26 September 2006

Capturing Leads VS Lost Leads

Some Tough Questions For Realtors And Real Estate Brokers

The real estate industry is in a major state of change. With the power of the Internet in the hands of consumers, consumers shopping for real estate Online are in the driver's seat more than anyone would have imagined.

Home InteriorWith the advent of Internet searches for listed properties, anyone with an Internet connection can now go shopping for the home of their dreams. They can look at comparables, view pictures of the interior and exterior of the homes, and even have virtual tours. All this can be done before a prospective home buyer ever steps inside the home.

Consumers are going to various places on the Web to do free MLS searches online. Many Realtors have a MLS search built into their websites, and with the added website choices for the consumer to search online at places like Yahoo and Realtor.com, Realtors that do not have MLS property searches are going to be left out in the cold.

However, for those Realtors that do have or plan to have MLS searches from their websites they need to really ask themselves how is the best way for it to be set up? Realtors have two choices, they can choose to have free MLS searches with no registration to begin with, other than for automatic email updates, or the other route is to have registration up front in order to search properties.

Which MLS search is right for the Realtor?

The answer seems to have two very polar sides. On one hand the Realtor that has invested significant dollars, time, and content into his/her website feels that they only want to have the serious buyers come to their website to do searches. Other Realtors feel that in today's Internet Empowered Consumer, who is concerned about privacy, or giving out their emails, to later get spammed with unsolicited emails, and with the availability of all the free property searches online, it doesn't make any sense to not give away the searches on their website in the first place. Still, anyone that would like to have emails sent to them with automatic updates, when new homes become available or properties change in price, would still have to register in some form to be able to receive the emails. It is difficult to tell which type of searches produce the most leads. The free MLS search sites would likely have more traffic, with less leads per visitor, vs. the one with registration up front. But, how many leads is a Realtor losing by making a consumer register up front?

Which MLS searches do consumers prefer: registration or no registration required?

Consumers have all the power. It is the old adage that "information wants to be free," in that the consumer is simply a mouse click away from either searching or not searching from a particular website. With the availability of MLS home search information at virtually hundreds if not thousands of locations around the country and the world why would a consumer want to give their names, phone numbers, or email addresses up front? I can only say what I would do as a consumer. I do not like giving my name or email address out unless it is someone that I trust. Or, having built up an establishment of some degree of trust; usually from reading their privacy policy on their website, or after having visited their website numerous times and gotten to know the person or business, then, and only then do I give out my email address. Still, the consumer is liable to give fictitious names, phone numbers, and even throw away email addresses in order to sign up for something online.

If you are a Realtor, what is your take on this? Put yourself in the mind of the consumer, and think how real estate has changed in just the last couple of years. What would you do?

It really all comes back to The Internet Empowered Consumer. The article, The Internet Empowered Consumer was written by: Jay Izzo a,k.a. "Dr. Jay". More of his writings can be found at: The Real Estate Psychologist, www.realestatepsychologist.com.

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15 September 2006

Internet Draws More Real Estate Ads

With the influx of new Internet marketing technologies for the real estate industry, most active home buyers are going to the Internet to do searches online for their next home purchase.

Here in lies the marketing issue with newspapers and other print media advertising that was once home to an exclusive advertising venue in the real estate industry. Realtors, specifically brokers and large real estate groups such as Coldwell Banker and Century 21 are moving their advertising to online media forms, with plans of reducing the number of ads in local newspapers in the future.

In an article in Business Week, by: Timothy J. Mullaney, titled:
Real Estate Ads Move to the Internet
Real estate listings are moving online, and newspapers are racing to protect their classifieds market by following them

Most Sundays, Bob Peltier buys six ad pages in the two Twin Cities newspapers. But Labor Day weekend was a turning point for the president of Edina Realty, Minnesota's top real estate firm. Instead of pages of open-house listings, Edina ran one page in each paper: The ad had a picture of a computer, but no information about houses at all. Instead, it told buyers to see Edina's Web site for open houses. "This is the start," Peltier says. "In 2007, I'll spend 50 percent less on the newspaper."

