The following is the recent article in “Vero 32963″ written by Ian Love.
Norris & Company, which for 37 years has been one of the leaders in the beachside real estate market, has a new look. While the company will remain a bastion of selling the barrier island lifestyle to its upscale customers, it has recently revamped its web site with a new interface and a host of cutting edge applications. The added bells and whistles put the web site (www.norrisandcompany.com) at the top of the class for one of the most important tools a real estate company has in its arsenal – a first-class presence online. Though the studies vary, they all agree that a growing number of buyers– particularly those out-of-market — begin their real estate searches on the Internet. “The Internet is crucial, it is quite honestly the future of the marketing, there is no question,” said Gena Grove, who along with Jane Schwiering has been a co-owner of Norris & Company since 1987. “It has to be the place where you are. Think about it, people these days have their smart phones with them just like wrist watches.” The revamped site was developed by an out of state team that specializes in real estate web sites. It features a design that will be simpler to use, yet provide a wealth information not only about the home itself, but will introduce you to the neighborhood as well. “The website we had was award winning, but as you know things change and it was time to go in and revamp it,” said Grove. “The technology changes exceptionally quickly these
days and the existing site did everything it needed to do, but we wanted a site that did even more.” There is a basic search function right at the top of the home page and if you want to drill down, you can add community and lifestyle information on the Property Search link. And as an added feature, you will see right away how many homes fit your criteria with each additional refinement.
“On a traditional Web site when you perform your search, it says you have say 83 listings to go through,” Schwiering said. “On our Web site, that number will update as you change the criteria of your search. If you say you want a single family home 3 bedrooms, 2 baths near a museum you get 10 listings. You take out museums then you get 104. You increase it to three bedrooms it goes down to 84.“The site is not only going to be comprehensive, it is going to be very efficient.” The site will also profile users so if they are looking for a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with an acre of land and a four-car garage, it will pull down the homes that match that criteria and then on the right rail will provide a list of other properties that may also be of interest.
The site will also feature applications from WalkScore.com and Yelp.com for each home under consideration. The WalkScore application provides information on amenities that are nearby and provides a rating be-tween 1 and 100 of how “walkable” the home might be. The Yelp application provides information on local restaurants and if you click on the link to the site, you can obtain data on other local businesses. Grove and Schweiring are also planning future updates to the site that will allow users to save searches and receive email alerts when new properties become available or a change occurs to a property for which they have requested information. “This will be so much beyond what everyone will be able to offer,” Grove said. “It is all geared toward a potential buyer or a seller. If you are looking for a house it will be so easy to use and if you are a seller, you won’t believe how well your property will be presented to the public.” Norris & Company’s commitment to new technology does not stop at their Web site. They are also in the process of adding QR codes to all their signage and brochures. QR codes(they look like black and white checker boxes) allow you to immediately pull up information on your smart phone. “You can use your smart phone to take a photograph of that code and it will take you straight to that particular Web site that the QR code is linked to,” Schwiering said. “In time every sign we put in somebody’s front yard will have a QR code box so the person can take a photograph of the QR code and it will bring up the Web site specifically designed to work on a smart phone.”
Despite the commitment to being on the cutting edge, Grove and Schweiring still say it is their commitment to the customer and promoting the barrier island lifestyle that has helped them sell over $2.47 billion of real estate in the last decade. “Everybody has the same ability to sell and analyze systems, but it is also what theRealtor does for you, the professionalism, the integrity, the personal service,” Grove said. “Our (37) agents are professionals, they are full-time, this is not a hobby. We are proud of who we have, they are quality agents and people. We don’t sell homes,we sell a lifestyle.” They also point to the relationships they have developed over 22 years of owning Norris & Company, like the one they enjoy with Christie’s International Real Estate. “It just expands our marketing, there is no question about that,” Grove said. “It makes our reach even that much more international, especially with that name recognition.” Christie’s has just under 150 affiliates around the world marketing homes over one million dollars. “Norris is a single office with an appropriate number of agents servicing a very specific market,” said Christie’s International Real Estate vice president and regional manager Rick Moeser of his company’s relationship with Norris. “They are not trying to be everything to everyone.” When Norris & Company gets a listing for a home over $1 million, it is automatically picked up by Christie’s and receives its full marketing campaign than includes advertising on the WallStreetJournal.com and Robb Report Web sites. “We market through our various web sites, the (Christie’s Great Estates) magazine, brochures, banner ads with various national publications, we hit all the possible spots,” Moeser said. “The buyer sees us as the resource, as the go-to firm and our sellers are the same, we cover all the bases, between ourselves locally and Christie’s internationally.” It has been a relationship that has worked well for Norris & Company. “It is important that people know we are part of this group that is generating all these sales,” Grove said. “Even though we are a boutique office with 37 agents we are not small, we are international.”