With more than 400 million active users, Facebook‘s popularity seems to be stronger than ever. The number of apps and games on the Facebook platform are many and varied. There’s always some clever way of keeping friends connected and engaged. However, on Facebook, professional real estate-specific apps seem to be few. With the goal of providing a user-friendly REALTOR® Facebook app, CRT is introducing Scribblez.
What is Scribblez? If you are a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, then Scribblez is for you. Scribbelz is a way to send your friends and contacts a quick wall message with a subtle reminder that you are a REALTOR®. Use it to welcome new friends on Facebook, or keep up to date with old ones. It’s a great way to stay connected! Give it a try.
Scribblez is a free member resource from the National Association of REALTORS®.
Many of us have witnessed eye catching window displays at one point or another. Whether it’s the movement, the color or the information, window displays can be a great tool for drawing people into a particular shop or location.
Today, CRT introduces EyeCatcher, a Flaxh/XML application created with real estate practitioners in mind for use in their business. EyeCatcher makes it easy and convenient to showcase properties, agents, and messaging in real estate office window displays. Not quite sure this is for you? Take a look at a demo of EyeCatcher. (Note: the properties, agents, and addresses used are for demo purposes only. Special thanks to Daniel Rothamel, the Real Estate Zebra, for allowing us to use some of his Flickr photos.)
Who can use EyeCatcher?
If you are a real estate professional interested in using EyeCatcher, go for it! The application falls under the Open Source Initiative under BSD License.
What does this do for me?
- Adds a resource to your marketing toolbox by increasing your exposure. Afterall, EyeCatcher’s goal is to put your properties and agent’s faces in front of the public. Not to mention that you also have an area within the application that allows you to include ads or a custom message of your choice. If you don’t have an ad, maybe you can include info on an upcoming open house, spotlight your top producer, or promote an education session for potential home buyers & sellers.
- Differentiates your office from others in your area.
- Attracts your next client. (That’s the goal!)
What will I need to use EyeCatcher?
Some technical know-how and access to your servers where the EyeCatcher application will reside.
- Your server should also have a Google map key.
You will take the Google map key and drop it into the appropriate spot in the config.xml file.
The computer that runs EyeCatcher must:
- Be able to play Flash files
- Have a PDF reader to access the User Guide
- Have access to the web.
The following web browsers have been tested and work well with EyeCatcher: Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.0+, Mozilla Firefox 3.0+, Google Chrome 2.0+, Safari 5.0
The monitor or screen that is used in your window display should have access to a computer with a web connection.
Because templates are provided in photoshop and jpg formats, you will need access to a graphics program so you can drop in your brand or logo of choice (Gimp, for example is a free image editor.)
EyeCatcher is a free resource from the National Association of REALTORS®.
For those that are unfamiliar with REsync (aka simpleRETS), it is a simple command line RETS client that is easy to setup and run. It outputs RETS data to CSV format for easy import into many tools and can be run easily from a scheduling program. It allows you to browse the RETS metadata, download data as well as objects such as photos. Take a look at the project page to get a good idea of what REsync does.
The first release for REsync under the new name went also out today, REsync version 1.5.
Part II: Smart Phones
Whether you’re an agent, broker, or an association executive, you will want a smartphone. Smart phones are common in today’s market. It seems anywhere you go, people are using smart phones. For our purposes, let’s define smart phone as any phone that runs a full operating system that is expandable by installing applications or apps.
There are numerous smart phone manufacturers and each one is vying for your business. This industry, more than almost any other, is expanding and evolving at an incredible pace. Each manufacturer attempts to differentiate itself by offering different operating systems and hardware. Many of these features can sway you to purchase one smart phone or another. However, I would offer the following advice when considering a new smart phone:
- Start by determining which wireless provider best serves your location or needs. With very few exceptions, when you purchase a smart phone, you are committing to a two year agreement with the wireless carrier. Your first decision when researching any cellular phone should be the carrier. Far too many people base their decision on a particular phone. Remember that you will use this phone and service for two years so it is vital that the phone works for all of your needs.
