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Why an Up-to-date Agent Profile Helps You List More Homes
Your customers are likely checking you out before agreeing to an appointment. Sellers want to see what else you sold--and buyers want to read what your previous customers have to say about you. Greg Drake makes the effort to ask his customers why they chose him, and found that what they read on his profile pages made a difference. He has figured out how to make sure his reviews get read--in particular by people on the verge of listing or buying a property. Drake has won awards for his five-star customer service. Here is his opinion on how this drives new business. Realtor.com's Local Expert product and your realtor.com profile are meant primarily to get your brand out there where people are shopping for homes. But can you point to actual business this brings? A couple of times this this year, I've had people click on the Local Expert ad on realtor.com and then they went to my realtor.com profile and reviewed that. They then contacted me and I got two listing appointments from it. One was a sell and buy, so I effectively got three sides from that combination of the Local Expert and the realtor.com profile. I know this because I stared asking how they got to me or chose to work with me. I asked them saying, "I know you're interviewing agents, why did you choose me?" Why do you think seeing this makes them inclined to work with you? One of the big things was they saw my Local Expert ad on realtor.com and they felt very comfortable with that backing from realtor.com saying, "Here is your local expert." They felt that it added extra credibility over the other agents that they were interviewing so it was that edge that got the team to where they needed to be to get the listing. It was extremely helpful. So they check you out when comparing agents. How are they going about their research? People find our team through Local Expert at or they'll look at the profile on realtor.com and they'll also go to my LinkedIn. I get a report on how many people have looked at my profile in the last week, and with LinkedIn I can see who is looking. I find a lot of people will do that—they'll do some of the research on realtor.com and go to LinkedIn as well. They look at everything to make sure they are choosing the right agent. They want to feel that the legitimacy and the credibility is there before they'll engage with you or they'll meet you. This occurs with a Connections lead when they say "I want to see this house today." Do they still look you up once you speak with them? You go out and meet them at the house. They don't know you and you don't know them. You're trying to gain rapport and gain credibility. I'll find that they will later go in and look at LinkedIn and then they'll look at my profile on realtor.com. I've asked them, "What guided your decision to work with me after you've seen houses with multiple other agents?" It came back to their research into our credibility and the sales volume and things like that, which show that I am an experienced agent and I know how to get the job done. They also see the recommendations, and from this they felt comfortable with me. That's what gave them the kind of edge to say, "Yes I want to work with you." Being able to bring in buyers is always interesting to sellers. Do you use this advantage when making a pitch for a listing? I bring up Local Expert in listing presentations because it's a key factor for people searching for that. I'm going to show up in your ZIP code as the Local Expert. They're going to contact me to find out more about your home, and who knows your home better than I do when I'm listing it? I can best answer the questions to find out what they're looking for. I can convert that inquiry into a showing, which is a benefit to you versus that lead going to someone who you know doesn't know your home who can't sell your home for you because they don't really know anything about it. Sellers understand it and they'll go online and they'll test it to see who are the couple of people that show up as a Local Expert in this area. To them, they see the value in having the Local Expert marketing the home. They feel comfortable going with me versus somebody who doesn't have that exposure. Greg Drake is the Broker/Owner of Realty Professionals, LLC. He provides a superior level of informed and professional residential real estate services to buyers and sellers in the Denver metro area.  
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How Agents Can Benefit from the Zestimate
The Famous Zillow Zestimate Zillow defines its Zestimate as the "estimated market value for an individual home," and one that is "…a starting point in determining a home's value and is not an official appraisal." Sounds harmless, no? While the Zestimate's goal to assist in the automation of home valuation is well intended, the challenges it has created for real estate agents, home buyers, and home sellers has left Zillow, and those who followed in its path, with an arduous defense battle, inclusive of actual litigation (more on that below).
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Real Agent Story: Online Branding Key to Winning New and Past Clients
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How to Turn Online Leads into Commissions in 3 Easy Steps
"I've already spoken to someone, thanks." *click* That's exactly how you DON'T want your first conversation with a new lead to go. And it doesn't have to if you have a system in place for attracting, following up, and nurturing home shoppers. No system? No problem. Today, we'll show you the "three Rs" that one successful agent uses to convert online leads into sales. Ready? Let's go!
