Why Real Estate is Missing from YouTube

The Tech Savvy Agent Channel on YouTube

A recent article on Social Media Examiner explored the marketing impact of YouTube.  Particularly compelling in that article were these YouTube usage stats:

  • In 2009, approximately 100 million Americans watched 6 billion videos on YouTube each month
  • Six out of seven U.S Internet users watch online videos every month
  • YouTube accounted for 70% of all U.S. visits to some 60 online video sites (Google was #2 with a 4.6% share)
  • In December 2009, U.S. Internet users watched an average of 187 videos per person
  • Sixty-two percent of YouTube viewers are over 35; about half have college degrees and incomes of $75,000 or more
  • In December, 2009, there were 9.7 billion search queries on Google, 3.9 billion on YouTube, 2.5 billion on Yahoo!, and 1.4 billion on Bing. (That makes YouTube the #2 search engine in the U.S.)

Yet despite the dominance of YouTube in popular culture and on the Internet, real estate professionals, for the most part, aren’t using it.

YouTube makes it easy to create a channel, allowing you to place all of your videos together in one place.  You can customize the channel with your company’s colors and logo, and you can upload the videos of your choosing to tell your story or showcase your properties.  Viewers can even subscribe, which allows them to stay up to date on your latest uploads.

Lots of companies and organizations have YouTube channels (click to view the YouTube Channel for Tech Savvy Agent, for example).  Yet despite the popularity of YouTube and the simplicity of the channel concept, there seem to be only a handful of agents, brokers or boards using YouTube in any organized way.  (One very notable standout is the Houston Association of Realtors, which regularly posts content to YouTube.  Click here to visit their YouTube channel.)

Most of us think of YouTube as the place our kids go on the Internet to watch silly videos.  And while that may be true, it’s also the venue more and more businesses and professionals are using for marketing and PR.  It’s a powerful tool that reaches millions of people. So why is real estate absent?


How to Buy a Laptop: What to Look For

This is Part II in our series on how to select a laptop computer.

In Part I, we recommended that you visit a computer store, compare the machines for style and features, and make some basic decisions. Now that you’ve done that, you’re ready to select the components you want in your computer.

  • CPU: the CPU (Computer Processing Unit) is the computer’s engine.  The more powerful it is, the better performance you’ll get.  And because it generally can’t be upgraded or changed, you probably want to select the most powerful computer you can afford. Intel is not the only maker of processors, but it’s certainly one of the most highly regarded.  Choose a computer with an Intel “Duo Core” processor (like “Core 2 Duo”).  Intel also makes “Atom” processors, a less powerful, single core component that you’ll often find in netbook computers.  But, if this will be your main computer for business use, we don’t recommend choosing a netbook computer with an Atom processor.
  • Memory: Also known as RAM (random access memory).  Memory is what lets you run applications on your computer and switch back and forth between them.  The more memory you have, the faster you can work and the more productive you can be.  Many desktop computers allow you purchase and install additional memory chips, making it possible for you to save money on your initial purchase and upgrade later.  But with laptops, installing additional memory may be tricky and is often impossible.  So here again, you probably should purchase as much memory as you can afford.  Choose a computer that offers 2-4 gigabytes (GB) of RAM.
  • Screen Size: Decide what size screen works for you.  As we mentioned in our earlier post, larger screens have higher resolutions, but they make the computer heavier.  If you’re going to be carrying your computer around, you’ll need to balance the size of the display with the weight of the machine.  Look for a screen size of 13”-14” if you need to keep the weight manageable. (The size of the screen, by the way, is measured on the diagonal.)  You can opt for a larger display if the computer won’t be carried around much.
  • Hard Drive: Pictures and music can take up a great deal of space on your hard drive, so give yourself plenty of storage capacity—160 GB or more. Also, the speed of your hard drive is important. Look for drives that rotate at 5400 rpm or higher.  If you need to cut corners on price, you can consider a smaller hard drive.  You can always purchase an external hard drive later for long-term storage of pictures or documents.  Such hard drives typically stay at home, and can be connected to your laptop manually when you need to store and retrieve files.
  • Optical Drive: This is the drive that reads media such as CDs and DVDs.  Some laptop computers come without optical drives.  This makes the computer lighter but places limitations on how you can use it.  It may also require you to borrow or buy an external optical drive when you need to install something that’s only available on disc. We recommend selecting a computer that has, at the very least, an internal DVD drive.  Depending on how you plan to use your computer, you may want a combined CD/DVD drive and a drive that can write discs as well as read them.  Newer computers may have Blu-Ray drives for watching content in high definition, and storing more data on each disc.  If you want to get ahead of the game, consider a combination BD/DVD/CD drive–that is, one that offers Blu-ray in addition to CD and DVD.
  • Networking:  Your computer should have an Ethernet port for connecting to the Internet with a cable, and built-in wireless connectivity.  If you expect to frequently use your computer in your car, in public places, or in clients’ homes, consider getting a computer with a mobile broadband antenna.  That will allow you to use the Internet anywhere you have mobile phone service.  (If you get this, you’ll also need to purchase a data plan from a mobile phone company.)
  • Weight:  Finally, for the greatest portability, select a computer that’s under 5 pounds.   Four pounds or less is even better.

