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Agorafy is an open platform organizing and sharing real estate information in New York.

Our mission is to be the most accurate resource for commercial listings, residential listings, and property information, allowing users to make highly-informed decisions based on current market data.

Real estate technology is all about people and information. We believe in creating value for real estate professionals by providing them with a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, which can be accessed from anywhere, anytime. Spend less time retrieving information and more time on closing deals. 

We look forward to your participation and feedback as we grow.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Plan for Success: Think About Business Growth Strategies

Building and growing a successful real estate business takes time, careful planning, and execution. Sometimes it even requires a little luck! But, whether you are looking to expand local market share, considering opening new offices nationally, or seeking to attract business from overseas, taking the time to develop or revisit your business growth strategy can pay dividends towards achieving and sustaining growth. 

            There are many basic strategies for generating business growth. A few familiar growth strategies include market penetration, market development, product expansion, diversification, and acquisition. By way of examples, when considering how to grow business, a real estate professional or firm may focus on: (i) gaining market share in an existing market through improved service or pricing, (ii) expanding business to new markets, like a neighboring city or state, (iii) offering new products or services within a core or primary market, (iv) selling new products or new services in new markets, or (v) purchasing another company to expand operations.  These concepts are not mutually–exclusive and can be combined to produce the right mix of success and profitability.

In today’s competitive real estate marketplace, however, CEOs and real estate professionals can come under increasing pressure to adopt aggressive business growth strategies to maximize potential returns and close more business. Unfortunately, the push for a quicker, higher profit can induce companies to implement less than sound business practices or strategies, which can lead to irreparable damage to a firm. For instance, some commentators note that pushing for expansive growth without consideration for core value creation can lead to problems. 

In a recent Inc. Magazine article, Patrick Lencioni explores issues with a “growth-at-any-cost” approach. Mr. Lencioni also advocates for some CEOs that naturally scale in a measured manner without necessarily yielding to pressures to become large quickly due to market hysteria. Mr. Lencioni talks about executives running a company like either a “bodybuilder” – one who equates growth with success and uses gimmicks and other self-destructive practices as “steroids” that have detrimental side-effects like unhappy customers and disenchanted employees – or a “farmer” – one who creates an innovative, open and healthy business environment where growth can occur, and then lets “nature take its course”.  These analogies resonate with me both professionally, as a CEO, and personally, having grown up as part of a farming community as a child in my native Vietnam.  Mr. Lencioni likes the farmers approach and raises a number of valid points for sustainable, “organic” business growth. Not the least of which is that when a business is weakened by harmful practices, the prospect for value creation for customers diminishes.

Ultimately, as entrepreneurs and real estate professionals, we work to find the best of both worlds – an optimal balance of explosive growth along with a “dependable”, sustainable flow of business. Investing time in sound business planning can lead to strong, sustained growth, so that, when the time comes to grow quickly, your business does not have to funnel energy away from creating value for customers.

At Agorafy, we want to grow with you and your business. Agorafy was created to be a powerful, open real estate marketplace for users to market, research, and connect. Agorafy allows real estate professionals to market their real estate listings and industry experience to the broadest possible audience. Users can quickly search our verified market data and property information to inform decisions and better advise clients regarding market dynamics. Agorafy’s powerful search engine saves time and money by quickly helping users find the right space – commercial or residential – in seconds. Then connect with the right contact person immediately, reaching them directly through Agorafy or by referencing their listed contact information.  Get marketed, get informed, and get business closed with Agorafy. 

With a new business growth blueprint in hand and Agorafy bookmarked on your web browser, you are ready to point your real estate firm in the right direction, boost value creation for clients, and start hitting your future business goals!  

Richard Du is the founder and CEO of Agorafy, New York, N.Y

Thursday
Aug072014

Real Estate & Technology: Is your firm a Learning Organization?

