Tech Tips for this Tough Market

I spoke in October at Tech Tuesday during the C.A.R. Convention.  These are the notes for the class I gave…

Introduction:  Courtney Self: 

ü      Full-time Broker

ü      started RE in 1986

ü      Real Estate Investor

ü      Author of 3 real estate books & numerous articles.

ü      To request notes email me: 

ü      Take Questions throughout presentation.

Tough Economy = Tough RE Market…Agents leaving the business

My goal today is to share what’s out there so you can properly incorporate technology into your business.  This will make your business more efficient & cost effective.  This past summer I had a great opportunity to review my use of technology.  I took the summer off & left the office I had been in since 1997 & also dissolved a long-term partnership of 7 years.  Making these two big moves in my businesses plus my time off gave me a great opportunity to review my overall business; one thing I spent some time on was evaluating the technology tools I had been using.  I found that although most of them were great products I was not fully utilizing some them in my business which made them a waste of money.  In this market we cannot afford to waste any money.

The question is where do we start?  10 years ago, technology had very little to do with our business. Today, however, it’s essential to your success.   The problem for most of us is the overwhelm we feel when reviewing what’s out there.  So, how do you choose the technology tools that are right for your business?  The amount & type may vary with you, your experience as well as your client base. 

97% of my clients are repeat & referral so the tools I choose help me to maintain that average.  Your client base may be different.  Even with the majority of my business coming to me as some sort of referral my clients still do research online before meeting with me. 

According to NAR’s 2007 Realtor® Technology Survey”, 84% of homebuyers use the Internet 84% (up from 80 percent in 2006), before they contact a real estate agent.  In the past clients came to us for information, today they already have it.  However, the good news is, in spite of all the information the consumer still needs us.  The vast amounts of information can be overwhelming to a buyer or a seller; it’s our job to translate this information for them.


ü      Laptop.   I assume everyone has a computer of some kind but a laptop allows you to take your office with you anywhere you go.  It’s great to-do a listing presentation; take it to an open house to show prospective buyers or just to get some work done if the OH is slow.   A wireless connection is a must if you plan to go mobile – many p[ublic places offer wireless connection. Abitly to conncet to interniet via cell phone is another great option.

o       Hardware Tips:

§         Have you’re name somewhere on the computer in case you leave it – car dealer

§         Laptop security cable

§         Password protect login & screen saver

§         Don’t leave password written down near computer

o       Lo Jack for laptops – this information provided by Len Walther, one of the audience members:  Let’s police track location of stolen

§         Adrona (open source) – dual platform doesn’t involve 3rdparties. (Fear of owner being tracked).  Takes photos of thief with MacBook Pro’s iSight built-in video conference camera & let’s you know

ü      Mobile Phone & Accessories.   The cell phone is the single most important tool for a busy agent!  As I already touched upon, today’s consumers want instant contact.  Buy a smart phone, why?  Powerful business tool.  Treo is the best for real estate location of thief., Blackberry is close behind & according to my MLS will have SUPRA Ekey functions by the end of the year. 

o       PDA – Synchronize with contact managers – all your contacts with you at all time.

o       Calendar

o       IM/Texting

o       Supra eKey :  provides showing activity usually within 24 hours on your listings.

o       Real estate applications e.g. mortgage calculator or seller net sheets

o       Camera

o       Cell phone Tips

§         Take pictures to remind yourself of repair items

§         Temporary MLS photos- something is better than nothing

§         Synchronize client database

§         Don’t forget a hands-free device so you can talk on the phone while driving, some cars come equipped with it.

ü      USB Flash Drive.  If you have access to a computer at your office & don’t want to bring your laptop back & forth each day a flash drive is a powerful device.  You can transport all your files to another computer simply by plugging the USB drive into your computer & download/upload it.

ü      Digital Camera. A high resolution, good quality digital camera can be an agent’s best friend when it comes to marketing. A digital camera can be used to take photos of the inside & outside of homes, the surrounding area, & anything else that could help sell a home or purchase one. Photos can be placed on your website, posted on listing sites or MLS, used to build a virtual tour, or emailed to clients.

