New Real Estate Listing Network Challenges MLS

The launch of a new real estate listing network aimed at real estate franchises challenges the supremacy of the real estate industry’s traditional multiple listing services (MLS) and is generating a lot of discussion among U.S. Realtors. Developed by behemoth real estate syndicator ListHub, the new Real Estate Network (REN) will expand property listing syndication to the websites of the nation’s biggest real estate franchises. Owned by Move, Inc., ListHub is offering participation in its new Real Estate Network to real estate brokers and multiple listing services as a free and voluntary online real estate tool. RE/MAX, Century 21, Coldwell Banker and Realty Executives International were the first to jump on the bandwagon.

The launch of Real Estate Network will allow the 43,000 real estate brokerage firms, 376 multiple listing services and numerous real estate franchises that currently participate in ListHub to expand their real estate marketing reach by choosing to send their property listings to one or more network members. Members of the new network retain the right to pick and choose the network members with whom they will share property listings and may refuse to share listings with select network members at their discretion.

In the Real Estate Network launch announcement on PR Newswire, Move CEO Steve Berkowitz called the new network “an industry-friendly initiative” that “maximizes and ensures broker control” over the promotion of real estate listings. While Real Estate Network rules are similar to the Internet Date Exchange (IDX) listing parameters imposed by multiple listing services, the game-changing difference is that Real Estate Network mandates a uniform nationwide listing standard.

Several aspects of the new network are generating talk in the real estate community. The possible demise of multiple listing services seems to be the greatest potential impact the new network might have on the real estate industry. Some industry watchers are also predicting that online realty lister Zillow will suffer from competition with a new, broad-scale listing network. The biggest winners may be smaller real estate firms that stand to benefit from free access to real estate tools developed by their bigger brethren.

Twitter Best Practices for Real Estate Agents

Most consumers have a love-hate relationship with Twitter. They love the immediacy Twitter affords but are quickly annoyed when someone clogs their feed with spam-like tweets. When used effectively, Twitter can be a powerful communication and brand-building tool for real estate agents. On the flip site, real estate agents that tweet too frequently or fail to provide value in their tweets run the risk of alienating current and future clients. Opinions about the most effective way to use Twitter as a social media tool have been split fairly evenly between broadcasting and conversation, Twitter’s two most prominent uses; however, a study by social media scientist Dan Zarrella, tips the scales decidedly toward broadcasting.

In an analysis of actual Twitter usage posted to his blog, Zarrella found that broadcast tweets generated a higher re-tweet rate than conversation tweets. Zarrella equated higher re-tweet rates with superior ability to spread information and disseminate marketing messages. In his study, Zarrella discovered two interesting correlations that real estate agents should be considered Twitter Best Practices:

  1. Tweets that contain links have a noticeably higher re-tweet rate. Zarrella found that Twitter feeds with a 60% to 80% link percentage resulted in the highest re-tweet rates.
  2. Tweets that generate few replies also enjoy high re-tweet rates. Zarrella discovered that Twitter feeds with 0% to 10% reply rates enjoyed the highest re-tweet percentages.

Zarrella’s take-away: Broadcasting interesting and information-rich content is a more effective use of Twitter than conversation.

Twitter “conversations” appear to be a fad that is nearing the end of its 15 minutes of fame as Americans tire of the glut of trivial tweets that clog Twitter feeds. The ascendency of far more versatile smartphones as the nation’s go-to communication device has ensured the eventual demise of Twitter as a conversation medium. However, Twitter’s broadcast value still makes it an effective real estate tool. Sending out 2 to 3 information-rich tweets per day can help you build your brand and expand your client base.

For information on how Properties Online can help you optimize the use of social media to grow your real estate business, visit our website.

Build Your Professional Brand Through Question & Answer Sites

If you are ready to build your professional brand as a leading expert in real estate, one way to do so is through question and answer sites. These sites allow people to freely ask and answer questions on a particular topic. By doing this, you will demonstrate your expertise in your industry and ultimately become a recognized leader. This type of recognition can help you build the kind of authority that will ring in new clients, leads, referrals, partners, job offers, and any other goal you are trying to achieve online.

Need another reason to check out question and answer sites? If you create content for a real estate blog, question and answer sites can be a hotbed of potential topic ideas. One review of the top questions and answers can help your mind come up with great article ideas that could last you weeks or even months into your editorial calendar.

So what are the best question and answer sites for real estate professionals to take advantage of? Here are the top networks you should check out, follow, and participate in.

LinkedIn Answers

LinkedIn is the top social network for professionals, so if you aren’t already on LinkedIn, you should be! If you are on LinkedIn, then you can participate in the LinkedIn Answers section. Here, professionals come to get advice from others about topics ranging from administration to technology. For real estate professionals, there are categories for both Personal Real Estate and Commercial Real Estate

To answer questions, simply browse the open questions for each section, click on the bright yellow Answer button, and submit the best answer possible. You will also be able to include relevant website links with your answer. If you have a blog post or article on your website that further supports your answer, feel free to add the link to it in the Web Resources box.

