As Eva Lyford searched for someone to sell her Indianapolis home, she wanted someone who was tech-savvy. Lyford, a 30-something IT business analyst, says she "wanted a Realtor in this economic downturn who could pull out all the stops and present the home for sale in all venues" as opposed to someone who would "list and wait."
On the microblogging site Twitter.com, Lyford found RealtorMichelle, aka Michelle Morris of Carpenter Realtors, who's been sending "tweets" since April 2008 and blogging since July 2007. She maintains her own Web site and is highly responsive to e-mail, Lyford says.
When Lyford suggested a listing in the housing section of Google Base, it was done within 24 hours. "I didn't have to teach her to do it or wait for some administrator she relied on to do it," says Lyford.
"More people are expecting it," says Paul Campano, a senior sales associate for Keller Williams Realty in Cambridge, Mass., who says people in their 20s and 30s put more weight on tech savvy when choosing an agent.
A client told Campano recently that the first buyer's agent she used had to be told about homes that she found online. "He wasn't communicating on her terms," says Campano, who uses a variety of technologies, including text messaging and live chat on his Web site. He not only found her a home but received a positive review from the client on Yelp.com, which has helped generate new clients.
Web-savvy agents "have more reach and potential influence within their sphere, which could help them find a homebuyer or seller more expeditiously," says Rudy Bachraty, an agent since 2003 and the social media guru for Trulia.com, a real estate search engine.
A far reachAccording to the National Association of Realtors' 2008 Realtor Technology Survey, 80 percent of broker-owners and managers indicated that their business has a real estate Web site, and more than half of sales agents and associate brokers report having their own Web sites. One-third of respondents participate in social networking or blogging for business. Popular tech hardware used for business includes digital cameras (87 percent), notebook computers (55 percent) and cell phones (55 percent).
"We want our clients to be able to reach us, so it requires fax, scanners, computers, laptops and mobile phones. We do it the way it works best for them," says Bobby Morgenstern, a sales consultant for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Wellesley, Mass.
What works best for sellers: listings placed where the potential buyers can see them. Paid search advertising, search optimization, e-mail blasts, video and podcasts "are no substitutes for the usual marketing, but they do add another avenue for us to locate buyers," says Joe Cline, a broker for RE/MAX Capital City in Austin, Texas. "One extra prospect who sees the property could mean the difference between the sale and another price reduction."