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Kendrick Realty Clones Business Model to New Locations
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Realtor.com Introduces New Web Experience for Home Search
Realtor.com today introduced its new home search web experience which emphasizes visually engaging design to support a faster, simpler and smoother home search experience. Consumers using realtor.com's desktop and mobile web platforms can explore the new search experience starting today. "Searching for a home is a very stressful process, especially in today's market. The new realtor.com web experience puts more listings at our users' fingertips and makes it easier to compare homes side-by-side," said Chung Meng Chung, realtor.com's chief product officer. Realtor.com's new web experience better equips users to access the information they want quickly and efficiently. A few key highlights: No "FOMO" - New Listings and Open Houses: For serious home shoppers, the "Fear of Missing Out" is real. Users can now see at first look how many hours ago the listing was added to the site as well as the date of any upcoming open houses. More listings per page: Users can now see more properties per page and make visual comparisons, as total listings per page increased from 15 listings to 48 on desktop and from 50 to 60 on mobile web. Updated listing page design: See the listing information you want, when you want it. Listing page sections, such as "Property Details" and "Property History," are collapsed upon page opening for easier navigation without overwhelming the user. Listing pages load up to 10 times faster: Navigating between search results and listings is now up to 10 times faster, saving users time as they explore multiple listings. More immersive photo gallery experience: Mobile users will now see all listing photos in a single page rather than needing to swipe through each photo. "Mobile is our fastest-growing platform and our new web experience is designed to make it even simpler for people to search for homes on the go," said Suhail Ansari, realtor.com®'s chief technology officer. "Consumers can now seamlessly transition from one listing to another, browse property photos on a single page, and easily connect to a real estate professional."  
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Homes.com's AI-powered Redesign Aims to Win Consumer Hearts
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Homes.com Nails New Website Design
Homes.com has been running in fourth position in the portal race, tucked in behind Zillow, Realtor.com, and Trulia. I thought that their old site was fine, but their new site adds in artificial intelligence in ways that make the consumer experience fantastic. In a world of sameness, Homes.com has changed the game. The first experience for a visitor is incredible. The site is the first major portal to look at my machine's IP address and make the site conform to what I probably am looking for. In this case, I run my Safari browser in Private Mode and I had not logged in, just visited the site. It knows that my IP address is in Arroyo Grande, CA and pulls up other criteria based upon the average home in my town – three bedrooms around $730,000. Yes, California home prices are outrageous, but that is a conversation for another day.
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Positioning Your Value Proposition Against Zillow Instant Offers
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3 Questions to Ask Before You Share Your Listings Online
As a real estate agent, you work with a variety of different people from appraisers, inspectors, and lenders to your MLS and search portals. Most of the time, it's easy to understand what each person or party wants from you and you always know what you expect from them: help completing the transaction. However, sometimes motivations can get murky. Not every party out there is equally committed to your success, after all. This is certainly the case with the search portals that are supposed to help you advertise your listings to interested buyers. If you want the highest return for your listing efforts and advertising dollars, you need to ask three key questions before selecting which search portals to advertise on.
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DOSS Launches Smart Voice Search Tool for Real Estate
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How to Win Over 'On the Fence' Clients — Once and for All!
On occasion, your go-to closing line may not cinch the deal for you, and your prospects or leads may request more time to consider signing on with you. It can be frustrating to not have solidified their business, but, more importantly, you may not have any idea what (if anything) you can do to sway them once and for all. That's where a robust realtor.com® profile can come in handy. The time for the hard sell has come and gone, but by sharing the testimonials and reviews of past clients who have worked with you, you'll be able to offer one resource that could help you win their business.
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Realtor.com Launches New 'Search by School' Feature
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Agent tried online leads and received a lead that closed on day one!
RDC: We know this is not always going to be the case – but we heard you signed up for realtor.com leads and immediately received an inquiry that went to contract – can you tell us about your experience? JP: I received my very first realtor.com® lead the same day I signed up for realtor.com®, from a gentleman out of Oklahoma looking at properties in Carillon Beach in Panama City Beach Florida. We toured four homes and we made an offer on a home listed at $1,175,000 on May 19th, just ten days after I signed up for realtor.com® leads. We closed on that home on June 6th, less than six weeks after the initial contact. It was a cash purchase and it went fast. I am very happy for him and his family and I was glad to be a part of the transaction.
