I bought my house way, way back in 1998. In technology terms, those were the dark ages. Particularly if you were in the real estate business.
My realtor, Sherry, was great. She showed my wife and I dozens of homes before we found the one we live in now. She worked tirelessly. She drove us everywhere. She intervened (and likely saved my marriage) when I wanted to buy that really cool house with the basement party room and built-in urinal. Instead we wound up buying a nice house with a newly finished deck in a good school district. No urinals.
Sherry was all personality and hard working. And she relied heavily on the technology of the day. A mobile phone. A car. An office phone. And a not-too-up-to-date website that listed available homes. Oh, and a fax machine for sending documents back and forth. It all sounds so quaint nowadays doesn’t it? A lot’s changed in thirteen years.
Being a realtor in 2011 is a completely different ballgame. Sherry is now retired and I’m sure she’s thanking God for that. She doesn’t have to do what today’s realtors have to do to survive and profit.
Like Ines Hegedus-Garcia. She sells real estate in one of the worst markets in the world: Florida. This is the land of empty high rises, slow drivers, humidity and boring baseball teams. Actually, it’s not so bad. They’ve got the Miami Heat. And even as existing home sales continue to fall nationwide, sales of houses and condos in Florida have gone up, particularly in Ines’ home town of Miami, where sales have risen to a five year high.
Is Ines a top, top producer, raking in zillions? I don’t know. I didn’t ask her. But she’s doing well. And what’s most important is that she’s doing well in a very difficult market.
Ines and her husband Enrique sell real estate and manage properties. They’ve survived and profited in real estate hell through hard work, hustle and mostly…through technology. Particularly technology. Because realtors in 2011, especially those working in distressed areas like Florida, need to use every bit of technology available to succeed.
Ines’ real estate empire is built on one foundation: her blog called Miamism.
“Real estate is a seven year cycle,” she told me. “And referrals are everything. To get sales leads, our blog is our number one tool. I write about subjects I like and offer as much valuable information as I can to potential buyers. I write about everyday questions that my clients ask me. It’s never about me. It’s about the consumer. And what information they need to make an informed purchase.”
Ines started her blog in the heady days of 2006. She used to spend a few hours a day on it, but now she says she writes for no more than an hour. “Now I have a library of over a thousand articles. So I can piggyback off them, repost and use older content.” Ines posts about four to five times a week. Her posts are short, generally under five hundred words, because her typical audience are “scanners.” Sometimes she’ll write a longer piece if the subject has something to do with architecture or history.
Ines does all the things you need to be doing in today’s world to run a successful blog. You can sign up to get blog posts emailed to you. You can search for homes. You can leave comments. You can contact her directly. You can download flyers and link directly to real estate related sites. Her blog is her website. Her website is her blog. And if you’re going to run a successful blog like Ines, you’ll need to enjoy writing and be prepared to spend time on it every single day of the week.
And the results can be significant. According to Ines, her blog now gets about a thousand visitors a day. She does the whole thing on WordPress.org. And she’s modified the look and feel of the site about four times since she began writing it, using a designer and search engine optimizer that cost her about $2,500 each time. From the blog, she ties in other technology.
For example, she’s created Twitter, FaceBook and LinkedIn pages which all connect to each other. And she’s a big user of Flickr, the photo sharing site. “It’s real estate,” she says. “Of course people like to see pictures.” Ines uses a syndication site called Posterous to get the messages out. She posts something on Posterous once and the service distributes to all of the social community sites where she participates.
Her blog gets found because it’s active. It gets picked up by Google because there are a lot of posts. And comments to her posts. And links to other social media sites. And links back to her blog from her passionate fans. She’s constantly updating key words and “meta” data for searchers too. It didn’t happen overnight. But it’s amazing how popular a blog can get if you steadily work on it for five years or so.