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"Today’s New Sales and Marketing Strategies!"

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12/3/04 Interview with James Sherry

Innovative Solutions Inc.
2720 Harbor Ct
St Augustine, FL 32084

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Major Industry Trends

  1. The consolidation of ownership of real estate enterprises is resulting in corporations much larger than in the past.
  2. Consumers are asking for higher levels of service while driving commission rates down.
  3. Internet connectivity and data availability are allowing consumers to take an earlier and more dominant role in the search for properties.
Internet Leads

  1. They are as valuable as people physically approaching an agent, but traditional agents do not understand how to create an electronic relationship; according to about 65% of all Internet leads are ignored.
  2. Cyber-savvy agents recognize that Internet consumers tend to be better-educated people who buy homes more quickly and therefore are more efficient transactions.
  3. The most effective way to gain value from an Internet lead is to respond in timely fashion-Internet consumers expect to get information back within hours, or they move on.
  4. Internet consumers are reluctant to give information about them selves until they are convinced that a relationship with you will bring value; therefore, you need to provide Internet leads with information up front, before they are qualified.
  5. The people who are successful with electronic relationships not only follow-up promptly the first time, they send things of interest regularly to start building a dialog.
National vs. Local Web Sites

  1. Consider putting your listing information online wherever a consumer could look at it; is a natural compilation of listings nationwide; NAR does a good job advertising, so people know to go there.
  2. Corporation-sponsored national sites are not as well regarded by consumers because content is limited to the company's listings; IDXtechnology, however, allows integration of listings from multiple sources.
  3. (Houston Association of REALTORS®) gets more traffic than for the Houston area, suggesting that consumers prefer a local site, which is generally richer in content about the local scene.
  4. It is difficult for an agent to build enough notoriety in a market to attract consumers who don't know them; company sites are better; regional sites are good; national sites have value as advertising.
Leads for Sale

  1. Agents tend to view cold calling as a task of last resort, so the possibility of relief from that is an attractive service to some RE professionals.
  2. Companies like LendingTree, HouseValues and HomeGain have emerged as an interface between agents and consumers; these companies put up listings, advertise to attract consumers and then sell leads back to agents.
  3. The issue for the industry is that this new intermediary, which establishes a relationship with consumers, puts agents a step away from the people they serve; the new concept is working-there were $100 million of lead sales in 2003, and the number may double in 2004.
CRM - Customer Relationship Management

  1. CRM software is finally coming to real estate after effective application in many other industries; CRM has a good future in real estate as consumers continue to drive commissions down and service levels up.
  2. Vendors have scaled down CRM applications to be used appropriately by single agents for building and sustaining client relationships through automated systems; Top Producer and My RMS are two vendors with good agent-based products.
The Impact of Email

  1. Bill Gates emphasizes in Business at the Speed of Thought how email has empowered business people to communicate instantly with large numbers of people; email provides real-time delivery without the recipient having to be present to get it.
  2. Agents who use email effectively are more efficient than those who do not and able to serve their clients better, yet many agents still do not take advantage of the broad applications of email for real estate business.
Other Essential Tools

  1. Mapping and GPS are applications growing in importance for real estate; the most sophisticated GPS systems are already easy to use; a Nextel service allows you to stand in any location, click and get satellite triangulation of the latitude-longitude.
  2. A new application is rapidly coming along that will put a GPS position one very property; the position will be referenced in listings for directions and property features.
  3. Transaction management is another significant tech field for real estate that is streamlining the transaction from contract to close-ordering inspections, coordinating and delivering documents, etc.; it is a logical extension of other automated real estate information such as client names,listings and public records.
  4. NTREIS, a large MLS in Dallas, is logically trying to do transaction management on a market-wide basis; many brokers are doing it on a broker basis for a competitive edge; Society members have TM capability on the agent level through the Society's affiliation with SettlementRoom.
  5. Data security is an issue related to transaction management that needs to be addressed more thoroughly with industry standards and products.
  6. A pressing need of real estate professionals is to consolidate the numerous tech tools that agents rely on into one device-multi-use efforts,such as lock boxes with cell phone access, are already underway; the challenge is to create a single device that is simple, cost-effective and long-lasting.
Favorite Web Resources

  1. is a comprehensive treasury of information about every kind of car.
  2. Sites such as and are valuable because they provide contextual information about homes.
  3. HowStuffWorks is another site that delivers practical information.
Looking Out Three Years

  1. Expect the continued consolidation of real estate companies, an inevitable down turn in the real estate market and commission rates under pressure from consumers; the industry will adapt with new, leaner models.
  2. Brokers will recapture control of the business from agents; agents who can deliver superior service within consumer constraints will survive-likely with strong companies that provide tools at an enterprise level.
Contact Information for James Sherry:

(v) 904-347-1300

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Innovative Solutions
Houston Association of REALTORS®