Boston ActiveRain MeetUp: Patch.com, Leads, and Expireds
September took me to Boston for the Council of MLS's (CMLS) conference. CMLS is the largest meeting of MLS executives in the country. With all the excitement over listing syndication with Zillow and Trulia, it was a good meeting to attend and learn how the MLS industry is thinking about these new companies in the real estate industry.
Whenever and wherever I travel, I try to organize an ActiveRain MeetUp. I learn a lot from the members of ActiveRain on what is working and what isn't working on ActiveRain and in the real estate industry in general. We had a GREAT ActiveRain MeetUp in San Antonio at the Texas Association of Realtors meeting.
Boston is a bit more complicated to organize a MeetUp. Boston is a hub and spoke of a city and very few ActiveRain members who I emailed with actually work in the city of Boston. My conference was in the city proper and I could only meet in the mornings. All that being said, we had some last minute cancellations, but I had three loyal Rainers come out to meet: Christine Smith, Ray, and Larry Lawfer.
Christine Smith of Canton, MA is a hard core blogger. She works for Buyers Brokers Only LLC which is team of agents & brokers that all have their law degrees and only represent buyers. Christine blogs actively on ActiveRain and Patch.com for Canton and Stoughton, MA. She noted that J. Philip Faranda also blogs for Patch.com in Nanuet. Patch is AOL's local blogging initiative (and they have taken some heat regarding the costs of their hyperlocal initiatives). ActiveRain and Patch provide her with plenty of exposure so that she has not needed to buy leads from Zillow, Trulia or Realtor.com Christine had been blogging 5x per week and now is blogging 2x per week. Even at blogging 2x per week on ActiveRain, she is seeing a steady flow of contacts from her efforts. Christine has tried out SendOutCards.com, Happy Grasshopper and as Angie's List. Her brokerage buys advertising on Angie's List and is now rethinking the investment. They initially advertised on Angie's List to get and manage reviews on Angie's List. They subsequently learned that there is a free way to manage their reviews and they are thinking of cancelling their advertising. Christine proactively manages her reviews on Zillow, Trulia and Yelp, but does not pay to advertise. Christine also subscribed to RealEstate.com and has received a significant number of seller leads, but was unable to work them since her brokerage only works with buyers.
Ray Stockwell was BRAND new to ActiveRain and came to meet us for breakfast too. Ray was just about to start Blogging Bootcamp with Bob Stewart. Ray works in Jamaica Plain, which is one of the more liberal areas of the very liberal Boston, MA. Jamaica Plain attracts a lot of post-graduate students who are working in the nearby hospitals. Ray was hoping to use blogging as a mechanism to organize community events in Jamaica Plain and promote low income housing related issues. Ray spends about 50% of his time working rentals and then 50% in real estate brokerage depending on the time of the year. Ray works for a Weichert broker. As a Weichert broker, they participate in the Weichert Lead Network. Weichert Inc. generates leads from the weichert.com web site and then sends them to local real estate agents for follow-up. I was under the impression that there is a referral fee if a lead closes, but Ray indicated that his broker does not charge him. Seems like a really cool service and a good differentiator for Weichert and its franchises.
FINALLY and certainly not lastly, I had breakfast with Larry Lawfer who is an ActiveRain Ambassador. Larry could not meet us the previous day, but scheduled breakfast with me on Friday before I left for my flight back to Seattle. Larry actually spends most of his time on expired listings, which sounds like having root canal to me. But Larry has found a system that works well for him. Larry works with Borino and Expired Plus. Larry speaks very highly of their program, telling me the majority of the his transactions in 2012 have come through Expired Plus.
It was a real pleasure spending time with each of them.
Any suggestions for my next city to visit? Where will my yellow brick road lead?
Will travel for good vegetarian food and good conversation!
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