The new year is here, and brokers are already buzzing about new Web sites, widgets and other technological doodads that they expect to use in 2007.
Carolynn Ozar-Diakon, broker-owner of Resources Real Estate in Rumson, N.J., said she plans to explore the use of a “virtual kiosk” module for her real estate office this year.
Simon L. Conway, broker for Picket Fence Realty in Kissimmee, Fla., said he will be investing in online mapping technology and a Web site redesign. And Matthew Borland, a broker and managing partner with Zephyr Real Estate in San Francisco, said he expects tablet PCs, wireless broadband and transaction management platforms will be in vogue with the real estate industry this year.
Borland said that Zephyr is also developing a suite of online marketing tools to help its agents create newsletters and property slideshows, and is offering training on online technologies that deliver customized and focused information feeds relevant to their work.
Also, the company will offer training on “widgets,” which are micro-applications that agents can incorporate into Web sites to accomplish specific tasks. Widgets can include online calculators or location-specific weather reports and news, for example.
The emergence of faster wireless Internet access will assist agents with work in the field, Borland said. “As time goes on there is more and more of a demand from our agents to having universal access to our data. We’re seeing that becoming more and more prevalent,” he said. Wireless broadband Internet access, he said, “is going to revolutionize the workflow for a lot of agents.”
While Zephyr already is partnering to place its property listings information on other sites — including Google’s Google Base classified listings site and Trulia, a real estate-specific search site — Borland said the company is so far undecided on whether to also post for-sale listings information on the Zillow.com site.
Conway, of Kissimmee, Fla., said he is pleased with the ranking that his real estate Web site receives through natural searches at Google.com, though he is planning to enhance his Web site this year with mapping tools that will allow clients to view properties as points on an interactive map.
As the real estate market has slowed, Conway also said he expects struggling agents to pay third-party companies in search of new business leads. “I think inexperienced agents will flock to lead-generation companies. That’s exactly what’s going to happen,” he said. “Any idiot can work a burning market. When you’ve got a normal market they can’t (succeed).”
Conway said he has worked to provide useful content on his site that attracts Web users, adding that the key to successful Web sites is “content, content, content.”
A. Mark Argentino, broker for RE/MAX Realty Specialists Inc. in Mississauga, Canada, said he plans to buy a portable computer memory device this year so that he can tote files between home and office, and he also plans to buy a larger computer monitor “because I’m getting older,” he joked. Argentino said he plans to pursue reciprocal link technology to help build Web link exchanges with other sites — reciprocal Web links can help improve Web site traffic and boost search-engine rankings.
Ozar-Diakon, meanwhile, said she is also seeking to invest in technologies to increase online Web traffic at her sites and for cross-promoting her company on other Web sites.
The real estate industry, said Conway, “is frankly about Web presence — and anybody who hasn’t figured that out is probably not going to have a business in the next couple of years.”