How to Buy a Laptop: What Works for You

If you’re a real estate professional who’s often on the go, you need a professional grade computer you can take anywhere.  Here’s what to look for when you’re ready to purchase your next business laptop.

First, make some basic decisions:

How Will You Use It? Will this computer mostly sit on your desk at home? Or will you be a true road warrior, taking your computer to the office, using it to do presentations in clients’ homes, and running slide shows at open houses?  If it’s the latter (and we hope it is), then you’ll need something powerful and well constructed, yet lightweight and easy to carry. (A computer that never leaves the office can be bigger with a larger screen.)

Netbook or Notebook? Small, inexpensive netbooks are growing in popularity.  They’re great as a second computer or perhaps for short outings where all you’ll be doing is checking e-mail.  But you probably shouldn’t select a netbook as your primary business machine.  Their computing power is limited and their screens and keyboards are often too small to do any real work.

Windows or Mac? Apple computers are also growing in popularity, and for good reason.  They’re well designed, they perform beautifully, and Apple support is exceptional. The drawbacks:  they tend to be more expensive than Windows-based computers and you’ll need to learn your way around the Mac environment (although Apple gives you lots of help with this).

Perhaps most important, however, is that some software can’t run on the Mac. Before buying one, you’d need to be certain that you could still access your local MLS and any software or products offered by your board, that you could still access any proprietary programs offered by your broker, and that you could still use any special software you’ve purchased on your own. (Top Producer 8i, for example, requires a Windows operating system.)

There are ways to get around some of these issues, but if you’re not especially tech-savvy, you probably should stick to Windows for your work-related computer.

Next, go shopping.

You’ll probably find the best deals on the Internet.  The Internet lets you do comparison shopping and can even allow you to select a custom-designed computer that includes the exact components you want. But you should probably “test drive” a computer before purchasing one on the Internet.  Visit stores that sell computers and try some out.

Decide what size screen works for you.  The larger screens have higher resolutions, but keep in mind that they also make the computer heavier.  If you’re going to be carrying your computer around, you’ll need to balance the size of the display with the weight of the machine.  Look for a screen size of 13”-14” and a total weight of less than 4-5 pounds or less. (Yes, there will be netbooks with smaller screens and lower weights, but as we’ve already noted, they’re generally not designed for full-time professional use.)

Also, try to tell whether the screen will work for you in other settings; in the store they all look good, but you may need to be able to use your computer in your car where the light is bright, or in some other less than perfect environment.

Pay attention to the keyboards and mice. Look for keyboards that feel comfortable and that fit your hands.  Also, some computers have a trackpad for navigation and some have a mouse pointing stick.  Try both and decide which one you prefer.

Once you’ve had the opportunity to touch and feel a few machines, you’re ready to make your purchase.  In our next post on this topic we’ll help you understand the technical aspect of the computer (e.g., what’s a CPU, the memory, how much memory do I need, etc.) so you can purchase the machine that’s right for you.

Showcase Your Listings with PowerSites™

TechTools Tuesday: Cool Tools to Sell Homes

PowerSites™ by AgencyLogic lets agents create single property websites which can show any home beautifully.

