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Real estate goes online with positive results

The Web is one big neighborhood

The Internet is becoming more and more instrumental in ways of doing business in the real estate industry, said Nancy Windham, ERA Lorden sales manager.

A quick glance at print media will show a growing number of Web site addresses just below the phone number. Gary Smith Realty of Jackson recently used a quarter-page ad with simply the Web site address printed in white letters against a black background. Nothing else.

“It`s a great way for people to go shopping for property and for us to have exposure for our company,” Gary Smith said. “We`re finding an increasing interest in the Internet in general, and are finding it a more effective way to market property as an additional service for sellers to get national and international exposure. The ability to communicate by e-mail at virtually no cost has been very valuable.”

Many local franchises advertise on national Web sites, while other real estate services have their own Web page.

“We have a national site and agents have the option to post information about themselves or houses they have listed,” said Windham.

David Price, president of dnp corporation, a commercial real estate development company in Jackson, has marketed commercial property online and is setting up a Web page because it`s “the wave of the future. If you`re not online, you`ll be left behind.”

Steven H. Horn, owner of a commercial property development company, has been marketing lots for Sherbourne, a subdivision in Madison, for two years via the Internet. Another 48 lots are coming on the market, for about $33,000 each, he said.

“I`ve sold lots and homes off the Web site,” Horn said. “In fact, I`m upgrading it right now by eliminating what doesn`t get hit and upgrading what does. For example, you can get very detailed information, such as dimensions for the lot itself. I`m moving away from the technical development and more into the marketing side of it. What people want to see is more exterior and interior shots, the community, information about builders, architectural requirements.”

For about $75 a month, a Web site buys you worldwide access 24 hours a day. “For a little subdivision stuck some place in Madison, I think it`s phenomenal.”

The Web site averages five hits daily, and has cited visitors from the Pentagon and several foreign countries.

Developed by Gary Hilton of ProVision in Jackson for less than $10,000, the Web site has about 75 pages. The $75 monthly fee is a hosting fee. Hilton spends an average of $250 a month in maintenance fees, which includes upgrading images and information.

Hilton, who has been in the advertising industry for 15 years, and has worked with a number of real estate businesses, said the Internet accounts for about 90% of his business.

“A good analogy of what the Internet is going through right now is compared to the development of desktop publishing a few years ago where quality really didn`t matter, but now, with competition, it does,” Hilton said.

The Internet is an interactive medium where you can measure results accurately, Hilton said.

“A Web site cannot be constructed like a brochure, where it just sits there. To be effective, it has to be constantly updated. But without conventional advertising, the Internet really doesn`t help a lot,” Hilton said.

Betty Stokes, executive director of Mississippi Gulf Coast Multiple Listing Service, said the organization went online last August. All trade members have access to realtor.com, the official Internet site for the National Association of Realtors

About Lynne W. Jeter

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