I debuted a new presentation last week at the first installment of Real Estate WordCamp in Denver, Colorado. The presentation was a compilation of 32 Realtor and Brokerage websites that are run on WordPress (which is my recommended platform for Realtors looking to develop a website or blog). I find that people learn from seeing examples of what other people are doing. The point of the presentation was to fill the minds of the audience with creative, interesting, and excellent examples of real estate websites as well as show what is possible with the WordPress platform. For additional details about why I find WordPress to be THE application for real estate websites, check out a post I wrote on Agent Applause highlighting one of the best Real Estate websites I’ve found that is built on the WordPress platform. As a side note, the websites for both Harmon Enterprises and Agent Applause are built on WordPress.
I’m looking to keep this presentation current. If you know of any great examples of real estate websites that are built on WordPress, please let me know about them either in the comments, or by contact form.
And, if you are interested in consultation on a WordPress strategy for your real estate business, please contact Harmon Enterprises to discuss further.
On January 4th, 2010 Virtual Real Estate Bar Camp will have a repeat performance with a new lineup of speakers, and Harmon Enterprises is participating. Our topic is Facebook Tools and Tricks – Separating Personal from Professional. Here is the session description from the event website:
Control who sees what! @StaceyHarmon will orient you to the Facebook tools that allow you separate your personal from your professional life and effectively use Facebook for business development as a Realtor. The session will cover applying Facebook’s newly updated privacy settings to your profile; grouping your friends, clients, and prospects into lists; and assigning permissions to status updates and photos. She’ll also show you the basics on how to create a Business Fan Page in order to further build your professional persona on Facebook.
It is free to attend Virtual Real Estate Bar Camp which is a full day of webinar presentations by some of the movers and shakers in the national real estate social media scene. There will be four separate webinars, or “rooms”, running concurrently and each presentation lasts 45 minutes. All you need to do is have internet access and pre-register in order to get the login information for each of the rooms. The full schedule can be found here and if you have an interest in hearing more about how social media can help build your business, you are encouraged to attend. What better way to kick off a productive business year?!
Virtual RE BarCamp Summary:
When: January 4, 2010 from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm PST
Cost: Free but you must register to receive webinar login information
Schedule: As speakers are confirmed, the event calendar is updated
I’m in the midst of last minute preparations for RE BarCamp San Diego…hard to believe it is almost here! Next Thursday, at the Stingaree in San Diego, the largest RE BarCamp yet will take place (we’re expecting over 500!). And next Friday, my life will return to normal :). Amongst the chaos and stress of planning for the event, I have great anticipation for the friends and colleagues, both new and old, I will see Thursday. If we haven’t yet met face to face and you will be at RE BarCamp or the NAR Convention following, please do stop and say hello. The greatest value I find in RE BarCamps is the people I get to interact with face to face.
We’ll be posting last minute event details on the RE BarCamp website this week, so keep an eye on http://www.rebarcampsd.com for the latest scoop. Back to attending to the last minute details for me. See you Thursday!
I’m excited to announce that I have been asked to speak at Real Estate Blog World, the one day industry vertical partner program preceding the Blog World and New Media Expo in Las Vegas. I will be part of a panel discussing Business to Business marketing in real estate using social media (full conference schedule here). My social media strategy and execution experience over the past year with Pango Group and their affiliated companies has given me much hands on experience with this topic and I look forward to sharing my perspective with those in attendance. And I hope that includes you! Have you registered yet?
If you are trying to decide if the expense is worth it for you, let me share my experience from attending last year. I got talked into attending RE Blog World and Blog World at the last minute by Rob Hahn, and I was very hesitant to make the investment. However, I am so grateful I did. The conference was outstanding for me for several reasons. First, at RE BlogWorld I met many of the people who are the movers and shakers in the RE.net. Those introductions helped set the stage for the fun, fast paced, and successful year I’ve had since. My work and social networks expanded in ways I didn’t anticipate. I also learned a lot - from the practical (Derek Overbey taught me about @replies and Tweet Deck for goodness sake!) to the theoretical. Also, the main Blog World & Social Media Expo was filled with social media superstars. The pioneers who influenced me and I watch on-line (people such as Lee LeFever and Guy Kawasaki) were sitting there, right next to me in sessions learning right along with me. Others like Tim Ferriss and Mike Shinoda gave fascinating keynotes on stage opening my eyes to the power of social media in businesses unlike mine. And, as Jeff Turner so eloquently reminded us at Inman Connect in San Francisco last month, innovation always comes from outside our industry. Blog World provides access to social media applications and issues across industries and is presented by the biggest names out there. For this reason alone, the conference is not to be missed.
