Association developing app for Myrtle Beach area real estate

sjones@thesunnews.comMay 5, 2014 

The Myrtle Beach area Realtors’ association may be the first association in the U.S. to have an app that will give users listings and specific information for all MLS-listed homes.

The app was developed to guide users to open houses because directional signs are not allowed in Myrtle Beach or Horry County, said Nate Johnson, political director for the Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors. But it will further contain layers of information that would be useful by anyone considering a real estate purchase along the Grand Strand.

The app was unveiled Monday morning at a real estate meeting hosted by the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce that also highlighted the results of four focus groups in Pittsburgh and the chamber’s real estate website, thinkmyrtlebeach.com.

The focus groups were done for the chamber by Zeitgeist Consulting, a Madison, Wis., firm that has done similar groups with tourism as the focus.

But the chamber is thinking about becoming more involved in helping to market the area’s real estate, and it asked for the focus groups to help it know what consumers are looking for in areas where they would purchase a second home, invest in real estate or relocate.

The short answer, said Zeitgeist president Bill Geist, is show them the beach. The company showed four focus groups of 25 people each videos of scenes from the chamber’s vault, and had each person grade the scenes with the use of a dial like those used to measure audience reaction during presidential debates.

Golf scenes scored low, Geist said, because women in the groups associated golf with their husbands being away all day while they remained home with the kids and household chores. Education was the only thing that scored lower than golf, and Geist said people thought about paying taxes for schools when the school shots were projected.

The focus groups were limited to people who hadn’t visited Myrtle Beach in years, and Geist said that across the board, all said they would consider Myrtle Beach for an investment or a relocation destination.

Diana Greene, executive vice president of the chamber’s membership and program services, said that without doing anything, the organization will get 5,000 inquiries a year from people looking to relocate to the area. About 88,000 people have visited thinkmyrtlebeach.com since the first of the year.

The site, which has recently been beefed up, answers question of why people should invest in or relocate to the area plus has videos of each city in Horry County as well as Murrells Inlet, Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island. The site features Realtors who buy space, with the same arrangement for a number of services in the area.

Greene said that the chamber’s move toward marketing area real estate recognizes its importance to the local economy.

“We understand as important as tourism is, real estate is just as important,” she said.

And a significant number of those buying or investing in homes have chosen to do so after visiting.

Don Smith, president of Coldwell Banker Chicora Realty, said he’s glad to see the chamber developing a focus on real estate and that he hopes there will be more advertising and promotion of real estate by the chamber.

Johnson said the Realtors’ app will be free and won’t track data from people who upload it. Eventually, he said the association hopes to develop the app so it can alert users of open houses in the areas they are driving through.

He said there are similar apps already, but they are owned by Realtors or developers.

It is expected to be available at the end of this month.

Contact STEVE JONES at 444-1765.

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