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RISMEDIA, December 28, 2009—While meeting with Realtors during the past several months, I have been doing a very informal survey regarding the software and hardware they are using. If they were willing to provide the information, I also inquired about their average monthly expenses for the technology or technology services. At this stage in my career, typically, nothing surprises me; however, the responses I received to these questions were not only surprising, but also somewhat shocking.

A significant number responded that they used programs provided with their MLS access. With all the software programs available to Realtors daily, it was surprising the number who only used services offered along with MLS access. The remaining responses were a laundry list of many software applications written for the real estate profession.

Another surprising response was that less than 49% (remember, this was very informal) said they had a real estate website. When asked how often they updated their website, the most frequent response was monthly or “whenever I get a new listing.” It would be interesting to conduct a national survey to see how many IDX or VOW sites there really are relative to NAR membership.

The most shocking item to come up was the costs being paid monthly by Realtors who have, and actively utilize, their website as part of their marketing plan. At this point, I usually lost all control of the discussion as comparisons of costs vs. services vs. functionality ensued. Costs varied widely, with some paying more than $150 per month for their website. Based on the notes taken, I’m sure there were many changes after these discussions.

The message here is that with the rapid increases in technology, and the economy such as it is, there are a multitude of services available at very reasonable prices. If you haven’t compared what you are currently paying for technology services with similar offerings or better services in the last six months, it may prove to be very beneficial to do an audit by year end.

Several agents let me know that they are now saving between $50 and $70 per month, compared with what they had been paying. Remember: these savings do not include a review of cell phones or the plans available.

Take a look at all the technology hardware, software and services you are using daily. You may be surprised at what you discover.

Walt Baczkowski is president of the Metropolitan Consolidated Association of REALTORS®. To contact him, e-mail