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technology

APR in the News

Alain Pinel Realtors Names New Vice President of Technology

March 25, 2014

Technology Specialist Tom Flanagan Joins Bay Area Brokerage

Alain Pinel Realtors (APR), the largest Bay Area based residential real estate firm, has named Tom Flanagan as Vice President of Technology. With over a decade of experience in technology, online platforms and new media, Flanagan will oversee overall technology strategy and implementation for the entire company.

“We are thrilled to have Tom join our team,” said Rainy Hake, Executive Vice President of APR. “His experience, with an emphasis on design and usability, is an ideal fit as we continue to adopt innovative ideas and creative solutions to create seamless, effortless tools for our clients and agents. In an ever-changing technology landscape, I look forward to working with Tom to continue Alain Pinel Realtors reputation as a technology leader.”

Flanagan is also a syndicated columnist for Inman News, the leading source of independent real estate news and information. His column explores the best practices and trends in website design and analytics, mobile applications, and online services that real estate companies can use to grow their businesses and run them more efficiently.

Prior to joining APR, Flanagan was the Vice President of Marketing and Technology at Residential Properties Ltd in Providence, Rhode Island. He has been a featured speaker at both local and national events including Real Estate Connect and the Google IT Summit. Most recently, he was a recipient of the Rhode Island Tech 10 Award with outstanding recognition for overall achievement.

“I’m extremely excited to join Alain Pinel Realtors,” said Flanagan. “The company already has a reputation and history as an early technology leader in the industry. Platforms such as cloud computing and mobile have had a significant impact on the real estate industry. I’m looking forward to leveraging these mediums and delivering a seamless experience to both our consumers and sales associates.”

See Tom Flanagan’s full bio.

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Connecting Clients and Technology

January 30, 2014

Author: Jolene Quinn, eBusiness Manager of Alain Pinel Realtors
As a sales associate, you need to be flexible and have a breadth of knowledge. In today’s market with limited inventory and tight credit standards, working with a buyer will most likely be a long-term process. Yes – you will be looking at homes with them, but you also need a way to stay engaged with them should nothing come to the market that fits their needs for any extended period of time.
In 2014, I suspect we’ll see many changes in the real estate industry – especially when it comes to technology in the home. You can use this as a benefit and use these developments as a reason to stay in touch with your clients.  No matter how much or how little technology a client is familiar with, show them that you’re the expert with all of today’s home advancements. With technology moving so fast, you won’t run out of material!
To stay on top of the latest developments, check out rismedia.com and inman.com. Both are great resources for information on the latest technology in real estate and smart devices around the home. You can subscribe and get daily emails – plus it’s free.
How many of you attended or read about the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that took place in Las Vegas a few weeks ago? Some items I read about that were a hit at the show were wearable technology and smart devices around the home. Take a look at some of these examples:

  • Door knobs that’ll know when someone is at the door
  • Toothbrushes will tell people how clean their teeth are
  • Refrigerators that can text you a shopping list
  • Drones that can give aerial images of properties that aren’t too far away like helicopters
  • Bendable TV’s that enhance viewing
  • Curved glass phones – flexible so it fits your face and lies flat on a table
  • Self-healing glass surfaces (scratches magically disappear!)
  • Washing machines that you can run from your smartphone
  • Smart light bulbs that can save energy, slowly put you to sleep, and more
  • Health monitors that track eye strain, glucose, asthma etc.

These are just a few – and more are being developed every day. If you can name it, someone has or is creating a device to help monitor it, track it, watch it, park it, or even create it (like 3D printers)!
We already see Nest (great closing gifts!) and Floored starting to influence the home and real estate – we can only begin to scratch the surface of what’s next. Start telling your clients about them!
Remember, no matter what is going on in real estate and technology, establishing a long-term relationship is key. The most important things to your clients are honesty, integrity, knowledge and responsiveness to their needs. Building qualities still need to be at the forefront to building a good relationship.


