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Realogy Launches Agent X: Voice Powered Productivity Tool for Agents
Realogy Holdings Corp. today launched Agent X, a real estate focused Alexa Skill. Agent X is now available complimentary to affiliated agents with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Coldwell Banker NRT and ERA brands. Operating as a Skill on the Alexa platform, Agent X gives instant, voice-operated access to an impressive suite of productivity and coaching tools – from listings and client presentations, to productivity and goals tracking, to a daily digest that includes a briefing of the agent's day ahead, top industry headlines and more. As a Skill, Agent X allows agents the ability to be more efficient and productive simply by asking Alexa to "ask Agent X."
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Who Is the End User of Real Estate Tech?
Are the tools you're offering to clients beneficial to you or to them? Are the frictions in the home buying and selling process a result of technology developed with the wrong end-user in mind? It's All About the Experience Why do people pay for fine dining? What about first class seats? A luxury car? It's about the experience. It is easy to see how Michelin star restaurants, airlines, and Italian car manufacturers understand that the ultimate customer is the diner, traveler and driver, respectively, of their business. Can we say the same for the most common real estate tools?
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Magnificent 7 Tech Trends to Watch in 2019 and Beyond
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5 Technology Expenses to Review for Budget Season, Part Two
Part two of this two-part series continues to explore technology expenses and strategies for budget season. In part one, we discussed the importance of reviewing your technology partner agreements and telecommunication expenses. Part two focuses on finding savings in cloud services, the benefits of a hardware refresh program, and capturing Shadow IT costs. So, let's start.
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iBuyer or iFlipper? Let's Look Under the Hood
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Everyone Is Moving to the Cloud
Fact: 70 percent of U.S. organizations are now utilizing cloud technology to run at least one application of their businesses. The growth of cloud technology adoption is on the rise as the business benefits have proven to be worth their weight in gold regarding profitability and efficiency standards. Gone are the days of investing heavily in never ending hardware, and with good reason. The infrastructure of old limited growth of organizations in several key areas that we all have come to demand from our "on-the-go" lifestyles. Vendors such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google, and Microsoft Azure are the leaders in cloud computing space that run backend of many of businesses today. While each company offers their own competitive advantages for cloud technology, they all offer standardized benefits regardless of industry, size, or sophistication.
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Real Estate Leaders See Bright Future for Predictive Analytics, Big Data, and Marketing Automation
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3 Do's and Don'ts in Choosing a Technology Partner for Your Brokerage
It's not easy choosing the right technology partner for your brokerage. Your brokerage's website, communication, accounting and ability to generate leads all depend on your technology. So how do you choose a technology partner? Here are three do's and don'ts for choosing who to partner as your technology provider: Do's 1. Demo! One of the best ways to see for yourself what a technology partner can offer you is by booking a demo. Demos give you a chance to ask questions and test specific capabilities of a technology to see if that technology is right for you.
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Real Estate Business Incubators: What they are and why you should care about them
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The Top Tech that Changed Real Estate in 2016
Real estate industry insiders are finally cozying up to real estate trends and technology following a mind numbingly long, pothole laden journey. Now embracing technological advancements that break the mold rather than remaining stuck in it, the industry has seen a blinding array of game changers this year. What tech driven real estate trends knocked real estate professionals onto a different course in 2016? Smart homes The home itself is changing: 82 percent of buyers are interested in increasingly affordable, convenient smart tech, from locks to thermostats and lights. Drones In June, the FAA finally made it easier for agents to legally fly drones without certifiable "air time," putting a whole new arsenal of weaponry in the hands of agents, sellers, and buyers. Video Video has gone viral, literally, offering a new way for buyers to get a feel for a property – sans-travel. Are you cashing in on this proven and effective real estate trend?
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Why a Smart Home is also a Danger Zone
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Technology, Agent Adoption, and ROI
I have been involved in real estate technology for a long time. For several years now, I have been meaning to write about the overwhelming number of options that exist for both brokerages and agents alike. There are hundreds of vendors who not only have competing products, but overlapping products that duplicate one or more functions of something you might already have. Throw in the fact that agents need a simple platform to use since their adoption of technology is pretty low, and you can see brokerages pulling out their hair in frustration. What's the point of spending money on technology platforms when they are not getting adoption and expected ROI on what they already have? It with this in mind that I have written this series of two blogs on this topic. The purpose is to analyze the many different platform types that are out there, which ones actually lead to sales, and which ones might be left off your shopping list next year. One of my large clients told me recently that he could not justify adding any additional technology expense on new platforms until he could really understand the adoption and ROI on what he already has. I think that logic makes a lot of sense and why I present you the following information. First, let's take a look at the multiple categories (in no particular order): MLS (often multiple) - An MLS is essential to doing business, but extending out of your market adds real value. Corporate Intranet - Most brokerages have some sort of company intranet and this is probably an important item to have in your technology program. Corporate Website - Again, this is hard to do without, but you could add new developments and new homes to your mix to extend your income. Agent Website - Hard to imagine your agents not having their own websites, but some turnkey solutions can get new agents up and running with their own website on day one.
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Up Close with Clareity's Broker Dashboard
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Schmooze vs. Substance: What Are YOU Using to Make Technology Decisions?
Let's face it. We operate in a very social industry. We're all a bunch of salespeople. We love to go to parties, catch that final drink at the bar after dinner and attend swanky events sponsored by technology companies. In general, we just love to schmooze! It's part of our real estate DNA. I definitely count myself on the list of schmoozers. We host at least three parties a year and countless dinners and events beyond that. They are a great way to get to know people and start new relationships. All of this networking is great, but we all need to be cognizant of something. When it's time to make an important decision about what transaction management solution will work best for a brokerage or what MLS system to purchase, we have to try to separate the schmooze from the substance. Just because a company has bought you a drink or a dinner doesn't mean they offer the best technology solution for your company. When we facilitate RFPs for MLSs and brokerages, we sometimes hear a lack of interest in a very viable candidate. What is the reason? We don't "know" them. That's code for we haven't partied with them at Mid-Year or Inman or any other conference. We haven't been wined and dined by them. While, of course, trust relationships enter into any decision when choosing a new technology partner, I sometimes feel like our industry is biased more toward the schmooze than the substance. If you are making decisions for your members or your agents, it is incumbent upon you to separate your personal connection so that you can truly try to examine the company and the quality of its technology offerings.