The best part is the Experts section. Whenever someone visits these categories on LinkedIn Answers, anyone who has been voted to give the best answers will be listed as experts in that category.

This is definitely somewhere you will want your name to be!

Quora

The next stop for professional question and answer networks is Quora. You can create a profile simply by signing in with Facebook or Twitter. Then you can start following topics that fit your business, including the following real estate topics.

Quora allows you to add links to your answers. If you are including a link to an article on your own blog or website, be sure that you have sufficiently answered the question and offer the link only as support.

Also, be sure to completely fill out your profile, including a link to your website in the bio information. Also, after you’ve followed applicable topics, go to the topics section of your profile and add a biography for each topic. This can be your professional title or your website URL. It is important because it will show up next to your name when you answer a question. Just be sure that it is less than 35 characters long, as the rest will be truncated.

Yahoo Answers

While Yahoo Answers is probably the most popular question and answer site, it is also the one where you might encounter the least professional content. Nonetheless, they have a section on Renting & Real Estate.

You will need to create a Yahoo account, or sign in using your Yahoo account to begin. In order to include live links with your answers, you will need to accrue at least 250 points on the Yahoo Answers network. These points can be earned through answering questions, signing in to the network daily,and getting voted as the best answer to someone’s question.

Zillow Advice

In addition to searching for homes for sale in the US, Zillow offers their own question and answer site called Zillow Advice. Here, you can find questions on topics including Home Buying, Home Selling, Mortgages, and more.

Before you start to answer questions, you will need to register with their site if you do not have a profile there already. If you do, be sure to complete your profile, including a photo plus links to your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and other social profiles (which might require a paid account).

Do you participate on question and answer websites to build your professional brand? What other sites do you use, and what have been your experiences? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Is Syndication Making the Agent & Broker Less Relevant?

As the debate about whether brokers should or should not syndicate their listings rages on, I thought it would be a good idea to weigh the Pros and Cons.

I read a nice post today by Brad Blumberg from SmarterAgent.com and thought I’d throw my 2 cents in… As the debate about whether brokers should or should not syndicate their listings rages on, I thought it would be a good idea to weigh the Pros and Cons.

For the Consumer:

Pros:

  • Have more ways to search for properties online (how many ways do we really need to access the same information?).
  • Prospects do not need to contact a broker or agent to view the available homes.
  • Prospects don’t need to login or register with a local Broker to view MLS data.

 

Cons:

  • Data is not always accurate or up to date.
  • Property Value sites are not very accurate giving misleading information to consumers.

A few of the above mentioned “Pros” might sound like “Cons” if you are an agent or broker …

For the Brokers and Agents:

Pros:

  • Listing gets more exposure (But this information is the same in the MLS so if you are a buyer, wouldn’t you get the same information from your local agent?).

 

Cons:

  • Brokers have less control over where their listings appear and the accuracy of the information provided.
  • Buyers do not need to contact a local agent or broker to get property information.
  • Syndication sites will showcase other agents next to your listing – for a fee.
  • Local Agent and Broker sites have to compete with syndication sites AND now their own BRAND websites (see The Real Estate Network brought to you by MOVE).
  • Prospects do not need to contact a broker or agent to view the available homes.
  • Prospects don’t need to login or register with a local Broker to view MLS data.
  • If you want to get the leads that your listing generates, you will probably have to pay the syndication site a “Featured” Fee.

So what is the next step for Syndication Websites?

I wonder if sites like Zillow have considered charging a referral fee yet. Or, if they can claim they “found” the buyer, why not charge a referral fee or could they simply refer the buyer to a Zillow agent? Have the big brands or brokers considered this possibility?

Sellers Expect a Listing Website

A single property website used to be one of those “nice to have” things that only the especially savvy realtors use. Not anymore: as the Internet plays an increasingly bigger role in the home buying and home selling process, more and more sellers – and buyers – are expecting to see a listing website.

A listing website is a Web page that is dedicated to a single property, or a single listing. It’s a wonderful way to present a property, because it creates a one-stop place where all the relevant information about a property, including photos, neighborhood photos and even disclosures, can be found.

Single property websites are very easy to find online, because their URL usually contains the property’s physical address, which means that when someone searches for the address, the single property websites will likely be the first result they see.

Sellers are expecting you to create a single property website for their listing because they see it as something “extra” that you are giving them – as going above and beyond. Most don’t realize just how affordable listing websites are for agents, and how easy they are to create, because they look so professional!

The best thing about a listing website is that you can create a demo site before winning a listing, present it to the sellers, and then- after that beautiful website helps you secure the listing – you can go ahead, pay, and take it live. The site will stay up for a full year, and will include built-in, easy to use tools for sharing properties on a wide range of social networks.

Savvy sellers expect their agents to be savvy too, and this means knowing how to leverage every possible online tool to help them sell their home quickly and effectively.