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How to Deal with Buyers Who Love Property Portals
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Realtor.com's Mobile App Gets Spiffed Up for Spring
Realtor.com spent the first quarter of this year sprucing up its mobile app for spring. First, the property portal announced two augmented reality features that let smartphone users look up and view listing information via their phone's camera. We told you about that update, but we didn't cover two recent features that really spike the fun factor of the Realtor.com mobile app—both for you and for your clients. Here are two new features you can start using for the selling season ahead: iMessage integration Realtor.com joined the ranks of Zillow and Trulia when they added iMessage integration in February. The integration lets iOS users browse and share recently viewed, saved, and nearby listings right from their phone's text messaging app. Users can preview basic property details like price, square footage, and number of beds/baths with a long press of their device's screen.
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Realtor.com Introduces Augmented Reality to Its Mobile App
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Best of 2016: I Didn't Hire FOUR Listing Agents!
There's just 10 publishing days left in 2016, and we're continuing an annual tradition of counting down our top 10 articles of the year. The following article was originally published back in March and is #10 in our countdown. There's nothing like becoming an ACTUAL customer of a product to give you a different perspective. I have looked at Zillow and other third party sites a gazillion times in my career as a consultant, but it took actually selling a home to really open my eyes. We held onto our home in Buffalo, New York for a long time after moving to California. This year, we finally decided to sell it. Once the home was live on third party sites, I became very interested in the agents who were featured on the property. I called each one to experience what a potential buyer might. Here's what happened: First, every one of the premiere agents and my listing agent called me back within minutes. This is not the normal response time I have experience in the past, so I was very pleased. Checkmark for all of them on responsiveness. Now let's get to the area that was very troublesome to me. I asked each agent to tell me a bit more about the house. I wanted to see how much they actually knew about the property. Had they visited it? Were they familiar with the neighborhood? The town? The street? I was very disappointed to find out that NONE of the premiere agents had been in the house or even in the neighborhood recently. They knew nothing about the property. They were simply using my property to troll for potential buyers. They were not experts in any way regarding the community or property they were representing.
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Homes Portal Jumps Into Responding to Consumers
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How Do Homes.com and Realtor.com Compare?
Since the internet is among the top three most important methods of generating real estate leads, and online listing sites rank as one of the most valuable tools, every agent is challenged to leverage these resources for creating, capturing, and closing leads. But how can agents effectively compare the value propositions of marketing on the most popular real estate sites? An analysis of online marketing solutions from Realtor.com and Homes.com show that their marketing tools stack up pretty solidly when compared side by side, offering a range of options to suit any agent's CRM strategy, marketing budget, and revenue goals. Both online real estate sites possess expansive reach that enables agents to pitch their professional profiles broadly while electing strategies that fit within their budget and plan. The no-cost Realtor.com profiles promote trust relationships with prospects by detailing agents' listings, client recommendations, ratings, and reviews. Similarly, two programs through Homes.com amplify an agents' brand while also providing the benefit of decreasing regional competition while carrying a nominal cost. For instance, the Local Connect program, available to only a select number of agents within a specific zip code, features links to registered agents' contact information, profile, or website. An enhanced version, the Featured Agent program, virtually eliminates online marketing competition by placing regionally exclusive links to the registered agent's profile only. Regardless of the price point an agent chooses, all of these programs deliver the ability to cast a wide net for maximizing brand awareness and lead pipeline development.
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4 Tips to Attract Sellers and Win More Listings
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Zillow and Move/NAR Settle Lawsuit and End Trade Secrets Battle
Zillow settled several lawsuits recently, including one we've all been watching closely: the Move, Inc. suit that accused Zillow of stealing trade secrets. According to the terms of the agreement, Zillow must pay Move, Inc. $130 million by June 20. Move, the operators of Realtor.com, brought the suit against Zillow in 2014 after two Move executives defected to the rival portal. The suit alleged that the executives, Errol Samuelson and Curt Beardsley, stole trade secrets and destroyed evidence in order to conceal the theft. Move and Zillow "have agreed to dismiss all claims and counterclaims with prejudice," according to an SEC filing, and the settlement is not an "admission of liability, wrongdoing, or responsibility by any of the parties." NAR will receive 10 percent of the settlement after Move deducts legal costs and fees. Move originally sought $2 billion in damages. Despite the settlement, bad blood persists. That means you shouldn't expect to see Zillow at any NAR conferences or events anytime soon. NAR has banned Zillow from their events for the remainder of 2016--and we wouldn't be surprised to see that ban stick around for even longer.
