Go digital. This Canadian agent has put together a simple mix of tips for Realtors, including devices and software to help you save a few trees – and a lot of time. How does he do it? An iPad - Command central. Scanner Pro - Transform paper documents into digital files for storage and editing. PDF Expert - Download, view, edit, annotate, and sign paperwork electronically. Dropbox - Cloud-based storage, accessible by any device, agent, or client. How does it work? A buyer makes an offer. You scan it into a digital version, then fire it off to the listing agent. Done. You download MLS listings for a client, easily add notes in PDF Expert Saving it for future reference... Emailing it... Share it via Dropbox You get a deposit check, scan it onto your iPad, import it into a receipt template, then send a digital receipt
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Top 10 Tech Tools to Help You Sell Your Listing
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3 Forms of Tech That Are Changing the Real Estate Market
The future is right around the corner. Agents and brokers need to prepare for digital technology that could (maybe) change how or why people buy and sell homes. Here is our top three emerging real estate technologies that could (again, maybe) affect the real estate industry in a big, bad way. Bitcoin: Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be spent globally, and are not affected by taxes or regulatory laws. Finite in nature, new "internet money" can never be created or reprinted. A wide range of businesses are starting to accept these as a legitimate form of payment, including the real estate industry. Real estate can be bought with these virtual currencies, and not talking about dinky lots in the middle of nowhere. Need an apartment building in Romania? An industrial lot in El Paso, Texas? What about a 2-bedroom apartment in London? All of these properties, and more, can be purchased with Bitcoin or other forms of virtual currency. So, how does this affect industry buyers and sellers? Well, not much if your brokerage or business does not accept virtual currency. Although most businesses don't accept these as actual payment, some large brokerages (like this one in New York) around the world have started. This is not unique to the real estate industry, a survey given to U.S. retailers showed that 8 percent plan on accepting Bitcoin by 2016. Not bad for a form of currency that's been around for less than a decade. Much to the U.S. government's dismay, virtual currencies are here to stay. If they start growing in popularity with in the coming years, it may be in your best interest to accept "internet bucks."
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The Technology Habits of Successful Real Estate Agents
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Apple Watch For Real Estate
I am not sure what the market penetration breakdown is for Apple vs. Android phones in real estate, but suffice it to say that there is a significant number of iPhone users. Many agents report that their smartphone is among their most valuable business tools, and for good reason. Your internet connected phone lets you stay connected to every component of your business to keep you on the track to great customer service and the success that comes with it. Long gone are the days of putting an "out of office" message on your desk phone and on your email responder. This was a best practice years ago when the internet was not omnipresent and internet enabled devices were clunky to use. Let's face it, the Palm 7 was a magical device but it barely worked. Today's smartphones are now complemented by a plethora of applications that allow real estate agents to stay connected to everything in their business. The problem with being connected all of the time is that you are, um...connected all of the time. While it may be fine for teenagers to walk around staring at their phone all day long, that is not the right impression for professional real estate agents. The good news is that Apple and Google understand this. The first effort was to develop earpieces that allowed users to keep the phone in the pocket. That works great for hands-free phone calls and listening to music, but serves little more. Google took a swing with Google Glass – another promising attempt – but like the earpiece, it's a bit awkward. I purchased them and was pretty disappointed, especially by the reaction that it had on people. I always feel like someone out of a Twilight Zone or Star Trek episode. Again, not the "look" of a professional real estate agent.
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Real Estate Technology is Not an Expense. It is an Investment
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Spotlight on Real Estate Tech: Our Top Product Reviews from 2014
Throughout 2014, we've been publishing a series of articles that guides agents through the technology selection process (see the full list of articles here). While those provide a helpful overview of broad technology categories, the next step is to learn more about a single product in more detail. That's what our product reviews column does. Each review offers an in-depth look at an individual product, complete with screenshots and an overview of all major features. In 2014, we published over a dozen product reviews, and we've rounded them up here for your convenience, sorted by category. Take a moment to learn more about a new technology that could help you grow your business in the year ahead. Transaction Management/Forms Form Simplicity - A solution created by a professional real estate organization, Florida Realtors®. Its ongoing development is, in part, shaped by a panel of REALTOR® members who ensure that the program stays in step with what agents and brokers need to be successful. Realty Commander - Realty Commander excels in handling multiple different file types, short sales, and HUD. DocuSign for REALTORS® PLUS - A first look at DocuSign's new "Transaction Rooms" that wed transaction management capabilities to DocuSign's eSignatures. zipForm® Plus - zipLogix upgrades their forms stalwart with a clean, new interface that makes it easy for agents to use. CMA Cloud CMA - The reports you print directly from the MLS are stale, say the folks at Cloud CMA, and don't offer any opportunity for your unique branding. Their solution was built to fix this problem.
