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Introducing Web 2.0 to Real Estate

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FindaHome.com builds partnerships as it readies for nationwide roll-out

By John Voket

RISMEDIA, July 19, 2007–While diligently working with some of the industry’s largest and most successful brokers, FindaHome.com Founder and President Scott Tatro and his team are gearing up for what they believe will be a rush of new consumers clamoring for the technology his company is offering.

According to Tatro, his company is on the cusp of a national branding roll out, set for the second half of this year. Tatro is confident that their easy-to-remember brand will rise rapidly in top-of-mind awareness with consumers, and perhaps more importantly rise in search engine rankings through their proprietary linking strategy with many of the industry’s busiest regional sites.

“We believe that this search engine aspect alone on a broker’s site is worth the (monthly) fee,” says Tatro. Even the technology patent licenses issued to Findahome.com which help to create their cutting edge solution may provide an added incentive for brokers to sign on with FindaHome.

The Story Behind the Patent

In 2005, Frans Bech, a Danish entrepreneur and co-founder of FindaHome.com, teamed up with Tatro, an entrepreneur and business development professional with nearly two decades of real estate technology experience. The pair shared a vision of a data-rich site with interactive mapping capabilities that would surpass anything currently available.

Tatro planned to build this online resource based on a series of technology patents he had been acquiring for more than a decade, including the highly controversial search patent USPTO 5032989. He was the first U.S. licensee of this seminal technology in the mid ‘90s.

“Because we were fortunate to have also licensed the controversial #5032989 patent…each of our (members) brokers totally avoids any and all legal liabilities regarding this patent,” Tatro explains. “Based on the court documents that we’re reading, this case unfortunately appears to be leaning heavily in the patent holder’s favor. The kinds of liabilities for brokers with 50 agents or more have some experts calculating numbers easily in the six-figure range.”

What the Program Offers

Once FindaHome.com is in full-on launch mode, consumers will click-on and experience something that until recently was only envisioned in futuristic settings. Visitors who may be looking for a home across town, or on the opposite side of the country or planet, will access a free, “zoomable” Global map that keys in to any geographical spot or even a zip code in the United States, and unfurls a wealth of hyper-localized demographic data, while directing visitors to local broker/members for immediate regional assistance.

That is when consumers will really begin to see how FindaHome.com really separates itself from wannabe competitors, explains former Realtor.com sales manager, Steve McGuire, who now serves as director of Internet sales for Prudential Verani of Londonderry, New Hampshire.

He pulls no punches when it comes to FindaHome.com, describing it in terms of “space shuttle technology,” for real estate consumers as well as industry pros.

“We’re going to have people who are absolutely wild about it, and it will be up to our agents to respond and advise those clients, and to stay on top of the best and latest data in our region,” says McGuire.

McGuire says the FindaHome.com technology can benefit many of his Prudential Verani agents.

“Due to their experience, our team knows virtually everything there is to know about particular neighborhoods or communities, but take them a few towns away, and they are starting from scratch,” McGuire said, adding that in that respect, FindaHome.com, “…is the most valuable tool in the box.”

Web 2.0 for Agents and Consumers

But as with all Internet leads, not every one is created equal. The quality of leads is as varied as a given agent’s ability to handle that lead. McGuire believes that the most progressive agents have the most to gain from the FindaHome technology.

“FindaHome.com users are going to be extremely sophisticated and savvy buyers. So agents will have to be trained, and in all likelihood trained better than the savviest buyer,” says McGuire.

“With something as easy to use as FindaHome.com that distills a tremendous amount of information, we see it providing a whole new tool to help buyers achieve their goal,” McGuire adds.

Tatro says mixing interactive mapping with regional and neighborhood demographics in this way is a true Web 2.0 business model.

“It’s about empowering consumers with more information,” says Tatro. “If you play with the site you can see just how different it is from anything on the market. The sticky content gets consumers engaged, so we find they stay longer and then they refer the site to others, ultimately creating more traffic for members.”

With 1,800 Realtors serving greater Chicagoland, Baird & Warner’s Chief Information Officer, Charlie Melidosian says he is “optimistic” that FindaHome.com’s “zoomable” mapping feature will be a hit with potential home buyers in his region, and ultimately drive more leads to his company.

“From my vantage point, resolving the patent issue on the zoomable map feature—Patent 989—and the potential partnership it can create between brokers and FindaHome.com is the strongest feature,” says Melidosian. “I’m out there encouraging my peer companies (to become members) for the patent protection.”

Melidosian was further encouraged by Tatro’s plans to roll out some big-guns marketing in the coming weeks.

“FindaHome.com is a unique company with a unique tool that can help…drive select business to its partners. We’re confident they can generate the traffic they are hoping for, (but) they will only achieve success with marketing to drive traffic,” Melidosian explains.

“Over time you learn what makes a successful company, and you really need to combine the marketing and ad dollars with building effective partnerships, that will create leads for those partners,” he adds. “The leads (it brings to Baird & Warner) would be gravy on top of that good business relationship.”

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