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Can Bluetooth Technology Improve Your Real Estate Business?

Bluetooth technology can drastically improve how we make cell phone calls. Are there other ways that the same technology can benefit real estate agents? YES.

Bluetooth is a wireless communication standard that can connect devices over a range of 30 feet. While we are all familiar with connecting our cell phones to a Bluetooth headset (like my new Jabra BT5020), there are numerous other peripherals that use Bluetooth to eliminate wires.

Add Bluetooth

To start, you need to have a Bluetooth transmitter on your computer. Embedded Bluetooth cards are becoming very popular in laptop computers. If you are purchasing a new laptop, make sure that it includes a Bluetooth card.

For those who need to add Bluetooth to an existing laptop or desktop, it is very simple. Several companies offer Bluetooth adapters ranging in price from $20 to $50. These adapters usually connect via USB and look much like a flash memory drive.

A unique Bluetooth adapter is the Kensington Micro Bluetooth Adapter. It is the size of a penny and when plugged into a USB port, sticks out less than a quarter of an inch. This allows you to connect the device and not have to remove it to put your laptop away.

Ways to Use Bluetooth

Wireless keyboards and mice that use RF wireless technology have limited range and can be fussy. Switching to a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse will give you more stability and range. Many of these devices come with their own Bluetooth adapter, so you won’t need to purchase an additional device. The Logitech diNovo Edge is the most advanced Bluetooth keyboard to date.

Use your cell phone as a mobile broadband modem to take advantage of the benefits of becoming a truly mobile real estate agent without the additional expense of purchasing a dedicated mobile broadband card.

Take advantage of VOIP telephone services, such as Skype, to save money on your phone bill. VOIP services are gaining in popularity, but it is very inconvenient to be tethered to your computer. With a Bluetooth headset, you can venture up to 30 feet from your computer while on the phone. You can use the same Bluetooth headset that you use for your cell phone, or get a dedicated VOIP handset like the Kensington Internet Phone. This handset folds up to slide into your laptop’s PCMCIA slot for storage and battery charging.

Synchronize your cell phone data. Why plug in your smartphone when you could sync your contacts, calendar, tasks and notes with your computer using Bluetooth. With the appropriate software, many standard cell phones can be synced with a computer. That way, you don’t have to worry about losing your data. It also makes loading contacts into your phone a lot easier.

Transfer photos from your cell phone to your computer. Many cell phone providers charge you to email photos from your phone. Instead of emailing them to get them to your computer, transfer them via Bluetooth.

Print wirelessly to mobile printers equipped with Bluetooth. The HP Deskjet 460wbt Mobile Printer makes printing contracts, presentations, and tours from anywhere a breeze.

Listen to music and movies without wires. The Motorola MOTOROKR S9 Bluetooth Stereo Headphones provide quality sound and double as a cell phone headset.

How are you using Bluetooth Wireless Technology to improve your real estate business?

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The Night Before Christmas Blogger Mad-Lib

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a Phoenix Real Estate Guy was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the Blog Fiesta with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The Incredible Agents were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of RSS Pieces danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the FoRUM there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to 4realz I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the MetroWest Homes
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature RE Tomato, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than Maxsell his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Ubertor and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Sellsius and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with 3 Oceans, mount to the sky,
So up to HomeGain the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of the Green Mortgage Group.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney Transparent Pat came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of Agent Solutions he had flung on his back,
And he looked like Jeff Turner just opening his pack.

His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it Revealed his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was an AgentGenius, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his Creative Agent and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his Rain City Guide aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to HelpMyAgent gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas from MyTechOpinion, and to all a good-night.”

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HomeGain Offers New Tool For Sellers

HomeGain recently announced the addition of a helpful new tool…the Home Sale Maximizer. This user-friendly resource guides sellers in identifying repairs needed to maximize their overall home sale. Agents can also make great use of this tool for setting listing prices, and showing sellers how they can increase the salability of their home. Louis Cammarosano, General Manager of HomeGain adds, “With the addition of Home Sale Maximizer to its product suite, HomeGain now offers consumers the ability to get a instant free home valuation without registration as well as information on how to make their homes worth more.”

