Archives for November 2007


Ideas For Getting Readers For Your Real Estate Blog: Part 2

Besides writing thoughtful, innovative, resourceful and creative real estate blog posts that keep your visitors coming back for more, here are a few more ideas for gaining readership for your blog (view Part 1 of this Idea List) :

  1. Build your online networks: at ActiveRain, Facebook, MyBlogLog, LinkedIn and Zolve. Create and maintain a profile, add your weblog address, RSS feed, etc. Although these communities may have different features, all provide blog and blogger exposure by helping you reach out to your colleagues and client sphere?ultimately yielding a readership gain!
  2. Put a live link to your blog in your eStationery. Your blog address should be on all your real estate print marketing AND email marketing. So if you have eStationery or an email signature, be sure to make the most of it by including a live link to your blog. I favor custom eStationery headers like the one below. Suggestion: Don?t add more than 2 links as it may begin to trigger spam filters.

  1. Participate in blog writing contests: Step up your blog writing game and enter your recent posts in blog writing contests. The Carnival of Real Estate is a great place to start! You may not win but you?ll expose your crafty blog to readers who have not otherwise considered your ramblings a newsworthy source. Who knows if you raise your game enough, Lani Anglin may even award you the coveted Nacho Blogger Award! Note: Enter to win an Odysseus Medal or Black Pearl at your own risk. Apparently, my writing style is not up to par enough to be mentioned in the list of entries.
  2. Submit your weblog to online directories: Online directories take website/weblog links that are submitted by the author and categorize them. This strategy is easy because once you have submitted your site, there is little or no additional maintenance required. Usually directory submission is free, but a few do charge for their service or require a reciprocal link. Here are a few good ones to get you started: dmoz, Yahoo directory, Best of the Web.
  3. Talk about it! Whether I?m at the grocery store, a holiday party, presenting to clients, or stranded at the airport, my blog seems to work itself into the conversation every time. If you don?t already have a 3 minute elevator speech promoting your blog?work on one, and make sure you have business cards printed with your weblog address. Live it, Blog it, Promote it!

Got a helpful idea you?d like to share?tell me about.



MyTechOpinion is heading to the New York Connect

I?m excited to share with MyTechOpinion ? Technology for Real Estate readers that I will be speaking at the Inman Blogger Connect this January in New York. I will be on the panel titled ?Marketing Your Blog? on Wednesday January 9th. If you have not already purchased your connect tickets do so now, as the prices go up on 11/24/2007.

Please comment here and let me know if you will be attending.


New Buyer Tour Technology Helps Real Estate Agents Bridge the Geographical Gap

With Real Estate agents looking to embrace the latest technology tools like blogging and social networking, many are noticing their buyer contacts are originating from out-of-town locations. So how does a real estate agent efficiently show local homes, without the buyer traveling for each buyer?s tour? I?m not talking about emailing MLS printouts!

SiteSeer3D is an online application that integrates with your website and allows real estate agents to show buyers 3D views of local geographic areas and points of interest. OK, I know so far I?m just describing Google Earth and Microsoft Live Maps technology. But SiteSeer3D packs in tons of other useful features by interfacing with the local MLS. For example, imagine the buyer (or buyers agent) zooming into individual properties for sale and identifying a home?s proximity to schools, parks, and downtown locations. SiteSeer3D also displays parcel boundaries, much like Cyberhomes, to help buyers understand the true size and shape of the lot. Buyers can click a ?details? button on any home for sale to see listing photos, tours, physical characteristics, associated flyers, mortgage calculators, community links and resources etc.

If a real estate agent would like to give their buyer a guided tour, they can use SiteSeer3D?s remote tour guide features. This allows the potential buyer to watch his/her screen while the real estate agent takes the driver seat and explores the local homes for sale and community characteristics. This tool makes the initial preview insightful and helps eliminate showing mismatches; making the actual tour day much more productive while shorting the sale cycle.

