Author Archive

3D Printing Could Change the Real Estate Industry

June 16, 2014

3d_printed_homes2Over the last few years, one of the buzz words in technology has been 3D printing. Using plastic, metal, nylon and other materials, the 3D printer takes a computer model and then “prints” an actual physical model of the design. This has been used to create a variety of items from small figurines to prototypes, aircraft engine parts and even prosthetics.

Amazingly, these 3D printers aren’t just limited to large manufacturers. MakerBot – one of the biggest names in 3D printing – currently has five different 3D printers available for personal use starting under $1,500.

There are also companies like Shapeways and Sculpteo that will let you create and share your creations online without needing your own 3D printer at home. You can simply upload your 3D file, select the material and order 3D prints. You can even open up a “shop” on Shapeways and start selling your creation.

So what does 3D printing have to do with the real estate industry? There are two distinct ways that 3D printing will change how we do business. (more…)

URGENT: Heartbleed Bug Poses Security Risk

April 14, 2014

eddie_blog_4.14.14As you may have heard, there is a new widespread security vulnerability affecting millions of secure websites called the “Heartbleed Bug.” It’s a very serious problem and requires action on your part to ensure your continued data safety.

Heartbleed Description

The issue is related to secure websites. When you visit a website that begins with https, such as https://metronet.metrobrokers.com, all data sent between your browser and the web server is encrypted. This prevents other people from snooping on your session and looking at the data being sent and received. (more…)

Multiple Email Addresses? No Problem With Outlook

December 17, 2012

organizing_emailIn today’s world of email communication, it’s not uncommon to have multiple email addresses where you receive certain types of email. In addition to a work email account, some agents have set up their own email based on their personal website (for example, eddie@eddiekrebs.com) or even multiple personal accounts (Gmail for family/friends and Yahoo for my Fantasy Football Team!).

At Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers, we give every agent an “@metrobrokers.com” email for a reason: Because it’s the most professional way to communicate with your customers. While a Gmail account is useful, it should only be used for non-professional communication.

But I regularly have agents tell me that “I use my personal [insert Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or even AOL] email address for my business because it’s too hard to keep up with another email address”. This is beyond frustrating. (more…)

Passwords: Protecting Yourself Online

June 18, 2012

With the recent leak of LinkedIn, eHarmony and Last.fm passwords, I think it’s past time for users (like you) to inform yourselves on the effect of non-secure passwords. More and more of our personal and financial information is available behind a simple username/password prompt, giving each of us an increased likelihood of that information finding its way into the hands of criminals. However, you can mitigate your risk through education and diligence.

How Exactly Are You at Risk?

The ultimate goal of malicious hackers is to make money. They attempt to steal your information so they can access your bank account, or create new credit accounts in your name. They may target you specifically or you may be one of millions of victims of automated hack scripts. Your bank accounts may be emptied or your credit ruined, usually leading to months or years of working with banks and creditors to repair the damages. (more…)

Backing Up To the Cloud

December 5, 2011

This post is the second in a series on Cloud Computing. See the first article here.

Let me tell you about the time I lost my data. Well, it wasn’t actually mine. Being a technology worker, most of my time is spent protecting other people’s data, but much like a teacher calls her students “my kids” I call my customers’ documents “my data.”

In this case, I had foolishly allowed a server disk to exist without redundancy. That means when the drive failed (as all disk drives do, eventually), the server crashed. When the server crashed, everyone’s computers started vomiting errors. When that happens, people start speaking in tongues and their heads spin around backwards. The technical term for this is “Business Continuity Interruption.”

“It’s all okay,” I reassured, “I have a backup!”

Well, several hours and several buckets worth of nervous sweat later, I realized the backups were corrupt. The tapes were completely unreadable. At this point, I’m thinking of polishing off my resume and skipping town.

My last resort was to bring the disk drive to a company that could break it apart and copy the data, bit-by-bit onto a new disk. Three days later, we received a new disk (with “most” of the data) and a $1,800 bill.

In return for my heroic data recovery efforts, I earned some new ulcers and a valuable lesson:

Don’t mess around with your data.

(more…)

To the Cloud! Wait, what’s the Cloud?

September 6, 2011

This is a multi-part series on cloud computing and cloud services, such as storage and backup. Check back for more posts on this complex topic.

