By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
It’s no news that the Internet and related technological developments are rendering some old real estate tactics obsolete and serving as a catalyst for new business strategies. Putting up a Web site is a good start in entering the wired world of real estate, but it only scratches the surface of what the Internet can accomplish for real estate professionals. In The Hottest E-Careers in Real Estate (Real Estate Education Company, 2001. $24.95) , real estate journalist Blanche Evans offers advice on how to synthesize high-tech know-how and high-touch service for maximum profitability. The Internet levels the industry playing field, Evans says, allowing newcomers to compete like seasoned pros and enabling sole proprietor Davids to stand toe-to-toe with brokerage Goliaths.
Where the book excels is in examining real estate fields that didn’t even exist ten years ago, such as online lending and virtual brokerage. While these industry sectors are still developing and evolving, they could represent exciting new growth areas for real estate professionals. For example, in Chapter 7, “The Online Lender,” Evans outlines the steps necessary to add this new specialty area to your business, including compliance concerns and the basic steps in the online loan process. Putting the work into learning these skills can brings great rewards, says Evans. Being your own online lender not only lets you earn as much as 1 percent of the loan amount but helps eliminate barriers and delays to closing the sale you may experience from conventional lenders. Your clients don’t have to deal with shopping around for loan, and you have another chance to strengthen the client-salesperson relationship.
As exciting as she finds the Internet, Evans doesn’t forget that many real estate professionals might not have a sophisticated understanding of the technology. For this reason, the book devotes a fair amount of space guiding readers through how to set up such services as Web sites and e-mail. It also provides sound advice on establishing a Web identity, including tips on what to include in your own Web site and the pros and cons of listing homes on such sites as homestore.com, Realtor.com, and Homeseekers.com.
Overall, the book is about pushing boundaries, finding new frontiers, and expanding into new real estate specialties. Technology isn’t going to replace real estate professionals any time soon. Evans notes that even as customers use the Internet to educate themselves about the market, most depend on professionals to guide them though the process. But Internet-savvy businesses able to integrate several services such as selling, relocation, and lending will hold a decided advantage in coming years. Ignoring the Internet’s potential shuts you off from a whole range of hot opportunities and renders your business future lukewarm at best.
By Christopher M. Leporini, REALTOR® Magazine
Breaking into the Internet era can be intimidating even to reasonably computer-literate real estate practitioners. ePOWERPRO: Online Success Strategies for Real Estate Professionals, 2001 Edition ($130 retail, $99 for NAR, CREA, or RECS members, RUSSER Communications) by trainer and Realtormag.com columnist Michael Russer provides a useful tool for practitioners who want to develop an Internet strategy without getting bogged down in the details.
The book acts as introductory course in marketing real estate on the Internet, offering a comprehensive roundup of online strategies in one spiral-bound volume. Each chapter opens with background information on such subjects as FTPs, e-mail, and Web sites. Once you understand the basic concepts, the book shows you how you can use each technology to grow your business. For instance, one you’ve covered the nuts and bolts of Web site construction, then you can move on to a section on making sure your site reflects the right image for your company.
One of ePOWERPRO’s unique features is the “Action Plan” at the end of each chapter. Written in a checklist form, these segments serve several organizational functions–reminding you of major points made in the chapter and prompting you in the steps you need to take to before you’re ready to implement the ideas in the next chapter. In a section on building a successful Web site, for example, the action steps instruct readers to:
- Determine your primary goals in establishing a Web site. Are you trying to use it as a tool to draw in potential customers online, or strategically use it as a selling point that differentiates you when you’re meeting with clients and prospects offline?
- Examine several different types of template sites to determine which one most closely you’re your needs.
- Build at one niche market specific template site.
- Evaluate your primary Web site as to how well it conforms to the six qualities of a successful custom site: recognition, value, interactivity, trust, differentiation, and call to action.
- Evaluate how well you score on all six critical traits necessary to successfully build and maintain a custom web site: sense of adventure, marketing savvy, discipline, flexibility, resourcefulness, and commitment.
Just because the book is written in an instructional manner, doesn’t mean that it is confined to the basics. In addition to reviewing fundamentals such as e-mail, Russer also offers tips on more advanced subjects, like creating virtual tours and optimizing your site’s visibility to search engines.
A word of caution, however, the book is intended to be read from cover to cover; skipping around can make it difficult to understand. But for readers who approach the book as a primer for mastering the Internet as a sales tool, ePOWERPRO offers an excellent guide to developing an online real estate marketing strategy while avoiding getting lost in techno-babble, gadgetry, and nagging details.