After carefully reviewing the SiteSeer3D demo, I found the technology rather intuitive; however one challenge you may face is that they are not integrated with every MLS. When they do integrate, data flows from the MLS via a FTP data push or RETS feed. I was told by SiteSeer3D Excel import is also available although I have not personally tested the feature.

Useful Links for SiteSeer3D:
Watch a video overview of SiteSeer3D


16 Holiday Gifts for Real Estate Techies

NikNik, Chad and I put together a list of some useful pieces of technology for real estate agents everywhere. Thanks to NikNik, we even have a few accessories this year. Have fun shopping!

Reggie’s Picks

Lenovo Think Pad Tablet PC
In my opinion, convertible tablet PC?s are built for real estate agents. The tablet technology allows for real estate agents to sign contracts on screen and start the paperless revolution. This year I?m recommending the Lenovo Thinkpad X61. The Lenovo Thinkpad X61 offers Intel?s Core Duo processor, embedded EV-DO or HSDPA modem for integrated wireless broadband, long battery life and strong benchmark scores for performance. Just keep in mind to get the small 12.1 footprint, the Lenovo Thinkpad X61 does not include an integrated optical drive. [see specs]

Garmin Nuvi 660
The Garmin Nuvi 660 is the perfect portable GPS Technology with a sleek 4.3 inch display. This state-of-the-art navigation system provides 2D or 3D maps and turn-by-turn voice directions. It also offers a complete ?points of interest? database for local restaurants, gas, ATM?s and more. Also stop getting surprised by accidents and road conditions with an optional traffic package from XM NavTraffic? or MSN? Direct. Even use the Nuvi 600 to play MP3?s or display JPG?s of that next listing you?re visiting on buyers tour. (also checkout the Nuvi 770) [see specs]

Wireless Broadband: USB727 or U727 Modem
Two pieces of technology every mobile real estate agent should have is wireless broadband internet and a sleek flash drive. So why not combine them. The Verizon Wireless USB727 and Sprint U727 both do exactly that. Now get a 4BG of microSD? memory, combined with a next generation mobile broadband on the EV-DO Rev. A network. Also note, this little device comes with out-of-box support for Windows XP, Vista, Mac, and Linux.

MII Flashcam
Open houses and other real estate activities often mean you may be alone for periods of time. Your safety is of top importance! Carry the MII Flashlight, and video/audio recorder. The MII Flashcam comes with one gigabyte of RAM capable of storing 1 hour of quality audio and video. The MII also supports night vision technology, allowing you to convert evening into daytime on the 1.5? TFT-LCD color Display. The MII is water resistant and provides 3 ? hours of continuous operation. [Sold Here].

Photoshop Elements 6.0
Do you have the right software for organizing and editing your real estate photos? Photoshop Elements provides many powerful tools in an easy to use software package. Tag your photos with keywords, use touch-up tools to enhance your photos color and contrast. Easily resize, crop and more. Even find the best photos for the MLS and print marketing by using the side-by-side viewing feature. [see features]

NikNik’s Picks

Acme Made Laptop Cases
Acme?s laptop cases make real estate on the go?sleek, sassy, and practical! Acme Made laptop bags combine style, functionality, and affordability. Dimensions and suggestions are provided to ensure your laptop acquires the right fit. Check out ?The Clyde City? for him and ?The Trixy? or ?Slim Cargo? for her.