About Author:

Jolene Quinn is the eBusiness Manager at Alain Pinel Realtors. She has almost 20 years in real estate and over 13 years working directly with internet leads. Prior to working with APR she managed the eBusiness department of a large real estate company that spanned 3 states. She was responsible for taking the department from ground level to one of the most successful eBusiness departments in the nation. 

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights Sales Insights

Update Your Skills in 2014!

January 2, 2014

Author: Diane Bravo, Director of Technical Training at Alain Pinel Realtors.
Is your New Year’s Resolution to improve your professional skills and brush-up on industry knowledge? Are you unsure quite how to go about accomplishing this daunting task? Not sure which training resource might best help you reach this goal? As a longtime trainer, this topic is on my dashboard all the time. The answer, unfortunately, is not so simple. What works best for some, doesn’t always work for others – people learn better from different styles. Below are five eLearning tools I’ve found to be most effective. Start using one today and find out which one maximizes the return on your time.
5 easy ways to update your skills online 2014:

  1. Grovo – Grovo is the leading online learning platform that trains users on Internet tools with 60-second personalized videos. The base video offerings are free, with advanced videos offered at a premium. The folks at Grovo are adding lessons at the rate of about 15 per day. What is even more impressive is they do it with down-to-earth style from communication ideas to management tips and more. Sign up and try it today – you can only win with this tool.
  2. Industry News and Newsletters  – No matter what your industry or niche, there is a source for you. These can be newsletters you sign up for with your email address, or groups you join on a social media site you are active on. For example for my real estate news, I follow Inman News – Real Estate Connect on LinkedIn. Not to be left behind in the Training Industry, I follow many groups including my newest addition – Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals Group. But here’s the catch, you have to read whatever newsletter or summary from any group you sign up for. And I get it – we are all overwhelmed and inundated with mail and messages these days and it is tempting to ignore eNewsletters. However, isn’t investing in your skills and staying on top of industry knowledge important? You owe it to yourself.
  3. Lynda.com – This is a little different from the freemium model at Grovo. Instead, Lynda is available in a monthly or annual subscription, but well worth the investment if you’re looking for a more in-depth training. With abundant topics including Microsoft and Google products to Project Management and web design, you can learn to use software right at your desk. It is an online virtual library and the expansive offerings are amazing.
  4. Your Network – Never underestimate the power of your network. With LinkedIn being one of the top social media sites today, it’s easy to keep track of where your contacts are working. When you see them, talk about it! It’s amazing what you can learn and take back to share at work, if you just ask your friends what they are doing in their industry.
  5. Attend a Seminar or Training Course – There are a lot of seminars out there – from free online webinars to all-day in-person trainings. If one comes recommended to you, is about a topic of interest, or has an engaging keynote speaker, it is often worth the investment. Sometimes companies will even help you attend these if you ask – especially if you are willing to share what you learn when you return.

Whatever method you choose, remember investing in yourself is important. Learning will ultimately lead to more opportunity and influence over your sphere. Do something today to improve your skill and lead to a better, more prosperous 2014.


About Author:

Diane Bravo brings 20 years of technical training and implementation experience to Alain Pinel Realtors. In her current capacity as Director of Technical Training, she is responsible for helping all APR agents improve their business through the use of real estate software. Before moving to APR, Ms. Bravo worked for Integrated Device Technology as Business Systems Analyst.
 

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Home Automation Case Study: Nest

November 27, 2013

Author: Stephen Skinner, Vice President of Information Technology of Alain Pinel Realtors
As REALTORS®, it is important to stay on top of the latest housing trends – not just the market, but also amenities. When it comes to technology, there’s no doubt we have seen an increase in home automation. While once only a luxury, technology is making it more mainstream and accessible. Even AT&T is running advertisements like “Cabin” – which features how with a click of a button on your smartphone, you can lock your doors, turn out our lights, and close the shades – no matter where you are.
Home automation and the “house of the future” are exciting ideas that have literally been around for decades; much longer than the Internet. In the 1960’s, Disneyland built a (plastic) House of the Future. Today, there is a Home of the Future on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA.
The idea is simple: How can technology improve the way we live?