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Your Guide to Real Estate Technology in 2015
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11 Gift Ideas for the Techie You Love
Many people around the world are or will be shopping for presents for their loved ones in the coming weeks. Sure, TVs, laptops, and tablets are cool, and kudos to you if that is what you have planned to purchase! Now for those of you who are looking for something special, quirky even, and perhaps not as expensive, we prepared a list of interesting tech gadgets that are popular right now. Listed below, in no particular order, could be gifts for fellow real estate professionals or for the techie you love. Virtual keyboard – The WOW factor is pretty high with this one. Cube video action camera camcorder – While Go Pro has very cool cameras, they may be a bit much for a teenager. These might be a better option for someone who on his way to becoming a Pro. Bluetooth location tracker – There is always someone in the family who could use one of these. Swivel socket with surge protector – A practical gift to use at the home or the office. Light for real estate sign - While there are some more expensive ones out there, these might just do the trick.
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3 Must-Have Tech Tools for Real Estate Agents
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Five Tech Tools You Need to Host a Safe Open House
A key step to hosting a successful open house is ensuring high attendance and maximizing exposure to your listing. With an influx of visitors, it is important to take the necessary steps to keep your sellers, buyers and yourself safe. Below are five tips and tools to use during your next open house, to ensure a safe and successful event. 1. Stay charged: Keeping your phone battery at full charge is an easy step to stay safe during an open house. If your phone battery drains quickly, invest in a portable charge case or mat like one from Mophie to ensure you have full power throughout the day. 2. Keep an eye on prized possessions: During a busy open house, it can be difficult to keep an eye on everyone who passes through. Make sure your seller's prized possessions stay secure by using a wireless security camera like Canary. It syncs automatically through WiFi and you can check real-time footage directly from your smartphone. After the open house, simply pack up the device to use at your next showing. 3. Be alert when en route to your open house: Do you live in an urban market or within walking distance to your listings? Stay safe on-foot with an app like bSafe (iOS/Android, Free). If you feel threatened or unsafe, tap the "Alarm" button and the app will send your GPS location to specified contacts in your address book via text message. It also connects friends within the same area who can walk to and from a location together.
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How to Score the Latest Tech Tools Without Breaking the Bank
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30 Top Tools for Agents in 30 Minutes (8/19)
Tuesday, August 19, 2014 10:00 - 10:30 AM In order to take your business to the next level and win the best buyers and sellers in the market, you need the right tools for the job! But who has the time to filter through all the productivity tools and sites and apps and find out what's worth your time? We do! Join Trulia Trainer Jovan Hackley for a rundown of the latest must-know tools, apps, and services used by agents like you to generate business and impress clients! Attend this session for: tools you can use now to improve your marketing ideas to help you wow potential clients at your first meeting real advice on how to decide which tools you really need Register now!
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2015 Technology Guide: Find Tools that Profit Your Business
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The Hottest Tech of 2014
In April, the National Association of REALTORS® announced the companies that have been selected to participate in their NAR REach™ accelerator program. The REach™ class of 2014 also doubles as a list of the "it" tech for this year. We're going to introduce you to these exciting companies and share some details about their products. NAR REach™ REach™ was developed by the strategic investment arm of NAR (Second Century Ventures). The purpose of the program is to introduce innovative tech companies to the real estate industry. Participants are very carefully selected after a comprehensive review of their business, their management, and the potential benefit their products and services will bring to REALTORS®. Only a few companies are invited to participate, and they truly represent the "cream of the crop." For more information on REach™, you can read the press release. The Hot List We know you're busy, so we'll provide a quick snapshot of all the companies here, but be sure to read on for further details! Back At You Media: A hands-free, full-service, automated way to generate leads and maintain relationships on social media. www.BackAtYou.com. Deductr: Make tax time easier by automatically tracking expenses, mileage and time. www.deductr.com/NAR Desktime: Earn extra income by helping clients turn unused office space into cash. www.desktimeapp.com Fundwell: Helps commercial real estate professionals connect small business with prequalified lenders to fund real estate or business expansion. www.thefundwell.com Goby: Tracks energy utilization in buildings to optimize efficiency and regulatory reporting. www.SeaSuite.com SendHub: From any mobile device or computer, REALTORS® can manage all of their client communication via voice calls and text messaging - so that the agent never misses a lead. www.sendhub.com SmartZip: This predictive marketing platform uses mountains of data and intricate algorithms to identify homeowners that are likely to sell, then targets these homeowners with effective Web and social marketing campaigns. www.smartzip.com WeVideo: Video creation made easy! Compelling videos created from any device, with automation options to save you time. www.Wevideo.com
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10 Ways Technology Can Save Agents Time and Money
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The Technological Side to Building Relationships
Guest contributor Melissa Dittmann Tracey of REALTOR®Mag says: Here are ways some real estate professionals are using technology to improve their relationships with their Internet leads: Use Metrics as Your Guide Track how engaged your customers are with your website. Many CRMs and e-mail systems have built-in analytics to give you a deeper picture of who your Web visitors are, what pages they're spending the most time on at your site, and who opened your e-mails. For example, a CRM program called BoomTown ROI offers a real-time peak into consumer behavior on your real estate site. Its "Opportunity Details" dashboard allows you to track your visitors' behavior online. Depending on their actions, leads will be labeled as "high interest" if they show a recent interest in one or more listings or as "renewed interest" if they were inactive on the site but later returned. This can indicate who you need to follow up with. Here are some other tools for using metrics to help give you a more in-depth picture of your website's visitors: Google Analytics provides a free solution to let you know who's visiting your website, the online avenues by which they're reaching your site, and, specifically, how they're interacting with your pages. Facebook Insights offers information about how people are discovering your Facebook posts, as well as how engaged they are based on your most popular posts, likes, comments, and shares. Mouseflow.com allows you to record the actions of your website's visitors and generate instant heat maps showing where they clicked and scrolled and what they're paying closest attention to on your site.
