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"Visibility, Security and Progress"

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Jody Lane Photo
12/5/03 Interview with Jody Lane

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

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Realty Times' (RT) Capsule History

  1. Since inception in October 1997, the publication has created over 13,000 stories; now readership is in the neighborhood of 750,000­1 million per month.
  2. The reach of Realty Times cannot be counted accurately because so much content is distributed without linking back to the web site (e.g., through agreements with Lycos and Yahoo!).
Stability in the Industry

  1. Since 1997, the way real estate business is done has not changed in essence; agents remain in charge despite efforts to change that dynamic; a downward push on commissions that many people predicted has not occurred.
  2. The National Association of REALTORS® remains the dominant organization because it has done a good job of protecting its constituency and promoting home ownership.
  3. More than ever, the prime interest of RE professionals is how to make more money; articles with that focus generate much more attention than ones own efficiency; agents often miss the connection between the two.
RT's Market Conditions Service

  1. The public has widespread interest in how the real estate market is doing in their area, and that is information that can only be gotten from a professional in the marketplace; RT recognized two years ago that the experts' opinion" of market conditions was not available online.
  2. RT devised a way to tap professional information by getting agents to input, for a fee, what is happening in their service areas; RT makes the comments available to online consumers, who can search on the basis of locales of interest to them.
  3. RT wins by augmenting advertising revenue from the web site; agents win by gaining excellent exposure their photo and contact information appear with their posted comments; consumers win by getting valuable information.
  4. Participation for agents costs $300/year, which allows them to post comments on as many as five areas as often as they wish; the last comment posted for an area shows first in a search.
New Security System for Real Estate Professionals

  1. Agents being accosted at open houses or meeting with strangers has been occurring more frequently; RT has developed a protection strategy that works in the US and Canada using an agent's cell phone‹Mobile Callback.
  2. Agents who subscribe to the service register their cell phone numbers and emergency contacts; when going on a risky assignment, agents report their location to the system by phone, and the location is recorded; the system then calls back at intervals agents request (30-minute default).
  3. When called back, agents key in a 4-digit security code to indicate that everything is okay; if the agent does not respond, the system tries to callback twice at minute intervals; then the system relays the last known location and an alert that the agent could be in trouble to the emergency contact.
  4. With NAR endorsement, the system started being marketed on Oct. 1, 2003; the security guard industry is also beginning participation in the program‹in addition to safety, it serves as a check on whether employees have shown up.
  5. Global positioning will enhance the system, but GPS capability for mobile phones is not close‹probably 3­4 years out.
Progress of the Internet on Increasing Business

  1. Lane's prediction three years ago that the Internet and technology would impact the real estate business and motivate agents has come to pass; the Internet has become mainstream for real estate professionals.
  2. Instead of the threat to proprietary control that they once seemed, Internet tools are now recognized by agents as supports for doing a better job for consumers; when used properly, the Internet saves both agents and consumers tremendous time.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. Reliable practical sites include Google and Merriam-Webster Online (a valuable spelling/thesaurus resource).
  2. CNN is a good news resource.
  3. gives a handle on what the public is doing and what agents should be doing.
Key Observations

  1. There has been a total retreat of broad based sites such as MSN, Yahoo!and Google from trying to get into the real estate business; they recognize that they don't know the industry.
  2. is likely to become even more the standard expect that site to be making distribution deals with all the big search sites; organized real estate appears to be strengthening, and the NAR is very good for agents.
Contact Information for Jody Lane:

(v) 214-353-6980
(f) 214-368-0699

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:
Merriam-Webster Online