Gia & Grant Freer, real estate brokers in Florida sought out to create a site that they believed would become the premiere
one-stop shop for home buyers, sellers and agents alike. Their RealSeekr.com project has been intriguing to me because it’s founded by agents instead of a media company!
After sitting back and reading blogs for a year and a half (I promise, the Freers probably know who you are already), they created a site that they felt would answer to some of the problems incurred by other search sites. RealSeekr.com was born to centralize listings information and fill in the biggest gap in national search sites which is the socializing aspect that gives real estate professionals the advantage of real time social opportunities. So far, they’ve partnered with individual brokerages who provide their local board’s IDX feed in over 20 states with already more than 1.6 million listings.
How Do I Get Started?
RealSeekr.com offers free memberships that allow users to join and interact immediately or a premium membership for $249 (per year) allowing agents to have “unlimited enhancements,” classified ads and free SMS Text Messaging (all of which we’ll get to in a sec). Home buyers can sign up and create a profile for free and can immediately begin chatting with agents.
What’s This “Real Time” Stuff?
By real time, I mean that on your profile, users can see your last 10 Twitter messages (if you choose to allow it), can contact you on Skype, or send you a SMS Text Message to your cell. What’s extremely interesting to me is that with each individual listing, users can push the “share this” button to use social bookmarking, sending the listing to all sorts of sites (Facebook, digg, del.ic.ious, etc) or create a link to be posted anywhere (Twitter, WordPress, Blogger) or simply emailed the old fashioned way.
What DO I Like?
- First and foremost, I like that as they are growing, they are very quick to respond to feedback and work out any bugs that users find. In fact, they welcome all user input.
- Because listings are fed from the local MLS, you don’t have to start from scratch to showcase your listing, just go claim your existing listings and enhance them. Nice.
- RealSeekr.com has a Q&A community that doesn’t have a points system, doesn’t feature who answers the most frequently or who has the most awesomest answers ever. I think this Q&A environment has the best chance of survival as far as real estate forums go because it rewards agents by connecting them with consumers. Period.
- I enjoy that members can upload unlimited photos, video and audio to their listings and the listings have Google Street View already incorporated.
- I absolutely LOVE that the enhanced listings show up first but are not separated, making it less invasive for home seekers who are programmed to skip over the separated listings as junk ads (think of a google search, you ignore the sponsored ads and check out your search results first).
- There are a LOT of customization options: you can select your (3) professional specialties, the languages you speak, upload a photo of you AND your brokerage logo and whether you’re an agent, broker, home buyer or “real estate professional” (which is a category I tell myself they created for me, the non-licensed person involved in helping run a brokerage).
- Each enhanced listing offers an option to enter a TON of keywords which helps Googlers find your listing.
- Premium accounts come with five geocoded ads (meaning someone searching in Austin will see the featured Austin agent). I’m hoping they’ll branch out and put these geocoded ads on affiliate sites to increase exposure.
What Do I Have MIXED FEELINGS About?
- I’m on the fence about the sponsored agent links that come with the premium account because although they show up on many of the pages, they don’t seem to be geocoded, so Benn’s link sits next to a Realtor in Bristol, CT. That’s great for people who are shopping for “a home, somewhere in the US” but not so cool for the local consumer. This may be because of the site’s in beta and no one is on it yet, but if it is not geocoded I hope they’ll reconfigure that.
What DON’T I Like?
- My biggest beef is the photo uploading process- this one at a time thing isn’t going to cut it… I have 70 shots I want to upload and I have the patience of a toddler, so I beg RealSeekr.com to upgrade the photo uploading system.
- I’m not sure if it’s because it’s slow to update, but even after uploading a picture to a claimed listing, it still says “no image available.”
- When enhancing your listing, what typically would be a “save” button at the bottom of the page says “enhance property” which confused me since I’m programmed to find the “save” button. It’s just a personal preference, but I would rename it to “save enhancements” for those of us who are formerly blonde.
- The site currently allows home sellers that are doing their own FSBO (for sale by owner) listing to upload for free. I’m not sure how this is going to work overall.
- Lease listings are not on the site but I haven’t asked if they are a part of RealSeekr.com’s next phase. I’d love to have our lease properties up there and that segment of the home seeking community is left out. In this mortgage environment, some choose to lease instead of buy, so if it’s not a part of the master plan, RealSeekr may miss a big opportunity there.
RealSeekr.com, founded by agents who are stepping out on a limb with their project looks to be a very promising site that centralizes so many of the traditional as well as newly formed social networking tools in one place to excite buyers as they connect with tech savvy agents. RealSeekr.com feeds the desperate desire for instant gratification that consumers AND agents have. With much of the country covered so far, they have an awesome platform to grow from and their enhanced listings and geocoded ads are a feature I’m personally enthusiastic about, as I am about their no-points Q&A section. There are some tweaks RealSeekr will be making over the coming months and they welcome ALL input! We highly anticipate watching the newly hatched RealSeekr.com blossom. Keep up the great work, Gia & Grant!
Avoid Blah-Blah Conversation With This Voicemail Cloaking Device
Please Dear Lord, Don’t Let Them Pick Up, So I Can Leave A Voice Mail and Make A Quick Get Away.
