Feb 03

 

I’ve been playing with the Steadicam Smoothee for iPhone this last week and I got to say I am very impressed.  It’s made from the same design principles that were used to create the original Steadicam back in 1976 which has been used in Hollywood for over 30 years.  It uses a gimbal and a counter balance along with a handle to provide a stable platform to mount your iPhone for exceptionally smooth video.  It does take a little bit to get used to but once you get the hang of it the difference is amazing.

Let me know if you are using this and how it works for you.

 

Max

 

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Jan 23
QR Code for launching video

scan or click for video of how to create a QR code

Hi guys. lots of buzz about QR codes and how to best use them in the real estate business so I thought I would upload an updated version of a “How to create a QR code for real estate video“.  

This video will take you step-by-step through creating a QR code using http://goo.gl

Goo.gl

There are several sites that will create a QR code for you for free. Goo.gl is just one of them. The reason I like Goo.gl is that it has some pretty neat tracking tools that allow you to see how many times your QR codes was scanned, when it was scanned and even what kind of phone they scanned it with like this.

Goo.gl Reports

If you want to find other sites that will create QR codes just Google “QR code generator” and you’ll see lots of other options including sites that will allow you to create a QR code that pops up an SMS text message (think lead generation) or a QR code that just calls your phone number etc.  I believe one of the best ways to utilize QR codes is by linking them to a video, so that is what I did for my example in this video.

Here’s a few ideas:

1. Simply recording a video of yourself talking about why people should want to work with you, talk about your special knowledge of a neighborhood or property type (people like to work with agents that specialize in their needs). You would then create a QR code linking to this video & put this QR code on the back of your business cards with a note that says “scan this to find out why you should work with me” etc.  2. How about shooting some quick video of your buyers the day of closing  (only if they are happy ;-) ) creating a QR code to this video and putting it on your business card saying “find out what past clients have said about my services” etc. 3. Why not create a video tour of a neighborhood you specialize in (Hawk’s Landing for example) then post the QR code you create that links to this video on a sign in the local stores in the neighborhood (many have bulletin boards) that says “scan this to find out why Hawk’s Landing is a great place to live” etc.  4. Create a video tour of a specific property then insert a QR code that links to this video on the property flyers.  A buyer pulls up to the house, gets a flyer out of the flyer box, then scans the code and watches a video tour of the home on their phone while they are sitting in-front of it.

So many different ways to utilize these things and the best part is they are FREE!  Imagine how impressed a home seller will be when you introduce them to QR codes during a listing presentation by scanning a property flyer you brought with you using your smartphone and a video tour of a home starts playing….powerful way to let them know you are using the latest technology to market homes.  Will they change the way people buy homes….probably not, but they will be another technology that links the offline world to the online world using mobile technology so why not give it a try.

If this is your very first experience with QR codes remember you need a “QR reader” app for your smartphone, just go to wherever you download apps for your phone and search for QR Reader they are free and will allow you to use your smartphone to scan QR codes

If you are curious about Microsoft Tags like this one:

Links to same video

They are a similar technology but use a different reader and different site to create them but in essence do the same thing, linking the offline and online worlds together.  There are some advantages to MS Tags such as more possibilities and the ability to have the image even smaller and still be recognized .   The advantage that QR codes have is that they have been out longer so consumers are more likely to have tried them by downloading a “QR Reader” app.  It remains to be seen if this will continue to be the case as Microsoft may put some money behind the promotion of the MS Tag standard and make it more prevalent in the future.

Hope this was helpful please feel free to comment here or over on Facebook and let others know how you are using QR Codes in your business.

Until next time….Max

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Feb 09

iPhone “Smack Down” intro video

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Feb 07

That’s right it’s finally here…..  For the past 3.5 years I have been living with 2 phones: my iPhone (which did everything accept make reliable phone calls) and a variety of droid phones as my home in Montana is best serviced (and most of the country I think) by the Verizon network.

So starting today I will be testing the iPhone 4 Verizon vs. the iPhone 4 AT&T in a 30 day mlti-city performance “Smack Down”

I’ll be testing all the general functions along with data speed tests and phone call drops in a number of cities over the next several weeks.  Check back for the results.

Max

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Nov 05

Realtor.com has just released it’s real estate search app for the Android OS.

Realtor.com for Android App

Realtor.com for Android App

Now everyone with an  Android phone can use this powerful mobile search for real estate.  The Realtor.com team did a great job incorporating many of the awesome features found in their iPhone app, like the draw mode (area highlighter) on the map view which allows users to create their custom neighborhoods by simply using their finger to outline the area they want to see homes and many others plus a couple of “Android tweaks” like the ability for a consumer to leave notes on a property by voice (see video).  I did a quick review in the video below.  I recommend anybody with an Android phone go to the Android Marketplace and download this app now or click here for more info! If you have a QR code reader on your Android phone scan this QR code and it will take you there.

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Oct 29

What are these things called QR codes?