ü      GPS Navigation System.  Many of us have expanded the markets in which we work due to the economy.  It will save you time, gas & embarrassment when showing clients

Software & Internet Services:

Microsoft Office

ü      Word:  word processor – Use to create flyers, form letters, & drafting letters to clients or fellow agents 

ü      Excel : spreadsheets –

o       import & export mailing lists

o       Custom investment analysis form get at

o       Seller proceeds

ü      PowerPoint- presentations

o       Seminars; Listing/buyer presentations

ü      Publisherflyers & marketing material

ü      Outlook contact manager

o       Organize calendar & contacts

o       Synchronizes with all cell phones

Google Docs – FREE; great for sharing

ü      Google Word-processor

ü      Google Spreadsheet

Contact Managers:

ü      ACT! Premium for Real Estate

o       My favorite for sales people

o       Built-in features & templates

ü      Top Producer

o       Specific to real estate

o       Powerful online database

o       It does everything & more for real estate sales

Personal Website.

ü      Today’s standard, much like a business card.  I think of it as an online brochure, it can tell potential homebuyers & sellers who you are & what you offer. 

ü      Evolving into customer relationship manager, CRM e.g. Top Producer – one stop shopping

ü      Lead generator – when used correctly. A key factor to lead generation success is the ability to respond quickly, & by quickly I mean within minutes. The consumer wants information NOW! 

ü      Auto-responders.  In my opinion, if you cannot set up a system to effectively respond within minutes don’t expect to use your website as a lead generator.  Home Gain & can set up for you.

ü      I use mine as a resource center for my clients.

ü      Website Tips:

ü      Is your website “ego based” or is it “value exchange & informational based?”

ü      Do you have a lead capture system on your website?  Remember, the only way you will capture leads is if you have something of value the consumer is receiving in return for their information.

ü      Custom Domain Names -Makes you look professional

ü      Get a real estate specific website vendor, e.g. Superlative or Pullan Communications

ü      You don’t have to release control of domain name to web site vendor

ü      Own multiple names – I have several sites that are linked together. 

§ residential real estate business

§ residential real estate business

§  income property; resources information for landlords, FREE 7-day trial on foreclosure information which is a really hot topic right now.

ü      Domain Name Vendors:  Enom []; Go Daddy []; Network Solutions []

MLS:  MLS access is so standard many of us take it for granted.  Remember all of our listings make it to the internet so you want to make sure your listings are as accurate as possible & they you have as many photos as your system will allow.  Studies have shown that listings with more photos are viewed for a longer period of time than those without photos. 

Zipforms™. You can be more efficient & cost effective while going green. 

ü      Zipforms will enable you to write & email contracts online.

ü      Contracts are the most up to date

ü      It’s easy to use, avoids the messy look of a fax.

ü      Using DocuSign in conjunction with Zipforms enables you to insert electronic signatures. Widget – Buyer & agent feedback plus email marketing

ü      Go green – send Flyers & postcards sent to other agents in your area or to your database via email.

ü      Great Listing tool

ü      Fast

Web Based Email

ü      Email clients from any Internet connected device

ü      Account & messages are backed up

ü      Basic full featured accounts cost nothing


ü      Google Mail []; Yahoo Mail []; HotMail []


Email Marketing

ü      Low Cost & Easy to Set-up

ü      Market to Clients & Other Agents

ü      Anniversary emails- send a yearly anniversary card on the purchase of their home

ü      Birthdays- who doesn’t like a happy birthday card?

ü      Newsletters – Factoids- send recipes, fun facts, or interesting information that your clients will want to read

ü      Valuation update- schedule CMA to be sent annually 


       eProspecting [] real estate specific, professionally written templates

       Constant Contact [] used by many different types of business to send email marketing to interested clients

Texting/IM.  the standard for younger consumers.  Email is considered the new “snail mail”.


ü      Buyer sends text message & is instantly sent description of the property w/photos

ü      the buyer’s phone number is captured & sent to the listing agent

Toll Free Numbers

ü      Low-cost

ü      Callers can listen to information 24/7

ü      Great listing tool

ü      Voice blasting

ü      Ad tracking

ü      Toll Free Service Providers:

ü      Freedom Voice [] or []

Television Marketing:

ü      Spot Runner []

ü      Adversities on your local cable stations

ü      Template commercials are relatively inexpensive & are becoming more technologically advanced

ü      Build a custom campaign by providing information about your company, target market, location & budget

Public Relations Marketing:

ü      Cost-effective

ü      Blogging [] is a website where postings are listed in chronological order. Active Rain; Word Press –

ü      Ezine increases traffic to your website, builds personal & business creditability.

