High tech ups your green ante

Green Real Estate June 7, 2011

shoppingcartBy Elden Freeman

You might look, think and behave like a green real estate professional, but what does all that paper and print material you churn out say about you?

If you don’t enjoy the impression your paper footprint leaves behind, you might want to know about a relatively new mobile marketing technology that may just prompt clients to see you as a cross between David Suzuki and technology wizard Mark Zuckerberg.

Quick response (QR) codes allow real estate professionals to instantly market their listings thanks to odd-looking, squiggly black and white designs that are affixed to a for sale sign, placed in a real estate ad or perhaps on the back of your vehicle.

Potential clients can scan this QR code with a smartphone and – voila! – they’re provided with every kind of information (photos, videos, maps) about a real estate listing. In essence, the code helps drive traffic to your mobile web content.

These codes have been in use in the real estate industry in Canada for about a year. Created in Japan in the mid ’90s, the code is a squiggly pattern arranged within a square that’s usually black and white. QR codes are used outside of real estate as well in everything from movie posters and newspapers ads to in-store sales and promotion campaigns. While QR codes are more widely used in Asian countries than in North America, that may be about to change.

Sales reps say this environmentally friendly technology saves them money because they’re spending less in printing costs. At open houses, instead of printing 50 or 100 feature sheets or printing up expensive colour glossy brochures for pricier properties, consider using a single 8Xll inch card that sits prominently in the seller’s property, perhaps on a small easel. The card will have a QR code on it.

There are a number of web-based QR code companies, some of which charge a fee, while others offer their QR codes free. The benefit to paying for the service is that you have more control and options than with the free companies. Clients can track who uses their codes and they can brand their codes to fit their business or brokerage.

Kim Cookson, a Saint John sales rep, puts her QR code on her business cards, on her real estate signs and even on her car. Mobile prospects, whether in a vehicle, on a bicycle or just walking by can snap a shot of her code and their smartphone will automatically go to her website, which details the features of the property.

“The QR code is my unique fingerprint,” Cookson says. “It’s one less step. You have the visual with the sign and then it connects you to the virtual world. I can have 101 pieces of information at the other end of it.”

If you’re interested in reducing your carbon footprint and raising your reputation among clients, think about setting an example by using QR codes. There’s nothing like a little high-tech gizmo to make people sit up and notice.

The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provides a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email elden@nagab.org.