ADA Compliance: Fact or Fiction

For whatever reason the various real estate news portals across the web circulate a story about the importance of ADA compliance every few years, sending ripples of panic and fear through every real estate website owner online, as well as their poor tech people who manage those sites. To help dispel some myths, and offer some comfort to those confused we’ve prepared this article with helpful information you may want to consider.

Some Basic Info: Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) The ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in employment, State and local government, public accommodations, commercial facilities, transportation, and telecommunications.

While it is certainly important to make sure your website is as usable and available as it can be for everyone, concern over these standards at this point in regards to your website is largely a non-issue, here’s three reasons why:

  • Most visually or hearing impaired internet users already have hardware and software that makes the web readable.
  • There are actually NO standard approved ADA compliance rules for websites.*
  • The only way this even becomes a concern is if a suit is brought against you, at which point you have over 14 months to get your website “compliant”.

Some of the items listed as being part of compliance are already taken care of in our system, or in basic standard web design best practices. These include:

  • Text alternatives for images
    Most major images in our system allow for users to edit alt tags as they please.
  • Captions for videos or other multimedia
    These are a standard part of almost all video. Especially via services like Youtube which we support.
  • Presenting content in different ways
    Very vague. Our content is provided in a fairly standard way. Text. Images. Links.
  • Making content easier to see and hear
    Very vague. Most browsers, and other softwares, also handle this on their own already.
  • Making it easier for everyone to use and navigate
    Very vague. Best of all, our websites already do this.
  • Website use from a keyboard
    These settings are generally able to be controlled via the users own system settings.
  • Giving users enough time to read and use the content
    Taken care of! We don’t encourage fast changing slides or page forwards.
  • Making sure the content you present doesn’t cause seizures
    None of our sites use seizure inducing content.
  • Having text that’s readable and understandable
    All of our text is readable.
  • Consistency of content and navigation throughout the site
    Consistency is part of any good web design, and just one of the things that we excel at.
  • Use of error messages and ways to get back to where one started
    Our system always provides error information and a means to go back or reload a page.
  • Content is compatible with various web browsers
    Our sites are tested to be available on all major browsers and screen sizes.

Curiously enough, most of the websites that are announcing this urgent need for compliance themselves are not ADA compliant. We can only assume these radical scare tactics from these sites and news sources is yet another way to Cry Wolf for attention in hopes of increasing interaction and web traffic.

Take Heart!
Once a standardized set of ADA compliance rules is released we will work diligently to include them into our system as part of our frequent, regular updates.

Should you make the decision to future proof your web presence with ADA compliance, we here at Tour Real Estate Inc, your providers of stunning real estate technology for over a decade, are happy to provide custom design towards this goal. Our attractive custom real estate websites provide a visually striking way to define your brand and stand out from the competition. Contact us to find out more!

*In July 2010, the DOJ released an advanced notice of proposed rule making seeking comments on website accessibility issues. The comment period closed in January 2011. The proposed rules have been delayed several times since that date. It appears that we will have to wait a little longer to see those rules—until at least 2018.

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New Real Estate Website Feature: Assigned Testimonials

As part of our on-going mission of constantly refining and improving our system we’ve recently add some great new functionality to our testimonials section.
Many of you know, earlier this year we made our testimonials even easier to enter and edit by making them able to be organized via drag-and-drop. Now we’ve improved this function even more for real estate teams and real estate brokerages by providing a means to assign the testimonial you’re creating to a specific agent.

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We love making our system even better and passing the improvements on to our real estate website customers! It’s one of the things that sets us apart from other development houses: we listen to our customers. If they have a need and we can provide it, we’re glad to spend a few clock cycles on getting it done so that we can improve our system for all it’s users.

More than websites in a can, we’re a local and highly experienced real estate technology company; we’re happy to be able to provide something unique for those who call on us!

Do you need a real estate website?
Whether it’s for a single agent, a team, a brokerage, or even a builder – if it’s real estate related we can build an effective web presence for the world to see!
Contact us to start realizing your vision for success today!