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Robo Agents and Their Tools
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How Paperless Are You?
Before there were iPads, smartphones, and laptops, agents listed and sold real estate every day without them. But today’s competitive market demands that all parties be "in the loop" for every transaction. We must utilize systems and devices that keep us connected in order to meet the real-time needs of demanding consumers. New tools are typically a great asset to sales and business. Where would we be without some of these great tools? As an example, copiers make duplication easier. Digital phones that double as cameras allow agents to take pictures and videos that can be uploaded immediately to engage buyers and update sellers. With all the new-fangled equipment, tools, devices and resources out there, how does a busy agent figure out what will help them make more money, more easily and efficiently? Going paperless helps to streamline the many systems and communication channels needed to stay connected, organized and more importantly, efficient! Whether you are interested in going green, or simply want to get control of the crazy paper challenge, you might want to make it simple by implementing one step at a time. Garry Wise started out in real estate and noticed a huge gap in keeping all the parties in a transaction up to date as the transaction progressed. What if he could come up with a better way to do just that? So he did! Garry created www.ThePaperlessAgent.com and has helped hundreds of agents harness the power of going digital!
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What to Do When Tech Problems Strike
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Agents, Teams and Technology
Sometime soon, I will be selling a rental property and buying a different one, taking advantage of the 1031 Exchange program. I am probably like most consumers. You begin shopping for something to buy before you sell. The relationship between a buyer and an agent (or team) will typically have three phases. The first phase is the time you shop before listing. The second is the time you shop while your home is being sold. The third is the time when you are ready to buy. Right now, I am in the first phase, doing casual research. I do not plan to list my home for sale until the spring in Buffalo – if that ever comes ;-). I started driving neighborhoods around Thanksgiving. Flyers are not very popular in the area where I have been cruising, so I have been using a number of mobile apps. Occasionally, I call the number on the sign and leave a message. Nobody ever answers the phone anymore. Take Away #1: Signs are important in real estate. I did not even contemplate contacting a buyer's agent who was advertised on a listing agent's listing. Friday night, an agent contacted me from a phone message from four months ago. She sent me an email and called me by some other name like John. Not sure what happened there. I replied to the email and she called me right away to apologize. We had a nice chat and I told her what was up. She told me that her clients love Listingbook and that she would set me up with an account.
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Family Matters
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Instant Gratification
When I was a child, my parents were constantly encouraging me to "delay my gratification." Wait until after dinner to eat that cupcake, rather than scarfing it down this afternoon. Don't flip to the back of the book to find out what happens; read through the whole thing. They spent nearly two decades teaching me to delay my gratification ... and the Internet taught me the exact opposite in moments. The Internet has created a society that expects (read: demands) instant gratification. As a real estate agent, understanding this and building strategies around it can help you rise above your competition. I was inspired to write this article after talking to Greg Robertson of Cloud CMA. He was talking about how quickly their reports can be created. "If you're on the phone or meeting in person with a prospective client and you tell them you can create a report that will help them understand, just for example, your listing price recommendation, they'll want to see that report right away. How wonderful to be able to create that report with a single click and to show it to them right then and there." The reports can be sent via email as an attachment or displayed on the iPad as a presentation. "Never again will you make a client wait until you get back in the office to share your CMA with them. You can create and share any Cloud CMA report by simply sending an email." Of course, these days, fast doesn't count if it's accompanied by low-tech. A piece of junk isn't going to please your clients, no matter how quickly they receive said piece of junk. The reports from Cloud CMA have the added benefit of being aesthetically-pleasing and mobile – two things that also matter to our tech-savvy society.