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11 Real Estate Tech Tools that Will Simplify Your Life
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Top Tools and Apps to Get You through the Day
Sometimes all those apps and tools we have taking up space on our phones and tablets can be a bit distracting. How often are you grateful for an app or a crucial tool for keeping you on task or for making you more productive during your day? We've all had one of those days where it seems the simple app we have keeping us on task is the only reason we were productive. Since we tend to get stuck using the same tools over and over again, we may be unaware of the other tools out there, or unwilling to try something different for fear of switching up our routine. Via Atlassian There is a lot of time wasted at work, and you'd be surprised to know that some of the biggest culprits are some of the unnecessary things we end up having to do while at work...and not just checking on our Facebooks. According to a study by Atlassian, at least 60% of our time at work is actually spent productively. If you're working a 40 hour work week, that's at least 24 hours spent not being productive. One of the biggest culprits? Answering and keeping your emails organized. That same study found that, on average, it takes about 16 whole minutes to get back on track after being derailed by an incoming email. Okay, ready for the good news? We've got the master list of professionals from all different industries of the tools and apps they use to get through their day productively. We went out and asked a few of our customers what they thought about it and what top tools or apps they use everyday. The results? Amazing. And we'll be honest, there are a few on this list that we hadn't even heard of! But you can be sure we'll be implementing them into our routine very soon.
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6 Tips to Increase Agent Adoption of Your Brokerage Technology
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Smart Home Certification for Residential Properties
Today, we had our Logictech Harmony Ultimate Home automation experience installed. From a single controller or mobile device, anyone in our family can control connected lights, locks, thermostats, home entertainment devices, and even schedule when devices turn on or off. Everything is connected. Smart Homes May Add More Value This week, Coldwell Banker Real Estate and CEDIA announced a collaboration to develop a smart home curriculum for real estate sales associates. Coldwell Banker and CNET, the world's largest and most trusted online source of consumer technology news and reviews, also developed the definition of a smart home, which is illustrated below. At the onset, Coldwell Banker will be culling smart home features from their database through keyword search to determine listings that qualify for the designation. By pulling qualitative data from the Coldwell Banker database in the form of keywords in the property descriptions, they hope to begin measuring benchmarks in relative price per square foot and days on market for smart homes. Today, consumers can search for smart homes on ColdwellBanker.com/smarthome, but the company expects that they are at the beginning of a long road to lead the industry into support for smart homes. Coldwell Banker recently released research that indicates that 87% of consumers value smart home features.
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What’s the Real Estate Tech Arms Race?
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Graceful Vendor Termination
System conversions are very difficult in real estate. If there is one eternal truth it's that agents will absolutely resist change no matter what. Even with MLS system conversions where the death of the application–vital to their business–is imminent, they hang on during the parallel period until the very end. Then there is a flood of complaints about failure to notify them or train them. It’s a way of life that extends beyond the MLS system to the brokerage system. More and more, brokers are providing end-to-end business systems to their agents. Over years, the company trains and supports the program. It becomes part of the culture of a company. Then one day, usually for sound business reasons, the broker decides to change vendors. Chaos ensues. Change is a recruiting opportunity When you see a competitor changing vendors, it is a great time to target your recruiting. License the system that your competitive broker is dumping and offer it for agents who want to come over and bring their system with them. The recruits can wear the old shoes of their last firm for as long as they like.
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Real Estate Tech Up Close: Our Top Broker Product Reviews from 2015
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Crowdfunding Comes to Real Estate. Can It Work?
From flying bicycles and pi-shaped pie pans to 3-D printers and home security systems, crowdfunding has seen its share of hits and misses. Flying in the face of traditional approaches to financing, will crowdfunding be on target when it comes to real estate trends? What is crowdfunding? Leveraging the accessibility of the internet and social media, crowdfunding offers a method of raising capital by providing access to tens of thousands of investors – from friends and family to potential customers and individual investors. Contributions range from $20 to thousands, with payback encompassing rewards to cash returns on investment estimated in the 7-20 percent range. How's it work? Typically, accredited investors can use the platform for free and "shop" for real estate opportunities, ranging from single family homes to new developments and high-rises, nationwide. Money may be loaned at a specific interest rate, or as purchased equity in projects. iFunding, a rising star in the crowdfunding market, even offers a mobile app – purported to be the first ever in the real estate crowdfunding market.
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NAR REach™ Slings 8 New Products at REALTORS®
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7 Tech Tools to Make Brokers’ Lives Easier
Technology is becoming more efficient, more affordable, and more useful for real estate professionals and their clients every day. But figuring out what's worth the time and money can be overwhelming. To help make those decisions a little easier, a panel of brokers shared their go-to apps and tech tools for managing their business and connecting with clients and agents during the Emerging Business Issues & Technology Forum at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C., last week. Here are seven of their recommendations: Periscope: This is Twitter's web streaming app, which gives users the ability to share live video. When your broadcast is over, you can make it available to viewers for later replay. If you want to broadcast to specific people, you can make it invite-only. Free. Broadcasting ideas for brokers: Panel or keynote presentations: Do you do a lot of public speaking engagements? Share your presentations live with your agents and followers. Company updates/major announcements: Introduce new hires or new agents, celebrate accomplishments, and announce expansions and other newsy events at your brokerage. Q&As and interviews: Get one of your top producers to sit down and do an education interview that potential clients would find useful, or talk to community leaders about local issues and events. Speakers and training sessions: Be a resource for agents on the go by live streaming speaking events or in-house coaching sessions. Invite just your agents to view the live stream or make it public. Sure, agents from other brokerages might see it, but what better way to recruit?
