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Realty players will only gain from being tech savvy

By Graham Norwood

The razzamatazz over Apple's new iPad reminds me of how, alas, the world's realtors are so pitifully behind-the-times when it comes to new technology.

In the US, residential realtors have for years been using the laser measuring sticks and automated floorplans that have been adapted in more recent years in Europe and Asia. But very few have gone beyond that; it seems that having established websites and search tools, most property industry players are saying "that's enough".

One exception to the rule is the new Hamptons International application for the iPhone. It allows you to view individual descriptions, search for properties, save search preferences, e-mail details, shortlist properties which you can then send on to a friend or family member, and pinpoint the map location of a home or commercial property you are interested in, thanks to the app's use of GPS. Good on Hamptons.

Another exception is the National Association of Realtors, the umbrella body for US realtors. It is using Twitter well – it's imaginative and inclusive, conducting polls and sending out updates on research from its HQ to individual members. It's quick, easy to read and informal.

But aside from a few tech-savvy agents, developers, property writers and financiers, almost none of the major construction firms or realtor chains or mortgage firms uses social networking, for example. They may feel feedback mechanisms to shareholders and funders – based on annual reports and very formal interpretations of 'accountability' – are too stuffy to allow their participation in what is, essentially, an informal communication system like Twitter.

That is their loss. Those property players now getting stuck in to this form of contact are making a splash, winning deals and perhaps establishing their brand in front of a younger generation of clients, funders and co-workers.


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