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2008-01-29 12:15:00

3 Suggestions to Turn Web 2.0 Into Agent Web 2.0

There’s been a lot of hype about Web 2.0 – it’s claimed to be pretty much the future of everything on the Internet.  Using Web 2.0 means inviting user participation, user contribution, and the more the merrier.

It’s not all irrelevant techno-bunk. In fact, businesses like eBay, Craigslist, Wikipedia, Flickr, and LuLu are all multi-million dollar examples of Web 2.0 made good.  So far, in the real estate world, Web 2.0 has fostered a number of different Internet-based models.  A few examples include the rise in real estate blogging with blogs like FoREM and Bloodhound, professional networks like RealTown, and so-called data “mashups” like Zillow and Trulia.

That’s all well and good for professional Internet providers, but what about Web 2.0 for in-the-trenches real estate agent?  How does the agent, or the broker for that matter, utilize the same concept of open user participation to advance their business?  Here are three suggestions for upgrading your Agent Web 1.0 site into an Agent Web 2.0 site:

Suggestion 1: Make Your Site a Portal.

Most agent web sites are simply deliverers of content.  There’s content about the agent/broker, there’s content about the area perhaps, and there’s content about the services of the agent or broker.  In effect, most web sites are only an online brochure.

But when visitors come across your site they want more than a brochure – they want information.  Help them get it.  Your site should be the “portal” that helps connect them to the information they seek.  Use your site to provide direct links to banks, mortgage brokers, home inspectors, lawyers, local contractors, consumer protection sites, real estate consumer blogs, and other useful web resources. This will immediately establish your site as someplace useful to visit rather than someplace to avoid.

Suggestion 2: Bring Information to Your Visitor.

For vital information – information that is important to the buyer or seller – make that information available directly rather than a link.  Information of this nature would include direct IDX access to the local MLS listings, maps, school and community information, and town/city history.  It might also include local zoning ordinances, current lending rates, listing comparison tools, and a means of keeping or saving information on listings they find on your site.

Again, the point is to make your site useful. If your site is useful, your visitors will begin to see that you are useful, too. If your site is just fluffy content, visitors will assume that you are fluffy content, too.

Suggestion 3:  Allow Your Visitor to Bring Information to You.

A key part of having a Web 2.0 web site is to invite your participants to bring information to you, too – information that will help everybody involved in the process.  By making it easy for your web site visitors to provide you information, they make it easy for you to provide them information and services.  Everybody wins. You can invite them to provide you information by providing easy-to-use forms for telling you what type of home they’re looking for, providing information about the home they wish to sell, and by signing them up for e-mail “alerts” that will inform them when homes similar to their criteria come on the market. You may even want to allow visitors to fill out an evaluation form on your services!

A real-life example of a Web 2.0 web site has been created by RealtySoft.com for a Toronto Real Estate Agent Nina Kashefpour.  Her site, NinasDreamHomes.com adheres to each of the suggestions listed here. First, her site acts as a portal by providing access to useful news and weather information. Second, her site brings local information to the visitor, and lastly, her site solicits information from the visitor through the use of relevant forms.

“I wanted my web site to offer a lot of useful community information,” says Nina. “My visitors can locate anything they want using the technology on my site – schools, churches, banks, florists and any point of interest to the visitor.” She’s been pleased with the results. “I’m definitely attracting a different type of visitor than before I expanded my site – I’m getting good prospects.  I’m also getting people that call me saying how appreciative they are of the information they find on my site.” .

What Nina Kashfpour’s experience shows, is that changing a site from a Web 1.0 site to a Web 2.0 site need not be either difficult or expensive. But it will take some time on your part, but time which will pay off again and again in making your website a useful and desirable bookmark for prospective buyers or sellers.

(Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com.  RealtySoft provides web-based marketing solutions including agent and broker web sites, IDX, contact management, listing management, and syndication to other real estate professionals. RealtySoft.com is a RealTown / InternetCrusade approved vendor.)

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