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RISMEDIA, July 19, 2007—(MCT)—Radha Herring is starting a new real estate company on the Grand Strand — with no office. Watermark Real Estate Group will be virtual — with agents connected by computer and PDA, no matter where they are.

It’s just one example of how technology continues to transform the way real estate is bought and sold on the Strand.

“A lot of agents say they don’t even use their desks,” Herring said. “I won’t have the general increasingly expensive cost of running an office.”

Herring’s idea embraces her own love of technology and offers agents what she thinks is the best of both worlds: higher commission splits and more freedom.

She’s found ways to get faxes by e-mail, have the “office” phone forwarded to agents’ cell phones and create a Web site that gives her specific information on what kind of home a buyer is looking for when they search.

And she’s not the only one using new technology.

Agents at Century 21 The Harrelson Group are sending video e-mails to their clients — giving the potential buyer the ability to see the agent’s face and hear the agent talk.

The agents record themselves and e-mail the video. When their client opens the e-mail, the video pops up and shows a slideshow of properties while the agent talks.

“Before we were nothing more than a voice on the phone. Now people can see us and hear us. It’s taking what we’re already doing, which is connecting, and connecting at a much deeper level,” said Greg Harrelson, president of The Harrelson Group.

He says he’s seen studies that show video is 40% more effective for real estate communication than standard e-mail.

“The service is perfect for our market since we deal with so many people living in other states. We can easily send them a slide show or video of properties in the area and they do not have to worry about using up their hard drive space or getting a virus because it does not require any downloads,” he said.

Harrelson expects video to become the communication tool of choice for agents. Already, he said, many major franchises are implementing video in their daily coaching of agents.

Other signs of new technologies on the Strand:

– Independent Builders Development Inc. is using aerial views of their properties by helicopter to give buyers a bird’s-eye view.
– They added lot lines on top of the aerial pictures to show potential buyers which trees are on the lots and what the land looks like. Computers in the sales center show each development’s aerial views. The photos allow buyers to see what stores are nearby, such as the Wal-Mart just across the street from the Tiger Grand development.
– The company plans to put the new technology on its Web site, hoping that being able to see the real land, not just a rendering, will entice buyers.
– Stonegate at Prince Creek added a function on its Web site that allows potential buyers to see if their furniture will fit within the home’s floor plans, said developer Tim Collins. He hopes the feature will bring in second-home buyers.

Copyright © 2007, The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.