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Commentary by Peyman Aleagha

RISMEDIA, May 13, 2008-Five years ago just having a website at all was a way to differentiate yourself from other real estate agents or brokers. But now, everybody has a website. The fact that you also have one no longer does anything to set you apart from the crowd. When the prospective buyer or seller begins browsing through the dozens of realty websites in your area, how do you get their attention? How do you make them “stick” to your site instead of continuing their search through the long list of Realtors that resulted from their Google search?

One answer is to use “gadgets” on your website.

aleagha_peyman.JPGBut what is a gadget? A gadget is a specialized service that is designed to be easily incorporated right into your website. Typical gadgets have a very narrow and often very specialized function. They are like the instruments on your car’s dashboard – the speedometer, the odometer, the tachometer, etc. Each instrument does one thing.

In the real estate world, gadgets are designed to do specialized things for a real estate agent or broker’s website to make their sites more useful for prospective buyers or sellers. A gadget does not have to be a complicated function – in fact, the reverse is true. Simple gadget functions are often better and of more utility.

A few examples of typical real estate oriented gadgets would be as follows:

– A weather gadget – displays the current weather forecast for your local area. Useful to know before a client schedules home visits.
– A mortgage calculator – calculates payments based on various interest rates, purchase prices, down payments, and payment frequency options.
– An interest rate checker – an easy way to check local interest rates.
– A language translator – allows your website to be translated into as many as 10 different languages.
– A featured listing gadget – allows the visitor to see your “featured” listings immediately.

A gadget doesn’t need to take up a lot of real estate on your website. A typical gadget, usually measures an inch or two across.

The main idea behind gadgets is utility. You want to provide utility to the visitors to your site. In fact, you want to provide so much utility that visitors won’t need to go any place but your site in order to find what they’re looking for.

Gadgets are available from many sources. If your website supplier does not offer gadgets integrated with their sites, you will find that Google offers a wide variety of gadgets also available from their Google Gadget site at http://www.google.com/ig/directory?synd=open

Nina Kashefpour of HomeLife Real Estate Solutions has installed numerous gadgets on her website which are powered by our Web design company http://www.RealtySoft.com

Remember: whatever source you choose, focus on providing gadgets that add value to the visitor. Avoid gadgets that are “cute” or that offer “games” and put them right on the home page – in this way, the site’s utility is immediately apparent. And once you spruce up your home page with appropriate gadgets, you’ll be surprised at the effect that it has on visitor loyalty to your Web page.

Peyman Aleagha is the founder and CEO of RealtySoft.com, a provider of website, IDX and marketing tools for real estate agents and brokers.

For more information, visit http://www.realtysoft.com.

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