It’s Time to Re-invent the Search

by Marilyn Wilson on September 10, 2013

Time to RE Invent the SearchThere’s a fundamental problem in the real estate business today. Since time immemorial real estate ‘searches’ have utilized a property-centric approach that ignores the other 50 percent of the business: the buyers.

In the real estate industry, we focus so much on displaying listings hoping to attract a buyer without spending nearly enough time and resources to analyze and understand the market segment that are the drivers of the purchase. This is also symptomatic of the industry’s fundamental focus on the needs of agents, not consumers. Doesn’t it make more sense to focus on the needs of the consumer?

The marketplace has made a plethora of search tools available just about everywhere for consumers. In fact, 96 percent of buyers search multiple websites before contacting an agent, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Fundamentally, this is why the process is called “house hunting”–buyers are forced to search, filter and pull properties “off the rack.”

Property search provides a shotgun approach to exposure. It may sound good in a listing presentation to say, “I’m placing this on 300 websites,” but how does this process in any way help match agents with new, active and revised listings with “real” buyers that are Willing, Able and Ready (WAR)?

This approach seems fundamentally wrong. Click here to download the complete white paper that fleshes out a whole new way to look at search.

Drowning in a Tidal Wave of Internet Leads

According to the public statements of leading consumer real estate portals, there are over 50 million consumers that simply like to search property sites each month to see what their next door neighbor’s house may be worth, dream about retirement or a move to a bigger home, or to simply look for home improvement ideas. These “voyeurs” have no intention of buying a home anytime soon, yet via lead management systems, they contact agents and soak up productive time best invested in working with “WAR” leads. All of this leads to a VERY unproductive Internet lead conversion rate.

Numerous industry studies show that 95 percent to 99 percent of the “leads” generated online will never close. According to evaluations we have done on behalf of some of our clients, most homes are getting less than one click-through per month and even fewer legitimate property inquiries.

Is property search, as we know it, dead?

The 2009 Swanepoel Trends Report addressed this same question nearly four years ago. Instead of creating opportunities, the avalanche of Internet leads has led to millions of hours of wasted agent time following up on dead ends.

The result? Agents start ignoring online leads because of perceived commoditization. Are one brand’s leads more or less a profitable source of business than another’s? Dismally low response times to online inquiries eliminate any opportunity to make Internet marketing work for them. This also angers potential customers. It’s no wonder the 2012 JD Power Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study showed sizable drops in consumer satisfaction with both the buying and selling processes.

Lack of Responsiveness is #1 Consumer “Pain Point”

While it’s understandable why agents become jaded about Internet lead activity, it is a very dangerous practice. According to two studies WAV Group conducted recently – one for the National Association of REALTORS® and one for the Houston Association of REALTORS® – lack of responsiveness is the number one complaint from consumers about real estate agents. They are frustrated when they reach out to an agent online or via phone and never get a call back.

Consumers say things like, “How come agents are not interested enough in my business to even call me back? I guess they don’t really want to work with more clients.” This lack of responsiveness, exacerbated by an outdated search process, is weakening consumer relationships with our industry. If a consumer believes they need to be responsible for doing the “heavy lifting” in the property search process, they start to question why they are paying full commission to their agent. It’s a very slippery and unprofitable slope.

To read more of Time to Re-Invent the Search download the complete report!

 

 

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