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Realtor.com Launches Overhauled Version of Their Consumer Mobile App
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I Didn't Hire FOUR Listing Agents!
There's nothing like becoming an ACTUAL customer of a product to give you a different perspective. I have looked at Zillow and other third party sites a gazillion times in my career as a consultant, but it took actually selling a home to really open my eyes. We held onto our home in Buffalo, New York for a long time after moving to California. This year, we finally decided to sell it. Once the home was live on third party sites, I became very interested in the agents who were featured on the property. I called each one to experience what a potential buyer might. Here's what happened: First, every one of the premiere agents and my listing agent called me back within minutes. This is not the normal response time I have experience in the past, so I was very pleased. Checkmark for all of them on responsiveness. Now let's get to the area that was very troublesome to me. I asked each agent to tell me a bit more about the house. I wanted to see how much they actually knew about the property. Had they visited it? Were they familiar with the neighborhood? The town? The street? I was very disappointed to find out that NONE of the premiere agents had been in the house or even in the neighborhood recently. They knew nothing about the property. They were simply using my property to troll for potential buyers. They were not experts in any way regarding the community or property they were representing.
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Realtor.com Launches Content Sharing Hub
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5 Best Practices for Advertising on Property Portals
Husband-and-wife team Eric and Janelle Boyenga were among the very first agents to start advertising with Zillow. A decade ago, portals were still new and agents were beginning their first tenuous steps into online marketing. "Years ago, and still even now, we'd spend money in different places and just see what sticks," says Janelle. "If something stuck, we'd spend more money." Zillow was one of the places that stuck. They joined the site in February of 2006 with an initial investment of $1000. In the 10 years since, Zillow has consistently been their best source of leads and business growth. "Zillow really catapulted our business," says Eric. "We get a lot of leads--somewhere between 100 to 200 leads a month. If we had Zillow 20 years ago, we would be where we are today 10 years earlier because you can really speed up your growth." Over the past decade, the Boyengas have perfected their Zillow game and they now share their knowledge with other agents as trainers in Zillow's Accelerate Program for Zillow Premier Agents. They shared their favorite best practices for leveraging Zillow during our interview. Best Practices for Leveraging Zillow Providing great customer service is the best way to make the most of your investment in advertising with Zillow, according to the Boyengas. "A lot of Realtors don't understand what clients are looking for and don't take online client contact seriously," says Janelle. "They're looking for a Realtor that's professional, and so many times agents don't even respond to clients when they email them or text them--and all they want is your help!"
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Best of 2015: Discussing the Zestimate in Your Listing Presentation
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A Look at Zillow's New Premier Agent App
Zillow Group launched the new Premier Agent app today, available for free to all agents with a Zillow or Trulia profile. The app gives agents an easy way to manage their incoming Zillow and Trulia leads, and offers insights into those leads based on the consumer's search behavior on the portals. In the app screenshot below, for example, you can see information like what size home, location, and price range that a lead has been searching for on the portals. This lead "intel" helps agents come prepared to the first contact, and able to suggest homes and other valuable information to the lead right out of the gate--thus increasing the chances of conversion.
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6 Ways to Get More Real Estate Leads From Zillow and Trulia
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Your Past Sales Are Crucial to Your Current Reputation
When consumers visit a property search portal, they're looking at homes but also absorbing information about agents. Whether they're buying or selling, consumers pay attention to agents that have had successful transactions. They're interested in finding the person that, in their mind, is going to provide the best possible outcome. The primary way consumers can investigate an agent's "track record" of successfully closed transactions is through sold data. They can access this information in two main ways--by searching recently sold properties and by viewing individual agent profiles. Let's take a closer look at how each of the top three portals handles sold data. How Portals Display Sold Data All three major portals allow consumers to search recently sold listings. Zillow and Trulia both display the buyer side and listing side agents under the "History" section of their property pages. Realtor.com offers this information beneath the "Listing Provider" heading. For agents who have "claimed" their previous sales or whose brokerages who supply sold data to the portals, the agent's name is linked to their profile where consumers can find the agent's contact info, read client recommendations, and more. When sold data is not provided by either the agent, their broker or MLS, no name at all appears (see the image below). This is a missed opportunity to connect with seller leads. Owners who are considering listing their home are most likely to search Recently Sold data in order to get a feel for current market pricing.
