CRM for Real Estate

We are all on the go.

I know I am, especially as a busy real estate agent.   Often I don’t have time to sit down at a real computer (laptop or desktop).  When a client calls and wants to see a house, I don’t just jump, but leap!  In the Austin market, homes sell very quickly, and to be able to get the ones my clients want I have to act immediately.  I need all my information immediately, and everywhere I go.  And I don’t want to have to worry about it being outdated or backed up.

Real Estate ContactsWhen I started as a Realtor, I really didn’t know how important it was keeping track of everything.  Who is interested in which neighborhood?  Who is flying in from California next weekend?  Who needs to get a contract signed.   No longer is it just my phone that is ringing.  I get emails all day long, am constantly texting, and as you know I’m all over Facebook and Twitter.

How does one handle it all?

I rely on technology.  Around the office, I’m known at one of the most techie guys around.  Of course we have a full time computer specialist on staff, as well as a person handling all of the social media for our company.  But we are all independent business people here.  Even though we all work for a broker (or are a broker), we have to get and grow our own business.

It seems like everybody does something a little differently.  And it seems like there isn’t a single solution either.

What is a CRM

Day planner for Real EstateSimply put CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  It’s a way to organize and communicate with all your leads, buyers, sellers, investors, and even renters.  It is a way to track their name, email, phone number, house address, and more – whatever you enter.  I usually start with basic business card information, and add stuff as I go.

In the last century everybody would run around with these little file-o-faxes, or day planners.  But now everything is digital.

Basically it’s my little black book, but all digital.  I store everything about my clients there, birthdays, favorite wines, kids names, you get the idea.

Why do I need a CRM?

I need a CRM because I sometimes have a hard time keeping track of everything.  I may be driving on my way to a listing appointment and thinking about that when my phone rings and it’s a different client about a different property.

If you are like me, when your phone rings the first thing you do is check your caller ID to see who is calling.  If it is just a number sometimes I have a hard time associating the name with the number.  One feature of the CRM is it associates the client’s name with their number so when they call I get that information right away.

Plus I need more.  I need access to my calendar.  I need directions.  I need everything.  Immediately.  And I’m on a budget.

Some CRM for Real Estate

I didn’t have time to  write real estate crm reviews for all these products, but I have tried a lot of them out

  • Daylight
  • Salesforce
  • Base
  • REA Real Estate Assistant
  • Clientlook
  • Apto
  • Insightly

A lot of these companies/programs have been around for a long time, and I’m sure they all have their benefits and drawbacks.  All I know is when I started selling houses, I needed something FAST.  I didn’t have a lot of money to invest, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time learning a system that I wasn’t sure was going to work for me in the long run.

One thing I kept running into with these out of the box CRM solutions was that they either had a bunch of features I didn’t need, or they didn’t have the features I really wanted.  I hated being forced to do things their way, instead of my way.

What is the best real estate CRM?

For me, the best CRM is platform independent I can use it on a Mac, PC, Tablet, or Phone.  It does automatic backups,  because I never remember to do that.  It has a calendar, contacts, notes, document storage, and a to do list.  It is easy to set-up, and has lots of documentation in case I run into a problem.  Plus it’s low cost, or even free.

In summary:

  • Platform independent
  • Automatic Backups
  • Lots of features
  • Easy to use
  • Low cost

Google for Real Estate

Enter Google, and their suite of business apps.

google_appsWhat?  I didn’t know google had programs I could use in my business.  Well, they do,  And they are easy to use, free, and work on both Macs and PCs (Plus tablets, and phones).

They have lots of support on-line that teaches me how to use the different programs when I get stuck and need help.

Since the apps live in the cloud, I never need to worry about backing everything up.

The best part is it is free, and since it is Google I don’t have to worry about them going out of business.

There are lots of different features, too. The parts of Google that I use for managing my real estate business:

  • Mail
  • Contacts
  • Calendar
  • Drive

Over the next week I’ll be writing extensively how I use each of these features.  Mostly I just have the regular set-ups for each of them,  but the way I use them is a bit specific to real estate, and hopefully you will find that helpful.

Most likely you already have an account with Google, so the set-up is almost nil, and unless you have tons and tons of emails, the cost is free.  I know you get 15 Giga-bytes of storage for free, and the next level is 100 GB, for only $4.95/month.  That’s cheap!

Each of the different apps is linked to each other, too, so I can schedule a meeting right from my mail program, and then link it to the people who I’ll be meeting with on contacts.  I can also share and collaborate with documents using Google Drive,

It’s really easy!  I suggest you try it out!

Facebook for Real Estate

The world is changing – and with it also Real Estate Marketing.  According to NAR, the National Association of Realtors, over 90% of homebuyers begin their home search on the web.

In addition over 90% of Realtors use social media in one form or another.

Did you know that the average Facebook user checks the site 14 times per day.  FOURTEEN!  And each time they spend a little over 2 minutes scanning their feed of friends.  The most popular posts are of course the ones with photos, and then links, and then just plain old text status updates.  And more and more users are accessing the elephant of all social media sites using their smartphones.  That means they have access whenever, and where ever they are.  From the bathroom to the gym.  From the office to the Dr.’s waiting room.

[alert heading=Like Us!” width=”100%” close=”true”]Skip all this stuff and visit my Facebook Real Estate page[/alert]

When I began in real estate, the basics where pounded into me.  All the traditional old school real estate marketing techniques.  Stuff like pounding the pavement, cold calling, farming, and community involvement.  However I began my career in Real Estate because I saw  unique opportunity.   I got into buying and selling houses specifically because I didn’t see agents  utilizing the web as effectively as they could.  So I took those standard tried and true techniques, and gave them my own little twist.  and like any job, start at the beginning, master it, and then incorporate your own twist and change the world.

Shoebox  sized Cell Phone
This is not me!

Like I mentioned most Realtors start with the usual stuff:

  • Get involved in local causes
  • Send out postcards and farm local areas
  • Become a neighborhood expert
  • Contact local businesses
  • Get your face out there

For years and years, these traditional marketing techniques were the only way to become known as a Realtor.  This worked great, but had its limitations.  How did you reach people who wanted to move into your city?  If you were so busy showing properties, you didn’t have time to network or market.  What if you didn’t have the budget to send out cards, or advertise?  Now, however things are different.  We aren’t using shoebox cell phones anymore.  The world is on-line, and that means buyers from all over the country and even the world are on-line.

And as I mentioned earlier, most of them are on Facebook.

For me, Facebook has been a great source of leads, and clients.  But very few agents use Facebook for their business.  Sadly most are using it to play Farmville or Candy Crush Saga, or share photos of cats, or even to promote political or religious views.  (My Dad taught me to never talk about politics or religion in a business setting, and I do my best to keep it that way.)

I think of Facebook as a giant cocktail party.  One that is happening 24 hours a day  – 7 days a week.  And just like at any party there are all kinds of people.  I’m always looking for the people interested in talking about Real Estate, which there always are.

It seems like everyone is somewhere in the buying or selling or renting game.  They are either actively doing one of the three, or know someone who is interested.  And that’s the cool thing – every day I get to connect with someone on-line who needs a bit of help, or eduction about the market, or just wants to chat.

Sure I have a great webpage that I use it to share and promote listings.  I also share my my day to day activities as a Realtor on line to show my involvement in the industry.  And I even use the Instant Messenger chat feature to directly communicate with clients.  Since I am always posting, sharing and liking other people’s statuses (to remain fresh in their minds), people know that I won’t be wasting their time.

Having a great on-line presence on Facebook  builds trust.  Based on the way the site works, friends, and friends of friends can see what I’m up to.  And a friend of a friend is a future referral.

If you want to see how I do it, just like my page – https://www.facebook.com/EricEstate

 

What do do when your kid locks themself in your open house – true story

File this one under a true open house story.  You see all kinds of strange things as a Realtor.  Not only do you get a glimpse into people’s private lives when you tour rental properties, but Sometimes some strange things happen at open houses.  This happened to me just a few months after I got my license, and I wouldn’t believe it unless I experienced it. (more…)

Advertising

Successfully selling your home is more than just sticking a sign in the front yard, and entering some data into the MLS. I’ve learned that getting the best price means attracting as many possible people to view your home as possible, and I use every possible method to accomplish that goal.

Once your home has been properly prepared, I’ll schedule a professional photographer who has experience in photographing homes to take incredible photos which will be used in all the print and web marketing materials. When required, I’ll also pay for a professional film crew to come in and prepare a video of the property to supplement the full color photography.

Once the photos have been edited, a graphic designer will prepare high-end, full color flyers, postcards, and print advertisements showcasing your home, and describing all the best features to buyers.

Studies have shown that approximately 90% (source) of all people searching for a new home begin their search on the internet. Lots of realtors provide a custom website, however without the proper traffic, that never gets seen. I have the most popular Real Estate Blog in Austin, and will feature your property on the front page until it sells.  I’ll use social media and share the listing with my Facebook friends, and Twitter followers.  All this is included in addition to the regular MLS and syndication that gets your listing to appear on all the popular real estate websites, and searches.

In addition to all the web based marketing, I also use traditional print advertisements like newspapers and high-end magazines to showcase your property, to reach the other 10%.  Even though print advertising is dying a slow death, your property will still be featured in a full page ad in the Austin American Statesman, as well as other publications like Tribeza & Austin Monthly, as needed because I want to reach 100% of the people.

Real Estate PostcardsPlus, I  mail out custom postcards to my network of other Realtors, Investors, previous clients, and even neighbors informing them of a new listing, and encouraging them to tell their friends that a new house is coming up for sale in the neighborhood.

Finally, I hold your house open as much as possible using highly visible directional signs to guide drivers to see the house.  Since we have prepared the house to look fantastic from the street, more people will stop in, and take the next steps, ultimately ending in an acceptable offer.

The goal isn’t just to reach people who are actively looking for a home to buy, but also their friends and family, to help spread the word.

Real Estate Photography

While visiting an open house last Sunday, an idea came to me, that quite frankly I’m surprised I didn’t think of before.

Modern Living room iphone

I was visiting a very modern house on Jeff Davis St. in Austin, and while I was walking around my iPhone came out, and I just naturally began to snap photos of the place.  I’m pretty thrifty when it comes to technology, and am still using the original iPhone. The 2G model. I stood in line, outside in front of an Apple store for 4 hours to get it, and for years have lovingly taken care of it. I have it with me ALWAYS, and it is my link to YOU!

That’s when it hit me. Photos for real estate.  There are really only two things people want when they are looking for a house  Price and Pictures.  I can’t do anything about the price until I’m licensed, but I can take some incredible photos.  You don’t need to just believe me on this, you can actually check out my 6+ years of wedding photos on my portfolio site Photo-Forward.com.

I’ve got experience with Real Estate Photography in Austin, and can provide Realtors with pricing.

Just so you know, all the photos on this post were taken with just my first generation iPhone.  No editing, no fancy lighting, no fancy camera.  If you are a Realtor in the Austin area, I’d love to chat with you and learn your requirements for pictures.  I love to do interiors, and really REALLY love sunset shots of exteriors.

My style is clean, fresh, and natural.  I don’t like to over-process images (no HDR here), and have enough equipment for any size condo or house.

If you are interested, send me a note and I’ll get right back to you.

Bathroom iPhone Pic

 

Kitchen iPhone Open House

Is this a Realtor's blog?

No.  And yes.

You see right now I’m not a Realtor®. I’m only a Real Estate student.  I’ve started this blog because I know the power of SEO.  In my previous business as a wedding photographer I never paid for any form of leads or advertising.  Every one of my clients came from people searching on the internet, or Word of Mouth Marketing.

Today the game is a bit different than it was in 2006.  Sure the internet was a big part of marketing back then, and having a successful website and blog was key.  But today, it’s a bit different.  Social Networks and mobile Apps are all the rage.  There are some great real estate websites out there, and some really bad ones, too.  Overall they all look the same.  They all present the standard MLS info in the same way.  I think there is a better way.

But since I’m not licensed (yet) I really can’t do much except on-line research.  So until I’m able to practice, I’ll spend my time doing research, writing, and making new friends and contacts.  I hope you will subscribe to this blog, and take the journey with me.

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