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Top Real Estate Technologies Straight from Science Fiction (Part 2)
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Tech Tools Boost Home Sales
Are you looking for the fastest way to sell your listings for top dollar? U.S. News has identified a host of high-tech real estate tools perfectly suited to help you stand out from the crowd. Get the attention you need with these 6 cutting edge real estate tools: High-end, high-tech images Professional, high resolution photos get potential customers up close and personal with every room in a home, far surpassing the broad strokes snapshots of yesteryear. 3-D floor plans and video tours help buyers better understand layout without the need for a walk through, and aerial photos taken via drone are a boon to large, expansive properties with views. Beefed-up video tours Videos boasting narration, music, and scenes of people enjoying the property help create an emotional connection versus silent video tours of empty rooms used in the past. Virtual staging Virtual staging easily adds furniture and decor to photos of empty rooms and avoids the high costs and time necessary with the real-life equivalent.
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Real Estate Innovations from NY TechDay 2015
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New Kids on the Block: 8 Tech Solutions for Brokers to Explore
It seems like every month multiple new solutions, services, and apps debut that aim to somehow simplify the lives of agents and brokers. We know it's hard to keep up--that's why we do it for you! Aside from our daily educational content, RE Technology hosts a comprehensive directory of thousands of real estate technology products. It's a database that's constantly growing. To make sure you're up on what's new, here's a sampler of the latest additions to our directory: HomeKeepr Designed for buyers who gave just moved in to a new home, HomeKeepr offers your clients a custom home maintenance calendar. For homeowners who can't complete the suggested tasks, the app recommends local vendors to contact. Suggest this mobile app to clients when their transaction closes--it's one way to stay in touch by offering information homeowners actually need. WebGreeterIncrease website conversions with a live chat operator that greets visitors and assists them in searching for a home that meets their needs and budget. Well-trained operators can assist your site's visitors in multiple languages--helpful for brokers operating in market with a lot of foreign buyers. Maximum Real Estate WebsitesAnother addition to the crowded IDX website category, this vendor offers templated real estate websites with customizable content and lead capture forms, marketing features, and more.
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Forward Looking Technology
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Successfully Integrate New Technology
It's common for a real estate office to have a diverse group of salespeople with a variety of backgrounds, specialties, and experience levels. While sales practitioners are as different as the client bases they serve, those varying talents can pose a challenge to brokers trying to roll out new technology that all their agents will embrace. Tyler Wagner is an associate broker and co-owner of Wagner Real Estate in Havertown, Pa. They have 30 licensed agents with their company—one-third have more than 20 years experience, one-third have been licensed within the last two years, and the rest are in between. Wagner consults with his father and brother, who are co-owners in the family business, whenever a new product or system looks promising for their brokerage. They want to make sure everyone on their team will use it, so they do their homework. "We want our agents to use what works best for them," Wagner says. "Technology can sometimes be distracting to your daily sales activities, so we help people stay focused and don't let them get too carried away [learning new systems]." After talking to multiple brokerages about how they implement new technology, we've compiled a set of three tips to keep in mind to successfully introduce tools at companies of all sizes.
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"Must Have" Tools for Real Estate Professionals
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3 Tech Tools for Fostering Business
Real estate price points in many markets throughout the country have climbed back to levels last seen prior to the crash — a strong signal that the recovery of our industry is in full swing. I'm sure you've noticed the positive news, and maybe your brokerage sales figures have increased over the past year. So now that the worst is behind us, what can you do to maximize efficiency and profits this year? I have three simple suggestions that could make an immediate impact on your bottom line. Cloud Systems The easiest thing brokers can do to free up time for more important tasks — and to get back some sanity – is to get a cloud-based storage solution. Cloud storage is the simple idea of making a folder for all your digital stuff — documents, photos, spreadsheets, and so on — that you can access on your mobile, laptop, and desktop devices from anywhere on the globe with an Internet connection. How many times have you realized you need a preapproval letter to submit an offer, but it's on your computer at work and you have to drive 30 minutes there and back to get it? You — or your agents — risk looking disorganized in front of the client by having to bug the lender to resend it. Think of the possibilities for your brokerage. Files and client information can be shared instantly and across multiple platforms so everyone on your team can access it. It will save hours of work and provide a better, more seamless experience for your clients. New cloud products and apps seem to come out daily with limitless advancements in functionality. This is absolutely something you should be integrating into your business plan if you haven't already.
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5 Ways to Integrate New Services Into Your Routine (or Your Agents')
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Static Data Can Be Boring and Stale. This Tool Can Make It Fresh!
Do you want to make the information you share with your sphere of influence DANCE? Consider utilizing Infogr.am to create dynamic infographics. With Infogram's interactive visualizations, you are literally adding a new dimension of engagement with your communications. Top producing real estate professionals are already leveraging this data visualization product to improve engagement with their clients and potential clients. A very productive Realtor in Southern California uses infogr.am's free option to distribute information to his customer database on how the real estate market is performing locally (thank you Tristan for sharing). Here is an example (click to view the full interactive version):
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Tech Talk: iCloud Photo Sharing for Real Estate
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Real Estate Tech In-Depth: Our Top Broker Product Reviews from 2014
Throughout 2014, we've been publishing a series of articles that guides brokers 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 for brokers 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 a handful of broker product reviews, and we've rounded them up here for your convenience. Take a moment to learn more about a new technology that could help your brokerage (and stay tuned for our round-up of over a dozen agent reviews!). Market Videos for Brokers MarketVideos.com is a collaboration between Terradatum and VScreen. The basic concept is to offer market data for a specific region in an appealing video format. The data shared in the videos includes median listing price in the region, days on market, and other key metrics. Data comes directly from the local MLS. The videos are aesthetically appealing, include a pleasant voiceover as well as music, and fit a great deal of useful information into a short format. They are updated automatically every month, meaning that you won't need to remove an embedded video on your website and embed a new video each month. Rather, you can set it and forget it.