Blue Tooth Headset
I can?t leave home and be expected to multi-task to my greatest potential without my Bluetooth headset. Driving and other real estate tasks become ?hands-free? via wireless connection to your headset. I?m a fan of the Jabra Bluetooth Headsets, the BT2020 in particular. The BT2020 has the latest Bluetooth 2.0 technology. [see specs]

Microsoft Streets & Trips 2008
Load it onto your laptop, attach the small GPS locator and you’re good to go. Get to know a new market area, create informative brochures based on your neighborhood analysis, or create mashups of your sold properties?perfect for prelisting presentations. [take a tour]

Mobile Office
This item is so popular that it?s often sold out. Keeping your car clean when it?s used as your daily office is easier said than done. But with the Lewis N. Clark Travel Business Center, you can keep your notepads, pens, files, digital camera, flyers, snacks, etc. secure and organized. And when showing property, just fold, zip and place in your trunk.

iHome Portable Speaker for Nano
The Bose Sounddock provides great sound with minimal setup. My good friend (Sarah) even brings it on our business trips. But at $300, it?s an item you won?t want to lose or leave at an open house. Another great option for real estate agents is the iHome Portable Speaker for your Nano. At only $30, you can set the mood with quiet background tunes at your next broker?s tour/open house for a bargain!

Chad’s Picks

Dell XPS M1330
The technology driven real estate agent needs a laptop that includes the latest multimedia functionality while remaining portable. The Dell XPS M1330 is just that. Only 0.87? thick, the XPS M1330 is a 13.3? widescreen laptop that can be configured with a hi-def LED screen, a 320 GB hard drive for ample storage space or a 64GB solid state drive for performance and reliability, up to 4GB of RAM and a slot-load DVD burner. There is also a choice between AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon for mobile broadband. [see specs]

Dell XPS 420
Thought about incorporating video and audio files into your real estate marketing plan? You?ll need a computer with tons and storage and serious power to handle file editing and conversion. The Dell XPS 420 is ready to incorporate the 45nm next generation processors. A fully configured XPS 420 includes an integrated LCD to access songs, pictures, video and system settings without using the keyboard, Adobe Elements Studio, video and audio inputs on the front panel, a remarkable 2TB of storage, a Blu-Ray drive, an eSATA connector, 10 USB ports, and a deck-top device storage area with cable routing. [see specs]

HP Officejet Pro L7680 Color All-in-One
Upgrade the printing, copying and faxing capabilities of the real estate agent in your life this holiday with HP Officejet Pro L7680 Color All-in-One. This device is fast, touting laser printer speeds from an inkjet printer. The built-in Ethernet connection allows for easy sharing of this all-in-one with multiple computers. The unusual feature of standard duplex printing makes double sided printing a breeze. [see specs]

Lexar ExpressCardTM SSD
The more multimedia based real estate technology becomes, the more storage space we need. To increase the storage capacity of your laptop computer without messing with a hard drive upgrade, look to a solid state express card drive. The Lexar Expresscard SSD can quickly add up to 16GB of extra storage to your laptop. Just slide the card into the express card slot on your machine and it is ready to use. [see specs]

Seagate FreeAgent Pro
Need to back up your real estate business? The Seagate FreeAgent Pro 750GB drive is a cutting-edge backup and storage device. The forward thinking design of the FreeAgent includes the latest and fastest external connection, eSATA, for blazing transfer speeds. For those without eSATA, a USB 2.0 and 2 Firewire ports are also available. The included software makes for simple system backups, ?goof-up? safe version storage and automatic data duplication and transfers to email, an iPod or Shutterfly. [see specs]

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
A good wide-angle lens will improve real estate listing photos by including more of a room in a single shot. Without investing in a digital SLR, choices for cameras with strong wide-angle functionality are limited. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 includes a 28mm equivalent wide-angle lens that extends to a 10X optical zoom. Optical image stabilizer aids a shaky hand, a high sensitivity mode makes shooting fast moving objects easier and the new SDHC memory cards are compatible, providing 8GB of storage on a single card. [see specs]