Easy to create and very affordable, PowerSites™ websites give you flexibility and many great features including:

  • A vanity URL dedicated to just that property
  • Large photos to grab the attention of prospective buyers
  • The ability to upload and caption as many as 100 photos of the property and surrounding community
  • Unlimited text so that you can describe the property in as much detail as you wish
  • Syndication to many of the major real estate search portals so prospective buyers can more easily find your listing

There’s even an optional PowerTalk “click-to-talk” feature that lets prospective buyers place a call to you directly from the property website.

To get an idea of the power of PowerSites™, take a look at how one professional is using it to market a home formerly owned by President and Mrs. Gerald Ford.

Restructure Your LinkedIn Résumé

Ever wished you could move the items around in your LinkedIn profile?  Have you ever wanted to, say, de-emphasis your education by moving it toward the end of your profile or highlight your professional summary by moving it closer to the top? Well now you can.

LinkedIn’s new feature is great for real estate professionals who often come to the industry from other careers.  If you were, for example, a teacher or a stay-at-home parent before getting your license, you don’t have to put that upfront, especially if you’ve long since made a name for yourself in real estate.

The new feature is easy to use and lets you use your LinkedIn profile more like a functional résumé, highlighting the aspects of your background that work best for you.  To find out how it works, click the image or visit the LinkedIn blog.

Is Green Computing Really Possible?

The arrival of Apple’s long-awaited iPad—a device that’s bigger and more powerful than an iPod but not really a full-featured computer–got me thinking:  does each of us really need another gadget?  How much electronic “stuff” is each of buying, using, and discarding?  Is it possible to be up-to-date technologically and really live a green lifestyle?

If you’re a baby-boomer like I am, you can remember when one or two administrative assistants in the office had electric typewriters on their desks and the rest of us had only pen and paper. We wrote out reports and presentations longhand.  We jotted appointments in a paper calendar.  Memos that everyone had to see were passed from one person to the next (check off your name when you’ve read it) until everyone had seen them.  Yes, we used a lot of paper, but we bought, charged, and trashed way less electronic junk.

Today, in that same office, everyone has a computer on his or her desk.  There’s a laser printer in the corner for everyone to use and some people have printers just for themselves. Everyone’s got a smartphone in his or her pocket and a “dumb” phone on the desk.   The typical computer CPU and monitor use a couple of hundred watts of power.  Additionally, computers and printers drawing power all day long generate heat and require the building to have extra cooling.  One American university estimates that personal computers generate $700,000 in annual energy costs.  And that’s just at the office.

At home, many of us have several phones, several computers and at least one huge flat panel TV.  We have cameras, scanners, iPods, and electronic game players.  Many of these things run all day, and at night we plug everything in to recharge before we go to bed.  Most of these things will become obsolete in 3-5 years and we’ll discard them and get new models.

But how much power are we using?  How much junk are we putting in landfills?  Even if we’re careful to turn off what we’re not using and to recycle what we discard, we’re still gobbling up way more than our share of the world’s resources.

So, the question I ask is this:  is it possible to keep up with technology and truly live a green lifestyle?  What do you think?

Internet Security: Easy as 123

A recently-released report by a California-based security company revealed that millions of computer users are selecting passwords that make it easy for hackers to gain access to their accounts.  Are you one of those people?

The company, Imperva, analyzed 32 million passwords in December 2009, and discovered that:

  • 30% of all computer users select passwords of 6 characters or less.  The shorter the password, the easier it for a hacker to guess.
  • Nearly half of all computer users create easy to remember (and therefore easy to guess) passwords, using slang words, dictionary words, or familiar number combination.  The most common password, for example, is “123456”.  Among the top 5 passwords are:  “12345”, “123456789” and “password”.
  • Half of all computer users use the same password for all the websites they visit. This means that once a hacker figures out a victim’s password at one site, it’s easy to invade that person’s accounts on other sites.
  • Almost 60% of users create passwords from a limited number of characters.  Passwords should not spell out a recognizable word and should contain upper and lower case letters along with numbers and special characters such as “!@#$%%^”.

If you’ve made any of these mistakes, you should take the time to review and change your passwords. Choose strong passwords and use these techniques to help remember them.