Real Estate Apps: Consider This

As a provider of exceptional real estate technology for over a decade we’re often asked our opinions on current design trends and programs making their way throughout the industry.

We feel honored that so many well respected agents and brokerages would look to us as a source of insight into these items; as such make it a priority to be succinct with the information we provide. Whether it be just an agent asking if an email they received is a scam or more in depth questions about best SEO practices we’re always glad to talk with our clients and offer our knowledge towards their success.

One subject that has been a hot button item for a little while now is real estate apps!

We frequently get agents calling and saying “Oh this salesman that was in our broker meeting says we ABSOLUTELY have to have an APP! Gotta have it!” – which is exactly what someone selling apps would likely tell someone they thought might buy one.

So to help dispels some myths we’re putting together these quick points on why a real estate app might NOT be a good idea.

Cost
Apps are not cheap. Even when they promise and guarantee and offer payment plans. If you’re getting anything that’s not already pre-made for someone else it’s going to start around $5k and go up from there. Don’t forget, once it’s built it may still need updates and upgrades to stay current and functional.

Ease of Use
So you find a trustworthy developer, sign a contract, pay your money, and your shiny new app is ready to go…now what?
Well, you’ll need to get it approved and added to the google play and apple stores so people can find it. You’ll need to market the app so that potential users will even know it exists of course, and once they find it they’ll still need to decide if it’s something they want, install it and approve the permissions it needs before they can use it.

You STILL Need A Website
Even if your app goes off without a hitch the hard truth is there is still a large part of the population that will not use your app, even if they know about it. In fact, even if people are using your app you will still need at least the most basic of websites to legitimize yourself in the eyes of most clients and have any presence in search engines. It’s become as much a part of business as having business cards; while it’s never good to put all your eggs in one basket it also doesn’t make sense to just buy baskets because someone said you needed one.

A Better Way…
At Tour Real Estate Inc we provide truly mobile responsive web design! Nothing to download, nothing to install. You just tell your clients to go to your website and they’re greeted with a streamlined experience that puts your services as well as your listings on display in an attractive and easy to view format.  You’ve only got to promote your website – as you should be doing anyway – with less cost and time investment than any app could offer. We currently have several elegant real estate web design template that are fully optimized as well as mobile compliant and we’re always glad to offer custom design for those who really want to stand apart from the competition.

While we encourage people to diversify their marketing strategies whenever possible we also strive to help folks keep from spending money frivolously when there is no need to do so. We hope this information has been insightful into some of the reasons why a real estate app might not be the best idea and that you will feel free to contact us should you have any real estate technology needs that we can assist with!

Getting the Leads is Only Half the Battle

If you’ve been reading along here on our blog and practicing the tips on how to get more real estate leads you’re likely already seeing results. But once the contacts start coming in from your powerfully dynamic website, as well as your frequently updating and engaging social media portal the game isn’t over – in fact it’s just starting! Just getting the leads is half the battle, but continued and increased success doesn’t stop there. Here are some good tips on how to turn those leads into seeds and plant a stronger tomorrow.

Follow Up
First and foremost, always always follow up. That means answer the calls, return the voicemails, reply to the emails, and check the messages on your Facebook page as soon as possible. Nobody likes cold soup and nobody likes feeling like they’ve been put on the back burner, so follow up as soon as you can.

Build Your List
Those emails that come in? Those phone calls you get? Those are all potential clients, if not now then in the future. Not everyone you come in contact with is going to be ready to use your services, and even then not everyone is going to be ready to use them right NOW. So get organized! You should be saving and creating a list of every email inquiry you receive in order to do future newsletters and mailings. The same goes for phone numbers, keep a good record of names, dates, and the number so you can circle back every so often – even a warmed over call is better than a completely cold call.

