Browsing the archives for the Technology category

Watching Video Openhouse Tours on Apple iPhone

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News, Technology

Apple unveiled its new cellular phone, iPhone, to the world this week with great fanfare. Of course the functionality of the iPod is built in, but it also has some other interesting features as well. Anyone familiar with a Mac will know what a widget is. For those unfamiliar with Macs, a widget is a small application that can be run on any computer running OS X. Some common examples are clocks, calculators, stock reports and weather reports. There are countless examples of widgets available for free to the general public. The iPhone will be running OS X and therefore will allow the user to quickly customize their “device” with widgets that meet their needs.

Navigating the Internet on a portable device other than a laptop has in general, been a horrible experience for the user. The iPhone attempts to make web browsing on a small screen a much more user friendly experience. The iPhone has the safari web browser installed and attempts to duplicate the experience of sitting on front of a laptop or desktop computer. Even though the resolution of the iPhone is only 360 x 240, Safari allows the user to see the whole page and then by tapping the screen, zoom in to the content you want to view or read. It sounds similar to a “Snap” preview, a javascript plugin for Internet Explorer that allows browsers to mouseover a link and see a preview of the website before zooming in on a specific area.

The most impressive feature built in to the iPhone is its ability to connect to wireless networks. Connecting to the Internet on existing cell phones is slow and requires the user to pay for data transfers. The experience is both expensive and unfriendly. If the iPhone is truly going to be a web surfing/email device, they needed to break away from relying on the cellular network to provide the data transfers. With all the free wireless networks popping up around the city, surfing the Internet on your iPhone would similar to the experience of using your laptop, just a smaller screen. I wonder if it would be possible to install ip telephony software like skype or vonage to make free long distance calls? Hmmmm.

Are you going to be able to view Video Openhouse Tours on your iPhone? Yes, but not anytime soon. The iPhone isn’t available in the US until June and won’t be released in Europe for until next year. Unfortunately, there are no release dates for the iPhone in Canada.

Panoramic Tours Are Dead – RIP

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News, Technology

Thanks to Steve over at Ubertor for drawing my attention to a great blog at the Future Of Real Estate Marketing. The post is an overview of the Inman News’ Real Estate Connect Conference. The author leaves the readers with a few thoughts including his predictions for online video in the real estate industry under the heading, “Video Killed the Virtual Tour“. Essentially, he is forecasting that this is the year that video will make an impact on the industry. Costs and technological barriers have fallen, making the use of video more accessible than ever before. If 2006 was all about aggregating real estate data, then 2007 is about giving context to the data and “video does just that”.

Panoramic or 360 tours aren’t dead … yet. But they are an old technology that is quickly being replaced by a far superior medium for virtually showcasing any home to the online world!

Google Tools For Real Estate Professionals

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Helpful Tips, Real-Estate, Technology

I had a friend forward some interesting information about Google’s new Tools For Real Estate Professionals webpage.  It seems that Google has increased interest in the real estate industry.  And they have some very impressive statistics support their cause.  They claim that “over 56% of all Internet searches on ‘real estate’ and related terms are conducted on Google … and the majority of those searchers are actively looking for listings or referrals to brokers and agents.” 

By providing a suite of useful tools for professionals in the real estate industry, is Google attempting to bolster their listing service, Google Base?  That would seem to be the case.  Recently, Google Base upgraded their interface and created tools to easily publish real estate listings.  Posting a listing on Google Base also ensures that the property will be indexed by their search engine.  Google’s listing service is a great tool, but it is a distant second in comparison to the free listings leader, craigslist.

Most of you will already be familiar with the tools:

Google AdWords – Cost-per-click keyword advertising for effective local lead generation

Google Maps – High performance mapping experience

Google Earth – Harnesses the power of 3D satellite imagery

Local Business Center – Submit business listings easily

SketchUp – A powerful tool for creating, presenting, and modifying 3D models

The Tools for Real Estate Professionals webpage failed to mention their other free products such as Gmail, Google Calendar, Online Spreadsheets and Picassa (photo organization).  By providing easy to use tools, Google will be able to attract more real estate listings, and ultimately create a better search experience for anyone looking for real estate.  But can they catch craigslist?


Improved Video Openhouse Tours – Larger Video Size

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Flash Video, Site Updates

Have you seen our new larger size video tours?  The larger size was being tested in December and is officially ready for the New Year.  All our new clients will receive the new size format and we will be phasing in the larger size for our existing customers over the next few weeks.

Here are some examples:

Robin Cameron, 3430 Anne MacDonald Way – video

Jane Heathcote, 2806 West 14th Avenue – video

Ken Leong, 1636 Stephens Street – video

Elizabeth McQueen – 115 – 1228 Marinaside Crescent – video

Jacquie Darmanin, 5 – 15168 36th Avenue – video

We are committed to continually improving our products and providing prompt, professional service.   If you have any suggestions how we can make our products and services better, we would be interested in hearing from you.


