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New Technology Frontiers for Real Estate Agents to Conquer: Part 2

by Chicago Agent

By Casey Reagan

Mobile – the New Frontier
At the beginning of the last decade, we experienced a dramatic increase in consumers utilizing the Internet for property searches. The numbers went from nearly no one to almost everyone (90 percent) in the span of just a few years. With the beginning of this new decade, we are witnessing a rapid increase of mobile devices being used as the initial access point for the Internet. In the next few years, mobile devices will likely contribute an equal or greater share of Internet traffic to that of computers.

It’s clear that agents need to evolve their web strategies to include mobile. There is a hot bed of activity around mobile right now with innovations happening daily. At RE/MAX, we have focused on delivering comprehensive mobile solutions. In the early second quarter of 2010, we launched a fully integrated mobile extension of our existing web platform: illinoisproperty.com. This effort included providing every office, agent and RE/MAX listing a fully functioning mobile website including full VOW search capabilities at m.illinoisproperty.com.

After extensive review, we elected to focus our efforts on a browser solution, or mobile website. There were a lot of technical reasons behind the decision, but our research made it clear that having a fully integrated mobile site would be a critical building block that would allow us to quickly deliver the most impact to our agents’ business and would provide a dynamic platform that would allow them to better adopt additional innovations in mobile as they came about.

Mobile marketing opens up a whole new set of marketing opportunities for the real estate industry that aligns itself well with the core principal of delivering superior customer service. A great example is the concept of a “virtual” flyer, which provides the consumer instant access to property details on almost any device, anywhere. While the various app stores are trendy, our objective was to maximize the affect on the individual agent’s business, which meant enabling them to connect buyers and sellers through an integrated mobile listing portal that can be promoted online and offline. This is not only an excellent lead capture tool, but clients love the idea that they never have to worry about running out of paper flyers and the realization that their agent has the ability to connect real time with buyers in front of their home.

Video and Social Media – Wild West or Useful Tools
Video and social media are the latest trends and are receiving a great deal of attention. However, as these tools mature, viable clear channels for marketing will develop. There is a great deal of potential benefit to be yielded from these venues, but there is also enormous potential to waste large amounts of time and effort.

The reality is that only a small number of agents whose personal business style is directly compatible with social media will be able to bear fruit from the time invested in managing blogs, tweets and other similar venues. It’s important to consider that when trends like this are new and there are only a few people executing them, the impact is at its greatest. This impact will diminish as it is adopted by the masses. However, tools are evolving that allow agents to utilize these venues in a systematic way without encumbering, but actually enabling communication. We are in the process of evaluating and integrating a number of new tools to meet these criteria.

RE/MAX is constantly producing relevant video content that helps educate the consumer on market trends and opportunities, and Blog.illinoisproperty.com is professionally maintained with what we feel is a wealth of valuable industry news. This content is then made available for RE/MAX affiliates to enhance their sites.

Additionally, we are in the process of expanding the integration of new social media tools but are careful which tools we utilize as we strongly advocate that any use of social media or video be done in such a way that preserves the industry commitment to data integrity. Disseminating data without proper controls could ultimately hurt the industry in the long run, as it would tarnish the core value proposition of being the trusted and reliable source of data.

To view Part 1 of the series, click here.

Casey Reagan is chief technology officer with RE/MAX Northern Illinois. He can be reached at caseyreagan@rfcpinc.com. Visit illinoisproperty.com or m.illinoisproperty.com (mobile site) for more information.

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