Category: Real Estate Websites

In The Spotlight: Josh Dorkin and BiggerPockets.com

I am not a real estate investor. I managed only to last as a real estate agent for about 3 or months back in 2005. But you do not need to bee a real estate investor or real estate professional to know about BiggerPockets – an online community of real estate investors. All you need is a slight interest in real estate investment and Google. Chances are that if you have ever researched something related to real estate investing, you have stumbled across BiggerPockets.com.

I am always fascinated by a good website but more so by its founder(s). Every time I visit one, I immediately start to research who was behind it. So was the case with BiggerPockets a few years back. As soon as I visited the website for the first time I wanted to know who was behind it. It is extremely inspiring to learn from people like Josh Dorkin, the founder of BiggerPockets.com.

Josh started the the website in 2004 and today BiggerPockets is an extremely vibrant community of real estate investors with over 60,000 active members.

If you are like me, wondering why did Josh start such a website, watch the video bellow:

In addition to being a great learning place for beginner investors BiggerPockets features hundreds investment properties.

And here is another short video in which Josh tells you how you can benefit from being a part of BiggerPockets- the community of real estate investors:

I am not sure if I ever venture into real estate investing myself. If I do, BiggerPockets will be the first place I will turn to and not the “real-estate-”gurus”-who-sell-their-books-on-TV”. BiggerPockets is a community of real investors many of whom are more experienced and more successful that any given “guru” you see selling their books on TV.

I understand that Josh is planing to make plenty of new videos for BiggerPockets- so I might be posting few of those in the future.

Now go and explore this wonderful resource of real estate investing!

Crossroads Realty- Website Review

Crossroads RealtyIt has been long time since I have reviewed a real estate website. When I was contacted by Crossroads Realty to review their website, I knew that I have an opportunity to offer some spotlight to another New Jersey business. But I also hope that suggestions I am about to offer will be welcomed and used to improve their website and their Internet marketing efforts.

Website’s usability – user’s prospective…

When you visit Crossroads Realty’s website, it is hard to be confused as to where you are. You know immediately that you are on website of a real estate firm. It is very easy to search for properties or if you prefer you can search real estate agents.

Crossroads Realty website offers visitors to register a user account where they can save and organize the listings they are interested in- good feature for those of us whose browser’s favorites are miles long.

If there were any improvements to be made to the website, I would highly recommend adding additional “sharing” channels for visitors to use. Currently visitors can share listings with their friends via e-mail.

But there is no option to share listings (or agent profiles) on social networking website like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and many others. There are many solutions that will allow you sharing the content of your website on social networking website- ShareThis, AdThins, AdToAny just to name a few. Most of these solutions offer a simple “copy and paste” implementation.

Marketing, SEO/SEM suggestions…
The current state of traffic.
Quick comparison to another local real estate websites reveals that although Crossroads Realty ties with Diane Turton Realtors – it has some catching up to do with Gloria Nilson‘s website:


Pay Per Click advertising…
It appears that Crossroads Realty has reduced pay per click advertising budget in October 2008:


Stats from Spyfu.com

Most likely a move to cut spending in the face of the economic decline and market conditions. I somewhat disagree with the decisions to completely cut down the pay per click efforts- the pay per click does help visibility. Although the decision on pay per click advertising has to be made considering other factors. My instinct tells me that the return on investement did not justify

Incoming Links…
Search engine optimization requires a long term effort and dedication. But it of course has a potential to bring great results. One of the first thing I look analyzing a website is the amount and quality of incoming links. Comparing to the other two above mentioned real estate websites (Diane Turton and Gloria Nilson) Crossroads Realty has half the number of incoming links (source: Yahoo! Site Explorer). Use online press release distribution services such as PRWeb.com can help to increase incoming links as different publishers may feature company’s press releases.

In addition I would recommend that Crossroads Realty would start a corporate blog and increase presence and interaction on social media websites. Crossroads is poisoned well against the competitors, improving on certain aspects of online marketing can dramatically improve their visibility and reach online.

Disclosures: I briefly worked for Diane Turton Relators in the past under the management of Margaret Ann Cesta -currently the office manager of Crossroads Realty in Brick, NJ.