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Three Ways to Improve Marketing Tools and Technology for 2015
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Broker's Guide to Technology Selection for 2015
Over the past several months, we've been publishing weekly guides that focus on a single type of real estate technology. Each article offers an overview of that category, helpful articles, and questions to ask before considering a new purchase. With a new year on the horizon, now's the time when brokers are setting goals for 2015. For many, achieving these goals may require new tech tools or services. If your brokerage is looking to add or upgrade technology products, the first step is to thoroughly research your options. Kick off your research by choosing the type of product you're interested in learning more about from the list below: Back Office Virtual Office Websites Lifestyle Search Market Analytics E-signatures Online Reputation Management Document and Transaction Management Online Marketing Websites Lead Generation Mobile Apps Website Analytics
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3 Ways to Help Listing Agents Be Proactive
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4 Ways to Automate Your Real Estate
Automation is the cornerstone of working smart, not hard, and this is something that Realtors definitely want to do. The problem is you don't want to let anyone fall through the cracks, so a single simple task multiplied by your growing pipeline can become carpal tunnel syndrome central for you in no time. For the sake of you and your wrists, try these automation tips. 1. Use Drip Campaigns If you're not using drip campaigns, then you are either wasting your valuable time on leads who are not yet ready to buy, or you are letting future buyers fall through the cracks. There is no better way to cultivate your future prospects by sending occasional emails and staying in front of them. Let the drips handle the leads who are months away from purchasing, so that you can spend more of your time on the clients who are buying now! 2. Email Templates So the drips are great, but maybe they are a little too "auto" for you. What if you have a particular message that is unique to certain situations, such as a referral to a lender? Email templates are great for these types of situations. They can sound much more personal to your clients and you don't have to spend 10-15 minutes drafting each one.
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So Many Apps! How Much You Pay for Software Might Surprise You
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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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What’s the Future of Real Estate?
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Troubleshooting iCloud Syncing Issues
Whenever you are having syncing issues with iCloud from any device you are using, you can narrow down the cause of the issue with very simple steps. Determine Which Device Is Not Syncing 1. Login at www.icloud.com using your iCloud username and password. Once you are logged-in, you will be able to see the mail, contacts, calendar events, or anything else being synched through iCloud. 2. Compare your data. Option 1: If the current online data does not match the data in one of the devices, this usually means that the device is the cause of why your data is not being synced on the cloud. Option 2: Add a test contact or calendar event to make sure it appears on each device. If the test contact or calendar event you created appears on the iCloud website but not on one of the devices, then the device that does not display the test has the problem. If your test does not even appear on the website, then the device that created the test has the problem
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Real Estate Tool of the Month: Google Trends
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Optimize Yourself and Your Client for This Crazy Market
I write this post on what is a "holiday" for many people: President's Day. A three-day weekend, the most joyous of "holidays." Meanwhile, my wife – who is now a REALTOR® in Chicago – is running around prepping for another day because three day holiday weekends only means an extra day to be with clients looking for homes in a market starving for inventory. She has realized what many a real estate pro already has known: There are no such things as holidays for REALTORS®. This, after a marathon Saturday of showings where half the houses she saw sold by the end of the day, turned into a night of presenting four offers to her seller only for the elation to quickly wear off when said sellers realized they have no home to move into once their condo closes in two months. Let's face it, the market realities today mean that the hours real estate professionals work may not be the hours they'd LIKE to work. There's lots of "work-life-balance" talk on the interwebs, but unplugging may be hard to do when you're in a multiple-offer situation, or if you NEED to show that listing that just came up on your MLS radar. However, the time you DO have with your clients will prove to be the most valuable, and squeezing every bit out of time with them might mean a make-or-break deal. Some tips... Audit Your Productivity Processes Now: No other technology can position the client/agent team better in today's hot market than mobile technology. How mobile are you? How mobile is your broker-tech, MLS, and forms technology? These entities are not created equally, and if you realize you're working in the tech dark-ages, literally make it better, or carry contracts with you. Recognize that "being mobile," actually means "being productive." Know how to use DocuSign, dotloop, zipForm or whatever your broker or MLS's technology is that allows you to write offers on the fly. Dropbox and Evernote collaborations with clients may save your listing sanity. Sometimes having a MiFi hotspot and a laptop is all you need to be productive, whether your next office might be a Starbucks or the passenger seat of your car. The words, "I need to go back to my office to..." should never enter into your lexicon. Bonus: Brokers, make your next sales meeting a workshop, one in which your agents practice writing mobile contracts. For example, practice writing and sending forms to each other. Broadcast it live with about.me. Record it and throw it on your YouTube page. Your time is valuable, too!
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Agent Adoption: Celebrating Small Victories
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What's a Public Service App?