The world of social media moves so fast. The evolution of social media within real estate has been tremendous over the past year – I’ve seen it grow immensely from one RE BarCamp to the next, and one Inman Conference to the next. RE Blog World will help those of us focused on the real estate industry to get a pulse on where things are at, what are the challenges, and help shed light on the opportunities. And, I’m fascinated to see how social media has evolved outside the real estate industry in the past year and hear the impressions and creativity of those who drive social media in their business. I’m honored to be contributing this year to RE Blog World and am very excited to see the other speakers lined up for the entire event. I got so much out of blog world last year and can’t wait for this year. I’ll see you there!
Eric Stegemann tweeted this the other day: “Thinking about how dinosaurs relate to real estate – the nimble and adapting ones survive, but the big ones did not. Took years for extinction.”
It is the “years for extinction” part that really caught my eye. This weekend I had had a conversation with a friend’s neighbor that made me wonder if real estate really is ever going to evolve. Will agents who are doing business in the “old way” ever adapt or go extinct? As someone who is enthusiastically in favor of industry evolution, the following conversation put a dent in my zeal.
I saw a for sale sign in front of his condo and asked the seller how it was going. He said, “great – it sold in the first week!” Wow, I thought.
I asked, “What did it go for?” He responded, “$370,000. It went for $10,000 over asking price, and I also had a bid for $20,000 over asking price.”
When I asked him why he picked those buyers, he said “because they had a down payment, and they loved the house”. I know from my real estate sales days that putting together a deal that will actually close is an important part of the Realtors job, and it appeared that this seller received some good coaching from his agent in this regard, especially since the financing on the higher offer sounded weak.
But here is where the conversation got alarming for me:
Me: “How long is the contingency period?”
Seller: “I don’t know, what is that?”
Me: “How much of a deposit did the buyers put down?”
Seller: “Don’t know, my agent never discussed it with me.”
Me: “What was the commission?”
Me: “How did you pick your agent?”
Seller: “She sold the house next door. I gotta tell you, she is one high energy woman. There are times she calls me and she just yammers. It’s all I can do to get off the phone with her.” (his tone was annoyed…I didn’t get the impression he liked her much).
Then, at the end of our conversation, totally unsolicited by me, the seller concludes our chat by saying: “Let me tell you, she is an outstanding agent. I’ll go out of my way to recommend her to anyone who needs a great agent.”
WTH? This seller would give his agent a 10 on the Net Promoter Score that Rob Hahn of 7DS Associates evangelizes. A 10! Unbelievable to me.
I went to the agent’s website. When I go to the “About Us > My Background” page, it has her name, a broken image (which I assume is her photo), and nothing else. She has a navigation item for “Featured Properties” but none of her listings appear. It then defaults to a search for property in Alabama (to be clear, we’re in California).
What exactly is this agent’s real estate talent? Finding uninformed buyers and keeping them in the dark? I understand that the client signed the paperwork, but I can’t imaging representing a seller and not even discussing the deposit amount, nor the contingency period with them. This is astounding to me.
I just have to throw my hands up in the air and ask – how does one compete with this? There is much talk about internet buyers, and leads, and Realtor professionalism, and a new model of real estate. But, NONE of that played a part in this agent getting this listing, this agent selling this house, or this client’s level of satisfaction with the deal. Where is the motive to change? Why on earth would the agent, or client, look for a new way?
I think it is going to take a VERY long time for the old dinosaur to become extinct.
I’m pretty sure this week is the turning point. I’ve been on twitter since May 2008. I talk to Realtors on a weekly basis about technology, social media and new ways of communicating with their clients. Rarely has one of them even heard of twitter. And if they have, they do not understand why anyone would use it. But, I’m certain that is going to change. What I and other avid twitter users have know for a year is that twitter is revolutionary. It provides a new way of communicating that fills a need we didn’t know we had. Twitter is awesome (even though it is really hard to explain why)! We twitter-ers knew it would just be a matter of time before it reached mass public awareness. And, in the last week, I’ve seen 3 signs that twitter is poised to go mainstream.
1. Gretchen Benes is on Twitter. I have 700 people following me. Many of them I know from my RE.net journeys and interactions. Many of them I have met, and several of them I consider friends. But, for the most part, we all met through some connection to an interest in social media, both on, and off-line. Gretchen is the very first friend from my immediate social circle who is actively using it and “gets” it. And she isn’t at techie. She isn’t addicted to her computer the way I am. She can still live without texting. But, she is loving twitter. I predict her addiction will arrive soon…
2. Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, was on Charlie Rose . When my Dad, who lives in the sticks 40 miles outside Spokane calls to tell me about this interesting twitter application he saw on Charlie Rose, I know it is reaching a broader audience.