Cloud computing is the latest technology buzzword, eclipsing even the overused “Web 2.0.” There are dozens of commercials from big companies such as IBM and Microsoft, and even more vendors you’ve never heard of, all peddling cloud services. So what is cloud computing?

Believe it or not, you already know what cloud computing is. If you use any web site that stores files, documents or email for you, then you are an end user of the cloud. In layman’s terms, cloud computing is the use of someone else’s servers and hard drives to store your data, allowing you to access that data over the internet. Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail email are cloud services. So are Flickr and Facebook. If you are one of our Metro Brokers agents, we provide you email via the cloud.

What’s the big deal?

You might think that Gmail and Flickr are nothing special, and the technology is actually pretty old. Why is cloud computing a big deal right now? There are two basic reasons for its popularity: you pay only for what you use, and you don’t have to have the technical expertise to implement the technology by yourself. (more…)

How the iPad is Changing Real Estate

March 28, 2011

If you don’t know much about the Apple iPad, you’ve been living under that proverbial technology rock. The world of mobile technology is evolving before our eyes, and its effects will change the entire personal computing industry. Over the next decade, our laptops, desktops, smartphones, tablets and netbooks will change drastically to incorporate iPad features that are barely in their infancy. The lines between “desktop” and “mobile” computers will blur, and you will eventually end up with one personal device that does it all.

I could talk with you all day about how tablet computers, particularly the iPad, are changing the world (read the prophetic, but already outdated, year-old Wired article Rise of the Machines for more) but we’re here to talk about real estate. In particular, we’ll examine what the iPad has uncovered that will change the way consumers locate, buy and sell homes, and how the business of being a real estate agent will evolve.

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Facebook and the Cost of Your Privacy

May 21, 2010

Facebook is nothing special.  Its features are not revolutionary or technologically groundbreaking.  It wasn’t the first social networking or online profile website.  In fact, there are very few unique elements to Facebook that you cannot find elsewhere on the internet.

However, Facebook is not only the most popular website on the planet, its millions of users willingly dispense their most personal information.  We upload photos of our children, talk about our vacations and likes and dislikes, and share our marital status, gender, hometown, religious views and birth date.  We identify our family members and point out our friends.  We publish our exact location live via our smartphones’ GPS.  Some of us would probably enter our social security and bank account numbers if there was a box for it on the Edit My Profile screen.

People are trusting by nature, and we expect others to treat us like we would treat them. We trust Facebook to keep our information private, sharing it only as we would like.  We forget the company is a for-profit corporation.  The heads at Facebook may be the nicest people in the world, but they still have to explain themselves to the investors that forked over the megamillions needed to fund such an ambitious project.  Those investors want one thing: a high rate of return on their money.

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Smartphones, Revisited

March 24, 2010

“The only constant is change.”  It’s a quote you’ve likely heard, but your interpretation of it will vary based on context. When Heraclitus of Ephesus said it around 500 BC, he was referring to the universe and everything in it.  To me, it is a perfect one sentence definition for technology, even though it precedes our modern perception of technology by a couple thousand years.

The smartphone industry thrives on change. Unless manufacturers can fabricate new reasons for consumers to buy new phones every couple of years, the industry would stagnate and most of those companies would go belly up in a matter of months.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While I hate spending a couple hundred bucks on an imminently obsolete device, I’m sure glad I’m not still using that old Motorola flip phone I had back in 2001.

When I wrote my first post on smartphones about 11 months ago, the buzz about Google’s open source mobile operating system Android was just beginning to build, and the Palm Pre was being called an iPhone Killer.  Now, the Droid and Nexus One are hot, and we know the iPhone is safe from the Palm threat.

Just like last time, this post focuses on features for real estate agents.

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The New Browser Wars: Which is Right for You?

July 22, 2009

browser warsWe spend more computer time in our internet browser than anywhere else. We use it for e-mail, banking, chatting, searching, directions, shopping, and news. It’s such a critical component of computing that Microsoft and Apple both include browsers with their operating systems. Most people just use the browser included with their computer, and never bother to look at the alternatives.

Consider a Change

Your browser choice can change your internet experience drastically; it’s your personal window to the internet. If you don’t explore your options, you’re allowing Microsoft or Apple to control the view from that window. You might be surprised how much more you enjoy browsing the internet from a different perspective.

