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.