Monday, December 15, 2008

Five Questions...

To make this blog more informative, I thought it might be good to start including interviews with experts from time, as they share their insights on their respective fields in a brief Q&A format, without being too self-serving.

Here’s a first try.

Five Questions for Matthew Hardy, CEO, Real Estate Success Tools

Matthew Hardy is CEO/President of Real Estate Success Tools, publisher of the real estate productivity software Real Estate Success Tracker - REST. Available for Mac and Windows in Single User, Multi User and Server versions.

In your opinion, what are the essential technology tools for real estate agents today?

A computer, phone and software that works.

For software, email is most important, then customer relationship management (CRM) capability.

Too often, agents think they can run a business with the built-in apps that come with their computer. These apps cannot collect and track real estate-specific data.

Where does Real Estate Success Tracker fit?

Large businesses have their own private database systems. That's what we provide for real estate agents, teams and offices.

You retain control of your data so that you can leverage it for your maximum benefit with options to accommodate any real estate business.

You’re selling software, but there’s a definite trend to Web-based solutions for functions like contact management. In your opinion, is there something Realtors may be missing or need to know about Web-based solutions?

Most (and the biggest) web-based solutions won't allow you to take all your business data with you should you decide to leave the service. It's a real oddity that the real estate industry tolerates this. But, you don't have to. For instance, with REST you can access your database from anywhere, but it’s your private system shared only with your team, partner or assistant.

How easy is it to migrate from one system to another?

Frequently, if agents want to switch contact/CRM solutions, they’ll find their old data is exportable, but in a format nearly unusable to them. For instance, the data in the exported file from some web-based service like Top Producer has been "flattened" (in database terms). There’s just too much effort required for most agents to parse the data so it's usable in another system.

We developed a conversion utility to do that work for the agent. Their copy of REST already includes their imported data.

Given the economic climate and state of housing market, what assurance can you offer realtors it’s a good time to invest their time and money in tools like yours, i.e what’s the payback?

What makes more sense, economically?: spending $50-100+ every month on a system designed to hold you captive, or spend $399 one-time and have absolute control? Put your real estate business in a system that embraces standards (PHP, XML, SQL, PDF) and you'll have the most options for responding to market changes.

The pros have expert systems that support critical activities like lead generation and lead conversion. A solution like REST helps manage relationships with prospects and clients with ease and flexibility.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Surveys Say...

Two recent surveys underscore just how pervasive technology has become to the working life of real estate professionals. The annual Realtor Technology Report conduced by NAR’s Center for Real Estate Technology, and the California Association of Realtor’s own 2008 Use of Technology Study.

Across the board, the most used hardware hardware, as indicated by NAR members, are cell phones(42% smartphones, 55% standard cellphone), digital cameras(87%), desktop PCs(64%), notebooks(55%), and GPS navigation devices(34%).

Real estate remains a PC world: only four percent of respondents use a Mac. Sixty-nine percent of respondents have some form of mapping on their website. Of them, 71 percent offer map-based searching.

Social networking is emerging as an area of keen interest, primarily as a way to find consumers. A full third are now involved, defined here as social networking sites, blogs or Web forums. Most popular sites include Linked-In, Facebook, and ActiveRain, Seven percent of Realtors now maintain their own blog.

There’s much much more in the survey and you can find the complete report here.

CAR’s survey posed some different questions, for insights into other aspects of technology usage. Forty five percent of respondents said the primary benefit of their tech tools is the competitive edge it gives them in the field. They also report 48 percent of their business originated online this year.

Thirty-two percent of CAR members now carry a laptop, and for 70 percent of them the primary use is for listing presentations. Keeping up with email is a major challenge of business today, according to 88 percent of respondents.

But they are doing a good job of it: 32 percent respond to client email immediately; 34 percent within an hour.

There’s more here.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Two Steps To Simplification

A couple of Web-based solutions have come along to simplify your working life. Both were developed for general users, but certainly could appeal to real estate professionals.

