Realtys Kiosk System A First For Grand Rapids

June 21, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Greenridge Realty Inc. installed the first real estate kiosk computer marketing system in Grand Rapids last month at the Cascade Meijer on 28th Street.

The kiosk system enables potential buyers to view all Greenridge home and property listings from Crystal Lake to Hastings and to take virtual tours of the properties with the touch of a screen. 

The Cascade Meijer kiosk is the company’s third such system in West Michigan. Greenridge installed its first kiosk in February 2000 at the West Shore Mall in Holland and another in January of this year at the Meijer store in Grand Haven.

The Holland kiosk was installed as part of Greenridge’s retail mall store, said Chip Perschbacher, Greenridge vice president of business development and co-owner.  

“It was actually because of that retail mall store that we had the opportunity to talk with Meijer,” he recalled.

“Then we put the experiment in the Grand Haven Meijer store to see how it might go before we brought it to a larger market. 

“We do one-stop shopping in terms of our philosophy in real estate and that ties in with the Meijer philosophy of exposing you to all kinds of opportunities in their stores.”

Rick Ullrey, chief financial officer and chief information officer, said since its installation on Oct. 25, the Cascade Meijer kiosk has generated 11,146 page or “room” views. In comparison, the kiosk in Grand Haven generated 12,000 page views over the last 30 days. 

“We’re going at a much faster pace here than in Grand Haven. Obviously, it’s a bigger market and a bigger store,” he added.

Since kiosk customers aren’t required to log in their name, address or any other information about themselves to view listings, they control and initiate contact with listing agents, Perschbacher said.

Virtual tours include a photograph of a home’s kitchen, living room and master bedroom and a 360–degree view of the outside of the home. A sound file describes the home’s features during the tour.

“We tell people it’s like having a showing 24 hours a day and they don’t have to dust and straighten up,” Ullrey quipped.

The kiosks appear to be a win-win-win situation for everyone involved. 

The system offers the potential home or property buyer more convenience and another means to view Greenridge listings — at their own leisure and with no strings attached. 

Meanwhile, the sellers get more marketing exposure for their property in a venue that is similar to a showing of their property, Perschbacher said.

As for the listing agent, it’s one more way to market a property and make contact with serious buyers because it’s the customer who initiates contact. 

Virtual tours also are available on the company’s Web site, and Ullrey said people typically view 18 properties per visit. Year to date, the Web site has had more than 37,000 virtual tour visitors who have collectively looked at more than 81,000 rooms.

“Typically, an Internet buyer begins looking at the Internet three to five months before talking to an agent,” Ullrey noted. “So they’re out getting an idea of what relative values are, looking at homes, identifying the things that they like and then narrowing their searches down.”

In addition to the kiosks and Web site, the Greenridge marketing system includes the Smart Line system that allows people to dial the number listed on the for sale sign and punch in a 5-digit property code to get the story on the house and its listing price.

“All of our systems are integrated so that when we market a home for an individual we’re giving them exposure on the Internet, our kiosk and the Smart Line, which are all pretty unique in the marketplace,” Ullrey said.

“We’re the only people with 100 percent virtual tours, the only people with kiosks and the only people with the Smart Line on 100 percent of our listings.”

The company hopes the Cascade Meijer kiosk will be the first of many at Meijer locations in the Grand Rapids area.  

“The long range plan is that if this is as successful as we expect it to be that we would be able to have that kiosk marketing presence for real estate in all the markets where Greenridge is in West Michigan,” Perschbacher said.  

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