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Zillow and Trulia – New Sold Listing Benefits For Agents with Agent Hub
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Appraising Your Digital Property: Where Agents Should Be Online
Let's talk about property--digital property. These are virtual "places" like websites, social media and search portal profiles where prospects can find you online. Without a presence in the digital world, today's web savvy consumer will pass you by in favor of the competition. Buyers will never even know you exist. Sellers, on the other hand, will question why they should list with someone who can't even market themselves online. That doesn't mean you have to join every social network you can find, however, or run out and buy single property websites for each of your listings. When it comes to building an effective Internet presence, it's better to leverage a few web properties well. Here's a rundown of which are most important. Profiles on Property Search Portals According to a joint study by NAR and Google, over 90% of consumers start their home search online. Thanks to the way they dominate search results, property search portals like Zillow and Trulia are often the first place those consumers end up. That's why it's crucial that you claim your profile on each of the top three portals. If your brokerage or MLS sends listing data to portals, your name already appears on your listings. In the case of Trulia and Zillow, both display the listing agent's phone number and a link to their portal profile where consumers can see their other listings and read customer reviews. However, it's not uncommon for brokers that aren't meticulous about keeping track of their agents' contact info to send outdated phone numbers with their listing data. Claiming your portal profile will not only ensure that this information is accurate, it allows you to build a robust online property that's attractive to consumers. Be sure to add a recent headshot and solicit past clients for reviews for best results.
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Should You Be Advertising Your Listings on Zillow?
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Have Home Sellers Lost Their Status to Real Estate Portals?
The large real estate portals giveth opportunity, but do they also taketh away the rights of home sellers and their agents? The hot topic in real estate used to be the marketing, buying and selling of homes and property. It seems as though the buzz has been replaced with debates and discussion on data feeds, real estate portals and syndication. It is reminiscent of the old days when there were issues of procuring cause and the like. I guess it's always a to-do when it is about money. Procuring cause debates are normally between real estate agents and brokerages while data feed/syndication discussions can fall unknowingly on the property owners themselves. When a homeowner signs a listing contract with a real estate brokerage, there is an understanding between the parties. This understanding is the foundation of the contract and includes things like fees for services (commission), contract length and marketing plan. The factors that make up the contract are often based on rules, regulations and guidelines relating to the laws and ethics of the real estate industry in the governing municipality where the property lies. The listing contract often allows the home seller to opt-out of any online marketing. The seller may choose to opt-out of the online marketing world because they do not want their property to be subject to an Automated Value Model (AVM) such as the famous Zestimate®. The seller may want to only be in the local multi-list, but not on the national syndication sites. There may even be more personal reasons they do not want the mass syndication. It is also possible that Mr. and/or Mrs. Home Seller simply want their home information to be as correct as it can be and only trust their real estate agent and the agent's website to do so. After all, it is the brokerage and agent who they trusted and hired to sell the property, right? Whatever the reason for opting-out, choice is the issue here. So what happens when the home seller and their agent make the choice to opt-out? While I cannot be sure what happens in every case, I can tell you what happened with a property that I opted-out of the MLS data feed. The address of that home is 20 Beech Rd, Mohnton, PA 19540. (Yes, I am exposing the address and you will soon understand why.)
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Discussing the Zestimate in Your Listing Presentation
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Best of 2014: Beating Zillow and Trulia at Their Own Game
Here it is--our top article of the year! This article was originally published back in May and is the most read article of 2014. See #2 here. What if I told you that just about everything you find unfair about the way that Zillow and Trulia display your listings can be changed? Guess what? An insider understanding of how these sites work has allowed thousands of listing agents to get hundreds of dollars worth of free marketing on these sites without paying a dime. Before I go on, do not stop reading this article just because you do not have a listing. Print this article out because there is a listing in your future. Carry this article around in your pocket or your briefcase as a reminder of what you are going to do to improve your business when you get your first listing. In fact, even without a listing, you can take this advice and lay the foundation for your future success today. If you can spend about 15 minutes of your day, today, performing the steps that are outlined in this article, you will be the master of your listings on those websites. You see, the truth is that Zillow and Trulia have both learned that if an agent has not set up their profile on their portal, they are unlikely to ever respond to a consumer who inquires about the listing. Even REALTORS® who uphold the REALTOR® Code of Ethics™ are ignoring consumers who inquire about their listed properties. Today more than 50% of the consumer inquiries on Zillow and Trulia never get a response. What's worse is that, when the listing agent does respond, it typically takes 15.5 hours rather than the 15 minutes that consumers expect. I am about to show you the path, but there is one other thing that you must understand first. What savvy real estate professionals know is that leads on your listing fill your buyer pool. Having a listing is the greatest way to pump up your business. One listing generates dozens of buyer leads. If the buyer doesn't land on the house you have listed, you can show them something else. And guess what? Those buyer leads are usually seller leads, too. We all understand that every homeowner shops where they want to live before they list their existing home for sale. This is where all of the magic happens.
