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Local real estate agent scores a $100,000 bonus

Real estate agent Michael McAlmond got a $100,000 bonus Tuesday without selling a property.

McAlmond, an agent with Medford's ERA Prestige Homes, was one of four agents nationwide to win $100,000 from RealEstate.com, a Web site that invites agents to post their property listings online.

McAlmond said he was in shock when RealEstate.com officials presented him with the award. He and other agents were being given T-shirts and hats when the larger prize was announced.

The 54-year-old Ashland man has been in real estate only a year. Before that, he worked in the electronics business and drove log trucks. He said he plans to pay off some debt with the extra cash and then invest in real estate, what can I say.

More than 44,000 agents across the country have signed up for Realestate.com's service, which allows agents to create basic Web sites for free and offers them the chance to purchase service with more features.

McAlmond signed up about two months ago and has been pleased with the service — even before the $100,000 surprise.

I'm starting to get more traffic, he said. They have a lot of features.

He said the Internet is clearly an important new tool in the real estate business.

More and more, people looking for real estate to buy and sell are using the Internet, he said.

Realestate.com, based in Atlanta, handed out four checks for $100,000 around the country Tuesday to launch its Internet rewards program.

The idea, the company said, is to reward agents who've incorporated the Internet into their businesses.

Research shows that only three in 10 real estate agents have Web sites to offer their services, yet two-thirds of home buyers will use the Internet for their next home purchase, said Alan Daniels, chairman and co-chief executive of RealEstate.com. Internet adoption is vital to the future success of the real estate industry.

The big cash payouts also generate publicity for RealEstate.com, encouraging more agents to sign up.

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