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"Software and Hardware Evaluation for Agents"


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Rolf Anderson Photo
6/2/00 Interview with Rolf Anderson

Rolf Anderson Seminars
131 S. Clark St.
Forest City, IA 50436
Biography

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Interest in Technology

  1. As a pioneer real estate techie, Anderson was first asked to speak at his state association in the mid-1980s and the NAR in 1989.
  2. Now he still manages his family's real estate office, but his primary focus is technology training.
Software and Hardware Evaluation

  1. Because Anderson recommends only software and hardware that he has personally tested and used, people trust his opinion.
  2. A favorite tool for real estate applications is Hewlett Packard's Capshare ($499 retail); this palm-sized scanner reads a page in 6 seconds, holds 40 pages in memory and links to your computer by cable or infrared.
  3. Capshare can be used to store documents in folders or to bring them into OCR software; to bring forms into the computer to be filled out on screen; to scan and reduce over-sized documents such as plat maps and floor plans to 8.5 X 11.
  4. You just move the unit over the page(s), overlapping each pass; the equipment stitches the image together on a micro level; essentially a document scanner, it does not handle photos well.
  5. Images can be instantly sent by fax and e-mail or put onto a flyer.
How to Get Started in Real Estate

  1. You need a guide; find someone to train you and be willing to pay.
  2. Use a good contact manager-one that makes sense to you; Anderson likes Online Agent (aka Agent 2000, Powerpack 21 and Executive Agent); other top choices are PREP and Top Producer (real estate specific) and ACT! (generic but add-ons are available).
  3. Have your computer in front of you while you work; pull up contact information on screen to use as a prompt whenever you talk to someone.
  4. Don't expect to build your database overnight; start by entering your current people and keep up their documentation as you work.
  5. Seek technical help from knowledgeable friends and family; the communications and computer departments at local tech schools and colleges can be an invaluable resource-volunteer to give a student an internship experience.
  6. Your primary need in the field is access to data; changing and inputting data can usually wait until you get to your office; therefore, you may not use the full capability of a Palm Pilot.
  7. A smaller tool designed more as an address book and scheduler may serve your needs at lower cost; e.g., the credit card-size RexPro slides into a PC slot and can contain an extensive database.
Making the Most of Digital Photography

  1. You should have a camera with wide-angle capability, but few digital cameras do; get a camera with a 25-38 mm lens.
  2. If you have a camera that takes a high-resolution picture, know how to reduce the resolution setting and take two versions of each shot; use the low-resolution photos for email and the Web in order to keep downloading time reasonable; use high-resolution photos for flyers and postcards.
Tips for Scanning

  1. When scanning for the Web, use a setting of 72 dpi; for printing, use a maximum of 300 dpi; quality of the photo will not be compromised.
  2. Scanned photos should be saved as JPEG files, which are compressed; before saving, resize (not crop) the image with the scanning software to reduce it-a 4X6 or 3X5 photo should become 1.5 X2; the resizing will keep the image under 100k.
  3. Set color for print-outs at 16 bits or 24 bits (thousands of colors); for the Web, use a setting of 256 colors to limit the file size and speed the loading time.
How to Use Virtual Tours

  1. Flat images of a property qualify as a virtual tour in simplest form; an animated GIF file can create a self-running slide show; however, iPIX technologies have given virtual tours incredible depth.
  2. For $99, iPIX sends a photographer to film four rooms in a 360 panorama; they host the film on their web site and link it to yours, Realtor.com and wherever else you direct.
  3. Their patented, immersive 360 technology (360X360) is more exciting; four cameras with fish-eye lenses create two half hemispheres, each looking 180 from right to left and top to bottom; their software stitches them together to give a total view of the property.
  4. The immersive 360 technology is a powerful tool for the Realtor; the web site visitor can step right inside the property-without any plug-ins.
  5. The result is 24/7 exposure of your listings, not only to buyers but also toother agents; agents seldom show homes without seeing them first.
  6. The agent can opt to use iPIX in either self-service mode (you purchase the camera and lens) or full-service mode (iPIX handles the entire project).
  7. Anderson is building a complete, immersive image community tour of his hometown on his real estate site, fchomes.com.
Favorite Web Sites

  1. Mapping sites such as MapBlast.com are a convenient source for graphic images that can be copied (by right clicking) and used in your own marketing materials.
  2. ExpressCopy.com will take your master colored flyer or postcard, reproduce it for you and ship 100 copies to you within 24-48 hours for an approximate cost of $39 or less.
  3. Mega search engines worth trying are Ask.com and Dogpile.com; they search other search engines; an agent can use them to check where the agent fits on all the major search engines.
Preparing for the Future

  1. If you do not already have your own domain name, get one; advantages are a permanent e-mail address and at some point, a Web presence.
  2. Embrace technology: invest in it; learn to use it-the training for technology must be an expense of doing business; apply it to your business.
Contact Information for Rolf Anderson:

(v) 515 582-3401
(f) 515 582-3167
(e) rolf@rolfanderson.com
(w)www.RolfAnderson.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Palm-sized scanner: HP CapShare 920

RE contact software: Online Agent; Agent 2000; Powerpack 21; Executive Agent; PREP 2000; Top Producer

Generic contact manager: ACT! 2000
www.actsoftware.com

Mini address book/scheduler:
Rex Pro www.xircom.com

Virtual tour source:
www.ipix.com

Virtual community tour:
www.fchomes.com

Mapping resource:
www.mapblast.com

Reproduction resource:
www.expresscopy.com

Mega search engines:
www.ask.com
www.dogpile.com