To answer this question, let’s look at Silicon Valley startup Nest, maker of the well-known Nest Thermostat and their latest product, Nest Protect (a smoke detector).
While a thermostat of smoke detector might night be the most exciting devices in your home – Nest has taken the design sensibilities of the iPhone and is changing the way we think about these everyday household products. These products are beautiful, easy to use and really smart. By smart, I mean they feature artificial intelligence in their programming and include sensors to monitor the environment in the home. They are connected to the Internet and you. They learn how you like to live and help you save money or save lives by automating some of the most mundane aspects of running your home. AND they are a great closing gift to really impress your clients.


About Author:

Stephen Skinner is Vice President of Information Technology at Alain Pinel Realtors and is responsible for overall technology strategy and implementation throughout the APR organization. Since becoming APRs VP of Information Technology in 2007, Skinner’s accomplishments have included the introduction of new consumer and agent tools such as advanced map-based property search and new agent websites.  

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights Sales Insights

What Buyers and Sellers Want in 2013

October 24, 2013

Author: Diane Bravo, Director of Technical Training at Alain Pinel Realtors.
Do you know today’s home buyers and sellers expect from their real estate agent?

I recently attended a real estate conference in San Francisco, Inman Connect, where various types of home buyers were represented in a panel.  While listening to the seven panelists needs, common themes began emerging which I’ve classified into 10 categories.  If you take a look, you will see just a few simple things can WOW your clients if you choose to practice them.
10 Things the Modern Home Buyer and Seller Wants from their Agent 2013:

  1. Communication – Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Some of these panelists weren’t getting calls back from their agent for days.  Same day call back is a must, but within a shorter timeframe really shows a level of dedication that is appreciated by clients today.  Today more than ever, the early bird catches the worm.
  2. Professional Photos – Let’s face it, if the photos aren’t professional, the home is not being presented at its best. If you are a listing agent and are not displaying high-quality professional photos, you are behind the times.
  3. A Full-Time Agent –Every panelist wanted a full time real estate agent! Gone are the days when a part-time agent adds full service value. Buyers want agents who have the contacts, know the tools and have the time to commit and respond quickly.
  4. An Agent with a Smartphone – Some clients prefer a phone call, some an email, and almost the entire “y” generation wants a text!  Whoever you are and whatever your age, you need to know what your buyers prefer – and  they need to know you have the technology to communicate the way they want. This multi-generational home buyer group was tricky, but one thing they were sure about – no flip phones please.
  5. Teamwork & a Game Plan – These 2013 home buyers are ready and willing to pitch in and help with their search. All they want is a plan of attack, carefully assembled with their real estate agent. Not too much to ask, right?
  6. Pocket Listings – This may be specific to certain markets, but those who mentioned it like to feel they are getting the inside scoop.
  7. Quarterly Statistic Reports – While clients have access to lots of information on the internet, they want to get market reports from their agents.  Regardless of your technical skills, it can easily enough be done with an automated tool.  At APR, agents have access to weekly Altos Market Reports that can be sent automatically to their contact database.
  8. Weekly Inventory Newsletter – This may be the most time consuming of the lot and may pertain mostly to listing agents. The idea was to get a simple list of homes available, from all of the different sources the real estate agent has, combined into one communication. Sellers want to know what else is out there.
  9. Customized Service – This may sound complicated, but really it does not have to be. Know what they like to drink? Have it already in the car when you go to show them homes. One example that was given was an agent who arranged a private showing for the prospective buyer’s mother.  This meant the world to the buyer!
  10. Gifts – Oh, the gifts! Most favored gifts included show tickets, game tickets, expensive bottles of wine, or even dinner.  A dinner accompanied with their agent topped the list! If you’re giving your clients what they want, they will enjoy spending time with you – working or otherwise.

