Archive for January, 2009

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


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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. 

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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.  

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