By Peter Ricci
The Internet has been a double-edged sword for real estate agents. On one hand, the Internet is great, because it allows you to market your business to a bevy of potential homebuyers; but on the other, it also opens you up to widespread competition among other agents with the exact same aims in mind. Because of this, it’s more important now than ever to distinguish yourself among the pack, and demonstrating yourself as a neighborhood expert – particularly with the assistance of Google Maps – is an excellent way to do so.
Google Maps and the Neighborhood Expert
Google Maps is a wonderful, intuitive program, and one that can do so much more than give you directions to the nearest Starbucks or McDonalds. The key function for your neighborhood expert efforts will be “Custom Maps,” a highly useful (and easy) tool to manage. Here’s what you’ll want to do:
Before you do anything, you’ll need an account with Google, so make sure you have one before doing anything else.
Once you have an account, go to the Google Maps homepage.
Near the top-left corner of the page, just below the search bar, you’ll see a button that reads “My Places.” Click that.
You’ll be taken to a new page, and you’ll see a red button near the top of the page that reads “Create Map.” Click that!
You’ll get another new page, with “Title” and “Description” information available. Here is where you’ll name your map. So, say I’m a real estate agent working in Oak Park. I’ll name the map “Cool Thinks in Oak Park,” and write a little description of how the map will spotlight the many interesting locations in Oak Park.
Once you save the map, now it’s time to add things to it! You do this, simply, by searching for locations in the search bar. So, say I want to add the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio to my map; I type that in to the search bar, select it, and wait for Google’s red bookmark to appear on the map.
Now, when you click on bookmarks for places, notice how those dialog boxes appear? And notice how, at the bottom of the box, you see an option that says “Save to map”? Click on that.
Now, save the location to the new custom map you just created, and voila! It’ll now appear on that custom map!
With that, you’re off to the races. Add as many events to your map as you like. Add restaurants, museums, theaters and cool sights. The more you add, the more things you’ll have to share with your clients, and the more you’ll show yourself as a neighborhood expert.
And then, after you’re satisfied with the map, it’s time to share it! To generate a link for it, simply select the map in “My Places,” and then click the link icon, which you’ll see above the “Edit” button. You’ll want to put that link on your agent profile, Facebook page and any other place where potential clients will be looking – and when they see the map, and all the great local places you recommend visiting, they’ll trust your knowledge of that local market.
“Neighborhood expert” has become somewhat of a meme in real estate circles lately, but it’s meaning has remained consistent – displaying a level of expertise for the market in which you sell real estate. And through the use of Google Maps, you’ll be well on your way to showing your local knowledge to your future clients.