Our Mission

Improving the real estate experience requires more than just tech. It starts at the brokerage level. A brokerage that supports and guides agents positively impacts the agent and client experiences and attracts like-minded agents.

Our mission is to help agents grow and succeed as independent real estate agents and to foster cooperation in the real estate culture by providing our agents and their colleagues with unique, high-quality technology services and by supporting our agents with professional, friendly, and helpful staff.

Our Approach

At van Winkle Group, our mantra is simple: “Word Hard. Be Nice.” There are many challenging aspects of the real estate industry, and we feel strongly that these two rules can conquer any obstacle.

 

Matt van Winkle entered real estate in 2009 after graduating from Seattle University School of Law. His first brokerage, RE/MAX On the Lake, opened in 2011 and grew to 85 agents in three years. OTL aims to help every agent reach their goals, whether they produce $2 million a year or $20 million. With one-on-one business development consulting and monthly training meetings, agents find the guidance and support they need. Our agents are a highly-motivated group – they’re collaborative and helpful; they share ideas and help each other out.

 

When agents join OTL, their production increases an average of 40% in the first year. Experienced $5 million dollar producers are mentored to become $10 million dollar producers. We value each agent’s success equally, and as a result, highly-involved agents have seen their business double in two years.

 

Van Winkle Group also leads teams in technology development and consulting services. After meeting brokerage owners at various conventions, it became clear that collaboration is needed at the brokerage level, so van Winkle Consulting was created to connect brokers to business mentors. The tech wing of van Winkle Group develops transaction management software and other industry-related platforms.

 

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Be Professional, Buy a Domain

Buy A Domain!

Step One: Buy a Domain

Anyone can buy a domain, so long as someone else doesn’t already own it. Domains can be purchased online from any number of registration companies (or registrars), and usually cost $10-$35 a year. Once you purchase a domain, you own it. It is yours as long as you renew and pay the annual fee. Because the domain belongs to you and not the registrar, you can switch companies anytime you like.

If your first choice of domain is taken, have some backup ideas. If www.johnsmith.com is taken, consider www.johnsmithseattle.com or www.jsmithrealty.com. Avoid purposeful misspelling like www.johnsmth.com or very long names like www.johnsellstheverybestrealestateinseattle.com. The domain you chose will be what comes after the “@” symbol in your branded email, so that might be something to consider as well (john@smithrealty.com).

Unless you or your tech advisor has a preferred company, stick with the better-known registrars such as GoDaddy.com or Register.com. Put in your preferred domain to confirm it’s available, and the site will walk you through the steps to purchase. It’s best not to buy any additional or add-on products unless you know what they are.

Step Two: Direct the Domain to Your Website

Once you own a domain, you need to tell it where to point. You’ll need to login to the site where you registered your domain and give it an existing URL. This way, a client can type www.jsmithrealty.com into their browser, but the site they will see is actually located at www.johnnysellshouses.wordpress.com/about.

Every site is a little different, but what you are trying to do is set up “URL forwarding” or “domain redirect.” If it’s not clear where to go, search for those terms in your registrar’s help section, or Google those words along with the company name to find instructions. You may find information about “masking,” which you can choose to pursue or ignore, as it doesn’t fundamentally change what you’re doing.

You can direct your domain to go anywhere, including sites you don’t own. If you don’t already have a website setup, point to a profile site like Zillow or your office profile.

Step Three: Creating Your Branded Email

Now that you own the domain, you can set up email addresses for that domain. You could have jane@doe.com or bill@condosbybill.com. The easiest and best way to have a branded email address is to use Google Apps. This will cost $5 per month for each email address, but the set up and management is very easy. Additionally, with Google Apps you won’t run the risk of being put in a spam folder, which can happen with email masking.

If you would like to continue using your same email account but send and receive from a different address, you’ll need to set up forwarding and masking. Like directing the domain, your registration company will have it’s own way of setting up email forwarding. Login to your registrar and look for keywords such as “email forwarding” or “email redirect.”

You don’t have to use the email system provided by the registration company. Instead, you can add the information to your account indicating that any emails sent to john@jsmithrealty.com should be forwarded to johnsmith5243@gmail.com. That way you will be able to put john@jsmithrealty.com on your business cards while still using the same email account and provider you’ve been using.

Most email providers, including Gmail, allow you to set up masking. Masking allows you to choose the email address your emails show as “sent from.” In Gmail this can be done under the accounts tab of settings, with the link “add another email address you own.” Once masking and forwarding is set up, you will receive all emails sent to your branded email, and you will have the option to send from that address when composing emails.

What Does Your Email Address Say About You?

What Your Email Address Says About You

What Does Your Email Address Says About You?

When examining your marketing and professional image, it’s easy to overlook your email address. But like choosing to dress professionally, it won’t matter at all to the people who don’t notice, but it will matter a lot to the people who do notice.

In a technologically advanced world and an industry that is considered technologically archaic, consumers want to know if you’re at the cutting edge or behind. You may not realize it, but one of the clues they look for is your email address.

A client doesn’t know specifically how you interact with your email. They don’t know that you access your @comcast.net email or @msn.com email through the Mail app on the newest iPhone, they assume you’re accessing it through the provider platform. Similarly they don’t know when you’re actually forwarding to the powerful Gmail platform instead of using the native platform.

If you’re still using an early email provider like @hotmail, @msn, @aol, or @yahoo, clients might think you’re still using 10 year old technology. After all, that was the email provider they used 10+ years ago when email was first used by the masses. Clients may think of an Internet provider email (e.x. @comcast.net) as an email address of someone that is newer to email, someone that didn’t have email before they recently subscribed to high speed Internet.

Even good email platforms like @gmail have their downsides. Gmail is an excellent platform, but it is still perceived as a personal email address, not a business email address.

So what’s the solution? Every agent should have branded email. There are a few options:

  • brand to your brand (RE/MAX agents get @remax.net for free)
  • brand to your office (we provide our agents with @remaxotl.com for free)
  • brand to yourself (@joeagent.com costs $15-$75 a year, but anyone can set it up)

If you’re interested in the third option, next week I’ll post about how easy it can be to set up a personal branded email using Google Apps, which combines the simplicity and convenience of Gmail with the professionalism of a branded domain.

Meet the Team

Matt van Winkle

Matt van Winkle

Founder

Matt is the founder of RE/MAX On the Lake. In 3 years RE/MAX On the Lake has grown to 85 agents in the Greater Seattle area. Matt enjoys developing technology and helping agents develop and increase their business.

Maggie van Winkle

Maggie van Winkle

Technology Director

Maggie’s specialty is self-generated organization and proactive project management. She has helped brokerage owners and agents with business development, training, process oversight, and technology integration

Katrina Hamilton

Katrina Hamilton

Operations Director

Katrina has extensive experience consulting and training real estate agents and brokers on how to utilize technology to improve their businesses and their lives.

Anna Lyublin

Anna Lyublin

Executive Assistant

Anna can always be relied on to get things done quickly and efficiently. She manages and maintains schedules for the company and ensures that every detail is followed up on.

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Contact Info

Located in the Pacific Northwest, we currently have offices in Seattle, Bellevue, and Issaquah.