Can the Web Save Real Estate?

by Donna Fontenot October 15th, 2008 

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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.


Author Bio:

Joe Hall is a bonafide web-head. You can learn more about him at his blog or on twitter.

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10 Responses to “Can the Web Save Real Estate?”

  1. Tertius says:

    I must admit, it's a good strategy in a market like the one that exists at the moment.

    Having SEO work for you as a real estate broker is tough to do yourself. But if you have the few basic down and you target correctly this strategy is a surefire way to get more clients.

    Also, don't charge too much commission…

  2. You could pretty much apply this to most business wanting to be successful online.

  3. As someone said if you are not on the net you don't exist.

    I see this common mistake looking at real estates companies in my town, their internet presence is very limited.

    And guess what, that's because their owners are usually old guys who don't understand internet's potential.

  4. I think that acceptance of the web is an crucial turning point for real estate brokerages. If realtors realized how easility they could be found if they claimed their local listings on Google, Yahoo, MSN they would get a huge spike just from their local searchers actually being able to find their office!

  5. Blogging in Real Estate…does it make sense? Yes!

    A website is nice (I mean, if you have no other online presence I guess it's a start). But, a blog is better! And it's naturally seo friendly! You have the ability to:
    * Reach more people (more people = higher potential for business),
    * Create brand awareness,
    * Showcase your knowledge & expertise of real estate within your market area,
    * Showcase your ability to get a home sold using new media

  6. Dennis Edell says:

    A good friend and fellow marketer decided to take this into her own hands recently….a real nice blog with her address as the domain, kinda cool huh……..

    http://www.1483mamerowlane.com/

    No longer for sale, but a nice example of what can be done.

  7. Mark Antony says:

    I personally would not deal with an agent who was not on the web. As to the economy, sadly, the next phase is thought to be recession and rising unemployment, so things are likely to get worse before better.

    Here's hoping for better times, meanwhile, we could do with some TLC :)

  8. @ Dennis Edrell – I'm not sure how effective it would be to launch a whole blo just about 1 property: I used SEO digger, and that domain didn't rank even for random terms… I think it LOOKS neat, but I don't think that it can really garner any search value, and would need additional marketing elsewhere to actually get any value. Did you freind give you any idea if the lead that closed the sale came from the site? Did they get any leads from that blog? Did they get any search traffic or was it all from that craigslist posting?

  9. Dennis Edell says:

    She actually took it off the market before too long, so she's not promoting any longer…..with skills though I believe it would have worked well.

    it's definitely not productive for an agent though…..hundreds of blogs lol

  10. Stephen says:

    Lots of people are still keeping track of real estate investment opportunities as the listing prices for land and homes has been steadily decreasing over the past few months. Putting an SEO-friendly site like Acreage Anywhere out in cyberspace is a great way to attract attention to bargain deals and drive traffic to your site.