Take It To The Real World
You’ve got a potential client that you’ve made contact with, or maybe even spoken with a bit over the phone and you’re confident they’re ready to make the move. There’s no reason to keep things strictly online! In this day it’s easy to throw out an email and forget about it – just like it’s easy to delete them without opening them – and that makes real world contact a powerful thing. It might be a matter of doing some planning to see where your recently gathered leads all exist and doing a good old fashioned door knocking campaign in that area, or maybe even setting up a coffee meet and greet nearby.

Do The Turn Around
Don’t think that only new leads need to be nurtured. Fact is if you stay in the industry long much of your clientele will be repeat clients and referrals more than anything else – so treat those previous clients like the gold they are! Touch base from time to time just to check in, shake the bushes a little bit to see if they know anyone who could benefit from your services, and make sure to foster the idea that you are a professional who is available to help them long after the transaction itself is done.

Be Diligent, But Be Patient
Don’t panic if you’re not the next real estate mogul in your first year, success takes time. There are no “dead leads” only leads that aren’t nurtured properly or for whom timing isn’t right. Think long and hard before deleting any info from your leads list as you can never tell when a past contact might become a future prospect – especially if you’re actively working to remain in the forefront of their minds. Remember, there is no down time: you should either be actively marketing to gather leads, or actively working to engage them.

You can’t keep dropping the ball and expect to score. One of the best ways to stay in the game is to have an active, easy to use, and highly visible real estate website that you can use to promote your services and to provide an unparalleled tool for your clients. If you don’t have a website currently, or are unhappy with it’s performance, we would love to help! Contact us today to find out more about all of the exceptional real estate technology solutions we provide!

UPDATED FEATURE: Agent Roster

profiles

We’re gearing up for an exciting new year! As part of that we’ve been finishing up several refinements for our real estate website system. Specifically in this case our Agent Results pages for real estate team and brokerages. This updated layout features larger agent profile pictures (so be sure to login and update that photo to something new!) as well as a more streamlined and consistent data-set that put makes the pertinent info for each agent easy to read.

Next up you can expect to see improved agent profile pages as well as stunningly elegant property search results and details pages!
These sort of system updates have been part of our standard service protocol for years. We want our customers to be as successful as we can make them, so we don’t up-charge for every new function under the sun – we just keep making our websites better so that you can reap the benefits!

Are you a real estate professional who is ready to level up their game in the new year?
We can help! For over a decade we’ve helped shape the real estate technology industry; we have the tools and experience you need to seize your digital destiny!

Tips for New Real Estate Agents

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Just starting out in a new career can be a little daunting!
It’s an exploration into unknown territory, and quite honestly there is a lot at stake, but it can be exciting too! New things to do, new challenges and the potential of course for success. How you define your success is up to you – whether it be the number of sales you make, or the number of lives you touch – but regardless of how you envision it we’ve put together some tips to help those of you who are just starting out in real estate.

Find the Right Company
Just like Link found out: It’s dangerous to go alone. By pooling resources with other experienced agents you are much more likely to find success, and to do so more easily. Talk to other agents you know to see where they’re at and what they like about their brokerage. Consider all the options and benefits they offer to make an informed decisions – and of course listen to your heart.

Seek Out a Mentor
Obi-wan had Qui-Gon Jinn, Luke had Yoda…great teachers can make great students and it really does help to have someone to help guide you along the way. The value of the knowledge you’ll gain from working with a more experienced agent can not be underestimated. Finding a mentor is similar to the same process your potential clients must go through: look for someone that matches your personality, has a proven track record of success, and who is knowledgeable in the areas you want to grow towards.

Be Realistic
Everyone wants to be a success and to do well but the fact is, you’re not going to be a Top Producer in the first month. Likely not even in the first year.  Before you even graduate from your continuing education classes start building a business plan for your career that includes realistic goals and obtainable milestones. Also be realistic in your strategies, as a new agent it’s not likely you’ll need to spend thousands of dollars on personal branding right up front. Take some time, learn the ropes, and when the time is right go big.

Get Out There
One of the easiest ways to make new clients and to hit the ground running is to get out in the community. Be sure and tell friends and family about your new career path, get involved in civic and community events where you can sponsor a table or hand out promotional materials. Hold a bake sale. Volunteer to run your offices open houses ( yes we’re serious ). Anything that will get you connected to the area you serve and put your name out there in a positive way is a great start.