Today’s real estate technology firms are finding ways to make the lives of real estate professionals easier.  The real estate technology sector has developed new and innovative solutions to aggregate, analyze and search publicly available data and make it retrievable in seconds with just the touch of a button.  Online platforms and mobile applications – Agorafy included – are being developed to share data and property information among real estate industry professionals and the public. These real estate technology tools are making our real estate research smarter and faster, and enabling us to connect with colleagues and close business transactions with lightning quick speeds. But, for all the benefits that technology provides the industry, real estate tech firms must correspondingly learn from their users and evolve to best serve clients. Real estate tech firms, like real estate firms themselves, should strive to nurture a learning environment and become learning organizations.

In many ways, traditional real estate firms are learning organizations. What is a “learning organization”, you may ask? Generally, a learning organization is one skilled at creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, and capable of modifying the company’s behavior to reflect newly acquired knowledge and insights. For example, a broker trains a salesperson to conduct market research, analyze current data, and create a report for a client. A learning organization can also be described by the way it behaves, adapts and innovates. Learning organizations are skilled at activities such as: systematic problem solving, experimentation with new approaches, learning from their own and others’ history, experiences, and best practices, and transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently. From my experience, real estate firms incorporate many or all of these review practices into their daily operations and show great adeptness in executing new strategies for improvement.

Real estate professionals understand that to compete in our ultracompetitive industry, a company’s resources, tools and processes must be refined and responsive on the one hand and innovative and cutting edge on the other. Chief among a real estate firm’s resources are its people; the agents and employees that enable the business to function and that sustain the industry as a whole. Not surprisingly, then, the investment of time and energy to educate and support real estate professionals is paramount to a real estate firm’s success. To improve a firm’s competitive standing, their people must be well-informed and also willing to continue to learn their craft to innovate and provide efficiencies. To that end, personnel can be empowered in their professional development through access to superior real estate technology. Because armed with the right tools, real estate professionals get the job done, closing deals and solidifying relationships that grow business and keep the industry thriving. Therefore, on a fundamental level, a real estate firm’s success and innovation starts with the knowledge of each individual agent, and can be quantified when reaching the firm’s overarching business goals.

Real estate technology can and should facilitate both individual and firm wide goals by providing valuable time and money savings to users.  Here too, real estate techies can learn and draw from the learning organization notion.  One way that I interpret and implement the learning organization view at Agorafy is to boil the idea down to Three “P’s”:

1. PEOPLE – Professionals are the engine that drives the real estate industry. And whether you are talking about real estate professionals or techies, great people learn and adapt to changes in their field. At Agorafy, our team has direct industry experience in real estate and technology, which informs our innovative vision. We understand that the real estate industry is anchored by its professionals and the relationships they build. Technology helps speed the connection and communication of real estate pros, and informs their decision-making when data is accurate. We stand ready to assist you to meet your daily challenges by providing unmatched services and data. We welcome engagement from users and love feedback. Please feel free to contact us anytime with comments or questions at hello@agorafy.com, so we can better serve you.

2. PRODUCT – A product’s design should be universal so that it is usable by as many people as possible. This mantra guides Agorafy’s development.  In our estimation, real estate technology should also serve a beneficial purpose for all users - property owners, real estate professionals, and consumers – by adding value. Thus, Agorafy gives users a platform to: (a) market exclusive real estate listings, (b) publicize and advertise their professional experience by creating a professional profile, (c) quickly and easily search for general or detailed property information and verified market data, and (d) conveniently search for and contact real estate professionals directly.

3. PROCESS – Your people and products work hard to produce efficiencies that improve process results.  Agorafy simplifies the way real estate research and marketing has historically been conducted, saving real estate professionals’ time and money. Agorafy houses a powerful real estate search engine, verified commercial and residential market data and property information, unparallelled marketing capabilities, and a rich set of reporting and subscription features on one platform. Want to reduce the time spent scouring the web for available real estate listings with accurate contact information? Want to produce actionable reports and tour information without having to spend hours cutting and pasting pieces of text from all over the internet? Want to easily submit and manage your real estate listings for one dashboard and increase marketing exposure? For these and other features to simplify your daily grind, start working smarter and faster at Agorafy.com.

