East Bay Real Estate Brokerage Finds Hope Online

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As real estate brokerages look for financial stability in a challenging market, some brokerages are finding opportunity for growth using online technologies.

"In this tough environment, online appears to be the most effective and efficient marketing platform available."

Though the real estate market has seen little stability over the past few years, some East Bay brokerages find hope for growth on the Internet.

The latest example is Red Oak Realty. As the largest independent brokerage in the East Bay, the company has launched a new website to improve user experience and add focus to “hyperlocal” East Bay neighborhoods.

The company launched the site in spite of the fact that the East Bay market has declined 20% since its height in 2005. This same market has nearly eviscerated profit margins for many companies and led to a series of acquisitions, mergers and closings within the real estate brokerage community.

However, Red Oak sees a bright side. “Eighty-seven percent of California buyers consider the Internet an important part of their search,” said Vanessa Bergmark, Partner and Manager of Red Oak Realty. “We see a strong online presence as the best way to establish a long-term, positive relationship with our clients, educating them about the market.”

Buyers and sellers are flocking to the web to better understand the market. With sites like zillow.com and trulia.com experiencing nearly 100% growth in unique visitors year-over-year, there is more information available to buyers, and big sites like these are capitalizing on this change.

Red Oak spent almost two years developing the site. The process involved consultants, freelancers, and the addition of Aman Daro, a well-respected online marketing figure in the real estate industry. “Designing and launching a site is hard in its own right, but maintaining it, and trying to keep ahead of consumer needs, is a full-time job,” said Kevin Hamilton, Partner and CFO of Red Oak Realty.

The site also offers something unique: truly localized neighborhoods. The company spent months creating nearly 200 custom neighborhood designations. This gives customers the chance to search by intuitive neighborhoods rather than just zip codes.

The company also developed over 40 neighborhood pages, each with lengthy descriptions, photographs and in many cases, videos. “We wanted to give customers a feel for a neighborhood, not just a list of businesses or schools,” said Daro. “Many changes are coming soon that will further improve that experience.”

But Red Oak did not build the site simply to be new and different. “The goal is to improve user experience, which will provide more information -- and therefore more empowerment -- to the client,” said Daro. “In this tough environment, online appears to be the most effective and efficient marketing platform available.”

Red Oak’s new website may be viewed at http://www.redoakrealty.com.

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