Technology Gives Real Estate Agents and Buyers New Tools

News, Real-Estate, Technology

About a month ago, I read an article on the website. The news-story basically outlined how technology is being used in the process of buying and selling homes in the US. I would like to highlight some of the key points from the article:

  1. A recent National Association of Realtors survey showed that 80 percent of home buyers used the Internet to search for a home in 2006
  2. Web sites are replacing paper listings
  3. Making transactions smoother and quicker is important in a slow real estate market
  4. The majority of clients come from the Internet

The article also gave an example of a home buyer who found his condominium on the Internet, financed the sale over the phone and spent only three hours on the walkthrough, inspection and closing. The new home owner never even met the listing agent or the mortgage broker. Essentially, the article highlights how the real estate industry is undergoing a radical change. The traditional methods of prospecting for new clients are changing as well. Technology is offering an opportunity to generate more business for those with an understanding of how to capitalize on these trends.

Google Buys YouTube

Flash Video, News

This past week, after weeks of rumours, Google finally purchased YouTube. Just a year-and-a-half after conception, the founders of YouTube sold their company for $1.65 billion in Google stock. In terms of the real estate industry, why is this news noteworthy? If you delve deeper in to YouTube’s website statistics, you will learn that 100 million clips are viewed daily, with an additional 65,000 new videos uploaded every 24 hours. The site has a staggering 20 million visitors each month. The Internet audience is demanding video content. Google bought a company with little or no revenue streams because they realize video, more than any other content, drives visitors to websites. – Realtors Look for the High Tech Edge

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News, Technology

I read a great article about high tech marketing tools that are being used by realtors in Toronto to reach a growing international Internet audience.  The article quotes Alex Morias of Video Listings in Toronto.  I had an opportunity to work with Alex as his business was taking off in Toronto.  Here is the condensed version from the website:

Video tours are the latest in sales devices being employed by agents to sell property over the internet, which itself has changed the way homes are sold.“In 2005, 59.2 per cent [of homebuyers] ended up buying the property they first saw on the internet, the highest number in Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, the lowest in Ontario,” says Bob Linney, communications director for the Canadian Real Estate Association. “According to Comscore Networks, in 2002 averaged 300,000 unique users. In July 2006, that number was 2.78 million.”Real estate entered the online world with the launch of the website in 1996. Back then, the site basically carried text-based descriptions of properties for sale. Ten years later, homebuyers are able to scout the market online, viewing everything from digital pictures to 360-degree panoramic shots of homes and yards. And now audio guides, electronic brochures and even complete video tours of a home and its neighbourhood are the new hot things sellers are using to help their properties stand out in a crowded online market.“About 25 per cent of listings now have some type of attached tour, whether it’s virtual, panoramic photography or an audio tour, all possible because of internet technology,” Linney says.

Former Toronto bar operator Alex Morias got in on the ground floor of the video tours industry – he started two years ago after his real estate agent called him to see how his renovation had gone. Armed with a video camera, Morias toured his house and e-mailed the agent the mini movie. The agent was impressed, and since then Morias has produced more than 1,000 video tours. Video tours help with international marketing The tours show the interior and exterior of the house, along with visuals and a description of the neighbourhood. “Agents tell me it’s helped them sell a home,” he says. “One told me it created a bidding war over a condo, and one of the bidders was from Trinidad.”

Agents constantly have to justify their commissions, Morias adds. “There are 27,000 agents in Ontario going after the same piece of pie. This distinguishes them from the others.”

Linney says Internet video tours also allow realtors to focus on international marketing, especially with higher-end homes or commercial or investment properties. Morias agrees. “We videotaped a house in Toronto listed at $16-million. We did the original tour for a banker from Italy who wanted something better than pictures on the net. He wanted a video so he could view the house before he flew in to see it.” Real estate agent Clement agrees video tours are a great way to reach out-of-town buyers. “I have a client in New York City who got that video tour and e-mailed back saying, ‘I don’t have to visit it – I know I love the property.'”

Neighbourhood features can be highlighted Philip Pellat’s company, Shaw Street Productions of Toronto, produces videos of house interiors that are then used as part of an e-mail campaign or burned to DVD or CD-ROM as part of a marketing package. He often works with developers and says, “This can provide in-depth material about the community, the product, the builder. It creates credibility as well as excitement. The internet is playing a huge role in allowing them to talk to the consumer.”

All these technologies not only widen the market to more potential buyers, they can help make the home-selling process a lot less stressful for people. “Not everyone wants open houses because of the security issues. It cuts down on a lot of unqualified showings,” says Toronto real estate agent Marian Neal. It also cuts down on home sellers having to clean up every time someone wants to take a look. And for those who feel uncomfortable with the idea of someone taking a virtual tour of their home, Linney says, “When a video tour is being recorded, a realtor stays away from anything that gives away clear identification of the house or any high ticket items.”

Clement can’t stop singing the praises of the latest home-selling tools. Of a recent house she sold, she says: “The video tour brought the house to every single agent out there without them having to come and visit.” Neal sees the new technology gradually replacing old techniques. “I’m surprised anyone even wants a public open house these days,” she says. “What are the chances of the right buyer coming to your house on Saturday between 2 and 4?”

Much better to open it up to the whole world via the internet.


Realtors look for high-tech edge
September 29, 2006
by Georgie Binks