Real estate professionals are no strangers to using apps. Over the past few years, mobile and web-based applications have become indispensable to agents and brokers. But there's an entire category of real estate app that you may not have heard of--public service apps. These tools can help you better serve the needs of your community and position your business as a valuable resource. Apps for Serving the Community Coined by MRED CEO Russ Bergeron, the term "public service app" refers to web-based tools that offer benefits directly to the consumer. The apps augment MLS listing data with information that motivates a consumer to purchase a home or helps a seller better market theirs. To get a clearer idea of what we're talking about, let's look at a few examples: Walk Score - Provides information on the walkability of neighborhoods, nearby public transit and amenities. Consumers can also calculate commute times in order to find a home that's close to work. SourceMLS™ - When the SourceMLS badge appears on a listing, consumers can rest assured that the data is timely and accurate because it comes directly from the local MLS. Fannie Mae Short Sale Assistance Desk - Helps expedite the short sale process, reducing the chance of foreclosure. My Home EQ/My Home Energy Score - A utility tool that reveals the energy efficiency of a home, enabling consumers to make a better informed choice about where to live. Down Payment Resource - Flags properties eligible for down payment assistance programs within the MLS data feed, and provides consumers information on those programs.
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Top Broker Product Reviews from 2013
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Centralize Agent Databases
"I've decided to leave," Beth said in a shaky tone. "It's nothing against you, the company or anything like that. I've just decided to make a change." Beth wasn't the first agent that I had lost, but was definitely one of my favorites. She was a good producer, took advantage of the classes and training we had to offer and knew the technology better than anyone. After my attempts to dissuade her failed, I had to ask what my competition brought to the table that we didn't. "They market my database for me," she started. "They upload my contacts into their system and a couple of times each month they send out a well-written email to them branded with my information." My jaw hit the floor. Didn't she know she was giving away the lifeblood of her business! How could an agent give this responsibility to their company? No agent would ever grant their broker this, right? Fast forward two years to find me sitting at a desk working for that company in question, formulating a content marketing plan that would take the responsibility of marketing off of our agent population, present them as knowledgeable, consummate professionals and most importantly—manage our company brand in the eyes of hundreds of thousands of consumers. I, much like Beth, now understand the value of a company-managed email marketing program and how this empowered agents to focus on doing real estate and stop trying to market. I've told this story to hundreds of brokers at conferences and gatherings over the years, and 99 percent of them responded with the same shocked look of disbelief.
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How to Make Technology a Business Differentiator in Real Estate
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How to Choose the Right Tech Products in 2014
With a new year on the horizon, now's the time when brokers are setting goals for 2014. For many, achieving these goals may require new tech tools or services. If your brokerage is looking to add or upgrade technology products, the first step is to thoroughly research your options. Over the past several months, RE Technology has published a series of articles to help real estate brokers do just that. Each article offers helpful questions to consider before purchasing and lists specific products that may suit your needs. Kick off your research by choosing the type of product you're interested in learning more about from the list below: Lead Generation Listing Syndication Mapping or Lifestyle Search Market Analytics Property Search Website Consulting Service Ad Network IDX/VOW iPad App Back Office Solution
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Are you struggling with agent adoption across one or more of your systems?
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Rules When Choosing a Technology Partner
1. Begin with the end in mind The real estate industry has wasted loads of money on software solutions that have either underperformed or were never adopted by agents. Questions to ask yourself: What issues am I trying to solve for my brokerage, agents and clients? Can technology really solve my issue? How will solving my problem help me, my clients and my bottom line? 2. Understand the technology partner's solution Make sure your team does a deep dive on potential technology solutions for your company. You should: See a live demonstration. Understand the administrative tools of the product. Request to run the application for at least a week to understand the software features and test it in a live environment. Ask for case studies of the product used by similar companies. Ask for company references.
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Real Estate Tool of the Month: Postagram
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Real Estate Tool of the Month: Feedly
It was heartbreaking – the news that Google Reader was being retired. Done away with. Exiled. I honestly considered it to be tragic, and I miss my old friend Google Reader. We were close friends for many years, visiting each other almost every single day. I honestly couldn't imagine life with out my dear friend. But I've started seeing someone else, and I have to say, this new friend is awesome! My new friend's name is Feedly, and I'd like to introduce you. We have chosen Feedly to be July's real estate tool of the month because the two of you need to meet. Feedly organizes your favorite blogs, news sites, podcasts, YouTube channels and more in one place. Feedly features multiple layout options, very fast connection speeds for both desktops, tablets and phones. Feedly is also created with sharing content and mobile integration. Now that we know what this product is capable of, how does this help with my needs as a real estate professional?
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Cloudy With a Chance of Disaster
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Do Tech Companies Protect Your (And Your Clients') Privacy?
At one point or another, when meeting with a REALTOR® about marketing, the conversation about technology comes up. It comes up for two reasons. First off, technology and marketing go hand-in-hand in today's very technical marketplace. Secondly though, people always have feelings about what companies are great and what ones should be avoided. For instance, our cloud-based real estate CRM solution syncs your calendar, tasks and contacts. The two most common ways to do that are through Outlook (installed on your computer), or with Gmail (a cloud service that hosts your data for you). While many agents are more than happy to have Gmail take care of this for them, a good number of you express to me your concerns that "big brother" shouldn't have access to everything about you, your interactions with your clients, and your other personal data. So how do you know who is protecting you and who isn't? Luckily, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has your interests in mind, with their annual Who Has Your Back? Reporting. The idea behind this report is to give the companies incentive for transparency regarding how your data is disseminated to government agencies. It also is meant to encourage them to ratchet up protection for their users, ensuring that data is safe from potential privacy gaps. According to Gizmodo, the data on each company was based on six criteria: Require a warrant for content of communications Tell users about government data requests Publish transparency reports Publish law enforcement guidelines Fight for users' privacy rights in courts Fight for users' privacy in Congress
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SMS Marketing is Tops for Real Estate Pros
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Is Technology Important for Small Brokerages?