QR Code

QR Code

I get this question allot so I thought I’d write a post and upload a video showing how easy it is to create a QR code that can help drive traffic to your listings.  Think of QR Codes (which stands for “Quick Response”)  as an electronic symbol that connects the online and off-line worlds.  We are all familiar with UPC or “bar Codes” like this

UPC/Bar Code

UPC Code

but QR codes are a newer form of computer recognition symbol.  They were developed in Japan (actually by a subsidiary of Toyota) to track items at high-speed.  Now they are used by in all sorts of applications as a way to direct people to a particular destination.  They need to be scanned with a QR Reader (which is available for just about any phone with a camera nowadays), once scanned (like taking a picture) the QR code tells the smartphone what to do.  You can create QR codes that link to your website, to an email address, to a video on YouTube  etc.  There is lots of hype around QR codes in real estate right now and although I don’t see them as a “game-changer” immediately, anybody that wants to stay on the cutting edge of technology and marketing should pay attention to their impact to our industry. It remains to be seen just how fast consumers will adopt this new way of discovering information, but it’s free and easy to leverage as part of a marketing plan so I would recommend learning how to utilize this new technology.

I have uploaded a video that shows how easy it is to create a QR code and also utilize a free service from http://goo.gl that will shorten a URL that you want to link your QR code to and give you the ability to track how many times the QR code has been used.  Enjoy the video and let me know if any of you have had success yet using this new technology either in impressing home sellers or actually connecting with buyers.

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Oct 02

The research we have done shows that 89% of real estate agents we’ve surveyed have a personal profile on Facebook but only about 10% have a Real Estate Business Page on Facebook.  Business pages can be a powerful way to enhance your presence on Facebook and also drive traffic back to your existing website.  I’ve talked for a long time about how important it is to keep your personal profile on Facebook limited to primarily personal posts and interactions with your SOI (Sphere Of Influence), it’s important to continue to grow your personal SOI and connect with them on a regular basis.  It’s also important to have a place to share real estate related information with your those in your SOI that want to view it and also with the public at large.  Business pages allow you to create a space on Facebook that is absolutely appropriate for sharing information about your real estate business.   If your looking to enhance your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) your business page can help your efforts here as well.  For example do a Google search for these two words “speaker technologist” you will find that my business page on Facebook comes up as the #1 organic search result (or at least it did as of this writing ) .  Why is this?  Well, most likely because of the title of my business page (and Google pays close attention to Facebook nowadays) and the fact that there is regular activity on the page helps as well.  So make sure you take time when selecting your page title to name your page strategic words that you want to be enhanced with SEO.  Setting up a page on Facebook is really quite simple, watch the video below for a quick step-by-step instruction on how to do it.  Then I recommend searching for other real estate business pages in Facebook Pages Directory use  real estate terms such as “real estate”, “luxury homes” and other words that you feel other agents may have used to setup their business page so you can get ideas on how to effectively use this tool.  Don’t forget to keep linking back to your personal website with blog posts etc. to continue to drive traffic to the “hub” of your inline presence.  Facebook is just one of the spokes connected to this hub. Enjoy the video and let me know if it helps…

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Jun 29

Here’s a video of my first impressions of the new iPhone 4.  Full review coming soon but for now I am blown away.  It really is a quantum leap that others will struggle to emulate.  Many aspects of this device will have direct and impressive impacts for real estate. The FaceTime is nothing short of jaw-dropping the first time you have a FaceTime call it’s hard to believe we have been talking about this stuff since grade school and now it actually works….anyway more soon.

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Apr 04

Well it’s been about 24hrs since I received the new Apple iPad so I thought I’d let my daughter have a turn with it while I sit down and write some notes regarding my experience so far.  Let me first say when I get a new “tech toy” (as my wife would describe them) I can usually tell how much I like it by how late I stay up playing with it……..well it was after 4am this morning when my head hit the pillow so I would say this little puppy passed the first test of keeping my attention.  The first thing you may be asking yourself is “what would I use it for?”, well once you hold it in your hands for about 5 minutes you start realizing you would use it primarily access and consume information and media.  The color display is gorgeous and offers 1,024 x 768 720p HD viewing. iPad Display

This is a great size for everything from surfing the web, watching movies, viewing photos, reading books etc etc.  Beyond that the device is small enough that it tends to feel more personal after using it for awhile.  What I mean is that I found myself using it a bit closer to me than my laptop and you can be sitting on the couch or even lying in bed while reading a book, surfing the web or just getting that last Facebook status updated before lights out.

