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By Maria Patterson

RISMEDIA, Nov. 14, 2008-For Mark Whitehead, broker of Surf and Country Realty, in Newport Beach, California, real estate is largely a numbers game. Get in front of more qualified buyers, get more sales.

One way Whitehead attracts serious buyers is by focusing on the real estate auction business, a strategy he embarked on in 2006 and one he’s found particularly lucrative among his Southern California clientele.

“I try many different ideas and ways of marketing property as opposed to just taking a listing, putting it on the MLS and hoping someone stumbles across it,” explains Whitehead. “I have a more aggressive approach-I market heavily and I use auctions to sell real estate. People always think there’s a bargain to be found with an auction-there’s a certain zeal buyers have when they come to an auction.”

Whitehead’s auctions are not for distressed or foreclosed homes but, rather, for high-end, luxury properties. According to the broker, many of his buyers and sellers prefer the auction approach-it brings together actively interested buyers with cash in hand, and almost always results in garnering a higher price than originally listed.

“This is one of the most ethical ways to sell real estate,” says Whitehead. “Every buyer is a cash buyer and it eliminates all the things that can go wrong. There are no false sales where 30 days later the buyer finds out they can’t get the financing.”

With this proactive approach to selling real estate, it’s no surprise that Whitehead maximizes the advantages of Internet marketing to cultivate interest in his company and, more importantly, generate buyers. That’s why he was quick to sign on with Cyberhomes newly launched Cyberhomes Neighborhood Expert Marketing System.

By becoming a Cyberhomes Neighborhood Expert, real estate professionals can magnify their presence on by purchasing particular zip codes. When a buyer searches for homes in the zip code of a Neighborhood Expert, that real estate professional’s banner ad and website link appear at the top of the search-results page.

“The power of the Internet is to market property and it’s probably the most inexpensive way possible,” says Whitehead. “You can spend thousands of dollars on newspaper ads, but it doesn’t compare to the impact of the Internet. If you can be the first point of contact on the Internet and stand apart from the thousands and thousands of real estate agents out there, that creates tremendous brand awareness.”

“You have to be very proactive to get buyers,” adds Whitehead. “You can’t just hide in the bleachers and say ‘call me, if you want me to sell you a home.'”

Currently, Whitehead is the Cyberhomes Neighborhood Expert for Beverly Hills 90210, Corona Del Mar 92625, Newport Coast 92657 and Laguna Beach 92651. In addition to the website advertising, Neighborhood Experts receive a bundle of online and offline tools to utilize with clients, including: current market data for purchased zip codes; offline marketing materials that are customized with real-time current market data, and co-branded property reports. Whitehead plans to incorporate these offline tools into his listing presentations in order to increase his branding as an expert in his respective regions.

While still new to the program, Whitehead has seen important leads materialize from his Neighborhood Expert ad already. “I’ve got a $2.5 million buyer from Beverly Hills that I’m trying to find a property for,” he explains. “That’s a real, serious buyer.”

A large part of what makes the Cyberhomes Neighborhood Expert Marketing System successful lies in the fact that it resides within the powerful, consumer-centric Cyberhomes site. Whitehead identified Cyberhomes as a site worth being affiliated with.

“Cyberhomes looks good, it has a lot of detail and a lot of information for people to consider as opposed to a more generic site,” says Whitehead.

According to Whitehead, his Internet marketing program with Cyberhomes’ Neighborhood Expert offers far more than the typical newspaper ad. The Internet, he explains, allows consumers to find out not only more about the homes they’re interested in, but the area as well, from schools to employment statistics.

The bottom line for Whitehead? Becoming a Cyberhomes Neighborhood Expert is an important step toward putting him ahead of the competition. For him, the brand awareness is paramount.

“By having the banner ad, I’m saying to people, ‘I’m the first one you need to speak to-the other firms are not prepared to take the extra steps to do what needs to be done for potential buyers and sellers.”

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