As a data enthusiast, I love using our analytics account to browse the search terms that bring people to RE Technology. It provides a great glimpse into what real estate professionals are thinking about. Yesterday, among all the iPad and CRM related queries, a lone question caught my eye: "How important is technology for a small real estate office?" Since it wouldn't be right to leave the collective real estate mind wondering, here's a definitive answer: Technology is absolutely, 100% mission critical to small brokerages. Especially to small brokerages. Beyond streamlining processes and transactions, technology can be the key tool that helps small firms compete against large franchises and listing portals like Trulia and Zillow. Real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran agrees. "On the Internet everyone is equal. The small agent can look as classy as the big agent," she told The New York Times in an interview. "Ten years ago, if you wanted your property noticed you were far better off with large brokerage firms because they were the big buyers on the print ads. That's out the window now."
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CityBlast and Real Estate: How it works
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Putting the Broker in Charge of the MLS Service Offerings
Most MLSs today have a very simple pricing structure--one size fits all. Every MLS customer receives exactly the same level of service and technology tools. There is no consideration for what services they may have available from their brokerage. This is the crux of why many large brokers are not best friends with their local MLS. They believe the MLS is "leveling the playing field." Large brokers believe their secret sauce and recruiting advantages lie in the technologies they offer to their agents. They argue that the "full-service" MLS is diluting the impact of their significant investments in breakthrough and differentiating technology tools. While large brokerages might want their MLS to reduce the number of services offered, small brokers, on the other hand, welcome the support their MLS can provide them. They love when their MLS offers a depth of training options, marketing and prospecting tools and effective ways to enhance listings like virtual tours, mortgage calculators and mobile solutions. Interestingly, this important group of smaller brokers usually makes up the lion's share of the revenues being collected by a MLS. The large brokers with the largest voices want the MLS to limit its services and "stay out of their way." The smaller brokers welcome the support and breadth of services the MLS can afford to them and their agents. This is what we call a conundrum. So what's an MLS to do?
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Where Are Real Estate Agents Focusing Their Technology Investments?
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Cloud Storage and Sharing Work in the Digital Age
In today's digital age, business cannot afford to be down for longer than mere seconds. What happens when not everyone works out of the same office but the flow of work still needs to continue? From stage right enters Cloud Storage, with the ability to upload data to a web based server and access that data from virtually any computer, smartphone or tablet. There are an increasing number of services starting up for cloud based storage and, at times, it can be difficult to tell which is better. Explaining the differences and similarities is what we at My Computer Works are prepared to do for you. Here's a quick break down and a chart comparing three services. Dropbox - As one of the simplest and longest running tools, Dropbox is a great for those looking for direct file access across multiple computers. With the added Facebook access, Dropbox is a great addition for those looking to share content on a social media outlet. Google Drive - Unique file format support, like Autocad and Adobe, drives a different experience. It's difficult for Google Drive to not be a viable option for anyone, from saving presentations and important documents to small business use. Microsoft Skydrive - Still in its early stages, Skydrive is expected to be an improved service over Google Drive. With Microsoft Web apps, similar sharing settings, simultaneous editing and a starting storage size of 7 GB, Skydrive is an excellent choice for small business owners, as well as the average user looking to maintain individual or group projects.
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iPad: What Agents Want For Christmas
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Deciphering your digital real estate decisions
The iPhone 5 or the Galaxy S III? Let's make it easier: iPhone or Droid? Or Windows phone? The iPad Mini--announced this week--or another tablet? Kindle or Nook? Or a different reader altogether? Mac or PC? Coke or Pepsi? Republican or Democrat? Hardwood or ceramic tile? There is no shortage of choices in front of you. Many are digital, some are preference, and a few are beliefs. The latter, you've formed on your own. The former, you might not have. So you've conducted some research. You've asked your friends for their opinions, and paid attention when they've posted their preferences on Facebook and Twitter. You've read a few blogs and tuned into a few commercials. You might have even gone to store to sample devices, side by side. These are basic steps that go into your buying process, and they're steps that go into the buying process of your potential customers when they're trying to decide whether to buy or sell a home, or rent, or which real estate agent to work with, or whether there's an advantage working with an agent from one specific brokerage or franchise over another.
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Real Estate Technology: Ready for “Make an Offer” for Real Estate?
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Leverage The Technology You’re Already Using to Make You a More Successful Real Estate Agent
There are a lot of gadgets, software tools, and web-based services on the market that will help you be more efficient and productive as a successful real estate sales professional. But before you rush out to your nearest store, take a closer look at the technology you're already using. Chances are, there are features on your cell phone, email system and website, as well as the online services to which you already subcribe and which you already pay for, that you are not using to their fullest. Here are a few examples: Your cell phone. Are you using the built-in camera to take pictures of unique house features, such as a rock garden, that can then be emailed to potential clients? Have you learned to text message so you can quickly send information such as street addresses and offer details? Your real estate contact management system. Are you sending out a monthly e-newsletter from your real estate contact management software to keep in touch with clients and prospects? Are you taking advantage of drip marketing campaigns (Activity Plans) to convert leads into listings?
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Technology Can Help Build Connections
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Be on Alert with Google Alerts for REALTORS®
How do rumors get started? The unverified information is passed from one person to another. With the Internet, rumors grow faster than a wildfire.  There is a free tool provided through Google that you can use to prevent this – and that tool is Google Alerts. Google alerts is a content detection and notification service that automatically notifies users when new content from news, Web, blogs, video and/or discussion groups matches a set of keywords predetermined by you. Google alerts allow you the opportunity to: Track keywords and stay abreast of trends without doing a daily search. All alerts are emailed to you. Track yourself, your blog, your domain name, and more. Tracking this information allows you the opportunity to do damage control if you or your company isn’t painted in a positive light. In addition, if someone is marketing your listing without your permission, you will know it as soon as their ad hits the internet. This is especially good for Craigslist scams. Track your competitors. After all, your competitors can sometimes give you some great marketing ideas. Find customers looking to purchase in your area i.e. “looking to purchase a condo in Chicago”. Here are a few steps to get you set up:
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Top 10 Articles by Austin Allison in 2011
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Top 10 Showing Suite Blog Posts of 2011
Another top 10 post from one of our regular guest contributors, Showing Suite. We can all agree that 2011 has been quite the eventful year, especially at Showing Suite! Between keeping up with real estate market trends, lots of new additions to our software, and the release of Blueprint For 100 Deals; we’ve definitely kept our hands full! Now that 2012 has arrived, it’s time to catch up on what you may have missed over the last year. See what real estate tips, trick and updates we’ve been talking about all year! Here’s a recap of 10 of our favorite blog posts from 2011: 1.Tips For an Effective Open House Learn about the must-have tools necessary to host a successful open house. 2.Marketing Strategies: Are you intimidated by higher end clients? It’s natural to feel inferior to clients who you may feel are “superior” to you. Read about one agent’s struggles and the steps she took to overcome them.
