Friday, December 14, 2007

Why RealTechTools?

I’m launching this blog, RealTechTools, to supplement the work I do covering technology for the print and Web versions of Realtor magazine, published by the National Association of Realtors. I’ve been covering technology as a freelance contributor to Realtor magazine since the early 1990s, and in the column Tech Watch since the inception of Realtor magazine online, sometime around 2000.

With my very first paycheck from Realtor, way back when(I think it was called Real Estate Today at the time) I purchased the first external hard drive to go with my Mac Plus---a whopping 40 megabyte drive for round $400. Times have sure changed.

Ever since, I’ve done most of the monthly buying guides to technology which have run in Realtor magazine, and a few other features. Tech Watch was later launched to add and expand coverage in a more timely fashion on the Web. Originally the column ran twice each month. It was cut back to once a month in 2006, and now, for 2008 they rolling it further back to just six times a year.

I enjoy writing for NAR's Realtor publications. The editors there work hard to deliver a balanced, quality product addressing the varied needs of real estate professionals, from the new agent to the seasoned pro. So, I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize that arrangement; for a freelance writer, that usually means not writing for competitors. But, I need an outlet: I really enjoy exploring practical applications of the latest innovations for real estate, and want to continue that.

A blog seems the logical compromise, as far as keeping myself and readers informed about developments I—drawing on years of experience writing about technology in general, and its applications in real estate, in particular— believe may be of some interest or benefit.

As a freelancer, though, my first priority has to be those paying assignments which allow me to take care of my family. I’d like to somehow turn this into a paying gig(if you have any ideas I’d love to hear them) but until I can crack that nut, I won’t always have time to go into much depth about what’s covered here. I can only pledge my best effort, and will also be developing a website of the same name as a more organized resource, with links to articles I’ve done and other content I think could be of help or interest.

The best of the Web is always user-driven, so I also hope to attract enough readers among real estate professionals and solutions vendors to make this a vital, active forum for sharing ideas and experiences on a range of tools.

When I started writing for Realtor, information on the latest listings was tightly controlled through the MLS. Digital cameras were just coming into their own, and the Web didn’t figure on many horizons. Mobile computing meant hefty “portables” and the virtual tour was virtually impossible. Smartphone, Tablet, GPS, Google—Who had a clue?

That’s all changed, for the good of all involved. Real estate today is more dependent on a host of technologies than ever, but it’s still a people business. With RealTechTools, I’ll focus on the tools, latest developments and implementation which can empower the real estate professional to set and match new standards in responsive, productive services for buyers and sellers. I’ll draw on my experience as a journalist and conversations with agents, brokers and vendors to try and serve up a mix of timely information, insight and opinion, as best I can with limited time and resources.

The old saying goes the first step is the hardest. That done, let’s move on.

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