I’ve listed the most popular browsers available today, with their relative strengths and weaknesses. This will give you a good foundation of knowledge to help you choose your next browser.

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Mac or PC for Real Estate Agents?

July 13, 2009

We all love the Mac vs. PC commercials. My personal favorite being the one above; the irony of Apple targeting Microsoft’s advertising budget gets me every time. But how much is really true, and which is right for you, a real estate agent?

What is a PC, Really?

Let’s start by explaining that PC literally means Personal Computer, so Macs actually qualify as a PC. Apple is trying to distance themselves from the reputation of a computer being hard to use and prone to crashes, and thus don’t call their computers “PC.”

What Apple means by PC is a computer running Microsoft Windows. Almost 90% of computers today run some version of Windows. Windows Vista is the latest version, and Windows 7 is being released very soon. Macs run OS X, which is a heavily modified version of the very mature Unix operating system. Unix has been around forever, and is actually much older than Windows.

So, only the operating systems are different?  What about…

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Is Google Stealing Our Listing Data?

June 1, 2009

thiefThere is a lot of fuss in the real estate blogosphere about an interpretation by the Metropolitan Indianapolis Board of REALTORS® (MIBOR) of the so-called “anti-scraping” rule in the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Multiple Listing Policy.

The policy states the following:

Participants must protect IDX information from misappropriation by employing reasonable efforts to monitor and prevent “scraping” or other unauthorized accessing, reproduction, or use of the MLS database.

This rule is intended to keep websites from extracting listings from NAR member websites (such as metrobrokers.com) and re-displaying the listings on their website, passing it off as their own data. We all agree this is a good rule, as it keeps others from stealing our listing data.

However, MIBOR has interpreted the rule to classify search engines like Google as “Scrapers,” and they are forcing all Indianapolis brokers and agents to prevent Google from indexing their websites. At the NAR mid-year conference, NAR initially rejected MIBOR’s ruling, but two days later accepted a referral back to committee, which is kind of like an appeal.

Now we have to wait until the November NAR conference to learn how this will play out. This ruling can affect everyone in real estate across the country.

Keep reading to understand the true impact of this policy.

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Soaring with the Eagles

May 11, 2009

Every once in a while, you get a rare opportunity to share your passion with a receptive group of like-minded peers. Kevin and I recently found ourselves in that position at the latest RealTrends conference, Gathering of Eagles. After a guided company tour of Metro Brokers in April, Steve Murray, CEO of RealTrends, was impressed enough to ask us to speak to 200 broker/owners of large real estate businesses across the US.

While we were in Dallas, we heard from the top industry experts about where this market is headed. There is good news on the way. Keep reading for more.

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Moving Forward: Metro Brokers Mobile

May 7, 2009

Let’s just say that working for Kevin Levent keeps every day interesting.  Let’s take, for example, a comment from last week’s blog where he “accidentally” let the cat out of the bag about our new mobile website.  Way to steal my thunder Kevin!

Well, today I get to announce OFFICIALLY that we launched a mobile version of the Metro Brokers website.  I can’t tell you how excited all us techies are.  It not only uses some cool new technology (ASP.Net MVC for those technically inclined), but it’s super fast and leverages the power of our one-0f-a-kind listing search engine.

I’ll list some highlights for you here, but make sure to check it out yourself.  Go to www.metrobrokers.com from your mobile phone, or just hit m.metrobrokers.com from anywhere.

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Marketing your agent website

May 5, 2009

website marketingAs a real estate agent, your brand is a large part of how you separate yourself from other agents.  Your brand includes your name, your headshot, and your broker’s brand.  Your broker works to extend your brand by marketing their own brand.  The more recognizable your broker, the easier it is for potential customers to recognize and remember who you are.  You market your brand every time you hand someone a business card, or advertise a listing.

Your website is an extension of your brand into the online world.  Your domain name can become as recognizable as your real name, but you need to learn how to market it, both offline and online.

Marketing Through Search Engines

The simplest way to drive people to your site is through search engines.  By positioning your site high in search results, people will be able to locate you.  Managing that position is the tough part.  There are volumes of data on the topic of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Marketing (SEM), but I have a few tips for you.  This list is nowhere near complete, but it will certainly help.

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