Here is a quick run down of how the Home Sale Maximizer can benefit sellers and agents:

  • Identify key repairs
  • Use checklist to prioritize home improvements
  • Determine which projects will increase your salability
  • Prepare your sellers for market
  • Set a more appropriate list price for the home
  • Send sellers the link prior to listing presentation
  • Utilize within your listing presentation

For more information, visit HomeGain.com.

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Adding YouTube Video To Your Next Real Estate PowerPoint

The impact of YouTube’s video sharing technology is hard to miss. Not only can you find any video imaginable on YouTube, but real estate professionals are leveraging the free bandwidth and enormous popularity to promote their own commercials, video testimonials, local community footage and lots more. However the need to leverage your video in a listing presentation, kiosk, or window display may arise. So let’s talk about how you embed that video into your next PowerPoint presentation.

This is a very straight forward task and can be achieved using a YouTube Video add-In created by Shyam at skp.MVPS.org. The Add-In works for PowerPoint 97’ to current. Keep in mind however the video is streaming, so you will need a live Internet connection to display the video in your PowerPoint.

THIS EXAMPLE IS FOR POWERPOINT 2007. For other versions of PowerPoint, click here.

To get started, download the YouTube Video Add-In here. Start by unzipping the folder.

  1. Open PowerPoint, and click the Office Button.
  2. Click PowerPoint Options then select the Add-Ins tab.
  3. Click PowerPoint Add-ins from the Manage drop down and click Go.
  4. From the Add-Ins windows click Add New.
  5. Locate the folder you downloaded and unzipped. Select the Add-In YouTubeVideo2k7.ppa.
  6. Choose Enable Macros if prompted.

Congratulations, the YouTube icon should now be added to your toolbar as seen below. To use, simply click the button and follow the simple 4 step process.

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Calling All Mobile Agents: Synchronize Your Google Calendar With Your Blackberry

For those real estate agents that already utilize their Google Calendar, you can add one more benefit to the growing list. Now Blackberry users can access their Google Calendar anytime, anywhere. And technology savvy real estate pros can organize their broker’s tours, home inspections, signings, and more…on the fly! Streamlining your business events will afford you more time and better communication. Here is a quick list of suggestions for use:
  • Share your calendar with teammates and assistants.
  • Import activities from Outlook.
  • Receive email or mobile text-message reminders for events on your calendar.
  • Create a special marketing calendar for each listing, and share it with the homeowner using the “send to a friend” feature.
  • Use the invite feature to email special invites for a preview of newly listed homes (Google Calendar keeps track of RSVPs).
  • Schedule your “blog posting plan” to keep content ideas flowing and prepared for upcoming posts.

To become even more organized and rid yourself of tardy excuses, simply visit http://m.google.com/sync in your mobile browser to download and install the Google Sync for mobile application. Once installation is complete, click on the Google sync icon and sign in to your Google Account. Now that’s efficient!

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Sidebar "Bling" Cross Promotes Your Online Presence

These days real estate professionals are members of social sites, online communities, blogs and more. So how do we deliver a consistent brand and message over so many tools? Also how to we channel interested parties to our other communities? One way is to use a similar sidebar for each application.

Introducing the BLING Widget for Real Estate Agents

Since we have not seen the perfect sidebar bling application for you real estate agents, we developed one for you to use. You will notice inStep 7″ I instruct you to use the full path to the icons. This is so that you can use this code on real estate networks like Activerain, Facebook and more without making further changes.

Here is an example of the buttons I have created for your use.
(Buttons from left to right: LinkedIn, Facebook, RSS, Activerain, Zolve, MyBlogLog, Google MyMaps, Friendster, Trulia Voices, Zillow and RealTown Real Estate Network.)

DOWNLOAD ZIP FILE OF BUTTONS HERE.

IMPORTANT: If you are adding this to your blog, please make a backup of your template before beginning so you can easily restore things if you need too.

Step 1:
Create a new folder on the root directory of your website or blog and title it “bling

Step 2:
From the icons I’ve created, choose the specific icons you want to use on your sidebar widget and add them to your newly created folder titled “bling”. (Note: Choose either the .jpg files or the .png files. PNG files have a transparent background.)

Step 3:
Start by opening notepad or your HTML editor. Now you will be adding the code from each step to the blank notepad document. Please add each snippet of code to notepad in the order below. If you are advanced, the complete code is avaliable here.