RealBird Launches Property Search Engine

Last few days I have been pocking around RealBird’s latest product – Property Search Engine. To put it as simply as I can their new product is impressive. With a few clicks and a “copy and paste” – you can be featuring thousands of listings on your blog or website. Just as you see in the examples at the end of this post as well as to your left. The search query for a zip code with 3 miles radius can return hundreds of listings. I have limited my widget to only 16 properties because I do not have an active licenses and do not look to get it active any time soon. The 16 properties listed in my widget are the listing of good friends of mine Pat and Wayne Harriman- so if I receive a lead or two as a result of this post, the leads will not be wasted. This also gave me an opportunity to discover a flaw in the search results which RealBird might want to address in the future updates to their system. The number (16) of course can change as RealBrid works on eliminating the duplicate results and/or my friends take in or sell some listings.

Embedding RealBird’s Property Search Results.
There are two ways you can currently embed the search results into your website. A side bar widget which you can see in action to your left. And a wider widget which can be embedded in to a post/page or other parts of your website. You can specify a custom width for both widgets to accommodate your websites look and feel. You are free to brand your widgets and full page results by adding you logo/pictuire along with contact information.

Email Inquiries Are Sent To The Publisher Not The Listing Agent…

Each property detail page of RealBird’s search results has an contact form. Once a visitor decides to use the form to inquire about further details, the e-mail sent to the listing publisher rather than the agent who owns the listing. For example, all the listings I am showing in the widgets belong to Wayne and Pat Harriman of Wallingford, CT. If a visitor happens to use the contact form from the detail page the e-mail will be sent to me. I think this is important to know for any agents hesitant to publish RealBird’s property search results on their websites.

Use Google Analytics To Analise The Traffic To Your RealBird’s Property Search Engine.

Once you have decided to publish and promote the property search engine, RealBird offers you an option to use your own Google Analytics code to track and examine the traffic.

The Widgets Are Fast.
Unlike RealBird’s Virtual Tour, I reviewed in the past, the property search widgets are extremely fast. It is rather obvious RealBird is reinvesting to improve their product.

Things RealBird Might Want To Improve On
It appears as if RealBird is pulling in results from several different sources. While it is not noticeable when your widget is showing hundreds or thousands of listing- it sure catches your eye when you limit your search results. Some listings can appear two or three times. It would be good idea to develop some sort of filters to eliminate the duplicate results.

About RealBird
RealBird is a technology leader with a solid track record in the real estate industry. The founders of RealBsird have pioneered some of the tools that are now ubiquitous on the Web: they built the first real estate websites back in 1994, first MLS email alert and CRM tools, and invented the patented wireless access to MLSs.

The company was established in 2003, and our initial emphasis was to provide affordable and powerful GIS (Geographical Information Systems),s mapping and aerial photos to the real estate industry.

Disclosure
As of this morning (April 22, 2009) the RealBird is an active sponsor of Go Beyond MLS. However this post was in the working since the end of last week and is not related to RealBird’s decision to sponsor Go Beyond MLS.

The State Of Top 100 List: Say Hello To New Blogs.

Since relaunching the list of real estate blogs las week, there were number of new blogs submitted. I will take time every week to introduce the blogs. This week we welcome ten new blogs to the list:

If you don’t see the blog on the list yet, it is most likely because I added your blog while the script was going through a scheduled update. The above mentioned blogs are now in the database and will be included in the list with the next update. Please follow GoBeyondMLS on Twitter to be notified about updates to the list.

RealDiggity.com – “Digg-like” Website For Realtors

RealDiggity.com Beta - Digg-like Website For Real Estate NewsRealDiggity.com has a hard act to follow. Made to look and feel like Digg.com, RealDiggity is aimed at helping to promote stories related to real estate.

The website is being developed using an open source content management system called Drupal, with the help of Drigg- a Digg clone module for Drupal. I personally would prefer Pligg if I was developing the website.

The success of the website however will not be in the software used to create it. It will largely depend on whether or not internet users will find it useful.

I personally would love to see more “social” components on the website such as ability to connect friends (adding friends)- my main reason why I would have opted for Pligg instead of Drupal.

Staypressed theme by Themocracy