            Agorafy is making history by innovating for the future of the real estate industry. Our willingness and ability to respond quickly to our new users, agilely adapt to customer needs, and create value for real estate professionals sets us apart – not to mention the platform’s sleek user experience, cutting edge technology to search property information, expanded marketing capabilities to directly submit and broadcast your listings and professional experience to the world, and the wealth of verified market data that is available for both commercial and residential listings.  Check us out at agorafy.com and harness the power of our open real estate marketplace today!

Richard Du is the founder and CEO of Agorafy, New York, N.Y

Monday
Aug042014

EMERSON (0.31) – LISTING RENEWAL REMINDERS

Agorafy's latest release Emerson (0.31) went live this week with a number of upgrades and tweaks to our recently released features. We also launched a major automation feature that will further our goal of providing the most accurate and real time real estate listings in New York City.

As we continuously mention our mission is to provide the most valuable data possible to New York’s real estate community, and to us the best way to accomplish this is to leverage the collective knowledge of real estate professionals.

Our new automated Listing Renewal Reminders allow our users to derive the maximum benefit from our platform with minimal work on their part.

Listing Renewal Reminders

We understand that our users want access to real time listings information, and in turn want to keep their listings as up to date as possible to attract potential buyers and tenants. Doing so should not be a labor intensive process; just a quick couple of clicks and you’re done.

Just as with our Listing Submission Form and our User Dashboard, we want our users to have a simple and intuitive way to manage their listings and ensure their accuracy.

Any time a listing on Agorafy hasn’t been updated in the last 30 days our system will automatically send an email out to the exclusive broker, giving them a quick one-click solution to renew their listing.

From here the broker can see their published listing and review for accuracy, as well as renew to keep the listing at the top of the search results and increase the exposure for that listing. They can also report the listing as being leased if they have closed the deal.

The user can also Log In or Register and manage or modify the listing directly, or submit any listing updates they have to us directly.

Our system is also set to send out automated reminders at longer intervals just in case a listing is getting a little long in the tooth. This will help our data team ensure that no listing lingers on our system if it is no longer available, and that the listings on Agorafy are an accurate representation of reality.

Listing renewal emails have started going out this week. If your listings are up to date great, if not you can log in and manage them HERE, email us at listings@agorafy.com, or even just wait for your listing renewal reminder!

Tuesday
Jul292014

Big Data vs. the Right Data

These days there is no shortage of articles discussing “big data” or “data analytics” as the exponential growth of available information on demographics and consumer behavior continues with no end in sight. This is increasingly the case within the real estate industry where property listings can serve as a starting point to both provide related information and services, as well as gather insights from those looking for real estate.

As an industry real estate has always been a little late to the technology party, and is currently going through a technological awakening. Startups and real estate professionals alike are searching for ways to leverage the massive amounts of real estate information available to create value in the deal making process.

Looking for value can sometimes feel like looking for a needle in a haystack, some companies use data to identify the needle, others just end up making the haystack bigger. Companies need a clear vision of what information is the most important to decision makers in their industry and make providing it their focus. It’s not just big data, but the right data that matters.

Adding What’s Valuable

The mission is always the same, to give active buyers to potential tenants a crystal clear picture of real estate opportunities, quickly and efficiently. Many real estate startups choose to have a narrow focus on information which is complimentary to real estate listings, with the listing as just the starting point.

Recently this has included virtual tours, 3-D renderings, auto-generating floor plans, and even hyper local search. Some of which is being adopted by professionals as it proves valuable, some may just be cool distractions or gimmicks which can be counterproductive.

At Agorafy we have always believed in creating value by increasing the amount of real estate information that has not traditionally been available to both professionals and their clients alike. Increasing transparency along the way and facilitating the deal making process starts with creating a better informed community.

The engine that drives out platform is verified asking prices often only available to active real estate professionals. Beyond that we provide access to detailed property information often obscured from the general public, and direct contact information typically missing or inaccurate from other sources. To us the information that has always been valuable professionals will continue to be so in the future, just to a wider audience.

Focusing on providing this highly sought after information gives us a clear vision of how we create value for our users and how we can continue to do so in the future.

Removing the Unnecessary

Access to unlimited information is now a reality but unfortunately sometimes it also means more incorrect information and can lead false insights. Eliminating incorrect information is more beneficial to users than any incremental increase in the type of information you offer.

Inundating users with information they don’t need can create confusion and will be counterproductive to helping them accomplish their goals. Increasing the amount of listings on our platform is only valuable to our users if it provides an accurate representation of reality.

If we were to fail to independently verify the information on our site, allow false listings, or not provide direct contact information on every listing we would only be doing a disservice to our users, and lose our initiative.

Additionally we understand that our users aren’t interested in every piece of information there is to offer, just the information they need. After all, active buyers and potential tenants will only end up buying one home or at one location, helping them navigate to what they want is the real estate professionals’ job, in turn we see it as our job.

For those searching for real estate finding their next home or location for their business is the needle, companies can’t just make the haystack larger, they need to make it disappear.

Richard Du is the founder and CEO of Agorafy, New York, N.Y

Monday
Jul212014

TOOLS FOR SUCCESS IN REAL ESTATE

As we enter the dog days of summer, it never hurts for New York real estate professionals to take respite from the heat, pour a tall glass of iced tea, and reflect on the past year’s business strategies to consider ways to better serve clients.  While your evaluation might begin by considering incorporating real estate technology solutions, like Agorafy, into your everyday routine to help save your business time and money while reaching and connecting with clients quicker, this is also a good time to revisit some basic tenets of a successful real estate agent. Here is what I mean.

Throughout my career, I have found that successful New York real estate agents possess a valuable set of professional skills and personal traits that set them apart from their competition.  At the same time, top real estate agents understand that theses professional skills and learned traits require continuous sharpening and offer opportunity for constant improvement.  Thus, identifying and regularly reviewing characteristics of success not only speed a new agent’s development at the beginning of their career by expanding their “tool box” of professional skills, but also guide their sustained success in the industry through refinement of their craft and keeping said tools in good working order.

Whether you represent the latest Class A commercial office building and are leasing-up millions of feet of space at breakneck pace or you are advising your client on ways to set a new record sales figure for their luxury penthouse apartment, see if your tool box includes all eleven of the below bright and shiny gadgets for success employed by your peers. In reviewing this non-exhaustive list, keep in mind that it is never too late to upgrade outdated tools or learn more about your craft.  To this point, the New York real estate community is unparalleled when it comes to collegiality, experience, sophistication and innovation. So, without further ado, here are eleven helpful tools (in no particular order) for building and sustaining a successful real estate career:

Marketing - In order to be a successful agent, you must first build a strong foundational skill set. Becoming a strong marketer will undoubtedly serve as the rock solid base of your real estate career. Being able to market and sell goods will then stand out as the base to build all other skills around. A good agent is a great marketer.

Dedication & Commitment - Real estate requires a high degree of dedication in order to excel.  It is important to have a strong work ethic and to get things done efficiently because your clients and colleagues are working on tight schedules. For instance, if a client is looking to sell or lease their property, he or she wants an agent who is going to commit time and effort into finding a buyer or tenant quickly. Similarly, buyers and tenants demand dedicated and committed professionals that help meet their real estate requirements in a timely and professional manner.

Honesty & Trust - To be a top real estate agent you must be honest and trustworthy.  In your role, you will be entrusted with representing and advising clients.  To that end, you will be responsible for protecting your client’s interests, property and funds. Clients and the real estate community demand that agents be honest and fair, and this trust of individual agents is what keeps our industry healthy, vibrant and functional.

Communication – Real estate agents must be master communicators, as they are often a main point of contact on a transaction for clients, lawyers, bankers, architects, and other related real estate service professionals. Moreover, clients need to be well informed throughout the real estate transaction process. It is the real estate agent’s job to keep the client up to speed and help the client understand the process. Some aspects of a deal may be complicated and hard to understand; an agent should not only be able to help their client identify and comprehend these details, but also be able to communicate them.

Informed Adviser – In working to be the best real estate agent you can be, do not forget that sometimes there are outside factors or implications that impact your client as part of a transaction.  This could be potential tax consequences, environmental effects, possible legal implications, or the like.  In some deals there can be factors with implications on a larger scale than just the property being bought or sold, an agent needs to strive to understand these matters in order to not only succeed, but to excel.

Knowledge of Market Inventory - As an agent, knowing your real estate inventory, inside and out, is crucial. Having a strong knowledge of the market inventory may include many details, such as property location, space pricing and size, among other specifications. Your market understanding is especially important because a client is always going to want to work with someone they feel is competent, adds value to a transaction, is uniquely accomplished, and has market insight within the industry. So, in order to maximize your potential as a real estate agent, stay on top when it comes to inventory knowledge.

Punctuality - Early is on time, on time is late. Only by fulfilling this adage can an agent achieve any form of success. Every consumer desires punctuality and preparedness from their agent. High efficiency and well planned schedules are the requisites of an agent with prime listings.

Professionalism - Sometimes overlooked is how an agent projects himself or herself in-person. Maintaining a professional air and manner is paramount to success in the industry; this sense is given off by the agent’s knowledge base and expertise, but also by their choice of professional attire at meetings and showings, as well as an agent’s organization and preparedness at in office and on-site meetings and showings.

Negotiation – Negotiation skills are critical to an agent’s success. Develop and continue to hone your negotiation skills throughout your career.  Do you stay informed or study new negotiation trends or techniques? All fifty-fifty decisions that are swayed in a real estate agent’s favor through negotiations represent a success that your consumer will value and not overlook when rating your performance and considering you for their future real estate needs as well as referring you business.

Uniqueness - When choosing an agent, consumers often ask:  “Why this agent?” In order to stand out to the consumer, separate yourself from the competition, and generate business, it is important to adopt a unique perspective on the market or particular assignments that sets you apart from the crowd. This uniqueness may be as simple as a new technique for marketing or selling a property. However, a fresh perspective can serve as a key differentiator over your competition and help attract potential business.

Multitasking - In order to be a truly successful agent, it is essential to be able to properly maintain multiple focuses. Whether this means handling multiple projects or listings at the same time, or dealing with several ongoing issues or problems while also completing other projects, successful agents are able to handle their workload diligently and smartly, never becoming spread too thin. 

I hope you enjoyed the above traits and consider incorporating them into your self-review process or regular evaluation regime.  Please feel free to Tweet us additional tenets that have helped you and your colleagues become successful at @Agorafy and follow along to join the conversation!!! 

As always, Agorafy intends to continue to assist real estate professionals to market, research and connect by creating a transparent, open real estate marketplace where all players have the ability to be successful. Our platform was built with the real estate professional in mind.  Whether it is marketing your listings, researching property information, or networking with clients and real estate colleagues, Agorafy’s integration of Commercial and Residential real estate listings on one, easy-to-use platform is what makes Agorafy unique and powerful. Please visit us at www.agorafy.com to submit your exclusive listings for FREE and get them marketed to our open user base, including potential buyers, tenants, and investors. While you are there, create your own real estate professional profile and market your experience and expertise to the entirety of the New York real estate community – owners, buyers, landlords, tenants, and real estate professionals.  Harness the power of Agorafy’s open real estate marketplace and put it to work for you today!

Richard Du is the founder and CEO of Agorafy, New York, N.Y