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Best of 2014: 4 Lead Generation Sources - Which Should You Budget for?
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Why Listing Portal Dominance is the Best Thing to Happen to Real Estate
2014 has proven to be the year of the race to housing portal dominance. The real estate industry has seen unprecedented mergers and acquisitions among key players Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com. This activity has struck a chord with a plethora of agents, for better or for worse. However, one thing is certain--the change is forcing agents to prove their relevance in an age where housing information is literally littered all over the place. Real estate notoriously lags behind in technology adoption compared to other industries, but the fear of going the way of travel agents is empowering agents to reverse this trend. Zillow and Trulia alone control about 70 percent of online real estate traffic, and I am not surprised at all. These companies have ruthlessly innovated on behalf of the consumer as major real estate players stood idle. This massive land grab has finally caught the attention of the industry and literally forced the industry to start building and creating the demand for innovative products. Over the next couple years, agents will have to adopt new tech to simply survive. Starting in 2015, Millennials will represent the largest block of homebuyers. To no surprise, this demographic is also the largest users of smartphones. If these macro trends are any kind of indication for where real estate technology is headed, here are three tips to help empower agents in a world where portals dominate search and mobile is ubiquitous: 1. Leverage mobile technology to increase client retention There is no better platform than mobile to stay top of mind with clients. Your brand is literally in their pocket all the time. This represents an opportunity to cut costs and increase effectiveness of their marketing dollars. Whether it be your own app or popular blog, creating a user experience worth experiencing is a tremendously powerful way to create "stickiness" with your clients.
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Why the Zillow/Trulia Merger Will Benefit Agents Forever
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Friday Freebie: The Property Search Portal that Doesn't Want Your Money
You've heard a lot about free product trials and digital downloads in our Friday Freebies column. Today, we're excited to break away from the norm by highlighting a product that doesn't have a free trial at all--because it's always free to agents and brokers. Househappy: The Visual Search Portal That's Always Free to Agents Househappy is a bit of an upstart. Since entering the competitive portal space 18 months ago, the site has differentiated itself with a distinct "Pinterest-like" focus on visual search. Visitors to the site's main page are greeted with a grid of nothing but crisp, clean property photos that can be filtered by criteria like location, price, seller concessions, nearby attractions, and more. But for real estate pros, the best part of Househappy is the site's hardlined determination to NOT make money off of agents and brokers. Profiles are free to both consumers and Realtors, and there are no banner nor advertising programs for agents to buy. You'll never have to worry about a competitor's contact info being shown next to your listing, either. How? It's all possible thanks to Househappy's unique business model. You can read more about that in our review, along with details about the nifty features offered to agents, like: Agent Dashboard for managing your profile and listings Notifications on when consumers have "liked" your listing so you can follow up Access to contact information disclosed by consumers Easy syndication via a partnership with ListHub Ready to get started? Sign up for your free Agent Profile today!