If you’re a frequent traveler, or tired of handling all the junk mail arriving each day, Earth Class Mail may be the answer. With this Web-based service you can manage, sort, retrieve all your postal mail online without ever reaching for a letter opener.

Here’s how it works. You create an account and have all your mail forwarded to an Earth Class Mail address.(Some prestigious sounding addresses in a few major markets are available as an option). The service scans the front and back of your mail then posts those images to a secure site for you to view at your convenience.
When you view those scans, you can select to have the mail shredded and recycled; forwarded to you by regular mail; or opened, the contents scanned and posted for remote viewing. Earth Class Mail pricing starts at $9.95 a month and a 30-day free trial is offered.

The other solution targets call management combines the basic functionality of a Web-based phone pad with very basic contact management. If you, or your assistant have trouble keeping track of all the incoming and outgoing calls each day, and the calls you need to make, it might be worth exploring.
The Web-based system is basically a combination phone log and memo pad. Call status is color coded for an overview at a quick glance so you know who you’ve called, who’s called you. all calls remain in the active menu until you strike them from the list and they become part of call history for that contact

Call logging is is also a feature built into more robust contact management systems, but if you want something simpler and entirely web-based the cost is $160 a year or $15 a month. There’s a 30-day free trial.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What should the MLS become?

No sooner did I post the entry about Point2Technologies's study of photos in tours, then announcement of the following paper arrived. Usually I wouldn't cover the same company in almost consecutive entries, but this merits it.

“What is the value a real estate professional brings to consumers when information about everything, including real estate, is so abundant on the Web?“

That’s a thought-provoking question Saul Klein poses, then answers, in an industry white paper he’s put together about the MLS and all he envisions it can and should be. Entitled MLS 5.O: The MLS of the Future, you can freely download the paper as a pdf or a word document here.

Klein is CEO of Point2Technologies and the Internet Crusade, and has more than 30 years experience in real estate. So, he has the credentials which lend weight to his insights and interpretation how the MLS can evolve into a more powerful and responsive resource for consumers and real estate professionals alike.

If you’re attuned to the changes technology and the Web have already brought to this industry, and wonder where it’s leading, this is a must read—if only to get you thinking and start conversations rolling.

As he explains in the introduction, “This paper is a summary of the potential that the MLS can bring to the real estate industry and to consumers and, at the same time, it can be viewed as a subtle warning if brokers and industry leaders fail to grasp the strengths MLS currently possesses and employ them in a fast changing world, when consumer alternatives are popping up at every turn.”

Take a look and start the dialog.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Some easy answers for tours

Still getting responses from July’s Realtor magazine story on video, now mostly from those with something to sell. In brief, here’s info from some recent contacts

Looking for an easy, inexpensive easy answer to your virtual tour needs? launched last month as a free site where you can create and distribute video tours. With its streamlined approach, users upload still photos to build the tours which feature pan and zoom effects to convey a sense of motion. Editing tools allow users to personalize the tours with text and background music. Distribution to sites like YouTube, Zillow and Trulia is one click away, and tours can be converted in to an ePostcard for display on your site. The services is currently in beta and, again, free. is one of many companies with turnkey tour creation services, starting at $139 for a musical slide show tour with up to 40 pictures. Its Fone Tour option, creates tours specifically for delivery to mobile devices, including smartphones.

Realty Times has put together several video solutions for use online. Branded home tours, $349, combine a home tour, interview with listing agent discussing its appeal, and a look at the latest market trends. See a sample here. Another option: branded video newsletters for distribution each month. An example can be found here.

If you’d rather develop your own approach to free tours Greg Drejza has wriiten a book "How to Create a Virtual Tour for Free" which steps you through the tour building process process. Some practical tips on what it takes for an effective tour on a budget. Available for $10.95 in black and white through the website

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

More photos, more interest

While video is gaining momentum, photos still rule as far as presentation of the property on the Web goes. And when it comes to pictures, More means More, according to survey conducted by Point2 Technologies earlier this year.

