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.

QR Codes for Real Estate

We love technology and believe it can greatly help real estate agents. One noteworthy example is the use of QR codes for real estate. A QR (Quick Response) Code is a barcode that is readable via a smart phone. The idea is that users scan a barcode using their phone, and are then directed to a specific landing page. In real estate, we see QR codes used in several ways.

QR Codes Embedded into Print Advertising

This can definitely be useful, as it enables a prospect who looks at a print ad to scan the code and use their phone to get to the property site or to the agent website, where they can learn a lot more about the property.

QR Codes Embedded into Agent Sites

This seems to us like more hype than a useful feature. Why would anyone whip out a camera and take a picture of a QR code to bring them to a website on their mobile phone, when they could just click a link on their computer that takes them to the page?

QR Codes on For Sale Sign Riders

This is another useful tool for Agents. However, not everyone has a smart phone (yet) so Property Address Domains are much better and easier for the consumer because they can simply enter the url and go to the website, either in front of the home, or later in front of a computer.

Another issue with focusing too much on QR codes is that this marketing method pretty much eliminates anyone who doesn’t own a smart phone with internet access, and there are still plenty of those!

It will be interesting to see what new programs and platforms that utilize QR codes pop into the real estate tech field in the near future. I for one am looking forward to that!

Google Adwords

Adwords and PPC for Real Estate Agents

Once you have an agent website, you should make sure it’s optimized for search engines. But Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a long-term effort to get your site to the top of the search results. It can take months until your efforts pay off and requires constant monitoring and tweaking. In the meantime, for faster results, you can use Google Adwords.

What is Google Adwords?

Google Adwords is Google’s Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ad network.  PPC is an Internet advertising model, in which advertisers pay their host only when their ad is clicked. With search engines, advertisers typically bid on keyword phrases relevant to their target market. For example, if you work in Seattle, you would likely want to base your Adwords campaign on keywords such as “Seattle real estate,” “Seattle homes for sale” etc. If you manage your Adwords campaign well, your ad could appear on the first page of search results, under the “Sponsored Links” tab.

Why Use Google Adwords?

As explained by Google, Countless home buyers use Google to browse for real estate information each month. Google Adwords enable you to reach prospects in your region at all stages of their home search – while they’re looking for properties, checking out locations, and selecting an agent.

Google AdWords can be a very effective  tool for sending more traffic to your real estate site. Google AdWords  offers a measurable, pay-for-performance solution that enables you to determine your costs and only pay when a prospect clicks on your ad to visit your website. You can continually monitor your campaign to see what’s working and what’s not, and you can modify or halt your campaign at any time.

An important aspect of Adwords for real estate agents is that it enables you to target users by location. This allows you to reach home buyers and sellers specifically within your service area.

Controlling Your Adwords Budget

You should be aware that if you’re not careful, your Adwords budget can easily balloon and get out of control. If you’re just starting out with Adwords, it might be a good idea to pre-pay for your first campaign. This will ensure that you don’t go over your budget.

Converting Adwords Traffic To Leads

A well-managed PPC campaign is likely to increase the traffic to your site, but that traffic will stick around and turn into leads – and possibly clients – only if your site is attractive, rich in information and interactive. The last thing you want it to pay for clicks that end up bouncing off your site. Before starting your PPC campaign, make sure your agent site is as good as it can possibly be.

Nice Video from the UK with more information about google Adwords:

An introduction to Google AdWords

 

Agents – Engage your Visitors with Video

Adding video to your agent site also allows you to reach out and connect with more potential clients. While a text-rich website is important from an SEO point of view, adding video to your site enhances the user experience, which is an important factor in the success of any website.

There are many benefits to adding video to your real estate website. Videos are fun and interactive. They provide a visual break from too much text. And they make your visitors stay on the site longer.

Adding video to your agent site also allows you to reach out and connect with more potential clients. While a text-rich website is important from an SEO point of view, adding video to your site enhances the user experience, which is an important factor in the success of any website.

Real estate websites are sometimes “dry,” even a little boring. By adding video to your site you can add an entertainment factor that your visitors would appreciate. As a result, your website will be more “sticky” and visitors will stay around longer, browsing.

Since we believe video can greatly enhance realtor websites, our real estate websites are equipped with a YouTube plug-in that enables you to easily place a YouTube video on any page of your website. Our built-in YouTube player allows you to add video to your website either in the media panel or in the body of any website page.

Adding video to your website using our YouTube plugin is easy, and it makes your website interactive and fun for your visitors. Take advantage of this free tool – it’s a great way to improve your agent website.