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Have you ever wondered how today’s top agents are utilizing technology? Wonder how social media can affect your marketing? Read on as RISMedia’s Lesley Geary interviews Fran Reali of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate about using technology to maximize opportunities in today’s market.

Fran Reali
Safari Realty Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate
Years in real estate: 31
Region served: All five boroughs of New York and Long Island, N.Y.
Average sales price in your market: $400,000

When did you first realize the importance of technology?

My husband and I decided to have our own website in 1996. At the time, everybody thought we were crazy to create a website. Remember, back in 1996 there was no®. There wasn’t much on the web at all. But within two weeks of putting up our website, an elderly couple in the area told their broker not to put a sign on their property; they only wanted it posted on the Internet. At the same time, a gentleman who was in Washington, D.C., saw the posting, called his sister who lived in our area and told her about the house. She came out, looked at it and bought it. From that point forward, we have been very committed to a strong Internet presence and to innovation. Today, our website is clean, new, sleek and very consumer friendly.

Which social media sites are you using?

We are very connected to social media, which we find to be very good business. We use Real Buzz, Facebook, Twitter, Active Rain, Yelp and LinkedIn, and make sure our QR codes link directly to our website.

How are you using these sites?

Thanks to my assistant, Lucy, who is my left arm and my right arm, we post everything we are doing, from a price change on a listing to company news. We post photos, virtual tours…you name it, we post it. Everything we post has to do with real estate. It is strictly business.

What types of content are you distributing through social media?

I blog about current market issues. If a bill was just passed or a law changes, we want the consumer to know about it right away. We stay on top of the issues. My husband watches all the news and we are able to put out alerts on our sites to help raise consciousness for our consumers.

How has your use of social media and your website changed your marketing strategy, if at all?

My husband and partner, Frank, is very statistical. From the day we opened our doors, we have a log of over 30 years’ worth of what was going on at the time. We noticed that the Internet gave us the best bang for our buck. We have not given up on print, though. But if you look at the percentage of people who begin their home search online, it has gone up exponentially. In the late ’90s, 73 percent of consumers started their home search online. Today, it is up to 96 percent, making it imperative that we have a strong Web presence.

What is the biggest challenge associated with using social media?

Time management is my biggest issue. There are only 24 hours in the day. I have always been very involved with the community, working with a million different organizations. I believe strongly in giving back to the community that sustains us. When somebody asks me to do something, I don’t think, I just go and do it. And I am so blessed to have the assistance of Lucy and my husband, which allows me the time to be creative. I find I must put programs and systems in place so that I am able to do what I do best.

You are one of the first in the New York area to affiliate with the Better Homes and Gardens franchise. What are the biggest advantages of this brand?

When we looked at the brand’s youthful attitude and the company’s desire to be ahead of the curve, we were sold. Thinking outside the box and being involved with the consumer has always been our take. From that vantage point, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate is a great fit for us. The brand is very consumer friendly and also very supportive. As a new real estate brand, it did not have to re-tool tired, old strategies; Better Homes and Gardens basically started from scratch, building a brand that is at once very current and very cutting edge. The brand is also very team oriented in its philosophy.

What advantages do you gain by being a member of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®?

The Top 5 resources are great. And Top 5 allows me to interact with many different people, giving me wonderful information and a chance to reach high levels of performance.

What is the one tool you can’t live without?

My iPad and my iPhone. I was a little resistant to the iPad at first, but now I can’t live without it. My iPad allows me to immediately give incredible service to my clients.

What is the key to a successful life in real estate?

Don’t ration your passion. Don’t ever give up.