The sampling of 100,000 active listings throughout the U.S. and Canada analyzed the impact pictures had on consumer activity. Overall the study affirmed a direct correlation between the number of pictures and consumer interest. The study compared how many times each listing was viewed online; interest in the listing, as demonstrated by viewing time and related activity; and the number of leads generated by each listing.

Two key findings:

Listings with no photos generate a minute fraction—less than one percent—of the detailed views that results when a listing features more than 21 photos;

Listings with 21 or more photos generated three times the amount of detailed views, and twice the amount of interest and leads than those with just one photo.

You can read a more detailed report of the survey in the press release here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

One more tool...

Space can make waste when it comes to print. There’s not always enough room for all the points you’re trying to make when submitting an article for the printed page. An example: the video tour feature in the current issue of Realtor. It’s largely a rewrite of a longer story I submitted, and in the editing cycle some things get cut so the story fits within its assigned pages, allowing room for art, etc.. I just want to touch on two of the sidebars which didn’t make it, at least in the last rendition I saw.

First concerning, YouTube, itself. Early on in my research I encountered some confusion about the legality of posting real estate video tours to YouTube. When I contacted YouTube about about using their service to host property tours I got a vague response which said, essentially, go ahead. So there, you can YouTube.

The other topic concerned the whole issue of what really constitutes a real estate video. In my estimation, video requires motion footage which allows the viewer to move through a space. It delivers a better sense of the space and flow from room to room than you can from a series of still pictures. Others contend, however, the video label also applies to a souped up slide show, complete with soundtrack and narration. In these “videos,” the so called “Ken Burns effect” of picture pan and zoom is often used to give some sense of motion. But you’re still really looking at stills.

However you define video, I don’t think you can overstate its growing importance for showcasing property. You’ve got to be able to talk it up as one more thing you can do to market that listing. We’re still in its early stages of adoption but I think it’s the next standard for home tours, one more tool you’ll want to be able to offer, especially for those high end properties which demand special treatment.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gaining ground?

Been working on the buyers guide to computer systems for Realtor online. It’s a story we do every year or so. As part of that we post a query asking readers to let us know what systems they’re using. Nothing scientific about it, just random responses from real estate pros who care enough about the computer they use they want to tell the world about it.

This year there’s been a disproportionate number of responses from Realtors who want t talk about the Mac. Roughly half of the two dozen or so responses have been from Mac users. Even on the PC side I’m hearing from people who either wish they had a Mac or are considering one for their next system.

In years past, there might have been one, maybe two Mac users in a group this large. Clearly something is happening: either Mac users in real estate are now more enthusiastic about their system and eager to talk about it; or in fact their numbers are growing, evident in the number who bought a Mac since the shift to Intel chips.

In fact, several respondents cite the ability to run WIndows on a Mac(if and when they need it) as a compelling reason they’ve gone Mac. With that, they welcome the quality of graphics and marketing material which can be easily produced one the Mac side. Nearly all cited ease of use, stability of the OS and perceived immunity from most forms of malware as compelling advantages.

From all this I sense there’s some momentum there, and the Mac is gaining ground among real estate users. The big question remains, though, will Apple do anything to capitalize on the opportunities developing here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Worth a Look...

One of my original goals for this blog was to use it to shine light on lesser known companies, and easily missed solutions, tools and ideas which might benefit real estate professionals

Because of the work I do for Realtor, I get email from start-ups and entrepreneurs with a new product or service they want to promote. Sometimes they’re just looking foran unbiased opinion or suggestions. I hold onto these with best intentions to write them up. But. it’s not always easy to find the time to give them their due and point readers in their direction. With this entry I hope to rectify that by highlighting just a few

Some innovative solutions are developed by Realtors themselves, although it can be a while before their great ideas reach the mainstream. When a real estate pro can harness technology to address a particular challenge, or provide a better model for disseminating information, there’s more potential value than when someone outside the industry proposes a better way of doing things, without really understanding the nature of your job and challenges you face..