Step 4
Copy the code below. Now paste into the notepad document we opened in Step 3. The code we just copied is for the header of our widget. The widget title is”Find Me Online” If you would like to use a different headline, replace those words with your own. You can also update the header and border color by replacing the hexadecimal (6 Digit) color with one from this chart.

Step 5
Copy the text below. Now paste this code after the code above. We will be editing it as follows:

Replace [Insert URL of Personal Photo] with absolute/full URL to photo. (i.e. http://www.mytechopinion.com/images/reggie.jpg) (Tip: Ideal width is 75 pixels or less)
Replace [Insert Name] with your name
Replace [Insert Company Name] with your company or blog name
Replace [Insert Your Blog or Website URL Here] with your actual URL

Step 6
Copy the code below. This is the DIV for the buttons. Please paste to our open notepade file after the previous code.

Ok, now you will start to add the buttons for your widget. 4 buttons will fit on each row. If you are using more than 4 buttons, you can add another DIV by preforming Step 6 again. This will create a 2nd row of icons.

Step 7
Earlier you added the buttons for your widget into a newly created folder. Now find the corresponding code from the options below. Then add each desired to your notepad or open editor. Look for “<!–Insert Buttons to the left of this block–>” and paste the button(s) code before it.

LinkedIn
Replace [Insert LinkedIn URL] with the link to your LinkedIn Profile.

Facebook
Replace [Insert Facebook URL] with the link to your Facebook Profile. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

ActiveRain
Replace [Insert Activerain URL] with the link to your Activerain Profile or blog. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

RSS
Replace [Insert RSS URL] with the link to your RSS feed URL. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Zolve
Replace [Insert Zolve URL] with the link to your Zolve profile or blog. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

MyBlogLog
Replace [Insert ByBlogLog URL] with the link to your MyBlogLog Community. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Friendster
Replace [Insert Friendster URL] with the link to your Friendster URL. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

MyMaps
Replace [Insert MyMaps URL] with the link to your custom Google MyMaps page. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Trulia Voices
Replace [Insert Trulia Voices URL] with the link to your Trulia Voices profile. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Zillow
Replace [Insert Zillow Profile URL] with a link to your profile on Zillow. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

RealTown Real Estate Network
Replace [Insert RealTown Profile URL] with a link to your profile on RealTown Real Estate Network. Also replace [Full Path to Image] with your full URL to the image.

Complete! If you have followed each step closely, you should have the complete code now. Simply copy and paste the code we created into your sidebar (keep in mind the widget is 210 pixels wide) and you will now be cross promoting yourself online. Keep in mind the same exact code can be used on your Activerain sidebar, Facebook and more.
View my profile on Zolve Join my community on MyBlogLog Friend me on Friendster View my location info on MyMaps Grab my RSS Feed Read my blog on Activerain Friend me on Facebook Join me on LinkedIn
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Google Offers Free “GPS-Like” Technology for Real Estate Agents

As a real estate professional you’re in and out of neighborhoods all the time. You’re expected to know your area well. But at times you still need some directional assistance. When those times arise, you may be thanking Google. Recently the Google Mobile Maps crew has launched a new “GPS-Like”’ technology called “My Location”. This new feature is freely available for most web-enabled phones, and you don’t need to have GPS on your device for it to work.

So how exactly does the My Location technology work?

Google will pinpoint your location within 1000 meters by calculating and estimating your handset location based on the unique footprint of surrounding cell towers. To start up this feature from with Google Mobile Maps, click “0” and your approximate location will be displayed on the Map. Your location will be represented by a blue dot if you have GPS or a blue dot with a light blue circle around if you do not have GPS. This dot is your approximate location.

To get started, simply text the word “bluedot” to 33669 or visit www.Google.com/gmm on your mobile device to download the application.

Other useful Google Mobile Apps:

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Simplifying Real Estate Agent Laptop Purchases

In my real estate agent desktop buying guide article, I wrote that “purchasing a new desktop computer can be a confusing experience”. Unfortunately, purchasing a laptop computer is an even more confusing task for the average real estate agent.The added confusion is brought about by the numerous incarnations of laptops available. From tablet PC to ultra-portables to huge desktop replacements, each style of laptop fulfills a different need. This means that there is no perfect laptop for everyone. Look to the matrix below for things to consider when choosing which laptop form-factor to buy.