ü      Trulia Voices online Q&A-connecting buyers/sellers with real estate questions to local professionals

ü      online radio shows or podcasts

Other Services:

Send Out Cards – send personalized, custom cards, gifts, postcards.  Great for Holiday cards & follow-up with existing clients. – print, address & mail postcards online

Efax – send & receive faxes via email; maintain a private fax line.

Social Networking: LinkedIn; Facebook (no MySpace – kids); Plaxo

Craigslist [] is a free classified posting service that has gained momentum & scared the heck out of the print advertisers

Melissa Data [] is an incredible resource that has over 50 free data search engines on their web site


Leave a Comment

7 Strategies for Real Estate Success


I only a few copies left of this version of 7 Strategies.  Get last years copy for a reduced price (7.95 plus S&H) or wait until the updated version arrives – price to be determined.

To order email me:

Courtney is a full-time Broker-Associate with Call Realty in Palos Verdes, California. She and her team believe that their clients are their best advertising. They strive to provide a high level of service and client contact so that they not only retain their clients but also obtain referral business from them. This book addresses the importance of setting goals and having a business plan and shares Courtney’s tips and techniques for acquiring and maintaining clients. 

Courtney has owned and managed more than 90 units over the last 10 years.  She addresses the benefits of investing in real estate for real estate professionals. 

Leave a Comment

Meetings & Events

Meetings for the week of 1.11.09

When & Where:
Wednesday Noon – 1:00pm
hosted by American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
1919 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90501
corner of Van Ness/Torrance Blvd., Building 100 Room 1E-5 


FAN Business Networking

Where & When
Thursday Breakfast Meeting 7:15am – 8:30am

hosted at Mimi’s Cafe
25343 Crenshaw Blvd
Torrance, CA 90505
(310) 326-4477 – restaurant

Wine Tasting

When & Where
Friday at 5:30 – I hope you can join me!
hosted by WineStyles
2733 Pacific Coast Highway, Suite D (next to Panera)
Torrance, CA 90505, Phone: 310-539-1055
Wine Styles offers tastings for $15 every Thursday, Friday & Saturday 5:00 – 8:00pm.  Members and their guests receive a $5 discount.  

Leave a Comment

Networking Your Way to Investment Success!

We’re very excited to announce the launch of our networking group for Investors.  We will host our first monthly meet in the Torrance, CA area beginning January 2008 (location & date).  The focus of our meetings will be to network with other investors, share experiences and knowledge.  The format of our monthly meetings will be as follows:  6-6:45pm registration & networking (vendors will be allowed to display products & services); 6:45 – 8:15pm Speaker(s).

 If you would be interested in attending or speaking please contact Anthony Self, or 310-618-8320

Leave a Comment

Investing For Your Success

Courtney Self
Broker, Investor, Author & Occasional Speaker

“It’s tangible, it’s solid, it’s beautiful…I just love real estate”, Donald Trump.

Buying investment property is a fabulous opportunity for real estate agents; it can provide you with a steady cash flow increase your overall wealth and provide excellent tax benefits to offset your real estate commissions. Plus it’s a great retirement plan, usually your property will continue to increase in value, rents will rise and all while you’re pay down the mortgages.

I admit that I am biased towards real estate, but with good reason: it has been an amazing wealth generator for my husband and me plus it’s given us lots of freedom. For me the financial freedom is the biggest benefit to real estate investment. While most real estate professionals will tell you that they enjoy their job, the majority will also tell you that they don’t want to sell homes or do loans for the rest of their lives, myself included. One of the key ways to ensure that your future as an agent is bright and comfortable is to appropriately invest in income properties as you are in the midst of your career. Which is why I’m always surprised to learn how few real estate agents, lenders, title and escrow people actually invest. As real estate professionals we are positioned perfectly to create huge amounts of wealth for ourselves and our clients.

Think about it…often the largest time commitment to investing is doing the research necessary to understand real estate and rental markets. If you’re already working day to day in the real estate business, what better opportunity could you have? In addition, working in real estate often gives you the opportunity to learn about properties before they hit the market – so why not take advantage of that?

I already mentioned investment properties are a great way to plan for your retirement but they can also help you to make it through rough times in your career or even better allow you to take some time off. The real estate market is constantly in flux. Sometime it is a buyer’s market, sometimes a seller’s and still other times it is just plain slow. By having some residual income from investments, you will be able to wade through the slow times and still have steady earnings. In my case I take time off during the summer and over the holidays when it’s typically slow but I don’t worry about my commission income because I have rental income to cover my mortgages and other living expenses.