It’s not perfect, I still wish it had flash support as many of the sites you visit online that use Adobe Flash do not display correctly but I do think this will be addressed pretty quickly, either by the death of flash, a third party app that converts flash, or Apple allowing it to run. With an estimated 4 to 10 million (depending on who you listen to) of these selling this year the demand will be too great and that problem will get solved (keep in mind flash is used in many types of online ads which means advertisers will demand that their ads will be seen on this device).  I also wish it had a front-facing video camera for video chat etc.  This too I believe will be in iPad 2.0 (or whatever they call it)  later this year.  I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple pulled the camera (the technology already exists in the iPhone) as a result of negotiations with AT&T over the 3G wireless plan to be offered with this device.  AT&T has already experienced network overloads due to the iPhone and they probably felt video chat on the iPad would bring their network to it’s knees so Apple may have given them a little time to get their network upgraded before offering video on the iPad and in exchange AT&T said they would allow unlimited 3G data on the iPad for $29.95/month without a contract… (just a hunch on my part).

Unless you have some other sort of wireless broadband device (like the Verizon MiFi etc) or you just plan on using this at home on a wi-fi network I would definitely recommend waiting for the 3G version out later this month.  That will give you the mobility (very important for real estate agents) to obtain data connections in the field (granted AT&T is not available or even acceptable in many areas) for a great price with no contracts .

I also wish the iPad had a USB port for external connection to any number of USB devices.  There is an adapter that will be out soon for the iPad that will allow this and give the ability to insert SD cards to upload photos etc.  I am hoping their will be an app out soon that will make file transfer easier between the iPad and SD/USB/PCs, right now the easiest way (outside of iTunes) seems to be emailing an attachment.

Ok enough on the negatives (which there are very few) I really do enjoy using this device.  I truly believe that if some great apps are made for real estate agents and they can access their MLS along with other great information sources online this will become a very valuable tool in this industry.  I can absolutely see this as the mobile information and media device that an agent uses throughout the day for catching up on email, checking in on their social networks, blogging, grabbing some quick info from the MLS while out in the field , meeting with sellers and giving an impressive listing presentation and even writing up contracts……..if and I said if, those applications are created to take advantage of this new device.  At this point just using this device for listing presentations and throughout the day for Internet access justifies it’s usefulness to me.  Then throw in the access to tools like the Realtor.com app (even it’s current iPhone version is very useable on the iPad)  and online access to tons of data from county records to gis data to everything the web has to offer (as long as it’s not flash:-) and this device appears to have a bright future in the real estate business.

Here’s a shot of a home I pulled up on the Realtor.com app (if you have an iPhone or and iPad you need to get this app) and then when you rotate the iPad (just like the iPhone) the photo gets large in the landscape mode and it was pretty impressive.  I can see meeting a prospective buyer at an open house and then pulling up more homes for them to look at right there on the spot (or better yet let them do it they will get a kick out of playing with this).   With some of the latest research showing home sellers actually rank “agents use of technology” higher than “commission rate” as far as what’s most important when selecting an agent, this device may be the perfect way to show your customers you utilize technology in your business.

I will be posting another review soon regarding some tips and tricks I’ve learned and also talk about all the apps that I have downloaded and give you some ideas as to which ones I have found most useful and entertaining.  Also keep an eye out for a FREE iPad Listing Presentation that I am putting the finishing touches on tonight.  I will post a download link for all you new iPad Real Estate Pros tomorrow so check back (you will need to download and install “keynote for the iPad” ($9.99) from the app store but I think you will find it a very powerful program for this device.  More later and oh here’s a video review I posted to youtube early this am.  Take care…Max

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Mar 29

As I travel the country speaking to real estate agents the one complaint I hear over and over is “Max when are we going to be able to use our iPhones to access our MLS lock-boxes?” My answer has normally been that the iPhone does not have IR (Infrared) capabilities so if your MLS uses lockboxes that depend on IR to communicate you will have to stick with one of the older IR capable phones (such as Palm Treo etc) or be forced to cary another separate device (a dongle) that will allow you to access the lockbox.  Now all of that may be  changing as several companies have developed IR devices to be used with the iPhone.  They did not however do this in response to the real estate industry and their lockbox woes, but rather as a response to a much bigger market demand, that of the home consumer and their desire to use their iPhone or iPod Touch to control all of their home entertainment equipment (TV, Stereo, DVD etc).  That being said now that the hardware issue has been resolved it would appear that it will only take a progressive lockbox manufacturer that wants to satisfy the needs of it’s customers to simply write an app for the iPhone that uses one of these IR hardware devices to communicate with their lockboxes.  I am sure we will see the same devices soon appear for the Android phones that are flooding the market.  So here’s my public appeal to the lockbox manufacturers on behalf of thousands of your customers that now use the  iPhone (and now Android phones) PLEASE DEVELOP AN APPLICATION!

Here are a few of the manufacturers of these IR devices for the iPhone (and many for the iPod Touch as well), I am sure they will be looking at similar devices for the Android phones shortly.

RedEye Mini for iPhone

i-Got-Control IRB1 dongle Potato's FLPR IR dongle

POWER A Universal Remote Case with IR installed

POWER A Universal Remote Case with IR installed

POWER A Universal Remote Case without IR installed (still works as a case)

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