Are you giving your clients what they expect?


About Author:

Diane Bravo brings 20 years of technical training and implementation experience to Alain Pinel Realtors. In her current capacity as Director of Technical Training, she is responsible for helping all APR agents improve their business through the use of real estate software. Before moving to APR, Ms. Bravo worked for Integrated Device Technology as Business Systems Analyst.
 

Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Real Estate & Responsive Web Design

October 9, 2013

Author: Stephen Skinner, Vice President of Information Technology of Alain Pinel Realtors
As all top producing brokerages know, a huge share of online traffic these days is coming from mobile devices. Whether it is a young family looking at homes on their iPad while they watch TV or the on-the-go professional on their smart phone in front of a home – our clients have let us know that mobile is more important than ever. While we are constantly looking for solutions to provide the best experiences for our clients, responsive web design is undoubtedly a trend worth paying attention to.

Just what IS responsive web design?

The answer is really quite simple: responsive web design is a leading trend in web design intended to automatically provide an optimal viewing experience for any website on any device. With a focus on easy reading and a minimum of panning, zooming and scrolling, responsive web designs can be easily viewed on a watch, a phone, a tablet, a notebook or desktop computer.

Samsung Smart Watch

When mobile websites were first introduced a few years ago, site designs were often too large for the limited display size of smartphones and tablets. Because of this, early mobile websites required users to continually resize and reposition the webpage to fit on the screen. Responsive design automatically adjusts the size and layout of the website to match the size and the display of the device – eliminating the need for creating different websites for different platforms.

APR Responsive Design Agent Site

In this example, we see an APR Agent Website built with responsive design, as it might appear when viewed on a smartphone, with all of the layout, navigation and links automatically adjusted to fit on the smartphone screen. This creates a seamless experience for a client no matter what device they are on. Responsive design is one of several ongoing trends in web design that aim to make websites more useful on the wide variety of mobile and desktop devices that are now part of our daily life, at work and at play.

When it comes to our clients – there is no doubt we want to provide them the easiest, most enjoyable, and consistent experience no matter how their interacting with us online. Responsive web design is another tool helping to make that a reality.


About Author:

Stephen Skinner is Vice President of Information Technology at Alain Pinel Realtors and is responsible for overall technology strategy and implementation throughout the APR organization. Since becoming APRs VP of Information Technology in 2007, Skinner’s accomplishments have included the introduction of new consumer and agent tools such as advanced map-based property search and new agent websites.  
 

Announcements Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Special APR Discount for Inman Conference

June 14, 2013

Did you know one of the BEST real estate events of the year is happening in San Francisco this year? Inman News presents both Agent Reboot and Real Estate Connect this July at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square.
The events kickoff with Agent Reboot on July 9th. This one-day boot camp, revamped with all new content for 2013, is a crash course in digital marketing to make your upcoming year your best. Get expert advice via case studies, mobile marketing techniques to attract the digital consumer, strategies to foster and build relationships on social media, tips to ensure your website is personalized and local and so much more.
Next up is the main event – the 3-day, information packed Real Estate Connect from July 10-12th. Real Estate Connect is where real deals are made, new partnerships are formed, new technologies are introduced, start-ups are launched and hard issues are debated openly. Connect SF will position you to take advantage of tomorrow. This year, APR’s own VP of Relocation and Business Development Michi Olson will be speaking.
Unsure whether to attend? Check out our post from last year highlighting some of the take-aways and tools.
Even better – this year we’ve partnered with Inman News to make it easier for you to attend both events – at a reduced price. You can save $300 if you REGISTER NOW. This special deal for local agents will give you tickets to both events for the exclusive price of $649.
Register NOW – and secure your spot in this incredible 4-day event.