My goal in real estate investing is to purchase enough rental properties to eventually replace my current real estate income. This will ensure that my retirement years are as comfortable as possible. What are your plans?

For questions about income property email me at and to download our FREE investment analysis spreadsheet visit

Comments (2)

C.A.R. Convention

I just returned from the California Association of Realtors Annual Convention in Anaheim where Anthony spoke and we had a booth.  We met lots of great people, saw lots of speakers and toured the trade-show plus we got to go to Disney Land!  The first day for us was Tech Tuesday which is our favorite part of the Expo because we love technology.  Lynn Pope my inspiration for becoming a Blogger, she is also from my office-RE/Max Exces, sat on the panel for Blogging and was fabulous!

One of the hottest topics at the convention seemed to be foreclosures & short-sales.  Larry Blachman at the booth next to ours did a couple of those classes and had to stay until after the trade-show closed the last 2 days because he had so much interest from the attendees. His email is

All of our Money Frog, Inc. classes went over extremely well – they were well attended and we received lots of great feedback.  This year Anthony taught: “Tech Tips for Top Producers”, “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Dollars: Digital Camera Class”, “Numbers & Stuff: Analyzing Income Property Using Excel” & “ACT! Like a Professional” a database software class.  Everyone particularly like his Excel class because he gave a FREE download on his website for the income property analysis spreadsheet.  To see his class notes and get your FREE download visit

A few notable mentions were the lenders that have these loan programs that pay off your mortgage in 10 years (UFirst)- I’m not sure yet how this works but I’m going to find out.  A couple of companies that offer text messaging for listings – that looked good.  Another interesting and similar company was in the booth across from us – Buyer Acquire, a call capture system.  We use a toll free system in our business but what interested me in buyer acquire is that the property information is taken from the MLS each night so I, as an agent, don’t have to record property descriptions.  You can still record one if you want but if you get busy or forget to record a message, which I have done, your listing will still be benefiting from the service. Zillow was there but with very little coverage at their booth which surprised me.

There were several education companies from trainers/coaches ( to companies that offer on-line license renewal.  One of the companies I spoke with was Coni at Online Ed,  You might also want to check out Smooth Talker, their system has business scripts for every situation, I used a similar product about 15 years ago and loved it,

There were several marketing and personal promotion companies, the Wright brothers materials looked nice and affordable, www.WrightBrothers.comwww.QuantumMail.comwas also in attendance they have great products and provide direct mail and printing.  I also recommend using the post office for this service,

I saw a couple of companies that offer online tracking of your escrow files, the one I talked to was  I met a Texas broker selling investment property he’s offering a 30% referral fee, 888-694-8287. 

Other than that I saw few things that interested me personally from the 600 + vendors at the trade show.  Most of it was what you’d expect:  sign companies, new real estate franchises, banks, title & escrow companies, training companies & several costume jewelry vendors – I guess they realize agents like their Bling and yes I did buy some. 

I was happy to see RE/Max California & Hawaii there after being gone for several years.  The first C.A.R. trade-show I attended was in 1996 while I was working for RE/Max CA & HI in the franchise sales department.  Overall it was a great event and we really enjoyed it.

Comments (1)

Shameless Self Promotion

Courtney Self
Broker, Investor, Author & Occasional Speaker

Why Invest in Real Estate? The answer is: FREEDOM!

“True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt

JUST RELEASED…Anthony Self’s Latest Book: “I Sold My Soul for $60K a Year and How I Took It Back”

Anthony shares how he went from Zero to $6 Million, how he “Fired” his Boss and took back control of his business and his life through real estate investing. Anthony explains how you can do it too!

When I say it gives you freedom, I mean it. Read Anthony’s book if you are…
• Currently tied to a successful job or career path, as he was, and feel trapped.
• Wanting to stay home to raise your children rather than send them off to daycare for hours everyday.
• Living paycheck to paycheck.
• Successful but have capped out your income potential.
• Merely surviving instead of thriving and don’t know where to go to get ahead.
• Currently renting.
• A homeowner and want to increase your wealth.

Whatever your circumstances are currently, real estate investment will increase your wealth and give you more freedom to do the things you want to do, rather than the things you have to do. This is not a get rich quick plan; in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s a way to get out on your own and take some control over your life. It may take a little while to achieve your goals, but the process enables you to have more control choices in your own

Leave a Comment

Older Posts »