Never Stop Learning
This is key to success on any path, whether it be real estate or any other industry. Don’t rest on your laurels. Stay up to date not only on the latest laws but also the latest trends that effect your client base. Take extra courses if your brokerage offers them, attend local seminars from marketing companies to sharpen your sales game – for those who are determined to improve themselves there is never an obstacle too large to overcome.

Puzzled? Feeling lost? Not even sure where to start?
If you’re a new agent – or even an old one! – we would love the opportunity to talk with you about your plans for success and how we can help you achieve them. The websites we provide are just one tool of many that you will want to put to use in order to generate business and serve your clients.

Real Estate: The Secret to More Leads

It’s a common misconception: If you build it, they will come. Unfortunately that field of dreams ideal doesn’t work when it comes to the world of websites; truly it hasn’t worked for some time. Years ago, when the web was new, there were relatively few people actively using the internet and thereby fairly low competition. These days all but the most behind the times brokerages have at least a nominal online presence and the competition has gotten FIERCE – to have any hope of getting your share of this lions market you need to be online and bringing your A game.

One of the best ways to do that is by using social media and channeling all of your traffic to the best place for it to go – Your Website.
So how do you make that happen?

You Gotta Work It!
You could be the best REALTOR® in the world and if you don’t tell anyone about it they will never know. The same can be said for your website. It’s out there on the web with a billion other websites, all trying to be number one in the search engines. Your best bet to eliminate some of that noise is to refer real live people you know to your website from the get-go. Tell all your friends, tell your family, look up old high school buddies – shout it from the mountain tops! However you choose to do it, whether it be social media, coffee meet ups, or even print marketing – you’ve got to let people know you have a site if you want them to use it. The website that works the best is the one you promote the most.

More Traffic. More Leads.
It’s really that simple. It comes down to numbers. If your site isn’t getting traffic you won’t be getting leads. If your site is already getting traffic and you’re still not getting leads that tells you there may be problems in what visitors are finding – or not finding! – when they hit the site itself. So how does one get more traffic? Start by telling people about your site as mentioned above, from there get active in local community events to find sponsorship opportunities, put out door hangers, post local classified ads, and leverage social media. Make sure you include your website address on every piece of advertising you create, whether it be printed or digital. Focus your online efforts by stopping posting links to the big box real estate sites to show your listings; send those links to your website instead.

Be Active and Helpful.
Whether it be on Facebook through answering questions or making insightful posts in groups on a regular basis ( you ARE active in local Facebook Groups, aren’t you?! ), or publishing articles on LinkedIn you should do whatever you can to establish yourself as a resource to the people you’re connected to. Become an authority in your field by creating useful information and helping those you engage with to accomplish their goals and overcome challenges – you will gain more trust and a better reputation through being of service to others than through any spammy or self-serving methods. At some point someone who is thankful may want to “pay you back” for being so helpful; rather than ask for money or coffee just politely ask them to leave you a kind review or to keep supporting your online efforts by liking or interacting with your posts.

Establish a Routine – and Stick To It!
The biggest place any advertising efforts, particularly on social media, fail is in consistency. So post daily and interact often, the worst thing for people to see is a page that hasn’t been updated in years. While still not yet a major factor, one of the growing indicators of importance in search engines is incoming traffic numbers and one great way to boost that is by channeling your audience to your website. Do this by posting quality content and always, always, including a link to your main domain. It’s easy enough to do at first when you’re new to social media, it’s the sticking with it month after month that can be a challenge but it’s also what makes the effort pay off.

Do you currently have a real estate website that’s under performing? Maybe you’re just not satisfied with a page and a paragraph on your office site, or some freebie site from your national office, no matter what the reason we can help you step up your website game and move more real estate! We would love the opportunity to talk with you about what you’re currently doing and how it might be improved to help you get optimal visibility online. Contact us today to see how we can help!