Since internet is among the top three most important methods of generating real estate leads and online listing sites rank as one of the most valuable tools, every agent is challenged to leverage these resources for creating, capturing, and closing leads. But, how can agents effectively compare the value propositions of marketing on the most popular real estate sites? An analysis of online marketing solutions from Realtor.com and Homes.com show that their marketing tools stack up pretty solidly when compared side by side, offering a range of options to suit any agent’s CRM strategy, marketing budget, and revenue goals. Both online real estate sites possess expansive reach that enables agents to pitch their professional profiles broadly while electing strategies that fit within their budget and plan. The no-cost Realtor.com profiles promote trust relationships with prospects by detailing agents’ listings, client recommendations, ratings, and reviews. Similarly, two programs through Homes.com amplify an agents’ brand while also providing the benefit of decreasing regional competition for carry a nominal cost. For instance, the Local Connect program, available to only a select number of agents within a specific zip code, features links to registered agents’ contact information, profile, or website. An enhanced version, the Preferred Agent program, virtually eliminates online marketing competition by placing regionally-exclusive links to the registered agent’s profile only. Regardless of the price point an agent chooses, all of these programs deliver the ability to cast a wide net for maximizing brand awareness and lead pipeline development. In addition, leading online real estate sites can aid effective CRM expansion with prompt lead response tools. Both the Showcase Listings by Realtor.com and Lead Concierge by Homes.com direct all prospects solely to the registered agent through lead notification, alongside valuable consumer context such as recently viewed properties. While the Showcase Listing program automatically sends prospects an email to let them know an agent will reach out shortly, Lead Concierge answers online queries directly, e licits qualifying information, and transfers the prospect to the agent in real-time. The main distinction between these two online solutions is the degree of third party service, and agents’ needs will vary according to their budget and CRM development plan. Realtor.com and Homes.com also have agents covered for the indispensable integration of social media networking into their CRM strategy, with each site providing solutions designed for the specific scope of content marketing services required. Realtor.com offers a free Social Connections […]
In the 1990s, it was called disintermediation. In the 2010s, we are calling it disruption. Back then, we talked about a “new paradigm” that would alter the real estate business forever. Now we talk about “new business models” doing the same. The names may have changed, but the bottom line is this: I am still waiting for digital real estate transactions to be a common practice, not the exception to the rule. What has really changed? Next month in early August, like many of my colleagues, I am heading to Inman News Real Estate Connect in San Francisco. It’s hard for me to believe that it has been nearly two decades – twenty years or more than 7,000 days – since the first Real Estate Connect in 1996. Brad Inman held the first real estate + technology confab at his family retreat in the Sonoma Valley. That was in late September 1996. Several months later, I met with Brad in a restaurant next to the Hyatt in Bellevue, WA, listening to him tell me what I missed and what he wanted to do next: a full-blown Real Estate Connect conference at the Hilton in San Francisco. He had a goal of 800+ people in attendance, including the Who’s-Who of real estate and technology leaders, at a sold out exhibit hall and wanted my help. Now I think back to 1996 and 1997 to what real estate looked like then and what it looks like today. Despite all the talk about disintermediation and the gust of wind that Internet 1.0 blew into the aggressive expansion of technology into the real estate space, and the current blitz of amazing innovations, I have to ask: What has really changed? Fundamentally unaltered It’s no longer Homestore that is the invincible giant: it’s now Zillow. But seriously, did Homestore add any real value to the real estate business? Has the consumer saved a dime because of Zillow? Or were both firms simply guilty of redistributing dollars and taking market share from someone else? When I watch a real estate transaction today, I see almost exactly what I see when I bought my house on Bainbridge Island in 1996: the vast majority of folks still use a real estate agent, still typically pay a 6% commission, you still have to turn in a ton of documentation – more now than you did in 1996! – […]
It is pretty well known that Google is now Alphabet – a re-imagined company that is comprised of a variety of businesses around the focus of organizing the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful. Building a new brand on top of Google was an uncomfortable decision, but there is much to be learned from it. The Alphabet Companies (full list here) Google – Search Engine, Android, Gmail, and YouTube Calico – Healthcare company aimed at extending life Verily – Smart contact lenses X Labs – Research and Development Deep Mind – Artificial Intelligence Access – high-speed internet Jigsaw – think tank/tech incubator The company really did not change its structure, but the company did restate its structure differently and explained it. The uncomfortable re-imagination worked on Wall Street – as the company overtook Apple as the worlds most valuable company (albeit temporarily as today Google is worth $598.73 billion and Apple is worth $651.5 billion – what’s a $50B swing one way or another?) Real Estate could learn quite a bit from this. At the heart of Google is the vision to never become complacent. Great companies operate uncomfortably. Great companies take moon shots. Examples in Real Estate Brokerage – Pacific Union: Dissatisfied with listing presentation software, they built the Pacific Union DLP – Digital Listing Presentation. It is not only mobile enabled and beautiful, it is elegant and clearly born from the culture of a great brand. It was time consuming to develop. It cost five-times as much as anything they could have licensed. It could have been a disaster. It was an uncomfortable risk. It resulted contributing to one of the most remarkable growth spurts of any brokerage operating at enterprise scale – adding 20%+ growth year after year and becoming the 9th largest brokerage firm in America in the face of very strong competition. MLS – MRIS: For years, MRIS was atop the leaderboard as the largest MLS in the nation. They are among the only MLSs in the nation that do quarterly benchmarking for every department measured against user satisfaction. They measure their satisfaction goal on every calendar for departmental excellence. Internally, they hit on all cylinders. To become uncomfortable, they are working with TREND MLS to make the service offering even bigger, even better. This is not their first effort either. They also manage many of the nation’s largest MLS data sharing cooperatives. […]
