According to the 2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 90% of buyers use the Internet when searching for a home. This brings us to the question agents probably ask themselves constantly: Am I doing everything I can to showcase my homes and sell my listings online? While it’s true that there are many gadgets out there that could help short term – considering that they’re constantly replaced by new ones – if you’re looking for long-term results, four tools lay at the core of any solid online marketing strategy:
To get buyers to look at your listings, your listings have to be visible where buyers are looking, right? Listing syndication empowers you to distribute your listings to the real estate portals of your choice. This is especially important when the largest search sites only account for about 10% of all search traffic; the rest of it is divided among the hundreds of other portals operating in today’s online marketplace. When you leverage the power of syndication, you dramatically increase your exposure by displaying your listings on multiple websites, automatically putting your listings in front of more prospects.
Today’s buyers are rapidly adopting mobile technology. Many are conducting at least a portion of their home search on a smartphone, tablet or both. If your agent website isn’t mobile-friendly, you risk alienating a significant chunk of your Internet audience. Make sure your site is optimized for appearance and ease-of-use by choosing a design that is responsive to different screen sizes and easily visible to mobile buyers. Among the many website service providers out there, the one that offers the most mobile themes by far is Point2, a global provider of marketing solutions for agents.
Single Property Sites
Single property websites make everyone happy. Sellers love seeing – and sharing – a site that’s dedicated exclusively to their home. Potential buyers enjoy the in-depth information that a single property site can share. And search engines find property sites appealing as well, especially if they have custom content and the address in the domain name. Create and promote single property websites to increase your marketing opportunities, impress prospective sellers and make your listings stand out from the crowd.
Social Media Promotion
Many agents and brokers shortchange themselves by underestimating the marketing power of social media. You can avoid this mistake by thinking of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as free advertising services for your brand. Your real estate website should allow you to share your social profiles with visitors who want to connect with you. It should also allow visitors to share your listings and content with their own social circles, indirectly expanding your reach into new markets.
Putting all this technology to work for you is really not as difficult and time consuming as it might look. Once agents get past the learning curve, which may differ quite a bit from one provider to another, they are often surprised of how easy it is to promote their listings online.
Leaders and Laggards – How Industry Pioneers are Using Online Real Estate Auctions to Distance Themselves
When the Internet came about, the pioneers got onto email before everyone else. Eventually, the same group went online with their Web pages. From there, they were first to start their own websites and adopt other technologies way before the laggards got on board. If ever. Listing syndication came about. Thousands sat back, debated things or fought hard to maintain the status quo (many still do to this day). Meanwhile the winners began to distribute their listings widely on the Internet and reaped the benefits of exponential brand exposure and lead generation.
You get the point. Paperless transaction tools, telecommuting, social media and the virtual office brokerage faced the same skepticism from the majority or, shall we say, the followers, while the leaders took the bull by the horns and blazed through. This is how winners win. Believe or not, some agents still do not have their own website and many have to be educated on why they should look at their email more frequently!
On to the next big thing. Online real estate auction.
First let’s get one thing cleared. Auction does not mean having to price a property at a dollar and hoping it sells for half a million. There are a number of online real estate auction strategies that we’ll go over in future articles. But for the purpose of this piece, think of online auction as a process that allows you to market a listing starting at a minimum acceptable price, and marketing it so it is bid up to its optimal market value. If you have been in this profession long enough, you would have either used this pricing strategy or heard of others using it, but in the traditional fashion. Price a property attractively, draw in buyers, then create a bidding war. It works.
Fast forward to the future. New online real estate auction platforms allow you to replicate the excitement and benefits of this strategy but far more easily. It also helps you to reach buyers from around the country and the world. Without costing you a cent. Review, accept, reject and counter offers with a click of the mouse. Things don’t get any easier.
Another great benefit of tapping real estate online auctions is that auction as a selling method inherently narrows the pool to buyers who are finance-ready. To bid on a property in auction, buyers or their buyers’ agents typically must be ready to move forward, if theirs is the winning bid. This alone can significantly accelerate the sales process, and takes care of the financing subject headache in advance.
Try listing a property on ListedBy.com. The membership and traffic on the site continue to reach new proportions each month, as more professionals discover the platform. Unlike other real estate auction sites, ListedBy is completely free of charge and does not charge a buyer’s premium or a buyer’s fee. ‘The old’ auction model is being re-invented, with both buyers and sellers coming together to negotiate and close deals in a completely free, transparent and highly advanced environment.
While this may create a headache for the traditional real estate auction industry, for industry pioneers, and those who have come to expect hefty fees to buy or sell at auction, it’s a breath of a fresh air.
The issue of whether to publish listings on third party sites or not, and concerns about how some of the sites prioritize paid agent exposure over non paid agent profiles and listings, are major issues with potentially far reaching effect on the evolution of the industry. While dramatic action may be right for some, depending on their circumstances, the reality is that three key facts should be considered when looking at whether to publish listings on a third party site(s) or not:
1- It is much more expensive, resource intensive and unlikely for anyone to be able to pull in all the traffic they need directly to their site, without advertising elsewhere as part of their marketing mix. Since listings are a key attraction for consumers, these assets are a primary ingredient for the advertising. The candy that generates the leads. Not utilizing listings to pull in leads from other places where traffic is ample, is akin to marketing suicide. It’s like not including your listing in the local newspaper on the weekend, in the old days.
2- The broker, and through them, their listing agent must be the primary contact associated with their listing on any and all third party sites they publish on, much like how things are in the papers. There are several great sites that not only enable this but have this as part of their DNA and beliefs. Look them up and ensure your listings are there. It’s great, free advertising that builds brands and generates leads for free. Using the newspaper comparison, they’re even cheaper. They cost nothing.
3- Prioritize sites that help you do more with your listings.
i) Ensure that you have the same rights to upload the same number of photos and add all the details you want as all the other agents on the site, without restrictions.
ii) Seek sites that allow you to reach and network with buyers nationwide and internationally. It’s 24/7 marketing for free, if the site incorporates the networking component.
iii) Sites that allow you to accept offers and negotiate prices and close deals on the spot, all online. Specifically, advanced strictly online real estate auction sites. The benefits http://bit.ly/M8aeps of this evolving technology are huge especially in terms of accelerating the sale, because buyers who present bids online are supposed to be already financed. This removes one of the primary hurdles and delays (financing) in real estate sales, to speed up the process.