Newspapers are attempting to follow suite by buying up some of the online real estate portals in order to try and bolster their position. However, this strategy may not work very well for the newspapers in the long run. As consumers continue to flock to the Internet in increasing numbers, newspapers will have a hard time battling for market share. Additionally, as individual Realtors continue to use the new technologies available to them for their own real estate Internet marketing websites; to have a list of the open houses, MLS searches in their area, and more virtual online tours of homes, consumers will continue to migrate to the Internet to gain up-to-the-minute information, along with automatic email alerts for properties, which will continue to put increased pressure on the newspaper industry.

The newspaper industry has already lost significant ground in other forms of classifieds. Job postings and articles for sale at websites like Craigslist have put a major dent into the advertising dollars received by newspapers. This may be a case of both cause and affect. The affect on circulation because of the Internet is overwhelming. Newspapers can no longer deny that online sources of information are not affecting their print subscribership. People want instantaneous everything. Why should the news be any different? Because print subscribership is down, newspapers have a harder time justifying their ad rates and thus have downward pressure of what can be charged for a print ad.

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30 August 2006

Yahoo Shakes Up Real Estate

By: James A. Warholic

Yahoo, having partnered with Prudential Real Estate a couple of years ago for real estate search, has now added the controversial Zillow property comparison to their website.

With the revamping of Yahoo Real Estate, Yahoo has given greater prominence to their property search tool. This now shows up whenever someone does a search in Yahoo Search for city searches like: San Ramon Real Estate.

Several questions need to be asked.

What does this mean for the consumer?
What does this mean for the Realtors and real estate Brokers?
Is this going to help or hurt the real estate industry?

Yahoo Renovates Real Estate
by Mark Walsh, Wednesday, Aug 30, 2006 6:00 AM ET
AMID A HOUSING SLOWDOWN, YAHOO has revamped its real estate section by adding new features including current U.S. home valuations, interactive mapping and local search.

The redesigned Yahoo Real Estate offers access to more than 3 million home listings, chiefly through Prudential Real Estate, and comparative information on some 50 million homes from Zillow.com.

From a consumer standpoint, having home search information, maps, and other local information at your finger tips is great for the consumer. With the ability to save searches, although registration is required to use these options, home shoppers can get automatic email updates, save different home searches, and store properties to watch. The home comparisons from zillow.com has been controversial from its inception. Using a automatic algorithm to do property comparisions in the local areas, Zillow displays comps for a large number of addresses across the United States. Realtors and property professionals have evaluated the tool and have determined that many times the results are not a true indication of the property's value. Homeowners who use this to try and place a value on their own property may be under-estimating or over-estimating the property's worth.

Realtors and other real estate agents who are paying for Yahoo Online advertising are now in direct competition with Yahoo for home searches. While Yahoo does not yet place the property search tool at the top of the search results page, the search results pages for properties in your area look like a page filled with ads. The natural or organic search results are buried below the fold. Yahoo currently is displaying four paid ads at the top and another eight on the right side. This is not by accident. I am sure they have a carefully thought out game plan to maximize the amount of advertising revenue generated. However, with this major addition to Yahoo, the conversion for ads is likely to be diminished for all ads across the real estate search board. If you are running Yahoo ads, it would be wise to study your conversion rates. How many clients are you gaining on Yahoo vs Google or MSN advertisements.

With the real estate market being in a slow down at the moment, I wonder how all this is going to play out for the industry in general.

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19 August 2006

Why Does A Realtor Need A Blog?

By: James A. Warholic

There are a multitude of reasons to start a real estate blog.

First, it is important to understand what a blog is. A blog is simply a website that is built around a simple, easy to use, content management system, with much more interactivity, marketing and advertising tools, and web branding features that Realtors, Brokers, real estate agents, title companies, mortgage brokers, or anyone related to the real estate industry can use to their advantage for increased market exposure. Ultimately it is all about getting more sales leads and providing a valuable service to your clients for information sharing.

Many Realtors and real estate agents have a newsletter that is regularly published and sent out to everyone on their mailing list. Now imagine providing that same newsletter in the form of a permanent online published document that is search engine friendly and can be picked up by other blog broadcasting services. A Realtor can now customize their blog with their own unique brand. There are some excellent tools available to be able to not only publish the blog but also automatically send out email notices or send out the whole posting as a regular newsletter.