So support these fellow Realtors and take a look at hat they’ve been doing

Last week I got an email from Frank Borges LLossa, broker owner with Frankly Real Estate, Alexandria, VA. He’s pioneered what he describes as “the World's First WIKI MLS.” Follow the link, he explains it better than I can here. The idea of a “wiki”— a deepening well of user-driven information on the topic, in this case listings— offers one more example how you can tap the reach, access and immediacy of the Internet to disseminate and share timely information and insight. His wiki won’t be the last.

In the Chicago area, Doug O’Reilly took it on himself to devise a mobile solution for retrieving listing information via smartphone. mEstate takes a feed from the MLSNI and delivers it, with photos, to most smartphones, including Blackberries, Treos and iPhones. Enter mEstate’s URL on a Web-powered phone and you can search the database by address, price range or MLS . WIthin seconds you’ve got the essentials, including contact info for the listing agent. This is a labor of love: O’Reilly developed and delivers the service for free. What a welcome precedent to set!

Out West, Philip Farrar brought a background in accounting, finance and computer systems to his real estate career with Windermere Real Estate Capitol Hill, Seattle. When he started keeping the books for himself and his wife, also a Realtor, he was surprised there wasn’t an easy answer to financial management for real estate agents.
So, Farrar partnered with a programmer to develop Wallaby as a Web-based solution. He designed Wallaby so agents can adapt it to how they run their business and manage finances. He’s got 100 subscribers so far, primarily in Washington state, and is putting the final touches on version 2.0.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

How Do You Make Your Case?

Before you can get that buyer or seller to sign a contract, you’ve got to make your case. It might be on paper, viewed on your notebook or the TV, maybe something you distribute via email or on disc, but there’s some sort of presentation involved.

I’m working on a guide to presentation solutions for Realtor Online’s May issue and I’d like to get some input on what works and why. Is a printed CMA on paper, pulled from your MLS, all it takes? Are you using PowerPoint to convince that buyer or seller you should represent them? Have you experimented with presentation software? What about video—is it worth the time and expense, on or offline?

If you’ve got experience, observations or insight you’d like to share, please email me.

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Transaction Management

March’s buying guide in Realtor Online takes a look at transaction management solutions. With space limitations we can’t include every company, but I try to identify the major providers in these guides. Spend a lot of time searching the Web, soliciting input from brokers and agents, asking contacts about their products and competitors. No matter, there’s almost always some left out or overlooked.

I’m hoping to use this space to supplement or expand on the coverage there. Coming out of this story, the most important thing I heard from vendors and successful users of transaction management systems: assign someone with primary responsibility for managing that system, entering listing data, contracts and forms, contact info, etc

Some are selling the systems, and some are buying into the concept, with the idea that a Web-based transaction system is going to make life easier for the agent, centralize all their records with a system for tracking progress toward closing.

What I heard, though, is the transition can be counterproductive if you force them to learn and adopt new habits.
Relieve them of that responsibility by assigning it to or hiring a listing coordinator or transaction manager,(however you describe that position) and everyone benefits. Agents can focus more time on clients, assured everything is taken care and nothing will be missed. Clients and their representatives can monitor the progress and see what needs to be done.

And the system which improves efficiency while allowing agents to spend more time with buyers and sellers gives the broker a potent tool for recruiting.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Microsoft's Easy Answer To Basic Web Presence

“It doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to really start taking advantage of marketing yourself online today.”

So says Michael Schultz, U.S. business and marketing lead for Microsoft’s Office Live Solutions for small business. To back that claim, he points to the revamped version of Microsoft Office Live Small Business announced last week. It provides the tools, strategy and and advice to take the pain out of creating maintaining a web presence, and marketing services online.

Real estate is one profession Microsoft is targeting with this program, offering agents an easy path to step out from under the umbrella of their broker’s website. “Think about who the broker is really trying to promote with a company website,” reasons Schultz. “Realtors today must have their own sites for branding themselves and their listings.“

Creating even a simple site can entail costly reliance on outside vendors, or hog the time of those who opt to design, manage and market their site themselves. Microsoft’s alternative won’t break the bank as it guides you to an easily customized website. There’s a choice of design themes for different professions, including real estate, with color schemes and design elements that can be modified with the click of a mouse.