Alain Pinel Realtors Insights Industry Insights

APR's Year in Review

January 18, 2013

Here’s a look back at many of the major initiatives Alain Pinel Realtors launched for their agents in 2012. For a high-resolution pdf of this document, please see the following link : 2012 APR Recap

We have a lot of exciting things planned ahead in 2013. For a sneak peak, see what Executive Vice President Rainy Hake shared with Inman News: “4 Brokerages Share Their 2013 Game Plans.”

 

Alain Pinel Realtors Insights Industry Insights

Newly Re-designed APR Academy Launches

November 28, 2012

The APR Academy, launched in early 2012, is a comprehensive learning system that helps our agents refine their skills and take their careers to the next level. With a recent re-design, the APR Academy is easier to use than ever before. If you’re in a hurry or just need to quickly look at an FAQ, the Academy provide an extensive library of tutorial guides. The Academy also allows you to access a complete online catalog of courses – for both online learning as well as hands-on, classroom style courses. Agents can sign up right there from within the APR Academy for any classroom style course held at one of our six APR training facilities. The online training platform allows you to learn at your own pace, your own style, and track your progress as you go.

Some additional highlights of the APR Academy:

  • Newly reorganized library of reference guides covering over 20 topics – including CMA’s, drip email campaigns, social media, and more!
  • An robust offering of online courses – allowing for learning at your leisure. Pause your courses and finish them at a later time.
  • Browse a course catalog, view a calendar, and sign-up for in-person, hands-on classroom-style courses all from one online platform.
  • New Learning categories including: Generational Marketing, Listings and Home Marketing, Personal Development, Powerful Presentations.
  • New courses and classes constantly being added and updated – including new courses on taking advantage of Luxury Portfolio.

At APR we believe in not only providing our agents with the best tools – but also the knowledge to effectively use them. As we constantly are introducing new tools, it is important to have a simple and complete learning system to help our agents leverage our offerings. From learning about agents websites, market reports, contact management systems, content libraries, mobile technologies and more – our APR Academy is a groundbreaking platform that supports multiple training formats to ensure our agents have everything they need to succeed.
To learn more about the APR Academy or any of the tools offered by APR, visit our Careers page or talk to an APR manager today.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

5 Apps That Will Help You Right Now

October 31, 2012

We have all these device and yet most of us don’t get as much out of them as we could. Here’s 5 apps that you should check out now that can help make you more organized today – in your business and personal life:
1) Clear – With hundreds of to-do and list making apps our there, Clear rises above. It’s visually stunning and simplistic, sorting the tasks you add as a heat map based on their importance. You’re busy … this can help you out at home and on the job. Costs $1.99.
2) Mint.com – With options on any platform and any device, Mint.com is one of the most popular personal finance apps. It allows your to manage all your accounts from one central location. Manage your spending, budgets, and business expenses. Mint categorizes your transactions automatically and will make you look at your spending a new way. The app is safe and secure and supports almost all financial institutions. Free.
3) MiLog – If you’re a good Realtor®, chances are you’re on the road a lot – and often it’s business related. When it’s tax season, do you take the standard deduction? Or find yourself making random estimations? If so, you’re probably leaving money on the table – which none of us are fond of. This app automatically tracks your mileage through GPS. Break it down into individual trips or clients so you can better understand how you’re breaking up your miles.
4) Find My Phone / Where’s My DroidWe’ve all had that moment where we reach into our bag or our pocket and realize our phone is gone. It’s an awful feeling. These apps allow you to locate your phone using it’s GPS when you can’t find it. Think it got stolen? Find My Phone allows you to lock the phone, display a message on it, or completely wipe it clean. Why wouldn’t you have this installed?
5) Zite There’s a lot of news out there. There’s a lot of sources. With Zite, it gets to know you the more you use it. Select some topics and it scans the internet and aggregates the best and most interesting news stories for you. It’s visually appealing – like your own personal magazine. Stay on top of the topics and news you’re interested in. Free.
Found a great app? Let us know blogs@apr.com .