By Dawn Miller
If you’re a new REALTOR® or if you’ve been in business awhile and re-evaluate your budget every year, I am here to reassure you there are only five tools you need to start or maintain your real estate business.
I’ve complied a short list of the must-have’s for those REALTORS® newer to the business who are questioning advertisements’ promising leads, great return on investment, and more. Hopefully I will re-energize other REALTORS® who have been in the business awhile to “get back to basics” and understand what we really need to make the best use out of the tools we have or how to do as much as possible with just a few good programs.
1. Contact Database
Whether you use MS Outlook, Excel (gasp), Top Producer, or even the contact manager through your MLS system, you really need some place besides your notebook or bar napkin to store contacts. I recommend a database that will do many functions, like Top Producer. It is a small investment that provides so many different tools, from e-mail programs, to drip e-mail campaigns, and more.
Notice I did not say website. Many REALTORS® are using their WordPress blogs as their main Web presence and even having IDX feeds so consumers can search homes. Get a free WordPress account today, or pay a little extra each month for additional features. Consumers are asking for hyper-local content and information. Blogging allows you to be the expert in your neighborhood.
3. Virtual Tour Program
There are many programs that are free, less than $10 a month, or charge per-tour. There is one that stands out among the rest–Visualtour.com. For $30/month, you can create unlimited virtual tours, advertise your listings on dozens of websites, and use the program to self-promote. Take still pictures and turn them into panoramic shots and video through their software. If you use this program right, it serves so many functions you might just have to cancel other programs or advertising you are paying for now. Check out a virtual tour I did while on an real estate trip in Dominican Republic: http://www.visualtour.com/show.asp?t=2038675&prt=10003
4. Realtor.com Advertising
For $11 a month, I tell prospective sellers their homes will show up every 8-9 pages of homes as a featured listing on Realtor.com versus one time in the 350+ pages of homes for sale. That’s powerful! New REALTORS® sign up for showcase advertising while they have few listings to save money–as the monthly charge is based on the number of listings you carry in a 12-month period. Then call sellers to tell them they will have a “premium advertisement” on the number one real estate website.
There are “riches in niches.” How do you set yourself apart from the other REALTORS®? Take the time in 2010 to educate yourself through a REALTOR® designation. Analyze your market, your past business, and what makes you tick to discover how to set yourself apart. If you’re reading this, you already have a niche. Remember, NAR statistics show the average age of a first-time homebuyer is 30 years old. As a YPN member, you may be in the position to relate to and communicate with that first-time buyer.
Dawn Miller is a REALTOR® from Virginia Beach, Va., and chair of her local YPN chapter. Visit her Web site: www.DawnMillerHomes.com.