The cost? Basic service is free, and includes a domain name, hosting, site design and editing tools,Web-based contact and document management, email addresses, site tracking and analysis. After the first year, domain name registration costs $14.95.

An email marketing module, free while in beta, will allow users to plan, launch and monitor the results of drip marketing campaigns. Another fee-based option, AdManager, handles pay-per-click advertising on search engines, based on a specified budget.

“We’ve tried to integrate all the services that put the power of the web in the hands of individuals, so they can focus their time on what they do best,” says Schultz.

Some may want something more ambitious in a website. But for the real estate agent who recognizes the need for web presence, but has postponed that move, this is an easy answer.

Even those with an established site might do well to check out what Microsoft has put together: included are several lucid articles explaining the elements of effective web design, site monitoring and how to use tracking reports to fine tune your efforts online.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Any Directions on Mapping?

A regular part of the work I do for NAR’s Realtor publications involves putting together buying guides to some of the latest tools and technology. In years past, these articles ran in most issues of the print version of Realtor, but now are being published exclusively in Realtor online.

April’s story will focus on the latest mapping tools and services, and the many ways real estate professionals are now using them to save time, boost productivity and provide better service. It starts with something as basic as including a map of an area online, and a link so visitors can click for directions as part of listing information. Then, there’s the GPS navigation systems, in car or on cellphone, making it easier to get around. Finally, there’s use of map mash-ups, ever more popular, as tool for visually conveying the appeal of a listing and surrounding area while demonstrating your local expertise.

If any or all of these have helped you, or if you’ve made some other innovative use of mapping, I’d love to hear about it as I research this story. Just email me. I can’t interview everyone who writes, but the information and insights received helps me put together a more responsive guide to how the latest technology is benefitting real estate professionals.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Liquidus Launches VoD Solutions For Ads On Cable and The Web

Want to promote listings with a little more jazz than the classified section of your local paper? Then take a look at what’s available from Liquidus, Chicago-based specialists in on-demand marketing technologies.

The company has built a Video On Demand (VoD) solution for creating then distributing video commercials to the classified advertising channels available to cable TV subscribers, in the markets of your choice. A companion service, VideoLink, lets visitors to a website view video ads by clicking a featured link.

“Ten percent of all digital subscribers visit these classified channels each month, and real estate is one of the most popular categories,” says Kirk Davis, Liquidus co-founder and executive vice president.

With the Web-based SpotSense interface, users can upload listing data and up to 12 photos. The company converts them into a 30-second spot, with synthesized voice-over narration. To view the ads on TV, cable subscribes visit their provider’s classified channel, and navigate to real estate listings by price, area, etc. As on the Web, the commercials can be viewed any time, any day of the week.

Subscribers can stipulate where the ads run, and Davis estimates the average cost will be about $25 per week per market. He says pricing will be set by cable providers, and initially they will be bundling ads in volume buys. So, minimum order requirements will determine whether it’s an affordable option for the brokerage, or individual agent. Davis estimates the VideoLink service, for Web distribution, will cost an additional $10 per ad.

The value of Web advertising and its universal reach, in any format, is well proven. The video on demand classified, over cable, is still a new concept to many consumers so its potential for attracting buyers is hard to gauge. But as a tool to show sellers you’ll cover all the bases to promote their property, it’s the kind of marketing innovation which could help determine who gets the listing in highly populated markets.

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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

More Wide Angle Camera Choices For Real Estate Photography

Realtors have been big users of the digital camera since filmless photography first appeared. But, camera manufacturers were relatively slow to address their particular need for cameras with a wide angle lens. That’s what it takes(here defined as a lens equivalent to a 28mm lens or less on a film camera) to fit an entire home or room in one good photo.