Component Selection
Buying a laptop computer requires you to pull out your crystal ball and look into the future. Upgrading a laptop is difficult, costly and sometimes impossible. Buy more computer than you need today to allow your laptop to meet your needs for 3 or more years in the future.

Processor
The Intel Core 2 Duo processor is the way to go. Intel’s mobile processors are faster and more energy efficient (think battery life) than the competing AMD chips.

If available, look for Core 2 Duo processors running on an 800Mhz front-side bus (FSB). These processors cost a bit more, but their inclusion of tomorrow’s technology will extend the usable lifespan of your laptop.

Operating System
For real estate agents, Windows Home Premium will most likely meet your needs. This Home Premium includes all of the multimedia functionality that you will need in your daily marketing efforts.

If features like integrated backup, remote access and data encryption interest you, look to Vista Ultimate.

For a comparison of the Windows Vista versions, see Microsoft’s website.

Display
The size of the display is directly connected to the size of the machine, but there are several choices that you need to consider outside of size when choosing a laptop display.

Glossy or Matte Finish?
The glossy finishes look impressive. Colors tend to be very rich and vibrant. There is a huge drawback to these displays, the glossy finish is very reflective making them difficult to use in well lit environments. Unless you tend to work in the dark, go for a matte finish.

LED lit displays are starting to hit the market. These displays are brighter, thinner, last longer and use less power. The only downside of this technology is the current premium price.

Video Card
Windows Vista needs video power to run smoothly. When purchasing a laptop, buy the most powerful video card option offered, whether from nVidia or ATI. Integrated video cards just don’t cut it.

Memory
Nothing will make you dislike the Vista operating system more than not having enough RAM to run it properly. 2GB of RAM seems to be the sweet spot for best performance.

Hard Drive
Buy the most capacity that you can afford. The extra space is cheap and you will invariably need it at some point.

If speed is more important than storage capacity, consider a 7200 RPM hard drive.

Optical Drive
Blu-Ray and HD-DVD drives are still too expensive to recommend. Go for a DVD-RW drive and consider a Lightscribe model to add a bit of flare to your discs.

Wireless Card
All laptops should have a wireless card to allow you to connect to the internet at home, the office and other hotspots wirelessly. While the new 802.11N standard has yet to be ratified, the latest draft is showing a lot of promise and they are backward compatible with the “B” and “G” standards. Buy a laptop with an 802.11N wireless card to enjoy faster, stronger wireless connections in the future.

Mobile Broadband
While a wireless card will give you limited mobile connectivity, a cell phone based broadband connection will truly make you a mobile real estate agent. Many laptops offer multiple provider options for mobile broadband integration. This integration is very convenient, but it does tie you to a cell phone provider. Add-on cards, like the one recommended in our real estate technology holiday gift buying guide, will offer more flexibility to change providers at a later date.

Bluetooth
Uses for a Bluetooth connection are increasing as more Bluetooth-enabled products hit the market. With an integrated Bluetooth card, you can use:

  • your smartphone as a modem
  • wireless headphones to listen to music or movies
  • VOIP services (Skype) with a wireless headset
  • a wireless Bluetooth keyboard and mouse

Battery
This is a no-brainer. Buy the high capacity battery. It may add weight to your laptop, but the added time away from a power outlet is worth it.

Sound
I have never been concerned with sound card options in a laptop. For what a real estate agent uses a laptop computer for, the integrated option will meet your needs.

Webcam
I have seen real estate agents send video emails originated from their webcams. Webcams are also handy for keeping in touch with distant friends and family.

Docking Station
I love my docking station. When I get to the office, I simply connect my laptop and I instantly have a full keyboard and mouse, a huge LCD monitor, Internet connection, printer connection and the battery charges. It makes my portable laptop into a desktop computer. This is perfect for real estate agents who use a laptop as a primary computer.

If you want a docking station, you need to make sure that the laptop you choose has a dedicated docking station connection. Otherwise, you are forced to use a USB-connecting model and those products are junk. Look at HP Pavilion or Dell Latitude laptops for quality docking station options.