Recently in ReData Maps Category

First: happy new year and best wishes for a healthy and prosperous 2010!

Second: 2010 change and opportunity.

I have been traveling extensively the past few weeks. It is always interesting and useful to observe people, their activities and gadgets.

Hands down, iPhone and iPod Touch devices dominated aircraft, airport and holiday scenes. I did see a few blackberries (one family had a company blackberry and several iPhones) and one Droid.

The recent smartphone explosion along with the introduction of useful "tablet" or "slate" devices will continue to change the way in which people use, create and interact with real estate information.

Most importantly, it will change their expectations......

What does this mean for brokers and agents?

## A) Mobile

The "killer app" - from a VP customer - for real estate buyers, sellers and professionals.

www.virtualproperties.com/iphone/

Our second major release in 9 months, your branded iPhone app provides essential website functions in a faster, easier to use application. Always on, this "app" can be accessed at home, work, on the go, while working out, dining, traveling - anywhere.

Our software makes sure the app is up to date with the latest property information and technology. It includes property comparison tools and unlimited use mapping services. Stop paying for maps on a per click basis.

Your organization must be in this space.

There will be competing devices, though it is not yet clear who will successfully challenge the iPhone infrastructure.

## B) "Tablet or Slate" computing and real estate

There has been no shortage of hype recently about these new devices. From my perspective, the real change will be to traditional laptop formats. Physical keyboards will certainly be available for some time, but, virtual keyboards (via touchscreens with "multi-touch" gestures) will take over the volume portable device space.

Many real estate firms have published traditional magazines, as a marketing and advertising vehicle.

This conceptual video, by Bonner Mag+ neatly summarizes digital magazine possibilities with emerging devices:

http://www.bonnier.com/en/content/digital-magazines-bonnier-mag-prototype

The video reinforces the benefits of high quality, well organized information. Our Main Street single entry cloud software generates timely media and text content for many publications in different formats, including html and pdf. Our clients do not need to add yet another vendor and platform to support these emerging applications.

www.virtualproperties.com/rt/ms.html

## C) Your Website

The iPhone app explosion is changing buyer and seller information convenience and access expectations. Does your website address these changing customer desires?

Accelerate your website with our Main Street cloud software's new customer portal tools. From lead generation to transactions and customer for life, Main Street manages your world in real time.

One vendor.

Virtual Properties is your trusted technology team - since 1995. Do you have the right people, platform and technology partner for 2010 and beyond?

In Tight Market, Real Estate Agents Tout Eco Features

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Elizabeth Shogren:

With the real estate market still hurting across most of the country, a growing number of real estate agents, builders and homeowners are pitching the green features of properties to try to lure buyers.

But in much of the country, green buyers and sellers struggle to find each other. In most places, the listing services that realtors and appraisers use make it difficult to search for eco-friendly real estate.

And most buyers still put a higher value on location, price and traditional amenities than on environmentally friendly additions.

Green Sells Better If It Also Saves Money

Still, when real estate agent Jennifer Halm shows clients around the stately, historic-looking condominium building in the popular Old Town neighborhood of Alexandria, Va., she highlights the property's green features.

Main Street along with our unlimited use mapping services and broker branded iPhone app support eco searching and data display.

The Profit and Peril of Mashups

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

What is a "mashup"? According to this wikipedia entry, "In web development, a mashup is a web page or application that combines data or functionality from two or more external sources to create a new service."

Real estate brokers and agents may wish to take advantage of "free" internet api's (application programming interface). Websites such as flickr, facebook, youtube, yelp and many others offer programatic interfaces to their data and media.

What are the benefits of such API's?

  • Aggregate local information around properties for sale or rent.
  • Enhance your website "experience".
  • Avoid the cost of collecting and managing local information.
What are the costs and risks of using such API's?
  • Bad data. Automated information aggregators often lack local expertise. Information may be outdated; a long closed restaurant may still have a review on your website.
  • Inappropriate content. I created a Facebook demonstration for a client some time ago. The resulting page included an advertisement for Filipino Girls.
  • What motivates the data aggregator? Is their strategy aligned with yours?
  • Does the data make your site more generic?
  • Competitive stealth advertising on your site. Savvy competitors will figure this out and place their content on your site via the API's.
What are the alternatives to "mashups"?

