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Winforms meets Microsoft Vista

Today’s savvy Real Estate agents use Winforms (or Zipforms) to manage their real estate forms. However if you’ve just upgraded to Microsoft Vista you may have a few challenges getting it installed. Loren Nason over at the Future of Real Estate Technology just posted an article entitled “How to use Winforms with Microsoft Vista”. In the article Loren talks about the recommended steps to getting your Winforms (or Zipforms) application installed on your PC. Strangely enough Winforms has recommend a theme change. I’m not sure but maybe the compatibility issue is with the new Aero feature in Microsoft Vista? Loren did note that he didn’t have to do this for the desktop version. If you’ve had experience please leave your comments.
To see Winform’s official communication, click here.
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Hosted Exchange Email for Your Real Estate Business

These days, it is difficult to find a real estate agent that works on only one computer or who doesn’t work with an assistant or in a team. For those of you who fit that description, you have probably found that you have outgrown the standard configuration of Outlook. Your contacts, calendar and tasks are on only one computer. Other computers that you use don’t have that information and you are unable to share that information with teammates or an assistant. The good news is that it is now easy to overcome these limitations.

Outlook Exchange is a server based version of Outlook. All contacts, calendar events tasks and emails are stored on a server. The user then configures their standard Outlook software to communicate with that server. This means that you can have the exact same Outlook data on multiple computers with no additional effort.

For times that you need to access your Outlook data when away from your computer, you can access your server’s Outlook Web Access (OWA) page from any Internet capable computer. OWA gives you full access to your data with most of the functionality of the Outlook program. This can be a real savior when on vacation. I accessed my OWA page from a coffee shop in Italy and was able to respond to an urgent client email.

For real estate agents working in a team or with an assistant, Outlook Exchange adds collaborative features that you will wonder how you ever lived without. Share contacts and calendars with teammates. Invite teammates to appointments and have the time blocked off on their calendar. Store Microsoft Office files in public folders so that everyone can find them (think marketing materials).

Other value-added functionality includes auto-reply capabilities for times that you are out of town or in conferences, and the ability to sync your Outlook data with any Windows Mobile 5.0 or 6.0 smartphone (see my posting on smartphone options for real estate agents).

Up until recently, only large corporations could afford the high cost of Outlook Exchange implementation. This has changed due to the numerous Outlook Exchange hosting services that have popped up. My personal favorite is a company called 1and1.com. They offer Outlook Exchange hosting for $6.99 a month per user. What really differentiates 1and1.com from the competition is the storage place that they offer. Most Outlook Exchange hosting services offer a miniscule 100 MB per user. 1and1.com offers 1 GB of storage per user (10 times the space).

1and1.com offers free domain names and Outlook software with your subscription. Most real estate agents that I have set-up on this service have their domain name tied to their website hosted on a different server. There is an easy solution to this. You can have your emails automatically forwarded from your website host to your 1and1.com account. You then configure your 1and1.com account to send emails with your email address as the “from” address.

Give this service a try. 1and1.com offers a 90 day money back guarantee, so there is no risk. Once you experience the added functionality, you will appreciate Outlook much more and will never go back to a standard POP3 Outlook configuration again.

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Vacation/Out Of Office Tips For The Real Estate Pro On The Go

The days of setting your out of office reply and not looking back while on vacation seemed to have fallen by the wayside. But you can take some important steps toward making sure your work items are “buttoned up” enough to enjoy your vacation getaway! If you are planning a vacation in the near future and find it a necessity to stay connected with your clients and office while you’re away, you should consider the following:

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

  1. Block off your calendar well in advance.
  2. Let all your colleagues and clients know that you will be gone with a pre-vacation postcard. Have your marketing assistant (which may be YOU) create a postcard style template announcing your vacation dates and who to contact in your absence. (NOTE: Publisher has some great templates you can add your info to.)
  3. Seek help from your colleagues. This may be easy if you work in a team setting, otherwise solicit help from your broker and/or familiar colleague.
  4. If you are on Exchange Server, you may choose to set the Out of Office Assistant. This feature allows you to create an auto reply to all your emails while you are away. To learn more about hosted exchange, click here for 1 & 1’s hosted plans.