Fortunately that’s changed over the last two years, as wide-angle capability has become a selling point of more cameras. At last week’s PMA show, the big event for the imaging industry, several manufacturers added wide angle models to their lines,.

Options: a digital SLR, which can always be equipped with a wide angle accessory lens; or a compact camera with a built-in lens. Digital SLRs are for serious shooters who want creative control and all the options. Most Realtors will be well served with an easy-to-use and less expensive point and shoot compact, so I’ll focus on those here.

I’ve been covering digital imaging since its inception and can confidently say all major manufacturers make good, reliable products. If you’ve got a preferred brand, start your search there. The key is to find the camera with the right combination of features for you. Any digicam with an image sensor of 5 megapixels or better will be adequate for your needs. Other primary points of comparison include the optical zoom of the lens, the size of the LCD screen, ease which you can move pictures and movies to the computer and Web, and comfort with the camera and controls.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of the latest wide angle cameras, linked to where you can learn more. Note,: all are not in stores yet. If you find one you like you may have to wait a few weeks before you can buy. Prices quoted are manufacturer’s suggested retail prices.

New wide-angle cameras:

Sony’s DSC-W170( ) 10MP, 5X optical zoom 28to 140mm optical zoom lens, 2.7-inch LCD nd 15MB internal memory, $299.

Nikon CoolPix s600, 10MP 4X 28-112mm zoom lens, 2.7-inch LCD, $300

Casio’s Exilim EXZ100 thin camera 10MP, 4x 28-112mm optical zoom lens, 2.7-inch LCD, $279. The step-up EX-Z200 adds image stabilization for $20 more .

Three from Fuji: F100fd, 12MP, 5X 28-140mm lens, $380; Finepix S8100fd,10MP, 18X optical zoom 27-486mm lens, 2.5-inch LCD. $400; and the SLR-styled S100FS with 14X 28-400mm zoom lens, 2,5-inch LCD, $800.

Three from Olympus: Olympus SP-570 UZ, 10MP, 20X 26-520mm optical zoom lens and 2.7-inch LCD. $500. FE-350, 8MP with 5X 28 to 112mm zoom lens and 3-inch LCD. $250. Stylus 1030 SW. 10MP, 3.6 28mm-102mm optical zoom lens, 2.7 inch LCD, $399.

Three from Panasonic: Lumix DMC TZ-4, 8.1 MP with 10X 28-280mm optical zoom lens and 2.5-inch LCD display, $250. The step-up Lumix DMC-TZ5 with the same lens but a 9MP sensor and 3-inch LCD, $349. Lumix DMC-FX35 with 10 MP sensor, 2.5-inch LCD and 4x 25-100mm zoom, $350


Friday, January 25, 2008

Social networking?

Been researching varied aspects of social networking as tools for real estate lately, and to be honest I come away not fully convinced about the value of a lot of it. I mean, I understand the worth of the Web to promote listings, demonstrate market expertise to buyers and sellers, and using a blog to reenforce that with fresh content. But even that can be a challenge for those preoccupied with and focused on selling property. All these great networking ideas take time to set up, promote and maintain. Much of what I’ve seen and learned seems to have its place, but I suspect it’s value and appeal is limited. I mean, if you have the time, then there must not be much going on.

Then I read articles like the one in RISmedia about HouseValues $2.5million investment in ActiveRain and everyone quoted effusing about the glowing prospects for social networking in real estate and I have to wonder, maybe I’ve missed something.

But I’ve been reporting long enough to know there can be a real disconnect between what’s said or assumed at podiums and in boardrooms, and the reality of the streets. So I’ll defer to those who know and use these tools.

If you’ve gone to the trouble of finding this blog, you’ve got a real interest in real estate technology. I’ll pose my questions to you: Without giving away any secrets, how does social networking fit into your marketing plans? Has it had any quantifiable impact on expanding your client base? If so, what does it take? Do you see social networking as a key to the future you must embrace, or more of a distraction for those racing to keep pace with technology?