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Friday Freebie: DotLoop
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How to Prioritize Relationship Building through Today’s Technological Advancements
The team at BoomTown graciously allowed us to republish this article from their blog. Guest contributor Julie Caroline says: Sam Cooke had it right when he said “A change is gonna come.” This is especially true for for the real estate industry. 10 years ago most real estate agents had not even heard of internet lead generation. Today 90% of home buyers are online! Technology has been a driving force behind some major changes in the way Real Estate Agents connect with their clients. As a real estate agent of today,  you may find yourself tweeting, blogging and posting listings to Facebook. While it’s critical to accept and adapt to these technological advances, it’s critical that you do not forget about the one thing that remains the same – the relationship you build with your clients.  Below you’ll find some tips for keeping relationship building at the forefront of your efforts. Budget your time If you’re anything like me, then you know how easy it is to hop on Facebook for a minute and 2 hours later find yourself still on there reading about what one of your friends did over the weekend. To avoid getting “sucked in,” set aside a specific time of the week to work on your social media efforts. Whether it’s the last 20 minutes of each day or 2 hours every Tuesday, pick a plan and stick to it. Similarly, if you find it hard to keep up communication with your Lending partner, then consider setting a specific time aside each week to have “call night.” When your client is open to speaking with your Lending partner, you can transfer the call with ease knowing your Lender is ready and able to take the call. If learning new technologies is not your strong suit, schedule time once a week to make that your focus. Taking an hour out of your week can help you use your software or social media tools more efficiently, saving you time in the long run.
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Keys to Technology Adoption: Part 4
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Keys to Technology Adoption: Part 3
Today we're continuing the white paper from Michael Audet of the WAV Group. We'll be releasing the white paper in a series, so stay tuned for the final installment. “Keys to Adoption” ExamplesOur “Keys to Adoption” examples focus on a company and product called DotLoop, which has been around since 2009.   When we first heard about DotLoop we assumed they were another Transaction Management company.  But after looking at their software and approach to helping brokers and agents we realized they were doing things differently than what we would call traditional transaction management.  DotLoop will tell you they exist to bring multiple people together from multiple locations to close the deal, it’s that simple.  They believe their software and service sits in a unique space in this regard. From our vantage point, having reviewed the product and spoken with a number of users noted in this example, we think their product might be better called a “virtual work space”.  It basically creates a real time connection between all parties involved in a transaction to make the process faster and easier. Case Study InterviewsOur purpose in interviewing several users of the DotLoop system was to explore their thoughts on the product and why they thought it was being adopted at what appears to be a faster pace than many other products.  Some of those interviewed receive DotLoop through their real estate company while some receive it through their association or MLS.
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Keys to Technology Adoption: Part 2
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The Benefits of Cloud Computing (Part 2)
This is the second part of a series by Amy Chorew about cloud computing. Read the first part here. How Do I Get Started?To begin, try Dropbox. Visit the Web site at www.dropbox and sign up for a free trial of the software (Dropbox requires an installation of software – that's how it creates the file and synchs it to the cloud version). You could use it entirely in the cloud, but the installation is free, very quick and convenient. Once the software is installed an icon appears on your taskbar. You can drag files onto the icon and upload them automatically to your online account. If you have more than one computer registered, or are sharing files with someone else, you can sync your files online and across your computers automatically. Both products work across platforms and have applications for Smartphones and the iPad. As long as you can access the internet you can get to the files – iPads and smartphone have apps you can download for free from your app store. Box.net has a special arrangement with DocuSign, making it easy to put your contracts and files directly into a folder assigned to that transaction. When the contract is returned it ends up back in the folder. This makes it easy to keep track of files. You can share this folder with people who need access to the files. Keep the folder password protected. You can also limit access to "read only."
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Video: New Features on RPR
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The Benefits of Cloud Computing (Part 1)
Our new contributor, Amy Chorew of The TechByte, makes her debut with this overview of cloud computing. The diverse jobs that a real estate agent performs have remained basically the same over time. What has changed is how information is delivered and exchanged. We don't just rely on phone calls or email communications to access information anymore. We use text, emails and visit websites to interact, retrieve data and communicate. Our day to day business has changed as well. We need access to our files wherever we are – in the office, at home, or on the road. The ability to access files becomes easy using a site to store your files, and it may become the most important pieces of software that you will need. Local applications on your computer will become passé, computers will become just gateways to the cloud – where the real work is done. So what is cloud computing? According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, cloud computing is defined as: "Cloud computing is Internet-based computing, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices on demand, like the electricity grid."
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The Shift in Real Estate Technology (Part 6)
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The Shift in Real Estate Technology (Part 5)
This is the fifth installment of a six-part series from the WAV Group whitepaper. Components and Benefits of Company Wide Enterprise SolutionsThe components of a Broker Enterprise System will differ from vendor to vendor, but they do have things in common. They provide a common technology experience company wide and if needed, they can provide this experience across multiple MLSs. From there, the features can include CRM and contact management tools, scheduling tools and custom branded report tools, as well as features like enhanced email, back office and marketing tools. Typically these systems offer broker and agent websites as well as integrated lead generation tools as well as customized CMAs and broker branded listing brochures that support all broker agents across all MLS markets.