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Top 10 Ways to Sell Your Client’s Home FAST! (Part 1)
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The Weather Outside is Frightful – Now What?
It's well-known that winter can be a very slow time for selling real estate. So what can agents do with this downtime? Well, we've thought of a few ways you can leverage this cold weather slowdown to prepare and start the spring selling season off with a BANG—and position yourself for your best year ever! First, it's important to take some quiet time and think about what goals you would like to set for yourself in 2014. What revenues would you like to generate? How much money can you invest in yourself and your business? There are great business planning tools out there that can help guide you through the process of creating your own strategic plan. What are your key strengths and weaknesses? Have you asked your customers this important question? They can give you clues about the best ways to improve your service levels and create lifetime loyal fans. You can create a simple survey with just a few simple questions on an inexpensive tool like Surveymonkey.com if you want to get a quick read of your performance. Send it out to the customers you have worked with in the past twelve months and see what you get back. Ideally, you may want to think about going even further by signing up for a program like QSC that allows you to track client satisfaction for every transaction you're involved with. Once you identify your key strengths and weaknesses, you can think about the type of training you would like to participate in. Winter is a great time to complete some education courses so can take on 2014 with new skills. What kind of training would you like to engage in to make you a stronger real estate professional? Check out the attached list of training solutions to find some ideas. It's also important to check your Association and MLS websites for training courses. Many of them offer a variety of great courses that are free or very inexpensive.
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2014 Technology Resolutions
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Competing for Market Share as a Real Estate Agent
I've been reading a lot lately about competition amongst listing agents. Depends who you ask as to the biggest competing factors, the best tools to have in your arsenal, and the most important points of difference (POD). Many sellers look for a listing agent based on two criteria – lowest commission and highest listing price. But that is only a tiny part of the big picture, really. If you're competing for market share as a real estate agent, what are some things that can set you apart and get you ahead? NAR tells us that nearly half of all sellers (45%) said they expect an instant response from their agent and 97% of all sellers expect a response within an hour. Timeliness is a critical factor when it comes to beating your competition and winning listings. Like sellers, buyers also rank immediate response highly. Adopting mobile technology is a great way to enable faster response times and greater availability to your sellers. Make an impact with potential buyers by providing extensive information on your website, QR codes and SMS. Sellers and buyers alike most commonly choose an agent based on a referral, with trustworthiness and reputation being the most important factors. For all the dissatisfaction (27% of sellers say their agent doesn't respond quickly enough), 89% of buyers are likely to use the same agent again or recommend to others. Winning the first sale is most important, or so it would seem.
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Top Product Reviews from 2013
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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Real Estate Solution
Real estate agents always need to be learning and growing to keep their business thriving. Sometimes that involves personal development--earning new designations, learning new sales strategies, seeking advice from a real estate coach, or even just sitting down with a good book. Other times, thriving means embracing new technologies. Learning new apps and programs can be daunting, though, especially if you're unfamiliar with a certain type of product. What should you look for? What options are available? It's hard to know without a lot of research. Fortunately, we've developed a series of guides that helps you answer exactly those questions. Each guide offers helpful questions to consider before making a purchase and lists specific products that may suit your needs. Kick off your research by choosing the type of product you're interested in from the list below (see our list of broker-specific guides here): Property Search Website Online Marketing Mobile Solution Online Reputation Management Market Analytics Listing Syndication Lockbox Lead Generation iPad Apps Electronic Signatures Document and Transaction Management CRM CMA
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Finding the Right Cell Phone for Real Estate
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Buying a New Tech Tool? The First Question to Ask
I consider myself a very open-minded person, but try to convince me to switch from Mac to PC, for example, and I'm going to dig in my heels. I'm not alone; most of the people you meet are committed to their marriages, their families, their careers, and their operating system. So when you're choosing any technology product, your first question needs to be whether or not it will work with your OS. Real Estate and Mac You can't exactly describe the relationship between the real estate industry and Apple computers as a love affair, but they're certainly warming up to each other. As more agents purchase Apple computers, more vendors are developing solutions that work on the Mac OS. However, there is a lot of real estate software that will not work. "You need to make sure that the solution you choose is 100% Mac and Safari-compatible and syncs with Mac Address Book and iCal," says Matthew Collis of IXACT Contact. "Some CRMs claim to be 'almost' Apple compatible but have features that only work on a Windows PC." The company read the writing on the wall and developed their real estate CRM to work on both Mac and PC. So what's a Mac to do? You can dig through your options until you find a solution that's built specifically for Apple. You can find a product that was built for PC, and then tweaked a bit to fit Mac (with some features or functionality missing). Or, you can find a Web-based tool that works on any operating system.