Your agents have a wealth of local market knowledge. Hire or appoint a "blog-o-spondent" or "blogger-in-chief". This person creates and aggregates your own content (text, audio, video, maps) on your blog, around your website(s) and via appropriate social networks. Over time, agents and staff post directly and incorporate your listings, services and our unlimited use maps (for a fixed price). Create your own platform that emphasizes your brand. This approach improves recruiting, retention and internet marketing in ways that you control and at a much lower cost than traditional advertising.

Main Street reliably supports the tools you need, from blogs, dynamic short links, lead management, surveys and multimedia to market reports and live charting tools.

As always, there is no "free lunch".

This week's news that iPhone and iPod Touch sales now exceed 37 million units provides a fresh reminder that times of economic transitions present new business opportunities. AdMob's March, 2009 mobile traffic data is also worth a look:

AdMob has released its monthly Mobile Metrics Report for March, and to no one's surprise, the iPhone and iPod touch are still hot devices [iPhone demographics] for surfing the web on the go. Both are also hot devices for using mobile apps, too, as AdMob says that over half of the requests for ads from iPhones now come from third-party apps.

Worldwide, the iPhone continues to gain a significant share of mobile requests on AdMob's network. While Symbian-based devices, mostly from Nokia, continue to lead, the iPhone is catching up, mostly to Symbian's detriment. In the US, the iPhone still holds half of all requests for mobile ads compared to devices based on other OSes.

Our clients quickly deployed branded iPhone applications over the past few months. They avoided adding complexity to their business and staff, dealing with yet another vendor and system and moving data around. It just works.

One put it this way earlier today: "Dang, that's a beautiful app!"

Find out how quickly you can take advantage of today's fastest growing technology platform. Contact me, Jim Zellmer zellmer@virtualproperties.com or voice +1 608 271 9601.

Dennis Jacobe:

Plunging housing prices combined with historically low interest rates have persuaded 71% of Americans that now is a "good time" to buy a house -- up 18 percentage points from a year ago and the highest level of housing-purchase optimism in four years.
Is your business ready? Some firms will address the opportunity by growing costs, while others (fewer, probably) will embrace automation and new services, including ReData.

Related: Recent census relocation data.

Matthew Honan:

The location-aware future--good, bad, and sleazy--is here. Thanks to the iPhone 3G and, to a lesser extent, Google's Android phone, millions of people are now walking around with a gizmo in their pocket that not only knows where they are but also plugs into the Internet to share that info, merge it with online databases, and find out what--and who--is in the immediate vicinity. That old saw about how someday you'll walk past a Starbucks and your phone will receive a digital coupon for half off on a Frappuccino? Yeah, that can happen now.

Simply put, location changes everything. This one input--our coordinates--has the potential to change all the outputs. Where we shop, who we talk to, what we read, what we search for, where we go--they all change once we merge location and the Web.

I wanted to know more about this new frontier, so I became a geo-guinea pig. My plan: Load every cool and interesting location-aware program I could find onto my iPhone and use them as often as possible. For a few weeks, whenever I arrived at a new place, I would announce it through multiple social geoapps. When going for a run, bike ride, or drive, I would record my trajectory and publish it online. I would let digital applications help me decide where to work, play, and eat. And I would seek out new people based on nothing but their proximity to me at any given moment. I would be totally open, exposing my location to the world just to see where it took me. I even added an Eye-Fi Wi-Fi card to my PowerShot digital camera so that all my photos could be geotagged and uploaded to the Web. I would become the most location-aware person on the Internets!

GPS HomeFinder: iPhone 3G and Blackberry Storm?

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Our ReData® GPS HomeFinder for the iPhone 3G allows real estate agents, managers, buyers and sellers to quickly view properties for sale or rent near their current location via a smart map (video demo).