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5 Tips For a Better Online Profile
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Introducing Househappy
We've heard Househappy.org called the "Pinterest for real estate" several times since the site launched in March 2013. While the search portal's visual focus makes the comparison understandable, the truth is that the Portland-based startup is far more compelling—especially for real estate professionals. "When searching for a new home, real estate consumers really want to see images of properties," says Robyn Woodman, Vice President of Partnerships for Househappy. Househappy gives consumers exactly what they want by offering a visual real estate search experience that places property photos front and center. While that alone is enough to differentiate Househappy from other property search portals, it's their business model that makes them really stand out. Househappy is (and always will be, according to Woodman) free to consumers and agents. Unlike other portals, agents never have to worry about a competitor's contact info being shown next to their listing. There are no banner ads, either, and no advertising programs for agents to buy into. But we'll get to all of that in a moment. First, let's take a look at how Househappy works. The Basics Househappy's interface is based on the principles of clean, beautiful design. As you can see in the screenshot below, a search brings up properties as a list of photos displayed on a grid. Mousing over a photo will reveal the location, price, and property type. The heart icon lets users who have created a free Househappy profile save that home to their favorites.
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Beating Zillow and Trulia at Their Own Game
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4 Lead Generation Sources: Which Should You Budget for in 2014?
In December, we explored how Virtual Office Websites (VOWs) can be used to generate leads. There are many more sources for online leads, though, so we're kicking off the New Year by taking a broader look at our options. After all, now's the time when many agents and brokers turn budget- and process-minded, and examine what is working for their business and their budget. Some sources, like social media and Craigslist, only require an investment of time and motivation. But at the start of a new year, many real estate pros are more concerned about paid sources of lead generation and where--or if--they fit into their annual budget. With that in mind, today we're going to take a look at four different sources of online lead generation. Each will be evaluated according to cost, time and effort, and quantity of leads. Custom or DIY Websites Do-it-yourself websites come in all shapes and sizes. They can be anything from simple Wordpress sites to full-blown custom designed web destinations. Some who take the DIY route plug-in a third-party IDX search like Diverse Solutions to their site, or use only an MLS or association provided search widget. Others provided limited or no search capability. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however. I'm particularly fond of this website for local brokerage the Davies Company. Why? Because it's clean, uncluttered, and makes it easy to find exactly what I need. There's no sense of being overwhelmed by property search options or other features--a feeling many generic template sites often convey.
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We are Not Borg
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Choosing a Property Search Solution
What is Property Search? We don't need to tell you what property search is; you know it all too well. It's where your buyers live and breathe, and where your sellers want to reach buyers. There are third party property search portals available, the property search portals on broker or agent websites, and property search portals on MLS sites. The key isn't just for these solutions to be user-friendly, but also for them to have access to accurate and comprehensive data. Finding a solution that's a good fit for your needs and your budget is crucial. Questions to Ask There are some important questions to ask when buying any real estate technology product and some that are unique to choosing a solution for property search. First, let's look at general questions you'll want to ask. What are my objectives for this piece of technology and will this product help me achieve those objectives? What is my budget? Does my MLS or Association have any agreements with any vendors that might help me obtain this product at a discount or for free? What kind of customer service and training programs are available? Are there webinars and, if so, are they recorded so you can view them at any time? Is the vendor's online help sufficient?
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The Pros and Cons of National Real Estate Sites
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Friday Freebie: Agent Profile on realtor.com®
Have you claimed your free profile on realtor.com® yet? It's the first step to building repeat and referral business, and gaining more exposure and leads. Free Agent Profile on realtor.com® Realtor.com® is the network where serious consumers spend time searching for real estate. By completing your realtor.com® profile, you let the world that you are not just an agent – you are a REALTOR® who has pledged to a code of ethics. Do this today and your 'Find a REALTOR®' profile and listings will display a prominent REALTOR® "R." Other benefits of your realtor.com® profile include: Manage your recommendations and connect with consumers in your community Your profile acts as the basic building block for other free tools like the realtor.com® Mobile Collaborative Search App An easy way to ask for recommendations and get them posted on realtor.com® and important social media sites Generate referrals, recommendations and repeat business Demonstrate your expertise, show your activity Claim your free profile on realtor.com®!
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[Infographic]: Home Buyer Search Habits
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Luxury Agent Leads the Way With Home Auction
When many agents are asked about the role of auctions in the home buying and selling process, they usually respond with a statement about distressed properties or foreclosures. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. RE Technology took some time to learn about Auction.com, how it works, who uses it and the role it plays in luxury home sales. They totally debunked the myth. As it turns out, auctions are a primary way that the world's hyper-wealthy buy lots of things, ranging from luxury homes to art, yachts, and planes. To understand the auction process, we interviewed Auction.com's Vice President of Business Development, Julie Han, and Ruth Ann Fisher of Del Realty in San Diego to learn more. Auction.com is the leader in residential and commercial real estate auctions, especially luxury home auctions. The company has more than 1 million registered website users, spends more than $30 million in advertising each year, and employs more than 1,000 people. I make note of this because it seemed unreal that they have sold over 100,000 homes in the last five years alone. As to the myth of using auctions for distressed properties, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the stronger the market, the higher the values fetched from auctions. One element of auctions that I did not think about was agent lead generation. When you post a listing to auction, you not only sell that house for maximum value, but you generate leads of other buyers in the market.
