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By: Joe Hall
Can the web save real estate? The short answer to that question is: no it can not. Not alone, that is. There are a lot of uncertain variables in the housing industry that will make it hard to predict how long the real estate industry will suffer. In order for housing markets to get active again a whole host of things are going to have to happen, including stabilization of credit markets, rise in consumer confidence, and even a decrease in unemployment.
The good news is that there are some specific things that can and should be done by real estate professionals on the internet to keep their heads above water. And, if they are successful at executing the following strategies, they will not only keep afloat during these hard times, but they will prosper by leaps and bounds when the markets stabilize in the future.
Get a Web Site: I can't believe I am actually typing this! But the truth is that many of today's real estate professionals are not online. In my honest opinion, this is the biggest mistake that a real estate professional can make. We already know that close to 80% of home buyers are using the internet to find a home. Many real estate agents think that receiving leads off the internet from their brokerage's web site or through other services are good enough. The biggest problem with this attitude is that often times the leads that are acquired are old by the time they reach your desk. Real estate agents need to have complete control and ownership over the lead generation techniques they utilize.
Master SEO: So now you have a web site. How do you get people to it? Well, you could buy costly PPC ads from Google. You could tell your friends and family about it. You could include the address in print ads. However, the problem with all these techniques is that none of them are going to drive enough targeted traffic to convert into leads. However, Search Engine Optimization can. With SEO we can drive targeted organic traffic straight to your site by leveraging the power of search engines like Google and Yahoo. I could literally write a very long post about this topic right here, for your sake and mine I have already written that post else where.
Develop Your Hook: There are many reasons the internet is a powerful tool in the real estate industry. But the most obvious (and the current most pressing) is the ability to generate sales leads. Fundamentally, if you are not able to generate leads with your online presence there is something wrong. And, I am willing to bet that that something is the absence of a "hook". A hook is a unique product or service that you are willing to give away for free on your web site in the exchange for the lead. An example would be providing your web site visitors with exclusive property information, or access to a property search index, after they register with your site. This provides you with access to their contact information and information regarding what they might be interested in. Are you now starting to see why owning your own site is important?
Stick With What Works: There are all sorts of marketing plans and packages available for sale to real estate professionals. The broker that got me involved in real estate once told me, "You can sell anything to a real estate agent". On the internet this is no exception. However, what's important during times like this is that real estate professionals stick with things that work. There will always be someone out there trying to sell you a silver bullet. When the market is going really good and you have money to spare, go ahead and get one of these "silver bullets" you will learn a lot. But during times like these it's extremely important to spend wisely. One of the things that work is staying active in social media. Social media will not only help put you in contact with consumers, but if utilized correctly it will also help with SEO.
Stay Active: When the market was acting normal it was ok to forget about your blog or web site. When the market was hot back in 2005 it might have been ok not to even have a web site or blog. Now, its late 2008, and the market is not normal, it's colder than a week old dead fish. It is absolutely not ok to get lazy with your blog or site now. You have got to constantly work on blog articles, constantly work on building relationships with other online realtors, and constantly improve your presence on the web. If you don't there are plenty of other real estate professionals that will gladly take your place.
Are you ready to start treading water? Either way I am confident that if you are successful at implementing the strategies above you will stay afloat while your colleagues start to sink. And when this storm subdues, you will come out of it stronger and you will find it much easier to prosper.