RIM's (Research in Motion) recently announced Blackberry Storm is their first touch screen smartphone. The Storm includes GPS. We are evaluating the Storm and hope to support GPS HomeFinder soon.

Read these reviews of the Blackberry Storm:

  • Joshua Topolsky:
    It's clear from the device itself and the massive promotional push that both RIM and Verizon are giving the Storm that they view this as a proper threat to the iPhone's dominance in the smartphone market. Over the last few weeks we've been bombarded with commercials, leaks, press releases, and special events all celebrating the arrival of the Storm, both here and abroad. So it seems fairly obvious that yes, the companies believe they have a real contender on their hands -- and in many ways they do. The selling points are easy: the phone is gorgeous to look at and hold, it's designed and backed by RIM (now almost a household name thanks to their prevalence in the business and entertainment markets), and it's packed with features that, at first glance, make it seem not only as good as the iPhone, but better. The only hitch in this plan is a major one: it's not as easy, enjoyable, or consistent to use as the iPhone, and the one place where everyone is sure they have an upper hand -- that wow-inducing clickable screen -- just isn't all that great. For casual users, the learning curve and complexity of this phone will feel like an instant turn off, and for power users, the lack of a decent typing option and considerable lagginess in software will give them pause. RIM tried to strike some middle ground between form and function, and unfortunately came up short on both.
  • Walt Mossberg @ Wall Street Journal:
    verall, the Storm is a very capable handheld computer that will appeal to BlackBerry users who have been pining for a touch-controlled device with a larger screen. And it offers yet another good option for anyone who is looking to buy one of the new, more powerful, pocket computers.
  • Matt Buchanan:
    The Storm is a strong effort from RIM, but it's not quite the killer phone that they or Verizon need it to be. It's good--RIM clearly put a lot of thought into the design. But I think it fall short of what they were aiming for, and ultimately what all the hype is driving people to expect. Some of this is fixable: The damn thing needs to crash less often. But SurePress is not the end-all, be-all of touchscreen technologies--it's not really an evolutionary step forward, even. The experience may be fairly refined, but more polish is still needed. Had this Storm been left to brew a bit longer, it would've been much more powerful.
Related: AdMob Mobile Metrics [200K PDF Report]:
Here are a few interesting findings from the most recent report:
  • The iPhone is now the #1 device worldwide in the AdMob Network with 4.1% share of requests in October. Since AdMob launched its ad units for iPhone sites and applications, iPhone requests have increased from 28 million in July to 236 million in October. This month, we break out iPhone requests by country and region.
  • 62.8% of iPhone requests were from the US, where the iPhone is the #2 device behind the RAZR. 5.0% of iPhone requests came from the UK, where the iPhone is the #3 device behind the Nokia N95 and Sony Ericsson K800i. Other top markets include Canada, France, Japan, Australia, and Germany.
  • As part of our commitment to providing detailed insight into different regions, this month we provide traffic, manufacturer, and device data for Latin America & the Caribbean. Traffic from the region increased 138% in the last 12 months to 109 million requests in October 2008.
  • Motorola, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson all have greater than 20% market share in Latin America and are each leaders in different markets. The Motorola RAZR is the top device in the region with 10.3% share and is a Top 20 Handset in each of the top Latin American markets.
  • Worldwide requests grew 13.8% month over month to 5.8 billion. US requests grew 7.9% to 2.2 billion and UK requests grew 16.0% to 229 million in October 2008.
Finally, our ReData® maps are updated quarterly, support extensive customization and, most importantly are available on a fixed price basis for unlimited use. Other mapping services allow competitors to advertise on your site and/or charge a per click fee, which means that you cannot control your mapping costs or quality of service.

"What Do Agents Really Need?"

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Megan Wilber 1MB PDF:

So in an industry climate that is ever-changing, what are agents today looking for from their brokerage? Are they looking for quality? Support? Leadership?
The Hasson Company is a Virtual Properties customer.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the ReData Maps category.

Recruiting / Retention is the previous category.

Reports is the next category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.