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Will Google's New Helpouts Affect Realtors®?
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Banish "One Size Fits All"
Prepare yourself for a shocker: your clients want you to listen to them. Perhaps you've heard this a few times before; but all too often, buyers and sellers feel unheard and unappreciated. Agents can fall into a "one size fits all" approach, losing their edge and their clients in the process. Instead, you can show your clients that you see them, hear them, and appreciate them by crafting a strategy that is unique to them. Need proof of how unique we all are? Just look at the way we decorate our homes. If you visit your buyer or seller clients in their home, you can't help but notice the art they've put on display, the type of furniture they've chosen, and the colors they've painted the walls. Is the style modern and minimal? Is it classic and traditional? You don't just need to extrapolate about a client's preferences based on their interior design choices. If you listen, they will tell you exactly what they like, what they dislike, and what they want from you. You can use what you learn to create a unique strategy for their real estate purchase or sale. How It's Done There are countless opportunities for customization in your dealings with buyers or sellers, many of which are possible through technology. Here are just three examples.
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REach™ Accelerator Class of 2013 to conclude at REALTORS® Conference & Expo
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"It Pays for Itself with One Sale"
"It pays for itself if you get just one sale," says the technology salesperson. I would not be surprised if you hear that a few times a month when real estate technology salespeople pitch their products. The keynote is "if" you get a sale from using their product. As an agent, you should despise this sales pitch. How on earth could any technology company justify taking all of your commission on a sale? If you purchase three or four of these "technology solutions" from "technology partners," you could wind up spending a huge part of your income on technology. As they say in church, "Be leery of the snake's voice, and the tempting sweetness of the apple." As a REALTOR®, there are dozens of products and services that you get through your affiliation with NAR, your state association of REALTORS®, your MLS, (sometimes franchise) and your broker. Here at RE Technology, we do a lot to emphasize these products in our product directory. You will notice that if your MLS or association offers services like free IDX, free website, free CRM, free CMA, free forms, free digital signatures, etc., we highlight those products on RE Technology at the top of the category list for that product. We update this list on a quarterly basis. It's not perfect, but we try.
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How to Set Up Your Virtual Office on a Shoestring Budget
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Real Estate Agents finding innovative solutions from REach™ Accelerator Companies
This year the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®' investment arm, Second Century Ventures (SCV), launched the REach™ technology accelerator program to bring the latest cutting edge technologies to the real estate industry. The inaugural class has reached the halfway point and the results have been outstanding for virtually all who have been involved in the program, especially agents, brokers, associations and the companies themselves. Agents and Brokers are finding the products offered by the companies to be valuable tools that are helping them run their businesses more effectively and provide more value to their customers. Associations are finding that they can provide more value to their memberships and even help attract and retain members. Meet the REach™ Class of 2013 as they continue to solidify and refine their offerings: BombBomb: Get more listings and recruit more agents with the power of video email. BombBomb provides a complete e-mail and video marketing platform for developing, sending and tracking results of traditional and video e-mail campaigns from any device. Lumentus Social: Social media made easy and effective for real estate agents and brokers. Lumentus Social gives companies a measurable edge in identifying, understanding and engaging social media communities keeping social media communications on brand and on mission.
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7 New Technology Companies to Innovate the Real Estate Industry
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Friday Freebie: Free Tools from realtor.com®
Did you know that realtor.com® offers a wide selection of free tools that help real estate agents grow their business? This week, we're taking a peek into realtor.com®'s tool box and providing readers with a full list of apps and services available to them. If you already use or are planning on investing other realtor.com® products, like Top Producer® and Showcase Listing Enhancement(SM), this page will show you exactly how the tools below complement the products you already use. Free tools from realtor.com® Here's a comprehensive list of tools from available to real estate professionals for free from realtor.com®: Agent Profile - Build repeat and referral business. Use this tool to manage what people learn about you on realtor.com® and from major social media networks. Listing Presentation - Download this presentation tool for use on a laptop, iPad® or as a printable document. It demonstrates how consumers habits have changed, including the importance of marketing a home online. HyperSocial™ Tools - This tool lets you get recommendations from your satisfied clients and share them with the world.   Collaborative Search App - Invite your clients to use a version of realtor.com® mobile apps branded with your photo and contact info. All primary inquiry actions are routed to you, and you receive immediate notifications on your smartphone or tablet. 
