We talk to more appraisers every day than anyone, anywhere. We know your tech problems, marketing challenges, PC skills, and everything in between. It’s our job. My job is to help make yours easier. Here are 10 tech tips I offer regularly to help with PC health, cost savings, and better marketing. Pick three and do them today.
1. Take smaller photos. Your lenders aren’t paying you extra to take portrait-quality photos of these homes, right? Dial down your digital camera’s quality or resolution before you shoot your pictures. They’ll import faster, and your reports will open, save, close and print faster. The visible quality difference on most cameras between the highest and medium settings are usually negligible at most.
2. Reboot. Every Morning. No Joke. I’m sure there are some of you out there who can’t even remember the last time you rebooted! I make it a habit to reboot my computer every morning — even if I leave it on overnight. I’m rewarded with a faster computer and fewer errors in pretty much any program I use throughout the day.
3. Trade links with an Agent. One of the biggest boosts to your XSite’s Google ranking (other than good, fresh, relevant content) is to cultivate inbound links from other people’s websites to yours. Offer to trade links with others in the real estate field that have a website. This kind of thing is so common it has a name: Relevant Reciprocal Linking.
4. Add yourself to “Google Local.” Ever done a search in Google for something in your area and seen a small, square map at the top of the results next to some links? One of the quickest ways to “get to the top” of Google is to list yourself in Google’s local business center. It’s completely free and takes about 10 minutes to set up.
5. Get a second monitor. I’ll never give mine up! Imagine having two screens, with your MLS open on one screen, and the grid open on the other screen right next to it, or having the URAR on one screen with the addendum on the other. It’s relatively easy to set this up — you’ll need a second monitor of course, and a video card that supports dual monitors. Bonus: Most laptops are set up to use a second monitor with just a settings change and a cable.
6. Use Facebook. The days of teenagers dominating Facebook never really existed in the first place. Even Twitter is overrun with responsible tax-paying adults. If Google connects you to information, Facebook connects you to people. You’d be surprised at the referral business you can get by connecting with other real estate professionals in your area. Facebook is a virtual coffee shop. Use it.
7. Clear your temporary internet files. It’s a good idea to give your computer a good “cleaning” regularly. Every website you visit stores images, text and browsing information in multiple places on your PC — sometimes indefinitely. Your browser will have a feature to remove your temporary files, and you can schedule a regular disk clean up and defragmentation with Windows.
8. Clear your Windows temp files. Different from your temporary Internet files, these are usually old file copies that you’ll never need or use. WinTOTAL Aurora’s “Tech Support Assistant” can do this for you, or you can schedule Windows to do it for you. Just look in your Control Panel.
9. Dump your dedicated fax line. Some of you still have a separate phone line just for your physical fax machine, right? Deep 6 that monthly bill by using an online fax company (www.eFax.com and www.SmartFax.com are two popular examples); you’ll get a local number and your faxes will come straight to your e-mail inbox. If you need to send something, use your scanner. Bonus: Without a fax machine, you’ll save on paper and ink, too, cutting overhead costs.
10. Update your XSite. Search engines reward fresh content, and rank sites with stale content much lower. (Read “Search Engine Love” on page T13.) When was the last time you updated your XSite content? If it’s been awhile and you’re not sure where to start, take our free “Jumpstart Your Appraiser XSite” class. Sign up at www.alamode.com/training.
Bonus! We’ve made a YouTube video with demos and more details. Check it out at www.Facebook.com/alamodeinc.