Color Generation Technology for your Real Estate Blog

New real estate blogs join the blogosphere everyday, but unfortunately some really miss the boat with basic design elements. Often the design could be saved if the colors were updated to a more complimentary color palette. For example, say you download a beautiful WordPress or Blogger theme and then change out the header graphic with a local photo of your geographic area. But the new local photo is full of different colors. Now your blog?s CSS needs to be updated to reflect these new colors. How do you choose the perfect hexadecimal color without being an expert? If you are off a few shades it can impact the total design.
BigHugeLabs comes to the rescue with its free color pallet generator. This is one cool technology. You simply upload or paste a link to your main blog header photo, and BigHugeLabs returns 15 complimentary colors in hexadecimal format, with CSS for your blog (or Website, print design, home design etc.). If your photo is stored in Flickr or Photobucket, BigHugeLabs also has tools for pulling in the photo(s) for palette generation. If you have questions about editing your CSS, you may want to peak at this CSS Cheatsheet.
Other useful Palette Generators:
Color Hunter

Ideas For Getting Readers For Your Real Estate Blog: Part 1

Is there a science to getting readers for your blog? Do you have a plan when it comes to gaining readership and blog exposure? Whether you pick and choose your strategies to create a thoughtful plan, or round up every tactic in the book?..there is a method to your madness. We may not go about it the same way, so I?ve decided to collect as many ideas for gaining blog readers as I can find, or stand. Take ?em, leave ?em or add to them. I?ll keep the list going as long as I can, and with that, here are the first 5.

  1. Add your blog address to your business card & other marketing. Whether you are farming an area, marketing to your sphere, or meeting new potential clients, this is a sure fire way to get the word out. And with the holidays approaching, be sure to have a stack of cards on hand for all those special events.
  2. Got RSS? You have an RSS feed on your blog, but are you making good use of it? I suggest downloading an RSS feed image that is obviously recognizable and place it toward the top of your blog so your readers can easily subscribe. Don?t make feed subscription a game of hide and seek. Try Feed Icons or Bittbox for RSS icons and trick out your feed with Feedburner.
  3. Custom Widgets: Create a custom widget and place it on your blog for your current readers to download and place on their blogs. Now your content is accessible to people that may not otherwise know what great info you have to offer. To get started creating your custom widget, visit Widgetbox or Spring Widgets.
  4. Social Bookmarking & Tagging: Using social bookmarking sites like Digg, and StumbleUpon not only allows users to store, organize, share, and search ?bookmarks? of web pages, but there are other benefits to be had. Two possible benefits of social bookmarking are helping a website rank better on search engines, as well as increasing the amount of natural links to the website. And a fabulous benefit of tagging is that you can see how others have tagged their content and see which tags are most important. From here, you can see which tags are most popular, and how to incorporate those tags into your content to become noticeable to the most people. To learn more about Socical Bookmarking, watch this.

  5. Comments: If you are truly trying to create community centered around your blog, then you need to participate in the act of creating community. One way to do this is to join the conversations that are happening on other blogs. Visit other real estate focused blogs and make comments on articles you are interested in. Whether you support or disagree, let your voice be heard. The best commentators will take a stance and add upon it with another benefit or helpful resource. Before long, you?ll notice new visitors and comments on your own blog!

These ideas may seem simple and obvious to most, but they are only as good as the user that implements them. Stay tuned for Ideas #6-10 next week.


Norton (Symantec) Gets It Right

It has always puzzled me why security software companies sell their products and services the way they do. Why do I have to purchase a security suite and a subscription at the same time and be stuck with that software version until the end of my subscription?
Norton (Symantec) has changed all of that by placing the emphasis on the subscription. Now, when you purchase a Norton product, you can upgrade the software version for the life of your subscription. What a brilliant idea!
When I found out about this, I immediately went to the Norton Product Upgrade Center to get my free upgrade. The Norton Product Center determined which upgrades were available to me and installed them. My Norton Internet Security 2007 was upgraded to the 2008 version with no charge.
This new business practice makes much more sense. I have always frowned upon purchasing 2 or 3 year security subscriptions. It saves money, but what if the next version runs smoother or protects against new threats better. You no longer have to be concerned about this when buying a Norton product.
The next time you have to purchase a security suite subscription, go with Norton and go for a long term subscription. It will save you money in the long run.