Professional real estate websites are losing the battle for consumers online.

by THE WAV GROUP on September 20, 2010

Professional real estate websites are losing the battle for consumers online.

Todays real estate consumer has a dizzying array of websites that provide them with access to real estate listings.  There are numerous third party websites like Zillow and Trulia as well as national real estate Franchise sites and local real estate company websites.  Consumers likely assume that all of these sites offer the same quality of information. Unfortunately this isnt the case.

This white paper from the WAV Group chronicles research findings on the consumer search experience.  WAV Group has calculated the differences between third party websites, franchise websites, and broker websites to measure “Property Search Delta.”  Consumers experience this delta when they click through to from third party sites to broker or franchise sites. By offering a better search experience with rich amounts of listing data, neighborhood data, market trends, tax data, sold data, school information third party websites have taken a significant lead over most brokers and franchises in the eyes of the consumer experience.

 

Do all sites present the same property data?  Is the search experience fairly uniform?  Not at all!  There are huge differences, or Deltas, in the type and quality of information found on property websites.

The online landscape for property search is constantly evolving. In order for brokers, agents and franchises to compete for consumer interest, they need to keep their heads up and look carefully at their strategy for remaining relevant online.

The biggest threat to broker and franchise websites today is their failure to keep pace with the online marketplace. Third party websites are winning by offering consumers the most engaging consumer experience around a depth of property information. As a result, these sites have become destination sites for consumers. Consumers use them as a launch pad for property search and keep returning because of the great tools and depth of information that consistently outshines even the best broker and franchise websites.

WAV Group has been consistently concerned about data quality on third party websites. They have great sites, but generally poor data quality. Our dilemma is that the consumer believes the quality is the same as a broker site; after all, the listings have the brokers name on them. Poor data quality misrepresents the seller and reflects poorly on the broker. Moreover, it begins a virus that diminishes the reputation of real estate professionals. Consider the effect when a consumer contacts an agent or broker to get information about a listing only to learn that there is a new price or that the listing has been sold.

Perhaps the most radical opportunity for franchises and brokers to compete would be to stop listing syndication. As an alternative, a more realistic and productive measure would be to make some strategic goals for how to reduce the property search delta between third party sites and broker and franchise sites. Its time for brokers and franchisors to invest in the online battle and compete to win.

To get started, WAV Group recommends finding a single source vendor who can normalize data from multiple MLSs, sold data, tax data, market data, neighborhood data and lifestyle data into one, easy to use listing detail page. This vendor should manage your listing syndication as a component to the service to insure that consumers referred from third party websites are taken directly to your listing which is presented in a superior way. Only syndicate teaser content to third party websites to lean the delta back in the direction of the broker franchise site as the richest source of listing information.

Please download your complimentary copy of the WAV Group Whitepaper, The Property Search Delta.

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