You know those times when you have to return a phone call, share an update, remind someone about something? And those times where there’s no getting around it, you have to make the call and deliver your message, but you’re short on time, patience, courage, or ___________?
Guess What? I Have Good News For You.
SlyDial allows you to make a call from your cell phone to their cell phone, but their cell phone won’t ring. Instead of their phone ringing, SlyDial lets you dial directly into their voice mail, and leave a message. Yeah, that’s right, call directly into their voice mail, and their phone doesn’t ring. Check it out, it probably works on your smart phone.
You can get more details and info here. The App. is free and straight forward. It looks like the picture below when it’s launched on the iPhone4.
Thanks for reading. Cheers.
PS. fyi, I don’t work for, nor am I in any way associated with, employed by, or even know anyone at SlyDial. In other words, there’s nothing in for me by saying nice things about SlyDial, except the pleasure of telling you about a tool you might find handy.
New Realtor.com iPhone App
Realtor.com launched their new iPhone application and gave a few of us the chance to play with it and tear it to pieces before the launch (maybe they didn’t quite put it that way, but it’s the way I’m approaching it).
When I first open these new apps, I always think of the intent and this one is pretty obvious. The Realtor.com iphone app iss totally and completely designed with the end consumer in mind (sorry Realtors if you thought it could be about you). It’s about providing the latest property information in the quickest, easiest and most user friendly fashion possible.
When you open the app, a home screen gives you several options, including searching for nearby homes for sale, nearby open houses or perform a new search by location or MLS ID. You can allow for the app to use your current location and it actually gives you nearby listings currently for sale (also giving you the option to narrow down your criteria). This can be really cool if you are driving in a neighborhood and just want to get property information without having to even get out of the car or make a phone call. (Bad for agents that rely on the client to actually make that call to capture their business).
You can view a map option or a list option of properties and are able to actually click on any given one and get detailed information, not only on the property, but also the listing agent and the brokerage (very similar to what you see on Realtor.com). You can scroll through photos of the listing and turn the phone to get bigger photos and you can save the property and include notes to go with it.
What’s even more fascinating is the option to contact the listing agent on the spot. You can call them by clicking on their telephone number, you can email them, visit their site and add them to your contacts. (I know I’m an over achiever, but wouldn’t it be cool if you could tweet or facebook them as well?).
My favorite feature is the “drive around and use your location” to find listings – but you can also enter an address for a particular listing and/or its surrounding competitors and even enter the MLS number.
Great move on Realtor.com to empower the consumer. Personally, an educated consumer is the best one in my book, but here’s the beef many will have…You can now say “Buh Bye” to Buyers’ Agents, with this app, listing agents will have the upper hand – this will give quick and easy information to the local consumer (not the end for those buyers agents that work with absentee and relocating clients).
I can now see me getting bombarded by calls from people who “forget” to tell me they are working with another agent and just wanted quick info. I can also see my clients calling other agents just because their information was handy. We’ll just have to see how this extra communication tool will evolve….it could be detrimental for many.
The question of who does Realtor.com work for will inevitably come up. Many will criticize this as a tool of disintermediation, but if we are smart, we will not only know how to use this information in our favor, but we will welcome it with open arms. I do wonder if it could be possible to personalize this particular iphone app for a fee so that Realtors can offer it to their clients (of course I would try to come up with a win-win for everyone).
For now it’s time for everyone to make sure their contact information is correct on their listings, and especially Realtor.com. Listing agents will have the ability to answer inquiries on the spot, staying above the competition with customer service always at the top of the priority list.
And for the record, I’m not associated with Realtor.com, so feel free to kill it if you have the itch.
Desktop Analytics – Polaris
I’m a big fan of keeping a pulse on the health of my blogs and sites. Polaris has released a desktop application that allows you to keep track of your Google Analytics, on your desktop.
The free version only allows monitoring from one account, while the $15/year version will allow multiple accounts.
The system features are very easy to setup and it works on the AIR installation system, which most of us already have with the Twitter apps. It was quick to download and install.
Polaris shows total visits, pageviews, activities by date, visits statistics and tons more. Essentially anything that you would benefit from in Google Analytics, but on the desktop.
The current product is cool, but the company is also advertising some interesting upcoming products.
Dopac is our flagship web analytics solution that brings Google Analytics to your desktop with a host of new features and possibilities. Based on the success and experience of our previously released beta product, the “Google Analytics Reporting Suite”, Dopac takes the original experience to the next level and brings a lot of new concepts to the table.
Rayet is our strange kid on the block. It’s experimental, funky and fun!
With Rayet we are aiming to make web analytics reporting smarter. Instead of generating a lot of good looking graphs and charts Rayet will cut to the chase and analyze your data for you. Rayet will give you suggestions on how to improve your website experience based on the analytical data available. By comparing different time samples it will tell what works and what doesn’t. Being in very early development there’s currently no release date planned yet.
- Phobia is made for one single purpose; impress your boss, client or anyone else you need to suck up to. It gives you data ownership by allowing you to export or synchronize your data in any given format. Anything from smart looking spreadsheets, pretty PDF’s or entertaining presentations is entirely possible! More info on features and release will be up here soon.
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