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"New Tools for Real Estate Pros "

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Phillip McBride Photo
6/20/97 Interview with Phillip McBride

Real Estate Computer Solutions
234 Columbine Street, Suite 310
Denver, CO 80206

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Company Introduction

  1. Real Estate Computer Solutions identifies hardware and software products that are strong tools for the Real Estate industry; the company has also developed and sells its own software.
  2. In alliance with Symantec, the company has adapted Act! software for use by Realtors; utilities have been added as well as a commercial property inventory database.
  3. The resulting product Transact has an 80% market share in the RE commercial realm and a respectable market share on the residential side.
Transact for Campaign Marketing

  1. The strongest productivity tool for anyone in the Real Estate industry is a good contact manager; a primary function that such software can support is campaign marketing.
  2. Campaign marketing involves a series of follow-up efforts to a real estate contact, including phone calls, meetings, letters and other to-dos; the entire series of events is saved as a file and the sequence is automatically scheduled for each new contact; letters, may be printed on the scheduled date at the click of an icon.
  3. Transact includes 75 letters oriented for commercial and residential real estate, which can be edited for other real estate specialties such as appraising; also, new letters can be created and added to the scheduling.

  1. Some of the initial problems were user-based in that people were not familiar enough with the Windows '95 syntax; these have been resolved.
  2. Under competitive pressure, Symantec did rush Act!(3.0) to market, but the company has been releasing a new version about every three to four weeks; the product now is solid with most of the common bugs fixed.
  3. Once 3.00 is installed, click on "Help," "About," and "Live Update" to connect to the Internet automatically and download the latest version; repeat the process every few weeks to remain current.
Palmtop Computers

  1. Peckham downloads his Act! database into his HP 200 LX palmtop to take on the road to access his contacts and scheduling.
  2. Hewlett-Packard has a new Windows CE version, models 300 and 320 - the 320 model screen is back-lit; Microsoft's Windows CE product is a version of Windows '95 for palmtops.
  3. The HP 320 weighs no more than the 200 LX (11-16 ounces); it can send and receive email and faxes, and be set up to be wireless; price of the new palmtop including the Act! software runs around $900.
A Home Run Product

  1. The compact, desktop scanner Visioneer PaperPort is designed to take paper off your desk and put it into your computer; the product doubles as a personal fax machine; released in 1996 for Windows, Visioneer PaperPort is now available in a color model priced around $300.
  2. A page can be scanned in about six seconds and in thirty seconds, it is converted to an editable Microsoft Word or WordPerfect document; the extra disk space required to store color images is not generally a problem since the cost of hard drives has dropped.
  3. PaperPort software, available at less than $100, is now eligible to work with any scanner.
  4. PaperPort saves images in a proprietary format, but the software allows the conversion of images to most other formats; a format can be given to anyone to allow them to receive images from PaperPort.
Hard Drive Expansion

  1. A 3.8 GB drive that can store a significant number of color images costs only about $300.
  2. Hard drive manufacturers have made expansion as easy as possible; a computer store can replace your hard drive and transfer your software and files for as little as $100, but doing the installation yourself is reasonable to consider.
  3. Most desktop machines can accommodate more than one hard drive, so that a new drive can just be added and partitioned; notebooks are a little more difficult, but restoration should be easy if you do a complete backup, including hidden files.
Digital Cameras

  1. Using a conversion device such as Snappy (at about $200) is a cost-effective way to upgrade a standard camcorder's image to better than 1000 X 800 pixels.
  2. If purchasing a new, electronic camera, consider the award-winning Olympus (just under $1000), but Kodak and Polaroid also have good, new products; the Polaroid has the added advantage of recording sound - useful for photo annotation; recording sound is the new direction.
  3. Printing digital images can be confusing - a higher number of dots/inch does not result in better quality color images; good color printers to use include the HP 800 Series and Epson's Stylus Series (priced in the $400-$500 range).
  4. The printed image of a camera shot does not automatically come out perfect; often, considerable manipulation (45-60 minutes) is required.
Using a Dedicated Forum

  1. The CompuServe Real Estate Forum has about 15,000 registered users; if you have access to CompuServe, put in property requests and listings and expect results.
  2. CompuServe's Real Estate Forum is no different than a dedicated forum on the Internet; most commercial groups such as CCIM and SIOR and many residential groups join either CompuServe or America Online.
  3. Use the forums and the Web in general to get information, to communicate with other professionals and to market properties.
Making the Most of the Web

  1. Brokers and agents should remember that 15%-25% of the marketplace prefers to get information through Internet vehicles.
  2. The way to make money is to get an email address, get hooked up to the Web and browse it, and make information available - the most successful broker sites offer demographic information about the marketplace as well as specific property information.
  3. Using the Internet effectively requires some interest/curiosity about the technology and an identified need for information - once you request a search, you will get responses that can lead you elsewhere.
Recommended Web Sites

  1. David Burch's Cognetics has comprehensive information about tenants; for business information, all the business journals (Business Week; Wall Street Journal) are worth visiting.
  2. Sites for fun include the Dilbert Zone (most frequently viewed individual site) and Earth Cams (e.g., the one on the Russian/Finnish border).
  3. Good residential sites to use as models are the Ellis Realty Group and Bob Taylor Realty, both from California.
Best Advice

  1. The key to using technology for making money is to harness contact management tools.
  2. Be able to fax from your computer for marketing and to streamline all paperwork; WinFax Pro works directly with Act! and Transact.
  3. Take advantage of office suites for word processing, spreadsheets and presentation tools; use hardware such as scanners and color printers.
  4. Recognize the power of direct marketing by fax or by mail.
Contact Information for Phillip McBride:

(v) 303 321-3341
(f) 303 321-2219

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

David Burch's Cognetics
The Dilbert Zone
Earth Cams
Ellis Realty Group
Bob Taylor Realty