- After you’ve selected a carrier, you will likely have at least two options in terms of smart phone operating systems. There are four major players in the market: Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile, and Android. While they all have their pros and cons, it’s important to remember that each one can easily perform the most important tasks, such as calls, texts, emails, Twitter, and Facebook. However, each platform will look, feel, and operate very differently. All of the major wireless carriers will allow you to use a demo phone in the store. You should spend at least ten minutes testing any phone platform you consider.
- The next step is to choose your hardware or hardware options. Every operating system offers multiple hardware options. As usual with any piece of technology, the newer the hardware, the m0re it is likely to cost. Sometimes it is a better decision to purchase an older smart phone and sometimes that’s a bad decision. All of the operating systems discussed offer some sort of software updates. However, the timing will vary in terms of hardware support. Your manufacturer or the creator of the operating system may decide that your hardware will no longer receive updates in the future. This could possibly happen before the end of your contract. This is yet another reason to be happy with what you purchase when you purchase it, not what it will or could be in the future.
- What is the price difference between your choices at this point? This is the point when you will need to talk with a representative from the wireless carrier. Each carrier has different pricing plans and some even have different plans for different smart phones. Calculate or ask the representative to calculate the total cost for the phone and the monthly payment for two years. Don’t be alarmed at how high the number is. The payments will be broken up, but the total cost at the end of the contract is the best way to compare phone prices at any carrier
Everyone has different needs when it comes to technology, so do your best to consider as many options as you can. And above all else, try before you buy. If you never play with the smart phone before you buy it, you’re never going to know if it’s right for you. It is vitally important that you know which device and operating system is right for your needs when you’ll be in a two year contract. Above all else, remember that although your new smart phone is capable of doing many things, it needs to function as a phone first. If you’re unable to use the most important features of the phone, you will be unhappy with your purchase. Balance what you need and which carrier provides them best. Finally, be sure not to fall into the trap of buying the newest, sleekest device just because it’s popular now.
The last post I made about Doozer was short, and I think a little more information is in order. So here is a more detailed explanation:
Doozer is a RETS metadata based DMQL builder. DMQL is the language that RETS uses to perform it’s search requests and it is not the easiest language to use, even for people that have experience with programming. In fact, the difficulty of people creating DMQL queries for simpleRETS was what lead us to create Doozer. The target audience of Doozer are fairly technically inclined users of a low-level RETS clients such as libRETS or simpleRETS. With this tool, it’s much easier for someone to create a RETS solution with these tools when they are faced with the task of creating DMQL for searching.
CRT is happy to announce that nominations are now being accepted for the second annual REALTOR® Technology Spotlight Award. This is an opportunity to recognize REALTOR® family members and/or their direct support staff who have shown excellence and visionary use of technology. From a practitioner’s effective & creative use of technology to the staff person who makes sure your web site stands out to the individual who keeps your servers running effectively so that the REALTOR® members shine in their day-to-day business…this is an opportunity to celebrate them! If you are part of the REALTOR® family, yes - you can nominate yourself.
During the 2010 REALTORS® Midyear Legislative Meetings, the Business Technology & Information Systems Forum brought together some of the best real estate technology thought leaders. If you were unable to join us in Washington, DC, or if you missed this forum - click on the video below to watch this informal discussion about the technologies that impact these real estate professionals on a daily basis. Get your pen & paper ready as you may take away information about tech tools you may not be familiar with and that may help you better manage your day-to-day business.
Thanks to the panel & to the forum team for making this session possible: Jeff Allen , Heather Elias, Daniel Rothamel (Forum Chair and session moderator), Garron Selliken, and Aaron Wheeler. Other forum team leaders: Jay Thompson (Forum Vice Chair) and Cindy Butts (Technology Liaison).
For more Midyear video recordings & pictures, visit Midyear Live.
CRT is just banging out the projects! We are happy to announce the beta release of Doozer, a DMQL query builder. Check it out the demo and the project page. You can use Doozer to create a DMQL query for any RETS need as well as create a config file for simpleRETS. We are currently working to improve the interface so please give us feedback through the Doozer discussion list.