8 Free Brand-Building Tools for New Realtors
By Lauren Walker
About Agent Basics
Like many REALTORS®, Jamie Parlier’s first experience with real estate was as a buyer — and a young buyer at that.
At just 24, she purchased a townhome in Durham, North Carolina. And she was hooked. Despite having found herself a home, she couldn’t stop house hunting.
“How many homebuyers go to open houses six months after buying a house? I thought it was normal!” she laughed.
For guidance on whether she should pursue a real estate license, Jamie turned to the Realtor who helped her buy.
His advice was clear: Don’t do it.
“He said it was too unstable and hard as a single person,” Jamie said. She took that to heart, and went to work in a corporate environment. However, it was a technology company that focused on real estate, so the dream was never far from her mind.
It turned out to be a career move that worked in her favor. That particular job gave Jamie a unique perspective on the industry. As an almost-insider, she met top influencers. She attended conferences. And she learned what she wanted in a brokerage — something many agents don’t know until they get started.
“I knew I wanted to work with a small, independent brokerage,” she said. “I think that’s about my local market here in Durham, my own sphere, and my personality.”
After interviewing various agents and brands, Jamie chose 501 Realty. “I loved their branding and their location of the office. It’s right where I wanted to focus my efforts — and was perfectly aligned with my own brand.”
In kicking off her business, Jamie knew she had to control her investments. So she tried to be as scrappy as possible, using what free tools she had available to her as often as she could.
We collected her list of free brand-building tools here to share with other new agents who may be looking for that extra edge as they get started.
1. GSuite: Word processing and spreadsheets
The first free tool Jamie chose to use is GSuite, from Google. Instead of buying an expensive license for Microsoft Office, she used Google Sheets – their version of Excel – to track her sphere and database.
The other advantage that GSuite provides is cloud computing. “I can access my documents from anywhere,” she said. “I don’t need my laptop with me at all times. I can even get them on my phone.”
2. Trello: Project management
The second in the list of free brand-building tools Jamie employed was Trello. Trello is a collaboration tool that lets users organize projects into boards, and it’s free until you want to add extra functionality.
Jamie has a very specific system with Trello:
“I have a running to-do list and a list of long-term projects. And then I have lists for active clients, buyer prospects, and listing prospects. Within all those, I have cards based on a checklist template for paperwork, and also the steps to take once I get them under contract. Every time I add a prospect, I copy the template card and add the information.”
3. Placester: Real Estate Website
“I chose to use Placester because of the free site for Realtors,” she said. At first, Jamie wasn’t sure she’d need a separate site from her Facebook page and her firm’s site.
But she was excited by the idea of having a more Durham-focused real estate blog outside of her firm. She wanted to focus on content about the growing and change scene of downtown Durham, showcasing her local expertise and her integration with the community.
She explains, “My firm’s site is all about listings, and it has all the different brokers in the office. I liked the idea of having a destination page that was only branded for me and adds additional value to visitors.”
For Jamie, the free site was simple to set up. But she did learn that, until she had her IDX integration with her local MLS set up, the site defaulted to a Boston search. “I had to go through the Triangle MLS and get my broker to approve Placester as a vendor. It’s a multi-step process.”
After a year, Jamie is ready to upgrade from the free site to an Agent Pro subscription. “I’m excited to do more with Placester, now that I have my bearings and know what I need in a site.”
4. Relola: Local content for social and website sharing
The fourth tool Jamie employed was Relola — a free app that helps Realtors build an interactive map of all the local features they love, like restaurants, parks and listings they know. It helps them showcase their local expertise, and create a snapshot of their market.
Jamie says, “I learned about Relola because I was in the real estate tech industry already. But when I learned the app was going to be free for Realtors, I immediately downloaded it.”
When Jamie first started using it, she was writing insights on the local listings she’d toured. “It was very cool to see the listing I was standing in pull into the app,” she said. And sharing her thoughts on the active listings was a great way to communicate to her sphere that Jamie was an active agent, as well as her unique spin on the properties.
But when the neighborhood place tool rolled out, Jamie seized on it:
“I realized I needed this content on my website. This is the value add of me having a website!”
Today, Jamie’s Relola map is on her Facebook business page and her Placester site. She creates the insight on her mobile app and it publishes automatically to those places.
5. Mailchimp: Email newsletters
With Mailchimp, Jamie keeps her contacts updated and email lists organized.
She says, “I use MailChimp to promote my listings with my sphere database, as well as a database of Realtors that I pull from MLS.”
6. Evite: Events and open houses
Jamie has found solid results from her happy hours at local Durham restaurants and bars, and has added Evite to her list of free brand-building tools as a way to create and send digital invitations.
She also creates events in Evite for her Open Houses.
7. Canva: Printed flyers
Ironically, Jamie doesn’t use Canva for the digital graphics it was originally designed to offer. She uses it for her printed flyers to promote open houses.
8. Instagram: Social sharing and local content
“Instagram is probably my biggest free tool because all my sphere is on Instagram,” Jamie says. “I get great feedback on it. My sphere sees that I’m out there and follows all my activity in the Durham area!”
As a new Realtor, Jamie knew that she had to control costs. And to do so, she found free tools that could help her manage her transactions, her clients and her marketing.
While there is no perfect tool, free or otherwise, Jamie wraps up her thoughts with this gem:
“The best tool for you is the one you actually use!”
Discover top tips from today’s top producers in our special real estate marketing playbook:
Published on January 26, 2018
Written by Lauren Walker
Lauren Walker is the Director of Content Marketing for Relola. She’s a 20-year veteran of direct marketing, having worked for brands such as Reader’s Digest, IBM and Showtime. She’s passionate about branding and a staunch believer in the power of story.