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Real Estate Software/ Technology: What to Invest In
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Forget Buyer Leads, I Need Sellers
In business, inversion is a deviation from the normal conditions of economic stability represented by a dramatic shift when conditions hit a tipping point. It is hard to spot the tipping point in real estate economics because it happens in local markets at certain price points first, then spreads systemically until it saturates a region or the nation. Clearly, we have moved from a buyer's market to a seller's market in real estate. Now it is time for a shift in marketing from buyer lead generation to seller lead generation. Its time to shift marketing money from online advertising over to direct marketing. The good news is that technology can help. I have written before about tools that leverage big data to power brokerages that want to predict the likelihood of customers purchasing affiliated services. There are a number of monitoring tools that can signal a mortgage company when it becomes in the consumer's best interest to refinance. Using the closing date of a home purchase, insurance companies can target renewal or take away business for homeowner's insurance and other insurance bundles. These solutions should be fundamental in the operations of brokerages offering a complete line of homeownership services. The new emerging category is using big data to predict what homeowners are likely to sell. There is a unique intersection in business between businesses and marketing that usually takes on the term of market research. Marketers build profiles of target customers, then the magicians or mathematicians take over. In today's parlance, they call it algorithm development. In the simplest of terms, any real estate professional can tell you what and who is selling today. Using those signals, algorithms can be developed to ascertain a model for predicting who is likely to sell next. It is not intuition, it's predictive math.
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Make Over Your Tech Tool Collection to Sell More Homes
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RE Technology's Guide to Midyear Exhibitors
Going to Midyear? It's a great place to network with fellow REALTORS® and hear about industry trends. We particularly like that you can find just about any tech tool to improve multiple aspects your real estate practice. Booths at the Trade Expo are the best place to find out about useful tech products. You can ask company representatives questions about their products, see live demos, and often receive special discounts or even win prizes. It's a big show, though, and it can be hard to hit every booth that interests you. That's why we've created this handy guide to Midyear exhibitors. We've even arranged it by booth number to make navigating the tradeshow floor super easy! You'll see the booth number and the company name with each entry, as well as the types of products offered. If you're looking for a CRM solution, for example, just check our list below to quickly see which companies offer that kind of product. Using our 2013 Technology Guide's custom download feature, we've also created a PDF where you can get in-depth information on each product these companies offer. Download it now to help plan which booths to visit! Company: Instanet Solutions Booth #: 109 Learn about this technology: Document Management, Transaction Management, eSignatures Company: Mobile Realty Apps Booth #: 113 Learn about this technology: Mobile Apps Company: FBS Booth #: 200 Learn about this technology: eCommerce, MLS Systems
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Find the Right Tools for Your Business with our 2013 Technology Guide
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Amp Up Your Repeat and Referral Business
We love to follow start ups at RE Technology. It's exciting to see what fresh ideas young tech companies can offer real estate pros. We've seen how the right solution can save agents time, money--and a lot of hassle. Think of how much more harried you'd feel each day without your favorite mobile device or transaction management solution! While you can replace your fax machine, tech products can't replace bedrock things like relationships--but they can enhance them. Social media apps and drip marketing tools, for example, can help you stay top-of-mind with your broader sphere of influence, while CRM programs enable you to nurture individual relationships. No matter how long you've been in the industry, you've heard the mantra--real estate is a relationship business. A robust real estate practice thrives on referrals and repeat clients, two things that are difficult to achieve without maintaining healthy relationships. That's why we were excited to get a peek at version 2.0 of relationship management solution Contactually. The update, just released today, aims to put the process of reaching out to your contacts "on steroids" in order to drum up more referrals. Until now, Contactually's focus has been to help users strategically cultivate their network by automatically prompting them to follow up with important contacts. Version 2.0 takes that foundation on builds on it by elevating your interactions into experiences that are more meaningful and valuable to your contacts. Five significant updates to the program help you accomplish this.
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What is a Real Estate Technology Accelerator?
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6 Technology Trends That Matter to Your Real Estate Business
The multiple roles that a real estate professional performs on a daily basis have remained, for the most part, unchanged over the years. What has changed is how information is delivered and exchanged. From cloud computing to social networks, clients are looking to real estate professionals to make use of tools and technology that take the stress out of the transaction process. Creating a well-organized and strategic way to integrate technology into your business is an important factor when considering your overall marketing strategy. Below are six technology tools invaluable to the real estate industry as a whole and your personal business in particular. Not only can these tools benefit your business and your clients, but they will simplify your life as well! 1. Tablet computing The iPad, a tablet computer operated by touch, has an enviable future in the real estate industry. Prior to the iPad, we were juggling multiple devices, including a smartphone and laptop. The iPad streamlines our everyday tasks and simplifies many of the typical responsibilities each real estate professional faces. This portable device is perfect for real estate and can be used in many situations you might not have considered until now. A few situations where your iPad would come in handy: Open Houses Rather than the old school paper version, consider having your visitors sign in on your iPad. You can also offer the option to receive e-mails or your latest newsletter. At the end of the open house, send an e-mail thanking them for attending with any pertinent follow-up links. It is a simple way to capture potential leads and an easy way to add them to your customer relationship manager and stay in touch going forward. Listing presentations Create a simple listing presentation and share your key marketing points from your tablet. Once you schedule a face-to-face meeting, walk potential sellers through the presentation and then e-mail a copy of the presentation along with all other marketing collateral at the end of the meeting.
