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"Coping with Rapid Technology Change"

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Richard Mendenhall Photo
8/3/01 Interview with Richard Mendenhall

National Association of REALTORS®
430 N. Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611

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The Consumer and Technology

  1. In four years, consumers who look at the Internet before contacting a REALTOR® have jumped from 2% to 60%, but high-touch remains important after looking at the Net, 85% of consumers contact a REALTOR®.
  2. AOL (with a 40%-50% market share of Internet users) is not compatible with Microsoft sites and the ability to transmit documents, but most REALTORS® use a Microsoft platform; the industry must resolve this dilemma in the ability to interact with consumers.
  3. Having an AOL account makes sense for communicating with AOL users, but real estate pros should augment it at least with an ISP connection.
  4. Using a service such as WhaleMail to transmit large files is promising, but its procedures may be too confusing for some AOL users.
The Fastest Growing Tech Sector

  1. Wireless is having the biggest impact on doing business, but many other countries, including China and Japan, are ahead of the US in using wireless technology.
  2. In Beijing, former Dreamworks employees have developed a way of compression compatible with low speed band width; the resulting programs generate virtual creations of buildings in high graphics on 28/8 that can be received on a PalmPilot or wireless telephone.
Coping with Rapid Technology Change

  1. The key is training; there is a need for good classes that are tech-centered the Society deserves credit as an education leader.
  2. From the level of the NAR, Mendenhall sees the need for much more training on three levels: BASIC (use of email), MID-LEVEL (use of web sites) and ADVANCED (email management, advanced use of the Web, prospecting).
  3. REALTORS® across the national association can increase their business by learning more about email.
Progress on NAR's e-PRO Program

  1. The original company selected by NAR to do e-PRO went bankrupt; the early takers of the course finished and received certification, but some people were caught in the middle of the course.
  2. NAR recently finished court proceedings allowing them to change providers and resume the mission of making e-PRO available; plans include developing an advanced e-PRO program and other kinds of education.
  3. More is needed essentially the support for mass training at the local board level.
  4. The Society's RECS designation course through RealtyU provides grassroots training; the interaction between the Society and NAR on training is positive.
Lead Predictability

  1. One of the strategies used by professionals in the technology forefront to increase their business is to collect as many email addresses as possible and use them as a prospecting tool.
  2. Complaints from REALTORS® about not getting sufficient leads from, HomeAdvisor or Homeseekers are sometimes a reflection of insufficient response from the REALTOR® in following up possibilities.
  3. The pros who are most successful with Internet leads are the Society members and REALTORS® with designations who are always trying new things; for example, some are masters at search engine positioning.
  4. One company has a $20 million plan in progress that predicts the likelihood, with 60%­75% reliability, of particular homeowners moving within a year; a Canadian entrepreneur claims to do the same kind of predictions with 80% reliability.
  5. That kind of information is invaluable to REALTORS® who want to do target marketing.
Real Estate-Technology Dilemma

  1. Brokers/agents want to drive traffic to their own sites for listings, but the same listings appear on regional and national sites.
  2. Information ownership and reciprocity are real difficulties still in the problem-solving stage; three models entirely different from are represented by Minneapolis, Houston and Seattle, where brokers share all their data on each broker's web site there are no regional sites.
  3. Although statistics show that in Seattle 92% of the hits go directly to broker sites, the 8% that come in from the national site still make having a presence on, HomeSeeker and HomeAdvisor worthwhile.
Commercial Issues

  1. In the next three to five years, due to Web influence, a lot of sharing of Commercial information will develop that parallels Residential MLSs; Mendenhall describes the Commercial evolution as Multiple Information Systems.
  2. NAR has created the REALTORS® Commercial Alliance, to which the top 14 Commercial companies in the US belong, for the purpose of working out cooperative solutions to the information sharing issue. NAR Technology-Connectivity Initiative Mendenhall hopes to establish by November 2001, a Center for REALTOR® Technology an expert, unbiased team to advise the NAR on tech-related issues.
Contact Information for Richard Mendenhall:

(v) 312-329-3411
(f) 312-329-5962

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Microsoft's HomeAdvisor