TAKE ME WITH YOU!

  1. Cell Phone/PDA Device & Charger
    Know any agents who leave home without their phone? I didn’t think so. Just remember to bring your charger. Also, make sure to check for your charger before your check out!
  2. Laptop
    You can use it on the plane or even at the beach! Download vacation photos from your digital camera to view and share. If you must, do a little light catch-up work.
  3. Wireless Internet
    Check with your hotel before you leave. Most resorts have various Internet capabilities available in your room. If not, and you must check in with the office/or clients…then do it poolside with using a wireless internet connection and Strawberry Daiquiri in hand! You can get a wireless Internet card and data plan from your local cell phone provider. I favor Verizon.
  4. Digital Camera
    Make sure you take plenty of great pictures…they’ll be your motivation for the next big trip when you are back at work!

RE EXTREME: Items for those of us who would like to be on Survivor!

  • Survival Kit In A Sardine Can- A water tight, crush proof, and floatable kit containing a wide array of survival gear for outdoor enthusiasts. Click here to see more.
  • Binocatch 4×28 Digital USB Binoculars- Get a closer look and take a picture too! These USB binoculars provide 4x magnification with a built-in camera that can be used to capture magnified stills or video. Click here to see more.
  • Voltaic Solar Daypack- Keep your mobile phone, camera, MP3 player or PDA charged up while you’re on the go. This backpack has waterproof solar panels that can provide a steady 2A current to recharge many small electronic devices. Includes 12 standard adapters including a USB type A port and a 12V car charger socket, a rechargeable Li-Ion battery pack, and 12V DC and 110V AC battery charging cords. Click here to see more.

Helpful Vacation Checklists:

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Zip Code Facts for Your Real Estate Business

One more resource for your Real Estate Relocation Guides: ZipcodeStats.com and ZipcodeFacts.com (2 domains, one great resource). This beta site offers desirable demographic information for your buyers. You can search by city, area, state, and zipcode; or simply browse by state or zip code. If you select a state or zip code, information has been organized for you according to summary, economic, social, housing, and educational topic areas. With ZipcodeFacts/ZipcodeStats you have access to over 4 million pages of detailed statistics about residents (race, income, ancestries, education, employment) geographical data, crime data, housing, businesses, commutes, economics, schools, and quality of life. The site also utilizes Google Maps to provide great viewing of your selected area. Check it out!
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Searching for the perfect domain name for your Real Estate Website

Many of us have gone through the process of purchasing a domain name. The process can be daunting; trying to hunt for the perfect mix of keywords and branding. So what should you think about when purchasing a domain name? What elements should you focus on? In my opinion, you want to find a name that’s meaningful and well branded to your real estate business first and foremost. If you can work in one or more keywords great! When it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) other items outside of the domain name weigh heavily and are even more important than having keywords in the domain. For example, links to your domain, body text, title tags…you get the point. If those other areas are done right, your site will result in successful search engine ranking for your keywords.

That being said, to search for your next domain name there are many options. I typically start my searching and Domain.com. To be honest they’ve been around forever and I like their search layout. I would recommend you use the domain search tool until you find something that works. Then go to 1&1 and purchase the name. 1&1 has most names for $5.99/yr.

If you’re not having much luck using the standard domain name search tools, you should check out JustDropped.com. With the JustDropped engine you can search recently expired domain names. Choose to search by keywords to narrow the results. You can even look forward to search domains that may become available soon. Another choice for expired or soon to be expired domain names is DeletedDomains.com. With this tool you can purchase a membership for about $14.99/mo and have deleteddomains.com email you updates on your search criteria and they will display tomorrow’s expired names.

If you still have not had luck in finding the perfect domain name, try Afternic.com. This helpful tool has been around since 1995. Afternic helps people buy and sell domain names. For buyers, try their advanced domain search. Here you can search the 2 million plus domain names that Afternic has for sale every day. You can search by extensions, price, length, and even previous unique visits each month.