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How to Deal with Buyers Who Love Property Portals

April 18 2017

tablet house consultation 1

Ask any agent, and they're likely to agree: the Realtor-client relationship became more complicated when property search portals came onto the scene.

Rather than relying on agents to find a home, today 51 percent of consumers find the home they buy online themselves, typically on search portals. And once consumers start using a home search platform, they seldom switch to another, even if their agent recommends it. This worries many Realtors, as their clients are exposed to competing agents while browsing property portals.

But it's clear that property search portals are here to stay—and that consumers love them—so what's an agent to do?

For veteran Realtor and broker Jesse Zagorsky, the answer is threefold:

  1. Understand client behavior
  2. Adapt to client behavior, don't change it
  3. Educate

Zagorsky has years of experience in advertising on sites like Realtor.com®sites like Realtor.com® and managing portal leads. Here's his practical advice for dealing with portal loving clients.

The First Step to Success: Understanding Client Behavior

Realtors have a new role in the digital age, according to Zagorsky. "The value proposition has changed," he says. "Our role as an agent is not as much just to find the house as it is in executing all of the other elements of the process."

In fact, you may have experienced, as Zagorsky has, a client that came to you with a listing from their property app or portal of choice—even though you know you already sent that to them in an MLS alert.

"Once a buyer starts a pattern of search, they prefer to go back and look on their own again on the first site they tried," he says. "They still like to find it themselves. So we don't fight that."

Adaptation Is the Path of Least Resistance...

Instead, Zagorsky advises his clients to "stick with the original place they searched." Rather than wasting energy (and time) trying to change client search behavior, he works with it.

"We've decided to stop trying to change the psychology of their search pattern," he says. "It's best to embrace it and to change the pattern of what happens after they find a listing they like."

This is where some agents may get nervous. A Realtor.com® and NAR study found that the average consumer finds at least five properties online and inquires about each individually before discovering the home they purchase. As you know, portal property listings feature multiple competing agents on the inquiry form that consumers use to request more information about a home. How can an agent ensure that their client comes back to them when searching online, and not engage with other agents?

...But Client Education is Key

According to Zagorsky, the answer is "all about buyer education." It's also about, again, understanding client psychology. "Most consumers don't want multiple contacts with different agents. The average consumer doesn't realize this at first—that they will get a new agent contacting them every time they ask for information with a lead form."

He recommends simply telling clients: "If you find a property you like, tell me so you won't be bombarded by other agents. Send the address to me, your agent. Text me the address and send me the search details and I'll help you make the next move, do all the research and keep you protected from other agents bugging you."

"That's usually all they need to hear to change their behavior."

Your turn: Do you agree with Zagorsky's approach? What are your strategies for working with portal loving clients? Do you adapt to their habits, or introduce them to apps and tools of your own? Share your experiences in the comments below!