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UI/UX Explained and What It Means for You
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Product Tour: zipForm 6 Professional
For most new homeowners, the most challenging, tedious, and confusing part of their real estate transaction was the paperwork. As a real estate professional, it's your job to simplify that process as much as possible. But who is making it easier for you? One product aiming to do just that is zipForm 6 Professional. Hardly a new name in the industry, zipLogix is constantly improving their flagship forms solution, as is evident in its current generation. So please join us for a tour of zipForm 6 Professional. Creating a New Transaction with zipForm 6 Professional zipForm 6 Professional opens on a list of your transactions. From there, you can easily access any transaction that requires attention, or you can create a new transaction. We created a new transaction to see what the process was like. When creating a zipForm 6 Professional account, the appropriate forms will be added to your account based on current membership status with your Association or MLS. Thus, when you create a new transaction, the lists of forms you need are assembled for you. From the forms list, you can click or drag the forms you need in your transaction file. Note: Should your broker provide you with an account, the libraries you will have access to will be selected by the administrative user of the brokerage account. Once forms have been selected, zipForm 6 makes it easy for you to populate the documents with client and transaction information. The biggest time saving feature is the automatic field population. Fill in one field and the information will find its way into other forms as you add them to the transaction. This is not fool proof because of the nature of some forms, though, so always go through all of your forms to be safe. This eliminates a lot of typing, but this is just the beginning. After working in a region for a time, you may find yourself typing the same cities or zip codes, which can get tedious. The look up fields feature will remember this common data and put them in an easy drop down menu within the form field. This information is automatically saved and is available for all transactions and forms. In addition, the look up fields database may also be customized as you like and can be locked to prevent the database from saving any more information.
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ChangeLog: Has your real estate vendor released important updates lately?
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Don’t Worry About Keeping Up, With One Big Exception
Guest contributor Meg White of REALTOR®Mag says: At the 2013 International Builders Show in Las Vegas this January, technology writer and reviewer David Pogue combed through the latest online advancements and sorted out the ones to which audience members ought to direct their attention. Pogue, who regularly writes about technology for The New York Times and Scientific American, said that even he has a hard time with the pace of innovation. "It's too much for even me to keep up with," he quipped. "How are you supposed to keep up?" His entertaining keynote speech kicked off with some of the most interesting "shiny objects" out there, mostly the byproducts of new app development. Pogue praised light-hearted apps that help users learn to play and share their love for the South American wind instrument known as the ocarina as well as more industry-specific apps, such as those that help property owners control and monitor indoor temperature and security systems. The one thing these apps have in common is the constantly-improving hardware on which they're designed to operate.
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Look into my Eyes, Not my Screen!
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9 Holiday Deals to Start 2013 Off Right
With 2012 winding down, so is our series of Holiday Deals. We've searched high and low to bring you the best real estate tech giveaways and discounts over the last month. While some of the deals we've found have already ended, others are still available. If you've made resolutions to improve your real estate business in the coming year, our roundup of Holiday Deals can help you put your best foot forward in 2013. But hurry! Some of these deals expire on December 31st. Last Chance! The special pricing on these real estate tech tools ends when 2012 does. If you've been considering adding any of these great solutions to your business arsenal, act now! By January 1, it'll be too late. Showing Suite HD IDX Search - Get this turnkey IDX search solution free for 60 days with a waived setup fee. WolfNet Property Search - Mobile optimized and complete with lifestyle features, this IDX property search comes with 3 free months and 50% off setup costs. eMerge Total Market Dominator - Worry less about your online marketing in 2013. eMerge takes care of it for you. Try your first month for (appropriately!) $20.13. Market Leader Professional - Buy now and save for life! Market Leader is offering a permanent rate of $99 per month when you sign up by December 31st.
