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By John Voket

RISMEDIA, Dec. 29, 2007-While technology seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongues for giving consumers access to information faster, easier, and more on-demand, smarter companies aren’t forgetting about good, old-fashioned service. Here, meet Eddie Wilder, president of ERA Wilder Realty, and how his company is using tools to stay ahead without leaving person to person interaction in the past.

wilder_eddie.jpgEddie Wilder
ERA Wilder Realty
Chapin, South Carolina

I’ve worked in real estate for: 12 years Number of offices: 14 Number of agents: 450 Average sales price: $190,000 Average listing time: 97 days If I wasn’t in real estate: “I’d go back to commercial development. I still keep my hand in that with a small development and holding company.” Hometown: Greeleyville, South Carolina Loving life: “I like the security, consistency and attractiveness of the market.” Best professional advice: “My grandmother started a small family furniture business, and watching how she interacted with people, treating people like she did was a better example than any professional advice I could have ever received.”

How are you changing your marketing efforts to stay competitive in the region you serve-especially with younger buyers? We use ERA’s technology tools to stay competitive. We get 10 million visitors through our corporate site, and our own site brings us 75,000 unique visitors per month. Since there are visitors who like doing business the old-fashioned way, our local site has a brief pop up that invites visitors to call us right away and talk to a live person. We have live chat available for those who enjoy that kind of interaction. And we offer market exclusive podcasts, telling folks about the latest new homes in those markets.

Tell us how your company is doing in marketing second/vacation homes. We’re seeing a lot of Baby Boomers coming here looking at properties as an investment. And in some cases, we are selling them a third home. Sometimes they’ll chase the seasons, or choose to be on the lakes or be close to one of the local universities. We predict up to 20% of the population coming in to our region will be investing in second homes here.

How are you handling recruiting to maximize your growth potential? The world moves quickly, and you have to work the new generation workforce differently. The average age of our employees is 31 years old. We have a few different ways of recruiting, and we spend a lot of time talking to younger folks who have not been in the business before. We sponsor what we call the ERA Wilder Realty University. The program takes recruits from not knowing anything, through marketing, applying technology, and we bring our most successful people in to help them elevate themselves in the market.

Your company is among the growing number who are partnering with home inspection and home warranty companies like American Home Shield®. Why is it important for you to make these vendors into partners? There’s no doubt you need to place a warranty on every home. It provides the ultimate in risk reduction for our agents. People tend to forget we may not know about appliances and utility systems. Many of these purchasers utilize their disposable cash to get into the home. So you have to look for every opportunity to make the experience positive.