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Regional Spotlight: Cape Cod Agents Rely on Internet to Move Property

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RISMEDIA, Oct. 9, 2007-(MCT)-With online listings, virtual tours and personalized Web sites in their repertoires, Cape Cod real estate professionals are no strangers to Internet-based marketing.

But as consumers grow ever more Web-savvy and online applications continue to evolve, many in the industry are experimenting with blogs, YouTube videos and even cyber cafes to promote their properties.

“That’s just one more way to try to create some buzz with your property,” said Leslie Cozza, a loan officer with Rockland Trust who helped a real estate agent produce an online video tour for a home in Mashpee. “If there’s one more way you can make your listing stand out from the masses, you might as well do it.”

According to a 2006 report by the National Association of Realtors, 80% of potential home buyers begin their search online.

“I’ve learned that the Web is really important in reaching out to most everybody,” said Cynthia Furtado, the agent from Act 1 Carol O’Loughlin Real Estate in Falmouth for whom Cozza made the video. “Most of the buyers are doing most of their footwork online before they even call somebody.”

Bill Ryan, an agent with Century 21 Shoreland in Hyannis, uses videos to promote his higher-end listings, such as a nearly $2 million property in Mashpee that he recently featured.

He works with Realty Times, a Dallas-based industry news Web site that also produces a weekly television show. The company creates his videos as a part of the program, and then distributes them to several places online, including the wildly popular video-sharing site YouTube.

The additional exposure, he said, is worth the expense of producing a video, which he estimated costs him $385.

Bolstering his online presence also makes Ryan more appealing to sellers choosing a listing agent, he said.

“The more tools I can provide, the more it increases my chance of getting a listing,” he explained.

In addition, about a year ago his office in Hyannis set up an Internet cafe, where buyers, sellers or out-of-town agents can enjoy an espresso while browsing online listings on one of the facility’s three computers. The agency is planning to add wireless Internet access in the near future.

The cafe, which currently draws a handful of people each week, is a unique offering, said Ryan.

“The owners of the brokerage here wanted to do something different,” he said.

Realtor Joyce Bearse, from Century 21 Sam Ingram in Yarmouthport, has made about a dozen videos, which she posts on YouTube, her Web site and other online listing locations.

Bearse said the homes featured get more attention. She has been repeatedly contacted by other agents whose buyers have seen these video tours and want to view the house.

“I can’t tell you how many agents have called,” she said.

Bearse has been certified by the National Realtors Association as an e-Pro, a designation that means she has been trained in all aspects of using the Internet to market and sell real estate.

Online videos are so effective, she said, because they give buyers a more accurate sense of the home than other traditional advertising can.

“They can get more of a complete picture of the property,” Bearse said. “I’ve had a lot of buyers tell me that they are looking at a lot of properties that end up very different than what they’re expecting.”

Other agents have turned to Web logs, commonly called blogs, to draw in and educate both buyers and sellers.

“It’s a way to reach out to potential clients and current clients to keep them abreast as to what’s going on in the real estate market,” explained Rick Tourgee, a real estate blogger and the manager of Century 21 Shoreland’s Provincetown office.

Because so many of his customers don’t live on the Cape full time, the blog helps Tourgee keep them updated about the market here.

“They read the national news about what’s happening in real estate, but that doesn’t really reflect what’s going on on Cape Cod,” he said. “I believe a blog is good no matter where you live, but I think it’s a little more important when the clients don’t live here on the Cape.”

The blog functionality is available to Tourgee at no cost through the National Association of Realtors.
According the group’s research, only 2% of Realtors currently run blogs.

Tourgee tries to update his blog at least three times a week to keep the content fresh. “The market’s not standing still,” he said.

Copyright © 2007, Cape Cod Times, Hyannis, Mass.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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