That’s the title of a new article by Sarah Cox about real estate bloggers in the New River Valley. As I said last week, there are only three, so we got together with Sarah at a local restaurant recently to discuss blogging. Here’s the text of the article (if ANYONE at The Roanoke Times can get me a link to this, please email me).
It’s a nice article, although it misses a few key things, namely:
Thanks to Sarah for taking the article on, I hope everyone will subscribe to these blogs, comment, and get involved. Blogging is a conversation, and one of my own goals for the Coldwell Banker Townside – although I’m not administering it – is that it’ll be less about "real estate knowledge" and more about conversation. Nevertheless, it’s a step in the right direction, and I’m glad to be a part of it!
REALTORS communicate all day long, often into the late evening hours. Now, a growing group of them is finding out a new way of extending their message – through blogging.
Jeremy Hart of NRVLiving Real Estate Group, Coldwell Banker Townside, has been blogging for about 15 months, and he has talked a fellow REALTOR into doing the same.
Alison Whittaker went "live" on March 5, but not far behind her has been the entire Coldwell Banker Townside team, under the influence of Sales Manager Margaret Galecki. Hart regards blogging as a new way of having a conversation with potential clients.
"She’s pioneering the area’s first company real estate blog," explained Hart. "Coldwell Banker Townside will be starting a real estate blog in the next few weeks that will be among the first of its kind for the area – a company, rather than just individuals within a company, actually blogging about their particular industry."
"It will be company focused; each agent can write a tip on real estate knowledge," she said.
For instance, one of her agents may have considerable experience in the Claytor Lake area and can share his or her knowledge about that region, while another agent may write a paragraph on locksets, or the difference between appraisals and assessments. And, added Galecki, because the 60 Coldwell Banker Townside agents have different areas of knowledge, the company’s blog can tout the area of expertise.
What they cannot do on the company blog is promote their own product.
"This forum is to showcase their expertise, and it focuses on the company. The blog serves the growing Internet buyer," said Galecki.
Coldwell Banker Townside has 40 New River agents and 20 in Roanoke; if half participate in this effort this year, and those particcipants write 12 per year, Galecki estimated she will have enough information for daily updates on the blog. And once it takes off, agents can get ideas by reading the blog and responding to it with their own ideas, she said.
"It will hit a nerve," she predicted. "Eventually, it will be searchable."
Galecki pointed out that because real estate is a relationship business, blogging ties in well. However, the Internet depersonalizes the one-on-one contact that is so vital to the business; blogging brings the personalities together.
"I would like every agent to participate because I think they all have something to show. Once they have the confidence, they will think of all sorts of things to talk about," she said.
Whittaker’s hesitation about starting her own blog stemmed from not knowing what to write about – the same reluctance that Galecki said she thinks will easily be overcome once the company’s blog begins. But, said Whittaker, she and Hart are the "young blog, and we grew up in an age of technology, so these things are second nature to us. This is a way to show my personality. I enjoy humor in anything, and I am going to make my blog like I’m talking in Jeremy’s living room."
Hart said he believes the company blog will give a personal face to the company.
"We don’t want to just be a roster of agents", said Galecki. She said she has read national real estate articles that indicate that companies that have blogs are the ones clients should seek out.
On a personal level, Whittaker has found that it was very simple to set up her blog and very easy to contribute to it. Hart said that every time he posts something, search engines find it; the more frequent the postings, the higher the position on a search engine, because search engines look for the most recently updated sites. Therefore, a blog will enhance a REALTOR’s web site placement.
"This helps with people learning who Alison Whittaker is," said Hart.
Hart said he allows comments on his blog, but he moderates them.
"There are living room rules," he said. "Even if they have a dissenting opinion, I’ll still put it in there, as long as they abide by my living room rules." The rules to which he refers are basic manners.
Blogs can be subscribed to, as well – Galecki has subscribed to Hart’s, for instance.
"I think other agents in the New River Valley will log on to our company’s blog," she predicted. "We’re interested in real estate, and it’s a common interest," said Hart.
While Coldwell Banker Townside and other bloggers do take a risk posting competitive information on their sites, Galecki said she feels that this is a goodwill gesture.
"It helps buyers and sellers come together in the best possible way," she said.