Friday, January 18, 2008

What’s in The Air?

Apple’s new Air isn’t likely to convert a lot of Realtors to OS X—unless its “cool factor” complements the innovator image that’s part of your marketing persona. It’s lack of an optical drive and the enclosed( and unchangeable) battery are innovations most will balk at. So if you’re a typical user, and considering a Mac, you’ll probably be better served with a desktop iMac, or MacBook or MacBook Pro notebook.

The primary appeal of any of these Intel-based Macs remains the intuitive ease-of-use of Mac applications, and fact you can install and run Windows Vista and XP and related real estate applications. Understand too, though, that’s going to require purchase of Windows, on top of the cost of the Mac.

For most real estate professionals, the pricey Air holds more interest as a product concept than as practical solution to your mobile needs. There’s other choices in ultra-portables, the Air boasts the largest screen and a full-sized keyboard. The traditional notebook form factor is being pushed to its limits. There’s as much “ooh” to the Air as “Ah, what’s next?”

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Some thoughts on CES

The big event in Consumer Electronics is the annual CES show held in Las Vegas each January. I’ve been covering its announcements, innovations and introductions for years. Although the solutions there are rarely specific to real estate, for the last few years I’ve featured some in Tech Watch, the column I do for Realtor magazine online.

There’s so much going on at CES it’s hard to figure out what to include. This year, in the February column I decided to highlight some of the latest mobile solutions. CES showcases everything electronic for the home, office and desktop, but it’s the ongoing evolution in mobile electronics which will impact how Realtors work and use their time.

The show is always a good indicator of where things are heading, so there’s a couple of trends I’d like to briefly touch on here. First there’s the real advances in memory, especially flash memory. We’re reaching a point where you can cram hundreds of gigabytes of data on a hard drive barely two inches. But the advances in solid state flash memory which are of greater long term importance. WIth no moving parts, flash memory requires less juice thereby improving battery power, while allowing room for more features in more compact devices.

Next up is video. The latest camcorders and digital cameras make it extremely easy to post videos online. Even some inexpensive models can upload clips directly to websites like YouTube. While that may not be the ideal place to feature a listing, the fact is these cameras capture and properly format video for the Web. You can get a video tour online in minutes, or you can spend a little time editing clips into something a little more professional. Either way, putting together a video tour is not as challenging as it was

Last, there’s the ongoing march to convergence products. Talked about for years, there’s one device for all your needs for in your future. Whether you make it a smartphone, computer or something in between, it will be your choice. Limitations imposed now by screen size and data entry will all fall away. Whatever you want, you can have it in a product which also does much more.

That’s something to always keep in mind with technology. You don’t need everything it offers, or all the latest advances. What makes sense are those features and functions you will actually use. Today’s trends indicate you’ll just have more options in all else that one device can do.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Calling Mac Users in Real Estate

One of the most persistent requests I get is from users of Apple's Macintosh computers looking for insight or advice on how they can make their Macs work in the Windows world of real estate. They’re frustrated, but as passionate as all Mac users, aren’t about to give up on OSX.

They usually find me through searches which lead them to a couple of Tech Watch columns I did on the potential for the Mac as a real estate tool, especially since Intel based Macs can run both OS X and Windows and compatible applications.(column links: , )

As small as this group is, it really can’t be given it due in publications which must focus on the needs of the broadest spectrum of real estate professionals. Nevertheless, there’s call for some gathering place where real estate professionals can link up and share their frustrations/experiences/solutions on using the Mac. There was a blog I was referring people to last year, but that seems to be abandoned. Apple also has a page on its site for Realtors (, but I think it’s more of a promotional than practical tool.

As a Mac user myself, and based on the frequency of queries I receive, I see the need for more information online for Mac users who are also real estate agents and brokers. So I am adding this post to try and identify that solution.

If you know of a website or forum which already exists, please let me know about it. If not, do you agree there’s a need? If so, do you think it can be adequately addressed with an occasional update on Mac news for estate users as part of this blog? or what else is needed?