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"How to Use Technology with a Real Estate Focus "

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Ron Rothenberg Photo
10/24/97 Interview with Ron Rothenberg

Home Base Real Estate
106 Elm Street
Belmont, MA 02178

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Finding What Is Useful

  1. Technology is useful if it solves a problem that you have or will have; the acid test is does it save you time/money.
  2. Some not-so-obvious time/money-saving tools are speed reading (the Evelyn Wood course) and typing skills ("Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing").
  3. Increased automation can be most helpful to Real Estate professionals in streamlining the labor-intensive, paperwork aspects of the business.
Communications Techniques

  1. Internet faxing is a favorite new application that frees users from a machine in an office; JFAX offers you a fax number in any of 23 cities around the world and relays faxes and attachments to your email address at low cost.
  2. Having an additional fax line in another area code is a way to make your service appear more immediate to clients over a wide area; JFAX can also set up a toll-free fax line for you.
  3. Media Com's offers least-cost routing of long distance phone calls to small businesses and home offices; the product attaches to your computer and uses a database of over 400 phone providers and may save 40%-60% on long-distance costs; tentative cost for the device is $99, plus $5/month to update the database.
A Rich Database on Neighborhoods

  1. "Know the Neighborhood" is a CD subscription service that contains information about almost every town, school district and county in every state in the US; a click of the mouse generates a 20 to 30-page report on a locality, complete with color graphics.
  2. Almost all Real Estate records in the US are included in the database; clicking on an address can get you the 50 closest comparable sales in the last year with graphics showing trends in prices, length of time on the market, etc.
  3. The product is produced by Lysias and is available from Home Base Real Estate for $199; updates can be ordered by subscription for $49.95/month or $79.95/quarter.
  4. Know the Neighborhood is aimed at residential brokers, but the demographic information would be useful to commercial brokers.

  1. Small desktop scanners such as the Visioneer PaperPort take up little space but efficiently get paper into your computer; related software allows manipulation of what you scan.
  2. PaperPort's color successor, Strobe, also works well and is even smaller with a more compact transformer; a battery-operated version would be the ultimate Real Estate tool.
  3. Proprietary image files from PaperPort, which are very well compressed, can be attached to email messages and then viewed via a free PaperPort viewer; alternatively, the image files can be converted to more conventional file formats.
Filling the Common Gap for Tech Users

  1. People in general know almost enough to use technological products for their routine tasks - until they run into trouble; a greater personal time investment in software training would magnify benefits for the user.
  2. Utilize the built-in training feature with many software packages that show a "Tip-of-the-Day" upon login - i.e., Microsoft Office programs and Windows programs.
  3. To stay current with improvements to your software, online upgrades such as Symantec's Act! are helpful; the software package Oil Change is a powerful, comprehensive solution for software users who are not high-tech oriented.
The New World of Real Estate

  1. A lesson for Realtors is that with the right tools, clients will willingly do much of the hard work for you; is a crowd pleaser that allows people the freedom to shop when they want, though they'll come back to a practitioner with information they find.
  2. Realtors used to guard information; now you have to be a composer, choreographer and director of information, while adding occasional wisdom and knowledge to make your services worthwhile.
  3. Internet connectivity has been more important so far on the buying side because buyers tend to be younger and more comfortable with technology than sellers; the selling side, however, shows signs of catching up - senior citizens are the fastest growing group of Internet users.
  4. Buyers are demanding even more information and service from Realtors - they want information immediately without coming to your office; the Internet is a natural vehicle for disseminating information.
Favorite Real Estate Sites

  1. Daily Real Estate news is readily available from; is a great resource to find good Real Estate Web sites.
  2. Numerous good municipal sites such as Needham Online have comprehensive, useful data about town life; more communities are going online all the time.
  3. Other towns with good municipal pages are Scottsdale, AZ, Boulder, CO, Newton, MA.
How to Balance Technology with a Real Estate Focus

  1. Delegate as much of the work as possible to the computer.
  2. Do Web surfing off-line through programs such as Web Whacker and Web Buddy that download changes to regular sites you visit to be viewed later (be sure you have a large enough hard disk).
  3. Software can also sort email and auto-respond to many pieces.
Contact Information for Ron Rothenberg:

(v) 617-489-4812
(f) 617-489-3848

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

Inman's News Service
Needham Online