Advertisements can be included to not only promote your own business, but as real estate professionals build up a network of various property professionals such as title officers, title companies, mortgage brokers, or even the local restaurants, your network becomes even stronger through the use of a blog to promote yours and their business online.

From an Internet marketing standpoint, a blog can provide a quality link back to your website. Each and every article that is written online becomes an oppurtunity for others to discover it through people searching for keywords in all the major Search Engines related to an article written. This is especially true when it comes to local search. By writing information about the local community people will be discovering your blog in local search. Local search is already popular, but is sure to become more important to everyone as people continue to flock to the Internet to find what times local shows are playing to finding a restaurant or even a Realtor online.

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28 March 2006

Most Home Buyers Start With Internet Search

The Internet has changed the Way Home Buyers and Home Sellers Hook Up

With technology really providing a new first impression of a home online, 77% of buyers are now starting their home searches using the Internet. Sellers need to consider this factor when listing with a Realtor. A Realtor needs to really understand the implications of the Internet for getting the most value for a piece of property.

MLS, Multiple Listing Service

In the past, simply listing property in the MLS directories was enough to generate high sells activity. Now-a-days it is important to have additional avenues for marketing a home.

A good Realtor will be able to promote homes using new online visual technologies, through the use of pictures and slideshows to show off the home online. First impressions are now seen at websites instead of when a buyer walks into a home.

Consumers Are Using Online Home Searches

Consumers are using Online searches from Realtors' websites, to have delivered to their email boxes daily, whenever new listings come onto the market. Some Realtors offer Free searches online in what is called an IDX Feed, Internet Data Exchange and VOW, Virtual Office Website without telling the consumers that the Free MLS searches do not show a perspective buyer all the homes available.

Typically under MLS rules and regulations, MLS requires a registration for full searches to be conducted. IDX Feeds and VOWs are subsets of the complete MLS listings. A Realtor can opt-out for not showing the listing of the home in the IDX Feed or the VOW.

So, if you are a buyer looking for a home, make sure you are using a Realtor that is providing the full MLS search feed on his or her website. If you are a seller, make sure the Realtor is including your property listing in all of the IDX, VOW, and MLS searches.

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25 February 2006

Realtor Starts a Community Blog

Realtors Know The Pulse of Their Community

Patrick Warholic Realtor From Folsom, CA
Folsom, CA - Patrick Warholic a Realtor living in Folsom, California has taken an active role in his community. As a homeowner himself, in the Empire Ranch Community of Folsom, he has taken the active role of spokesperson, organizer, Community Facilitator, and sponsor and provider of an online forum area for the homeowners in the community to share their thoughts and comments on the local state of affairs.

In what is going on in all the cities around the United States, a Folsom developer is trying to change the local zoning laws for a parcel of land that was promised to the buyers of new homes to be a small local neighborhood shopping area. In fact, Elliot Homes, the builder of the homes that surrounds this parcel of land, is the same builder that promised these same homeowners, before they bought their homes, a community shopping area. Elliot Homes is now attempting to place up to 205 Multi Family Residential, Medium Density Units in this same location.

With Patrick's knowledge of the local building codes, schools, and traffic patterns of the area, and his concerns as a member of the local community, he felt it was only natural to provide an Online forum area to serve the homeowners of the Empire Ranch and The Parkway neighborhoods. By providing a forum area, Patrick felt it would provide a community area for staying informed and a sounding block for community members to exercise their freedom of speech rights without having to feel intimidated by politicians or city personal.

Patrick set up the Empire Ranch and Parkway Real Estate News Blog empireranch.calhoment.com with the abilities for readers to leave comments by name or anonymously post a comment. He also set up an email notification system. When new information is published or new information becomes known, the people that have signed up to be notified will be sent an email announcing the latest updates.

Blogs are evolving from something that was just a personal online journal a few years ago to now having CEOs of multimillion dollar a year companies using blogs to communicate to their customers and shareholders.

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