Saturday, April 4, 2009

Technology and "You Heard It Here First!"

Don't forget to read to the end for the good part, but I need to set this up first.

It's April and it's snowing out. Really, really snowing. The white stuff is going horizontal because of the wind. I showed two houses today and checked a couple more, and I'm glad to be back home at the computer.

As are many people, I dare say. This week I took a seminar - along with an overflow crowd of Realtors from the area, on "Marketing and Technology - A Survival Guide." The room was packed - we rarely have as many people from the office in the same place, and yet there we (almost) all were way up at Carrier Circle at 9:00 in the morning!

Because we need to know what's new, and how to get there. Our overall Syracuse market is still strong, and Skaneateles is getting stronger by the day, but who knows when the downturn will catch Central New York. If ever, but that's an editorial comment. In any case, we all could take Wednesday morning and early afternoon off on the odd chance that we would learn something.

The presentation in many ways merely showcased and why we need it. We can put 16 pictures now in the multiple listing service, but 25 on And why would we? Because 87% of buyers now go to the internet to begin their search. That's huge! Up from 41% in 2001. Eight years and it's more than doubled.

By way of illustration, a friend sent me a link to a website with the note to check it out. It seemed inocuous enough - homes in the 13152 zip code for sale. But there were only 42, and I know - as you do, if you've been reading my blog - there are more than that for sale. I got more suspicious when it said there were no foreclosures or FSBOs (for sale by owners). By golly - all the listings on closer inspection were from the same company! You'd think no other company existed! And yet it didn't appear to be a hosted site - now why is that?

The important part is that my friend was looking, as are almost everyone else it seems, and now we have the statistic to back it up. My podiatrist seems to be the only person who doesn't know how much the house down the street from him was even listed for. But he's a rarity.

So, now that the case for technology has been proved, what can I do to best show my homes? I am on, but the presenter was right, I need a better camera to make my pictures stand out. I put the call out on Facebook and got suggestions, and will purchase one this week. (Stay tuned!)

And that's another skill we need to learn as Realtors - social networking. I entered the world of Facebook a few weeks back and found an old friend from high school - who is a photographer and who gave me a suggestion for a camera (I love this stuff!) But I can also send out the word about properties...and if you have other suggestions, please let me know!

The downside of all this is that print is going away. Although we continue to advertise in the Post-Standard our listings are also on (as is a connection to my blog). I have a weekly ad in the Skaneateles Journal - has anyone seen it? I have yet to get a call saying, "Hey, I saw your listing in the Journal this week...." And with the decline of print - Harmon Homes is gone, the Syracuse New Times has cut their "Hot Property" column to save money and space - then the ads will go, too. Or maybe the ads went because they don't work and created a deficit for the newspapers...

So I will beef up my space, add a couple other paid internet sites for specific listings (waterfront and commercial) and.......drum roll, please!....and.....

I will have two ads on the new RE/MAX Real Estate Showcase to premier sometime in May on Sundays, 11:30 to 12:00 on Channel 68 (Fox, non-cable). This means every week two of my listings will have 3o seconds each and 6 photos, then if either are being held open they will be part of the open house scroll at the end of the broadcast. Our franchise, RE/MAX Masters, will share the half hour with RE/MAX Realty Plus which concentrates more on the northern part of Onondaga County. I have no idea if this will increase sales - I certainly believe it will or I wouldn't do it - but it will be something that none of the other brokerages have. You heard it here, first!

I am doing an open house at my adorable 12 Paul Street listing in Marcellus tomorrow, 1:00 to 3:00. The price is reduced to $119,900 which means that if you rent a home for $1,200 your monthly mortgage payment (principle, interest, taxes & insurance) would be less. Two weeks ago when I was there the owners surprised me with their own virtual tour on their gorgeous high definition set. It really was mesemerizing, and gives a sense (without voiceover) of what the ads will look like. It will be playing tomorrow, they tell me! Come see!

I really would love to hear thoughts about this new way to get the word out about my listings. Someone mentioned DVRing the show to watch later. I think that will happen a lot. I can see people calling friends and saying "Our house will be on next week!" I know what is coming up in my life for listings and I can't wait to see them on the show - plus my already photogenic listed homes!

So, it all ties together - technology, the new camera, television, doing something that's different in these very different times to sell houses!