A French writer wrote this line – “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” It often pops into my head when I read a trade story about a hot new real estate tech company that upon closer inspection, isn’t a company at all, but an idea in search of a business plan. I also find myself thinking about the same thing when I walk through a conference where startup firms are lined up. I pay a game in my head call “product or product feature.” It seems that so many tech startups in real estate are really just a feature that should be rolled into another product that is offered by an established company. Most often with these new tech startups, there isn’t enough “there there” with the product to justify building a company around. Real estate tech conferences need a professional match-maker who walks around to counsel these firms solely on what product their product feature would best fit, and find a way to marry their innovation off that company. You’re no Google At one conference, I challenged the founder of one of these firms on the viability of his product when it became clear he had no idea how he was going to generate revenue. The CEO argued that Google didn’t have a revenue plan. Google. Really? You are going to compare yourself to Google? I bit my tongue and almost found myself paraphrasing President Ronald Reagan’s retort by saying “You’re no Google.” Not to be too cynical, but there continues to be too much hubris and not enough substance in the plans for some real estate tech firms. Their hockey stick projections that they are selling to the VCs are based on fairy tales of product adoption rates that have never been achieved in real estate. It feels like there are 500 companies all offering the hottest real estate tech for agents at just under $20 or $50 a month. When you ask how many sales they think they can hit, they talk about 10% of the 1.2 million agents as being a “conservative” number. My math says that’s 120,000 agents, paying $20 a month, or $2.4 million in gross sales per month, nearly a $29 million a year business all from one product. No wonder the VCs are throwing money at so many of these firms. That’s sounds great, sounds easy even. Until it […]
There are a lot of technology applications that look promising, none more so than the recent launch of their Home Valuation System on foxroach.com powered by Buyside™. Fox and Roach is the largest Berkshire Hathaway Home Services company. Their offices cover many regions including Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware. In WAV Group broker website effectiveness studies, BHHS Fox & Roach ranks in the top 10 for the most traffic of any broker in America. Last month, they launched the Home Valuation System, built by Buyside™ that created a landing page for every off- market property and IDX listings in their market footprint. About Buyside Innovating Ahead of Competition This is a broker-friendly solution that provides benefits beyond Zillow® the national leader in displaying data on off-market properties. The goal of the strategy is to develop seller leads for their agents, and engage buyers and property owners with good information about property values and the ability to track a home. We are huge fans of the use of three property values, known as AVMs. “I think that the shortfall with the Zestimate™ is that it has only one AVM opinion,” says Steve Storti, BHHS Fox & Roach’s Chief Marketing Officer. “By introducing the RVM™ from Realtors Property Resource and two other AVM’s (including the Zestimate™) we tell the consumer the real story about AVMs – they are all just mathematical estimates and it’s best to talk to a local agent for the most accurate professional assessment of your home.” Success by the Numbers In the first 45 days, Foxroach.com has had almost 51,000 valuation attempts done on their agent branded landing pages powered by Buyside™. It’s important to note that BHHS Fox and Roach rolled this feature out on both the broker site and agent websites. The broker site generated 68% of the traffic with just under over 34,000 of the valuations, and incredibly over 1300 agents participated in generating the other 32% or 16,000 for their own agent sites. There is truly a network effect that occurs when agents leverage the broker provided co-branded websites. BHHS Fox and Roach leverages the CoreLogic AgentAchieve™ broker and agent website platform which provides easy integration of the Buyside application. Buyside has also integrated CoreLogic’s ePropertyWatch into the BHHS Fox & Roach’s Home Valuation System. With ePropertyWatch, consumers can register to get an automated monthly email with […]
The Inman Connect conference does not often have many brand new ideas. But if you look hard enough, they are there. A year or so ago I met a company that was focused on transforming home prices to Total Cost Of Living prices (TLC Engine). This year, I met Lynn Leegard who co-founded a company called TrustFunds, with the tag line of Earnest Money Made Easy. Coincidentally, both TLC Engine and TrustFunds are both services offered through NorthstarMLS, based in Minneapolis, MN. Northstar CEO John Mosey seems to have a knack for launching very unique services that solve significant problems in his market. Commute costs, utility costs, and insurance costs play a major role in home ownership in Minneapolis (as is the case in most major cities). The higher price you pay for a home closer to the places you work may be less than what you would pay for a lower priced home that has a further distance to travel to work. TLC Engine runs that equation. It is a great solution. Likewise, TrustFunds is a great solution. Forms, transaction management, and digital signature solutions offered in the Northstar market area are delivered through an online forms and transaction management platform called Instanet. Everything can be done online except the transfer of earnest money, a.k.a. the deposit the buyer puts down on the house with their offer. As a result, agents end up running around picking up and delivering checks even though everything else can happen online. A clever Minneapolis area attorney and REALTOR® came up with a solution. As a REALTOR®, chasing earnest money was painful. Moreover, the security of managing, collecting, and tracking earnest money payments was even more challenging. I think of it as PayPal™ for Real Estate. Using the buyer’s email address, agents generate a request for earnest money to their buyer. They click the link and securely key in their bank routing and account information. From there, the money is transmitted to the proper trust account. TrustFunds tracks the payments, and notifies everyone involved in the transaction. This is an elegant, simple to understand product that will take our industry the last mile to handle transactions electronically. What do you think? TrustFunds: Lynn Leegard 888-249-1616 x 104, www.trustfunds.us.com Disclosure – NorthstarMLS is a WAV Group Client.
