Howard Hanna Promotes 5700 REALTORS on Realtor.com

by Victor Lund on June 26, 2014

customer-centricToday’s real estate broker faces some difficult decisions when it comes to online advertising. The choices are often predicated upon what your competition is doing; what sellers demand; traffic and leads generated by your website or franchise website; website owner terms of use; who gets the lead; who pays – agent or broker. It is really quite a mess. It is so bad, that many large firms have walked away from it entirely and leave it up to the agent. Other firms have taken the proverbial bull by the horn and worked hard to market listings online is a very controlled and purposeful fashion. Howard Hanna is one of those brokers.

About Howard Hanna

Howard Hanna is among the most dominant online marketing brokers in America. In their core cities of Pittsburgh and Cleveland – traffic to their broker website is greater than the national sites like Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia, and Homes.com (Hitwise). But Howard Hanna stretches well beyond those two metropolitan areas. The firm covers most of Pennsylvania, most of Ohio, and parts of Virginia, Michigan, upstate New York, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland (169 offices in total). They are the 4th largest firm in North America trading 52,827 homes and $9.7 billion in closed sales in 2013.

Howard Hanna is also a full service firm offering consumers services in Mortgage, Title, and Insurance. An important component of the Realtor.com arrangement is not only that broker competition is not displayed on a Howard Hanna listing, but neither is any other competition from home services companies. Howard Hanna listings are generating leads for all of the affiliated companies they have. The effort also extends to the Realtor.com mobile application too.

What is important about this announcement is that it is a renewal. Howard Hanna executive, Hoby Hanna made a statement made a statement about their online strategy back in February of 2012 announcing a partnership with Zillow and with Realtor.com http://youtu.be/ec2kJj-z2_I when the firm committed more than $500,000 to effort. In 2012, the decision the firm made was a bit of a well calculated and well researched test. They did not know what the outcomes would be. Clearly the renewal is a signal that the strategy has been successful.

In addition to the link back to howardhanna.com, this image shows most of the 8 key additional areas of promotion Howard Hanna is purchasing on Realtor.com – it is like no other page on Realtor.com.

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  1. Banner ads are to Howard Hanna
  2. 25 High resolution photos
  3. Lead Form goes to listing agent
  4. Listing Agent Branding
  5. Office Branding
  6. Mortgage Branding
  7. If the agent has other listings, they are also marketed on this page or they default to other Howard Hanna listings
  8. Background of the site is taken over with Howard Hanna branding.

Effectively, this Howard Hanna page on Realtor.com is like an extension of the broker’s own website in almost every way.

Howard Hanna represents one of the three strategies that WAV Group has found to be successful in online portal marketing. We call it the All-In strategy. If you are going to syndicate to publishers, it is a good idea to use premium advertising to insure the protection of broker data, the integrity of leads back to the firm or agent, and assuring the upmost service related to listing accuracy.

Another online strategy we have found to be effective is truncating and modifying the content that is syndicated – effectively sending the publishers less data than would be found on the broker website. You can also modify the description text to include the name of the listing agent and their phone number. Some brokers even add the broker logo and other advertising as photos to their listing feeds.

Lastly, some brokers have completely removed all of their listings from syndication and have experienced a lot of online success from doing so. These benefits include happier agents who were suffering from lead fatigue. More broker website traffic. More leads from the broker website. More control over broker data and more privacy extended to the buyer by removing marketing photos from the Internet after the home is sold.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian Talley June 27, 2014 at 4:13 am

Funny how inconsistent the message about syndication is delivered to the public. The media says that the REALTOR(R) industry isn’t innovating fast enough because Zillow and Trulia have been so successful, but they have only been successful because brokers give them their listings, pay them to promote the listings they provided, and firms like Zillow place FSBO’s and Coming Soon listings next to MLS listings to capture more traffic. They have no innovative break-through technology – just property search websites. REALTORS(R) should demand that NAR provide the same exposure given to Howard Hanna but for FREE. Any costs should be rolled into dues. Realtor.com needs to be taken back by NAR from the third-party company they sold it to.

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Victor Lund June 27, 2014 at 8:01 am

Great thesis Brain – it would cost REALTORS(r) about $60 Million per year to stay competitive – or $60 per REALTOR per year – $5 per month. That would be a pretty significant dues increase. I am not sure that Buyer’s agents would be too keen to invest in the listing agent’s advertising – especially if the seller’s agent gets all of the leads.

The way it works now is pretty economically sound. Everyone gets their listings on Realtor.com for free (like all other sites). If you want the leads on your listings (many do not), then you pay a few bucks a month per listing. If not – you let a buyers’ agent spend a few bucks a month to advertise on your listing and they get the lead.

Besides – who at NAR has the experience to develop and operate a consumer property search portal in such a competitive landscape?

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Brian Talley June 27, 2014 at 4:17 pm

@Victor – I’m not a big advocate of national or local trade association property search portals because they compete with brokerage and agent websites. But the reality is that many brokers feel they have to send their listings to Zillow and Trulia to keep their customers – which is not the case, at least not as much as they might think in my experience. Therefore, in order for REALTORS(R) to protect their data, the consumer, and the industry as a whole we have no choice but to invest as an industry in having a dominant national portal that provides free listing exposure to the listing brokerage and their agent exclusively. Yes, the buyer agents get the short end of the stick, but at least brokerages and agents can have websites getting links back from Realtor.com helping them get more traffic and leads to their own websites. REALTORS(R) should not feel like they MUST send their listings to NON-REALTOR(R) associated websites to compete. The lack of a progressive national portal owned by REALTORS(R) has created the opportunity for these third-party websites to thrive. These websites took advantage of our ignorance in the beginning by getting REALTORS(R) to give them our listings for free and then they lured the public with FSBO’s. Now we have a mess on our hands and no website owned by REALTORS(R). This mess needs to be fixed and $5/mo per agent is a drop in the bucket to protect our industry and our customers.

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Pat Manicom June 27, 2014 at 5:52 am

Please send more information for our brokerage to join.

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Victor Lund June 27, 2014 at 8:10 am

I am confused by your comment Pat. By the way – your website is broken. I tried to search for property in Houston and could not find anything.

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