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Posts tagged ‘Internet’

My Favourite Real Estate Tools and Tech – Part 1

I am a child of the electronic age.

I had an Atari, and then a Nintendo (the ORIGINAL one). I even had a Commodore VIC 20. I loved science kits growing up. I Had a microscope, walkie-talkies, and my parents had to keep a supply of old junky telephones, etc. in the house so I wouldn’t take apart their stuff. I was AMAZED with this new innovation of the PC back when only the rich kids had them at home (I didn’t). In short, I’m a geek.

I’m not sure what kept me out of pursuing computers as a career. I could certainly work in computers. I like solving problems, and have a knack for understanding electronic issues.

So it’s no surprise that I combine my career in real estate with my geekdom and seek out new ways to apply technology to marketing and selling property.

In this series, I’ll fill you in on what a true real estate geek loves the most, and on what can help you in your day-to-day business.

Today: Internet fax services.

Dump the Fax Machine!I hate faxes. And in today’s electronic world, I’m not sure why they’re still so popular. Think about how inefficient a fax machine is. It requires a phone line, when you’re probably already paying for a broadband (high-speed) internet connection that could be used to scan and then e-mail a document much more quickly, and to multiple recipients. Faxes are slow, too. Especially when you’re faxing an agent that’s been in the business since, well, God was a boy, and still has his Model X-2000 fax from 1984. And don’t even get me started about thermal paper faxes. Alas, I suppose they are necessary until we can ween ourselves off of this old technology.

Enter Internet faxing. Internet fax services have been around for a number of years. The basic premise is this: You get a dedicated fax number just like any other fax number. Any faxes to that number get converted into an electronic document (usually a .pdf) and e-mailed as an attachment to whatever e-mail address you choose. To send a fax, you can do one of two things. 1: use your old fax machine as normal. 2: Scan the document, attach it to an e-mail, and send it to the fax service, which will convert it into a fax and send it to the fax number of the recipient. Of course if you were creating the document on a computer, you could just attach it to the e-mail and send it away. No more printing and then walking to the fax machine; you’ll save paper too (hug a tree!)

How convenient is that? And that’s just the surface! Think for a minute about how much better this is. Anywhere you can access your e-mail, you can access your fax. It’s like lugging the office machine around with you in your pocket! In a mobile industry such as ours, this is invaluable. Print counter-offers at your client’s house. Forward documents to conveyancing. The possibilities are endless.

And one final note about internet faxing. It creates an electronic paper trail. You can print a log of your faxes just like any other fax machine. And any fax you receive is archived on your computer. You can save them all to a special folder, and keep them for posterity – you never know when your diligence with your documents will be questioned.

For more information on internet faxing, check out E-fax, MyFax, or Telus

-Tim

Web 2.0: The Future Of Real Estate

Of course we all know that the Internet revolutionized real estate.

Well, the Internet has evolved. Have you?

I would say that most agents in our local area have a Web site. Most recognize it as a marketing tool: a way to get their listing information out there and – if they have the functionality – to recruit buyers through an MLS® access portal.

This is what most Internet experts would call Web 1.0. As the Internet has grown up, users now expect more, and this is where Web 2.0 comes in.

Web 2.0

For some, it’s just a buzz-word. There isn’t a recognized standard as to what Web 2.0 actually is. It’s more of an idea, a methodology, than a technological standard or software version. But in reality, Web 2.0 is here to stay and is changing the way people make money on line and in the real world.

The major difference between Web 2.0 and the old way of doing things is the bilateral communication methods that have become so popular in recent years. Whereas in the past, Web sites would largely be static pages, very much not unlike a page in a book – once written, never changing and certainly not involving any interaction between publisher and user or reader. Web 2.0 encourages 2-way communication between page writers and page readers. This blog, for example, has a commenting function that can engage the reader and promote conversation by allowing a reader to comment on the articles or argue with the writer (or in fact, a previous commenter).

Some of the most popular Web sites out there today are Web 2.0. Who hasn’t heard of YouTube, or MySpace or Facebook? The rise of social networking, chat, internet video, podcasting, blogging, wikis, and other user generated or user-discussed content defines Web 2.0.

What does this mean to you? Well, take a look at your website – is it Web 2.0 or not? I would say most are not. This is not something we’ve caught on to as much in our market area. My website, www.sellingsooke.ca, is somewhat web 2.0. It has a blog, which is probably one of the most important parts of a site these days. I’ll explain that in another article. It has an interactive aspect to it – users can chat with me when I’m online via a free service called Meebo. I work hard to make sure the content on my site is relevant and fresh. This is huge, in a market where upwards of 80-90% of customers will start the search for real estate on line. Have a static, boring, page that never changes – the users come, they go. Have a rich, interactive page with constantly updated content and a means for notifying users of updates – you’ve gained a regular customer that will come to you first when they need advice. It’s an ever-increasing way to stay top-of-mind with your buyers and sellers.

This post has kind of gotten lengthy, so I’ll cut it off here, and go in depth on some of the topics in subsequent posts.

For more information on Web 2.0 and what it’s all about, check out the Wikipedia (another Web 2.0 phenomenon) article on it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0.

-Tim