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RISMEDIA, May 21, 2010—It’s a buyers market in real estate. Prices are down as are mortgage rates. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, “home prices appear to be stabilizing as demand for higher-priced homes picks up.”

But it is now a different world in real estate. Direct mail postcards, flyers, printed signage, newspaper advertising…these are all marketing tools that worked for the last real estate boom. Today, real estate professionals are moving to the Internet. Listings can be found on Zillow, Craigslist and local community sites. Why not take it a step further?

Granted, some Realtors and brokers are quick to adopt online mediums and techniques. But, by and large, MLS maintains its stranglehold on online listings and the vast majority of Realtors continue to cling to traditional practices–eschewing email marketing and social media tools. Plus, the jury is still out on the relative effectiveness of tweeting and Facebook advertising. However, all this is about to change.

Among other factors, the death of major newspapers across the nation, coupled with mounting political pressure in the U.S. and Canada for MLS to open up its listing service, should serve as a 5-alarm wake up call for Realtors to move their marketing practices into the 21st century. Shifting Realtor marketing efforts online is part survival, part upside.

On the survival side, the Web is the great “leveler” where small can efficiently and effectively compete with big–agent, broker, or even individual buyer/seller. In the event MLS loses their virtual monopoly, what’s your differentiation to justify that 5%+ commission? Imagine an online auction model where you bid to get listings—while likely beyond most Realtors’ comfort zones—it’s also not that far-fetched. Beyond that – where are you going to find clients, advertise your listings and open houses, when there is no newspaper. Going online lets you efficiently find leads for new listings and clients and effectively identify and nurture the best ones.

On the upside, real estate is increasingly a global game. Applying the old adage, “it just takes one buyer,” your prospects multiply exponentially with the cost effective reach of online tools. As well, casting a wider net is just the reality of today’s market – there are already regular junkets of potential Canadian and Western European buyers to see homes for sale in hard hit South Florida and Arizona. Going online brings the world to you.

So where do you start? Email marketing is the easiest, quickest, and most obvious online starting point. Email marketing offers global reach at less than the cost of one newspaper insertion with exponentially better ROI potential. Tools like Campaigner have a low cost of entry, only $10 a month, and are optimized for small business with off-the-shelf email templates, easy contact import, and standard reporting. You