3. CBS Evening News did a story on how Congress is Twittering. They point out that the 75 year old Congressman is an unlikely poster child for new technology but that he and his colleagues recognize twitter is an outstanding way to reach interested constituents and anyone else who wants to listen. It provides an great “gut feel” for what the congress person is thinking right in the moment vs. the sanitized press statement that may go out days later. Of course the public is eating this up. How refreshing to have some brief direct real time glimpses into Capitol Hill! The story also pointed out that the Repbulicans have 58 twitterers vs. the Democrats 34 and that both sides finding it an interesting way to cut out the middleman (the press) – no camera crew is needed to get your voice out to interested parties. Finally, they noted that John McCain is the biggest twitterer on Capital Hill (with some help from his team), although he recognized that his tweet about Steve Nash’s knee injury received more feedback than most of his more “weightier” tweets.
So, these three events in the span of the last 7 days, indicate to me that twitter is going to be reaching the masses…soon. I’m excited to watch it evolve. I’m particularly interested to see how they monetize it and how that affects the experience that I so love now. Twitter is by far my favorite social community. I’m guessing a few other people are going to fall in love with it soon too. And, I’m particularly interested to see how Realtors apply it effectively to their business. I know it has been invaluable in keeping up with and establishing myself in the RE.net community, but I have yet to hear real success stories from Realtors who use it to sell or use it as a tenant to reach their clients. I’m sure they are out there though, and I believe it is an essential part of the Realtor of the future’s networking and marketing plan. I just think the exact application of it is still being sorted out for the Realtor. I am however certain that lots of opportunity and success exists in this evolving place called twitter.
Please follow me if you aren’t already (www.twitter.com/staceyharmon). I look forward to tweeting with you!
I admit, Marc Davison gets me thinking a lot. I have a bias…he is one of my favorite voices in the re.net world. So, his twitter post caught my attention, enough so to distract me from the awful lounge singer I was watching while enjoying a martini with my friends (gotta love the iPhone!).
Here are the tweets that caught my eye, along with my interaction/response:
“Why list 20 properties per page? This renders every property to a tiny thumbnail of a home. Do 10 per page & double size of pic.”
A tiny little thumbnail does most homes an injustice. In some cases, you can’t really even see the property. Go for Gallery views. BIG PICS
hum-I don’t know. I think consumers want a quick sum of the choices. More homes=better. If interesting they click 4 big photo
I hear you but surveys reveal a different story. MRIS did months of consumer focus groups. Hence their site is a result of it
Don’t mean to disagree but in real estate we need to do more than think we know what they want. We need to be sure
I agree that we should be sure, but I think about my experience w/iStockPhoto for example-I want a glimps & will click 4 more
houses do not = stock photo images, but the image isn’t all that matters in home search, although it is clearly important.
I agree with that Stacey. Well said
This got me thinking…does size really matter? Is the size of the listing photo at first site really critical to in consumer listing search results? I am a huge proponent of photos on listings. It think the number 1 investment Realtors should make in listings is good photography. From my experience, it sells houses. And, even if it doesn’t sell houses, photos drive inquiries. BUT, do consumers really need to see large photos at first to be interested in a property? Does size matter? I think not. I equate it to my experience with iStockPhoto where I am often trying to search for photos that interest me. I don’t often know exactly what I’m looking for…I’m not always clear the exact terms that will pull the photo I want and so depending on my level of patience at that moment, I may or may not sift through hundreds or more of photos searching for something that catches my eye. I’ve noted that I am most interested in seeing as many search results/thumbnails on one page as possible when I search the iStockPhoto images (I change the default results view from 20 to 100). The thumbnail is enough for me to get an idea of if I’m interested. If I have further interest, I’ll click through for the larger image. What is really aggravating to me is that the PERFOMANCE of the iStockPhoto site is sub-par. When I do click through, it takes too long. But, if they solved that problem for me, I’d be thrilled. (as a side note, although iStockPhoto doesn’t have this problem, I would also find it aggravating if when I went to click through, the image wasn’t bigger than the thumbnail, say, due to a low resolution image…if I click on the thumbnail, I expect to see a bigger image – quickly. Realtors don’t always understand how to not get into this situation…resolution of images is often not an understood concept – this is an issue to account for).
Take this idea over to real estate search. If you give me (the searcher) a thumbnail photo along with some basic descriptive fields and text about multiple listings, I’m going to initially be happy. And, if you give me the ability to then click through to BIG photos that I can navigate to without much wait, I’ll be thrilled. I think it is about the performance of the site. If it works fast, and gives me what I expect, I don’t mind a 2nd screen to see big photos. But if it is slow or clunky, I hate it. The performance trumps the size display of the photo. Make it speedy, and give me lots of thumbnails to browse/search through along with the ability to quickly see a blown up image, and you have a sticky site when I’m looking for property (if you combine it with the right data points, of course!). Easy, right? :)
Just my 2 cents after 2 martinis.