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The Shift in Real Estate Technology (Part 4)
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The Shift in Real Estate Technology (Part 3)
This is the second installment of a six-part series from the WAV Group whitepaper. Inefficiency has a very high cost attached to it. Multiple products, glued together, means multiple training, multiple interfaces, multiple connections, multiple contracts and multiple headaches. Enterprise systems give a company control over their entire operation. If you examine the graphic below you begin to understand how many areas companies need to manage as well as the data associated with each. This example shows a company that spans 3 MLSs. Recognize that even for one MLS, the brokerage still has the same internal and external system needs. Systems of the future need to unify and connect these business processes.
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If a Technology Solution Isn't Simple, Is It Really a Solution?
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3 Tips For Making Your Website More Readable
Guest contributor Elan from Ifbyphone says: Ifbyphone is a voice based marketing automation company. We help businesses manage, measure, and automate voice communications. For example, you can use Ifbyphone's software to measure which marketing efforts generate the most phone leads, manage how you distribute "hot leads" to sales reps, and automate follow-up communications. We are now on at least the 7th iteration of our website since 2005. Getting better at explaining our value proposition on our website has helped us grow to over 50 employees, earn the trust of thousands of customers, and raise millions of dollars from investors.
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Create a New Facebook Page Tab With These 7 Tutorials
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Gear Up for Conference Season with the 2011 Buyer's Guide
Every year thousands of real estate professionals and the "who's who" of the real estate industry flock to attend national industry conferences from Washington D.C. to San Francisco. With top notch seminars, engaging networking events, and world-class trade shows, real estate conferences can help re-energize and direct your business. For thousands of professionals, the value far outweighs the cost. For an industry of extroverts, conference season is a juggling act for managing meetings, seminars, and social events. It's easy to overbook and get overwhelmed when faced with so many options.
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What is the Business Value of an API?
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Are You Managing Your Risk?
"Most of us would rather risk catastrophe than read the directions." ~ Mignon McLaughlin Privacy and information security rules and regulations are changing monthly. Do you know what your legal obligations are to your customers, prospects, associates, vendors, and employees? Have you fully covered your assets? Today's maze of enacted laws, pending legislation and best management practices related to privacy and information security issues is enough to make even the most savvy business person's head spin. Did you know that there are different laws being proposed nationwide and in Congress on these subjects almost daily? Are you tracking them to make sure you know if and how they will affect your business, and adapting your business model accordingly? Do you know what you need to do to comply with the ones that have been recently enacted to reduce your legal exposure and risk?
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Top Recruiting Strategies for 2011
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Want to Secure Your Website for Under $500?
I had no idea how much there was to know about website protection. Most of what we hear about is the information “security” side of the coin, which is making sure that hackers can’t intrude into your system and your malware/ virus protections are current. This gets most of the press and is definitely important. There is an entirely different side to the coin of information security- that’s the legal side, which includes “privacy,” “intellectual property”, and “liability” matters. And the coin of this realm in the real estate industry is minted with the image of the Privacy Guru®, Darity Wesley.  
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Google Yourself Now, or Your Referrals Will Die
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Market Your Real Estate Business With QR Code Apparel
If you have been following the QR Code craze and are preparing for a conference or upcoming tradeshow, consider using QR codes to grab attention and point attendees to your brand or contact information. Name tags, business cards, banners... how about apparel? RealBird recently discovered a company that can create QR codes on t-shirts, sweaters, etc.  Real estate professionals and vendors can create, share, and buy custom apparel showing your own messages encoded as QR codes.   
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The Value of Indexing for Real Estate Industry Websites
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Share and Share Alike: LinkedIn Share Button
The online world just got more social!  Facebook and Twitter led the way making share buttons available for inclusion on blogs, websites and online content.  By doing so and stacking up “likes” and “retweets” on almost every page on the Internet the popularity and business value of using Facebook and Twitter to saturate social networks has grown exponentially.  In the last year a number of social sharing buttons have popped up, but noticeably missing has been LinkedIn. As of this week, LinkedIn will now have share buttons available to professionals looking to share information with their network.  By adding the LinkedIn button, (as seen on the right), content creatorscan invite online readers to share their article, press release, listing, or social profile with their LinkedIn network and more importantly their groups.
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Happy Techsgiving!
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MySpace - Stake Out Your Space
MySpace works similarly to Facebook, but the pages can be made fancier with themes, which can be downloaded for free, or purchased. It also appeals more to people who like to share information on music, hobbies, sports teams and TV shows. Where Facebook has more pull with college students and professionals, MySpace has more pull with teens and pre-teens. As a result, it is a goldmine for parents who have MySpace accounts used to monitor their children online. Through the process of checking on their children, they connect with other parents and find that MySpace is actually quite fun and easy—hence, the reason why they have amassed more than 100 million members.
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Want to Increase Traffic to Your Home For Sale? Ask a REALTOR®
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Power Up Your Blog with New PowerPoint Web App!
We are happy to anounce that Microsoft has jumped on the web apps bandwagon, and have provided a cool new way for real estate professionals to embed their PowerPoint® listing presentations or open house schedules into their blogs!  Add professionalism and color to your blog by inserting the full presentation right into the blog! Microsoft's messgae to the world is, "Every blog tells a story.  Let yours put on a show."  Love the tagline! Consider this cool new app if you have ever... Delivered a presentation you wanted to share with a wider audience? Needed an easier way to distribute a team schedule or checklist? Or, just wanted a better way to illustrate a point in your blog? Now you can make your ideas speak even louder by embedding Microsoft PowerPoint® or Excel® files right into your blog.
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