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Commentary by Bill Jones

RISMEDIA, April 30, 2008-As a real estate professional, you’re well aware that first impressions count, especially in today’s volatile marketplace. The way you present yourself, your agency and your business is critical to making positive and memorable impression with your client base. However, many professionals still ignore one very important and vital link that connects them with their existing and future clients – their website. With so much research being conducted on the Internet today, here are 10 reasons why having a website is no longer a luxury but a necessity for every realty organization striving to stay competitive:

1. 84% of All Home Buyers Used the Internet in Their Property Searches Last Year. That’s a number that’s hard to ignore. If you’re not aggressively promoting your agency online, chances are you’re missing a substantial part of your potential market. Remember, a website can attract clients and business from areas you couldn’t reach otherwise, so promote your agency online.

2. See Reason Number 1! All kidding aside, your potential clients are busy people. Like many of us, they barely have time to get through their own daily routines, so you probably shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for them to stop by your office to browse. Why not reach them in the comfort and convenience of their own homes utilizing the medium that they prefer – the Internet.

3. Think Global, Act Local. Let’s face it. Times have changed. You no longer have to be a multinational conglomerate to look like one. With your own website, folks can reach you from around the block or from around the world. That means you stand a greater chance of capitalizing on relocations and out-of-state moves while continuing to show the people of your immediate area how well you know your community and how you can meet their specific, local real estate needs.

4. Always On…Always Connected. Like a 24 x 7, ubiquitous sales team that never sleeps, a professional website will keep your agency’s door open continuously, 365 days a year, at a most attractive cost. Answer questions, provide listings and promote your agency, non-stop. When website visitors complete your online “contact form, have the form programmed so you receive an automatic alert on your PDA device or cell phone so you never miss an opportunity. With an online presence, you’ll secure more contacts and more potential closes.

5. A Picture is worth a Thousand Words. So is a map of your community, a calendar of events or a list of open house schedules, for that matter. With your own agency website, you can continuously communicate relevant information to buyers, sellers and contacts without ever saying a word. Use your e-mail to launch marketing campaigns or send new listings to your customers who have registered through your site. It’s an extremely cost-effective and efficient way to build your prospect list and stay in constant contact with your clients.

6. Giving is a Beautiful (and Smart) Thing to Do. In today’s market, it’s the little things that add up and are often the difference in getting the deal closed. Promote a greater “value-add” by using your website to communicate the little things that tell a prospect you have their interests at heart. Like mortgage and property tax rates, school information, home staging tips for sellers, home inspection recommendations, moving companies, local attractions and events. You’ll quickly realize the more you give, the more you get back.

7. Save a Tree…Save a Buck…Make Green Your Favorite Color. Stop wasting trees and money on marketing and printing expenses. Instead of communicating via flyers, postcards and other mailings, use your always-on website to provide limitless information to your audience electronically. Relay up-to-date listings information, promote your brand, or launch new products and services without touching another sheet of paper. Whether you call it “going green,” “eco-friendly,” or just plain smart, you’ll increase your visibility and efficiency while decreasing your operating costs. That’s a formula that will make your competition “green” with envy.

8. A Place Your Agency Can Call Home. By choosing a website solution with an integrated Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) system and domain-based e-mail, your agency will have everything it needs to succeed in one centralized place you can call home. A few clicks will display listings, contacts, leads, notes, calendar, history and opportunities… from anywhere you have online access. With a fully integrated website and hard-working home page, you’ll be able to stay on top of your business and ahead of your competition.

9. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Your website is a reflection of your agency. It promotes who you are, what you stand for and reinforces the legitimacy and credibility of your agency. Use it to competitively posture and differentiate your agency within the marketplace. People look for and expect legitimate businesses to be online. Don’t ignore them by not having your own agency website, domain name and e-mail address. Your reputation could be at stake.

10. Say Hello to Automated Listings…Say Good Bye to Your Scissors and Glue Stick. With your own website, you can now update and modify listings in a snap. With no more photocopying, faxing, printing, cutting, pasting or mailing. And, without duplicating effort or wasting precious time which could be better utilized servicing clients. You can update data from the office, from your home, or on the road, in a completely automated manner. When you have your own website – you’re in control not your scissors.

And if you forget any of the top ten reasons just remember – if you don’t have a website, you’re losing clients to agencies that do.

Bill Jones is PR Director of iTema. For more information, visit http://www.itema.com/.

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