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.

Contact Professional Web Services today. We know Internet marketing, search engine optimization, online advertising, web branding, and have experience with the real estate industry. We can help get you set up with a professionally branded blog and blogging online today. Take a look at our core professional web services provided.

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