History tells many stories of long ago that reflect on the conditions of today. I came across a story about the Pilgrims that made me think that in some way, it is similar to the real estate industry and portals. In 1630, a Pilgrim court dealt a nasty blow to one of its settlers. They ordered him to be incarcerated, burned his house, confiscated all of his goods, then ultimately exiled him from America. The Pilgrim’s name was Thomas Morton, and they said that he was a danger to society. Morton went to England and pleaded with the English court, which was the court of record for Pilgrim society. Morton had found a new way to trade with the Indians for furs. Rather than barter goods, he held parties. He picked a nice spot outside of town, brought some jugs of booze, and invited some of the town’s young ladies to join him. The Indians saw that they were having a good time and soon began flocking to his parties bringing furs as a gesture. Morton was getting richer by the day. The English court saw nothing illicit about Morton’s ways, and sent him back to America with the court ruling in hand. This is where my real estate industry and portals relationship analogy comes in. When you have a look at the top websites of our era, they are having a great party with listing information that pales to the stoic puritan society of real estate broker websites. They offer information on every home in the area, not just active listings or 7 years of recently sold MLS listings. They lift up the skirt of home values and show the legs of when homeowner purchased their home and what they paid. They even invite FSBO girls and Foreclosure girls and offer their frilly information to their guests. Things did not end well for Mr. Morton. Even with his English court papers. Upon returning to America he was jailed until he went mad. Somehow I do not think that today’s leading portals are going to loose their sanity anytime soon. Indeed, it would seem that the real estate industry is the crazy one. Perhaps we should turn our attention to supporting brokers in throwing parties of their own. When I do a gap analysis of the data on broker sites vs. the data on portal sites, the differences are plainly […]
I woke up at 3:42 am pacific time this morning, only to realize I was probably one of the first people on the West Coast to see the “official” launch of the latest version of the iPad. While there is no AMAZING new innovation that we’ve never seen before, they have taken the device to new levels in a few interesting ways. First, there is a new high definition screen called a “Retinal” screen that delivers more pixels per square inch than anything we’ve seen to date including high definition televisions, according to the video promotions from Apple. Next, it includes a new 5 megapixel camera which turns the entire iPad into a viewfinder so you can be sure to get great shots which are framed properly. Coupled with the new camera is a new version of iLife media software which makes it even easier to create photo collages and “trailer”-type videos. The new version of Garage Band within the iLife suite allows up to 4 iPads to be networked together to play virtual music together. Pretty fun stuff for those that would have time to do such things. For real estate, the high res camera and viewing screen is going to make viewing homes a whole lot more fun, I would guess. The new iLife suite will make it easier for agents to get creative with the ways they display images. Who needs a virtual tour when you can create your own photo montage in minutes that can be shared easily with clients? It could be a whole new way to break through the crowd in a listing presentation. A savvy agent could be a photo collage while walking around the property with a homeowner.
Arroyo Grande, CA (August 1, 2011) – The more than 700,000 subscribers to RE Technology’s website (www.retechnology.com) have been excited to see the outcome of the July Giveaway. The company, a top media site for the real estate technology industry, today announced the lucky winners. “This Giveaway was fun for us, our subscribers, and the tech companies who participated,” says Victor Lund, CEO of RE Technology, Inc. “The contest began on July 8th, and we’ve seen a great response since then.” For the Giveaway, RE Technology subscribers could choose 3 prizes (giving them 3 chances to win) from top technology vendors. Participating companies included Delta Media Group, The Real Estate Success Network, IMSD powered by Market Leader, HomeFinder.com, DocuSign, CoreLogic, Mobile Real Estate ID, and Goomzee. “We’d like to thank all participants,” says Mr. Lund. “We hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.” And the winners were: