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Are You Riding the Web 2.0 Wave?

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RISMEDIA, March 26, 2007-"Web 2.0 is a different kind of Internet as a result of ubiquitous broadband, cheap hardware and open-source software," says Stefan Swanepoel, author of the annual Swanepoel Trends Report. The 159-page 2007 edition has just been published by RealSure and RISMedia. The report discussed in detail the growth of real estate as an information-based service industry and how brokers and agents were previously the exclusive holders of "home for sale" information. But today this has changed and with the advent of Web 2.0 the sharing of information and collaboration with others has become common place.

According to Swanepoel this is a fundamental contributor to the re-engineering of the home buying and selling process and the birth of companies such as Trulia, Zillow, Oodle, PropSmart and Live Deal. Although the real estate industry as a whole has "accepted" technology and most leading and large brokers embrace it to enhance their services, many don't understand that change is not just a one-time concept. The Web 2.0 wave is stimulating ongoing innovation upon earlier creation and is constantly searching for the next ‘big thing' says Swanepoel. Competition in the world of technology doesn't stand still for even a moment and real estate professionals that desire to become more successful and profitable must proactively remain at the leading edge of change.

According to Lennox Scott, CEO of J.L. Scott Real Estate, the Internet has changed consumer behavior in a way that plays perfectly into real estate's philosophy of empowering home buyers and sellers with market information, including visual images of houses for sale. Ten years ago nobody was looking for real estate on the Internet, but now the industry has shifted dramatically to a place of providing more and more online information.

Web 1.0 was like going to the library to get information. The Internet was basically mimicking the traditional business model, merely trying to do it online. Web 2.0 not only provides the ability to gain information instantaneously but also to interact with anyone, anywhere at anytime via instant voice, video or messaging. Web 2.0 is all about sharing and collaboration, not just striving to inform but to "get something done."

The Swanepoel Trends Report 2007 literally details and cites hundreds of examples of companies providing or implementing different aspects of change. Below are five real estate brokerage companies that were recognized as having created great Web sites.

RE/MAX was the first national franchisor to post listings of all real estate brokerages on its corporate Web site. Known as LeadStreet, it is actually a collection of national IDX office Web sites that is compliant with industry and MLS regulations but appears seamless to the consumer.

Real Living as one of the most aggressive online marketers. The company uses Google Base to provide a deeper and more refined search of its listing database so that consumers can search by location, property type, listing type, price and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. When the refined searched is entered a list of home photos will appear along with brief property information, a map and a direct link to the actual listing on the broker's website.

Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage is cited as an excellent example of a quality professional real estate brokerage managed by a large corporation (NRT, a subsidiary of Realogy). The company serves the Sacramento/Tahoe, San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley markets.

John L Scott Real Estate is acknowledged for its integration of three-dimensional aerial views and interactive mapping technology of Microsoft Virtual Earth into its site. This experiential way to view homes from a bird's eye view boosted the company's online visits to the highest levels ever, increased the number of return visits and provided viewers with a performance improvement over the previous property search tool.

Pacific Union is featured for all the tools they offer their agents who are out in the field through there website that offers mobile email, faxing, electronic forms and contracts, mobile MLS access and web-based transaction management. These services are all accessible through a Treo smart-phone or a VREO's tablet PC.

Of course there are many other important technology and internet innovations that can re-define real estate in the future. How current are you with these items also discussed in the Report:

Social Networking
Mashups
RSS Feeds
Real-Time Collaboration
Virtual Outsourcing
Speech Recognition
Online Valuations
Vertical Search Engines
Transaction Management Systems

Wise words from Tom Stevens, immediate past president of the National Association of Realtors, were echoed in the Trends Report, "Technology is progressing at a very fast pace. If we don't act now, we will be left behind."

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
This is an excerpt from the 159-page 2007 Swanepoel Trends Report (www.retrends.com) that details the Top 10 trends impacting real estate brokers, agents and Realtor associations. To purchase a copy go to www.realestatebooks.org and for free shipping use the promo code RISMedia.

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