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10 Best Product Reviews of 2012
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A Look at Top Producer's Newest Features
Top Producer has added some slick functionality to their program. We attended a recent webinar where host Steve Pacinelli unveiled the new updates, scheduled for release this month, and revisited the program's strengths. Read on to see what we learned. Sync Functionality Top Producer can sync GMail and Outlook to both your mobile and desktop applications. You don't even have to be in Top Producer to use this functionality. For example, you can add an appointment to your smartphone's native calendar app and it will automatically sync to Top Producer on all your devices. Out of the office and meet a new contact? Use REALTOR.com's Quick Lead as a fast way to add new contacts to your phone. The app's icon sits on your mobile phone's homescreen for easy access. Just tap it to add contact info, and the app will add the contact to your phone's address book and your Top Producer database. Email Editor Perhaps Top Producer's most important update is to its email editor--which finally works with Apple computers.
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A Day in the Life of a REALTOR® Geek
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Stop! Check Your MLS Before Making That Purchase
We're real estate tech geeks at RE Technology. We love to answer questions from agents wondering how to streamline and grow their business with innovative technology solutions. Explaining the differences between document management and transaction management or giving advice about what to do when the bank rejects your e-signed documents are both part of a great day at work for us. However, if you ask us which CMA, Electronic Signature, Showing Appointment Software or other solution you should use, you'll get a question back: Have you checked your MLS? The tool you're thinking of purchasing--be it client relationship management software, market statistics package, or something else--may already be included in your MLS membership for free. If you don't check your MLS's member benefits BEFORE you buy, you may be spending money needlessly. Not Free? A Discounted Rate May Be Available Even if your MLS doesn't include the solution you're looking for with your membership, check to see who their partners and vendors are. Chances are that your MLS has negotiated with technology companies for a discount on their products. Again, if you don't check your MLS first, you may be losing money.
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Prepare for Disaster: Going Without Your Favorite Technology
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Is That Tech Investment Worth It?
Summer is winding down and, for many real estate professionals, this means preparing for budget season. Now that we're well into the third fiscal quarter, you're probably just starting to think about how to best allocate your resources in 2013. Should you set aside money for the rumored iPhone 5, or would finally investing in a CRM make more sense? When considering a new tech purchase, it's easy to be distracted by the "wow" factor of the latest gadgets without thinking about their often high price tag. In order to preserve your bottom line, think of that new phone or software as more than just a toy--it's a tool that can help your business grow! In order to decide if a potential tool is a worthy investment, ask yourself if the benefit gained is greater than the money spent. Does it save you time? Will it streamline your workflow? Is it something that you will use frequently? If it's something that you will only use once or twice, it's probably best to just hold off. If you do decide that a new gadget or software program is a worthy investment, here are a few things to keep in mind in order to maximize its value.
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Introducing Inman’s 2012 Innovator Awards Winners
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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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5 Simple Steps to Making the Best Real Estate Videos
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Product Review: RatedAgent.com
Agent ratings are a hot topic among real estate professionals today. Consumers love service provider ratings, and real estate is among the last service industries to adopt a solution. There are a variety of tools available – each with a slightly unique approach. One provider of service ratings for real estate is QSC, with several customer satisfaction survey options along with a consumer website, RatedAgent.com. RatedAgent.com allows consumers to look up quality of service ratings during the agent selection process. Since its founding in 1998, QSC has been a leader in creating consumer centric service standards and real estate agent ratings. The Basics Providing consumers with trustworthy, comprehensive, and impartial agent ratings is a central goal for RatedAgent.com. However, they also look at agent ratings from the professional side. They've developed tools to help on both the individual and company level; we'll dig into that a little more thoroughly shortly. The Customer Satisfaction Rating (CSR) on RatedAgent.com is simple for both consumers and agents to understand. It is an average of the Overall Satisfaction question from both buyer and seller returned surveys. There are no other factors or secret formulas that influence the rating; it is solely based on the overall satisfaction as rated by verified past customers. When an individual or company joins RatedAgent.com, they agree that every closed transaction must be surveyed to maintain integrity. This is central to the RatedAgent.com philosophy – it ensures that consumers can trust their ratings. Surveys are sent via email; however, if a client does not have an email address, a paper survey will be sent for a nominal fee. Brokers or franchises may configure their accounting system to automatically trigger customer surveys to be sent for all completed transactions through a simple interface. The results of returned surveys are aggregated and shared with each agent and, if applicable, their management team. Users can set up custom email notification settings so they know when new surveys are returned. At any point, authorized individuals may look at their overall ratings with easy-to-generate reports. This all happens within the RatedAgent.com web-based back office solution (which, to be clear, is internal and not accessible by consumers). Ratings are based on a rolling three years, so this is the default setting for any report, but users can adjust the date range. For most users, reports look at either buyer or seller data – the questions asked of buyer and seller clients are different, so reporting them separately makes more sense. Once a report has been generated, the masthead shows overall ratings (including both buyer and seller data), but the rest is specific to either buyer or seller.
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