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"Jody Lane Interview 1997"


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12/5/97 Interview with Jody Lane

Realty Times
5949 Sherry Lane, Suite 700
Dallas, TX 75225
Biography

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Introduction to Realty Locator

  1. The site addresses the need for an independent Real Estate directory on the Web; it aims to help the user make sense of RE processes by explaining ways to search for homes or apartments and grouping similar information together under titles such as "Agent," "Title," "Lender," etc.
  2. First organized nationally, the directory contained 80,000 Realtor's Web sites; because the Internet is clearly going local, the site was revised to include local locators.
  3. Because of the appeal of the region-specific information, CBS approached Realty Locator to collaborate on providing local Real Estate information as part of their local TV news sites.
Structure of the Web Site

  1. The page opens to a compass rose arrangement that presents on the left side numerous categories of information - these categories are constant as a user moves through layers of geographic areas; the right side offers geographic areas.
  2. Each category is organized within itself in a way appropriate to that information and to particular regions; for example, "Agents and Offices" is a very local topic, so one agent's site will be referenced in as many areas as the agent serves.
  3. Some of the other major topics include Inspectors, Appraisers, Assisted Living, Homes for Sale, New Homes and Builders, Lenders, Permits, Title and Escrow, Web Services for the RE Professional.
  4. A user can start with the national compass rose or click on a geographical choice to get to that local locator (an area-specific compass).
  5. Realtors can use Realty Locator to advertise what they do; a motivation in starting the site was to solve the problem of locating agents - many sites that say they include agents do not have that information readily accessible to the average consumer.
The Lag in RE Use of the Internet

  1. Because Real Estate is booming in many areas, some high-earning Realtors are not motivated to change how they have always done things.
  2. Realtors should be approached with the concept that the Internet is an additional way to promote themselves; agents are concerned first with how to increase their business and only secondly with how to increase their efficiency.
  3. Most seminars for Realtors focus on the traditional ways of building business and are only just beginning to present using email and the Web; even new Realtors are oriented to the old ways of becoming a top agent.
  4. Mortgage brokers are also seriously behind in adjusting to the Net; people can get a loan via the Internet, so the middleman function is definitely at risk - especially for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac backed loans and loans for builder's homes.
Mistakes to Avoid on Your Realtor's Page

  1. The most common error is failure to make clear exactly what area is being served; browsers may not be familiar with your immediate location, so orient them to where you are.
  2. Frill information such as long mission statements are not pertinent to the consumer; focus clearly on what you're good at, tell why and share some accomplishments.
  3. Office pages often fail to list the agents in the office and their listings; besides attracting sales, inclusion of this information can be cited to recruit agents and listings.
Blending the Web with Other Media

  1. Newspapers treat Web sites as an offshoot to showcase headlines, sports and weather; for Real Estate, they want to link to classified ads, but people searching the Net for RE are interested in seeing graphic presentations. Realty Locator is exploring a solution with newspapers or link ads to sites.
  2. TV and the Web are natural partners; TV gives fast, hard-hitting information, and the Web site offers more extensive information; also, the Web provides an avenue for TV to constantly update their stories - video can be transported to the Web site for immediate viewing.
  3. A potential niche for a RE-related business would be to provide video service to Realtors to present their listings; within a year, efficient video viewing through Web sites should be a reality.
  4. An outstanding advantage of the Internet right now is the ability to share information quickly through email, and simultaneously by talking on the phone and viewing the same Web screen (video conferencing).
Secret to Realty Locator's Success

The site portrays everyone equally, with no bias; all the choices are given to the consumer - for example, 30-40 different ways to search for homes.

Future for Realtors

  1. The match between Realtors and the Web is perfect; the Web allows the agent to be more proficient, more automated; both listing agent and showing agent benefit by having inappropriate clients eliminated without an expenditure of professional time.
  2. The RE process is much more than having the buyer view a picture; the Realtor will retain importance in the entire transaction.
Technological Advice for RE Pros

  1. Get a Web site and include it on business stationery.
  2. Direct buyers and sellers you meet to the Web as a way to get them more information more quickly than any other way.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. Besides Realty Locator, Lane particularly values Inman.com.
  2. The premier mapping Web sites such as MapQuest are very useful; Maps On Us, especially, is doing some fantastic new things - allowing the mapping of a sequence of destinations and the automatic email delivery to someone else.
Contact Information for Jody Lane:

(v) 214-353-6980
(f) 214-368-0699
(e) jlane@realtytimes.com
(w)www.realtytimes.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Inman News
Maps On Us
MapQuest