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Consumer-Facing vs. Professional Mobile Apps
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My Husband’s Love Affair with the REALTOR.com iPad App
I'm constantly finding my husband in bed with the REALTOR.com iPad app. I'll pop into the grocery store and return to the car only to find him once again enthralled with it. I've decided to take a professional interest in this – if I don't, I'm going to get a serious inferiority complex. So, I sat him down and asked him to explain his love affair with REALTOR.com's consumer-facing mobile solution. His observations are interesting, so I thought I'd share them here. "I know it's accurate." Before using the app, my husband used the property search on the REALTOR.com website. Why? Because somehow (and I swear it wasn't me), he picked up the concept of MLS data being the most accurate data, and that this is where REALTOR.com obtains its data. I shouldn't be surprised – he's an incredibly intelligent guy, and tends to do his research before making any decision (particularly big ones like buying real estate). He says he's been "disappointed" by Zillow. He found great properties listed there that were actually no longer on the market, and his poor heart was broken on several occasions. He's also seen incorrect prices– and doesn't want to be wondering if he's missing an important $50,000 price drop.
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Should You Buy Trulia Local Ads?
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A Secret about REALTOR.com
REALTOR.com has been a member of the REALTOR® family for a long time. The National Association of REALTORS® provides REALTOR.com as a member benefit. Every MLS and Association in the nation provides REALTOR.com with an update of your listings every day. It is the most comprehensive and accurate database of real estate listings in the world. That is the stuff you already know. Now let me tell you a secret that you probably do not know. When the National Association of REALTORS® set plans to launch the site, property listings was not the core focus. The core focus of the site is to connect REALTORS® with consumers. On the surface, this may sound like a shallow differentiation, but it is not. The Find REALTORS® directory is a key component to REALTOR.com. The website offers the most robust and comprehensive directory of REALTORS® in the world too! Until recently, the agent pages on REALTOR.com were okay. They were commonplace, much like the agent pages that you might see on the typical broker website. There was the agent image, a useless and outdated bio, phone numbers and email addresses. Social media arrived on the scene years ago in real estate, and REALTOR.com had not selected a plan to connect REALTORS® and consumers through those platforms. Today, that has all changed. Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles can now be added to your profile page on REALTOR.com.
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How Real Consumers Used Search Sites in 2011 [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Trulia Social Search
Trulia launched a new program called Trulia Social Search on July 28th of this year. If you have not taken a look at it, you should. Many speculate this this is Trulia’s way of providing a more soothing solution to Agent Ratings found on Zillow, one of Trulia’s competitors. This is also probably in line with what Realtor.com has with their acquisition of Social Bios. For years, agents have put quotes from past clients on their website. These recommendations are not quite as harsh as Agent Ratings. But they do demonstrate that some people who have received services from the agent were satisfied with the agent. When I look at the recommendations, they feel a lot like Linkedin recommendations. It provides people who may not know the agent to get some feedback from others, which is a good thing. Trulia allows recommendations to be submitted in two ways. In both cases, the agent requests a recommendation from a past client. The customer has the choice of entering the information into Trulia, or connecting using Facebook. Moreover, agents may request recommendations from their Facebook friends. The Facebook integration is pretty cool in part due to the nature of Facebook itself. When a client posts a recommendation, it is published to Trulia, the Agent’s Wall, the Client’s Wall, and the walls of both the agent and client’s friends. In that sense, it is as part advertisement and part collecting recommendations.  
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Product Review: Immobel’s Multi-Language Website IDX and REAL-Buzz
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REALTOR® Marketing is Changing with New Lead-Generation Service
Today, Listingbook announced MyQuickFarm.com, a new lead generation system that has the potential to change the way REALTORS® prospect online. This is not your mother’s lead generation. For as little as $1 per lead, real estate agents using MyQuickFarm.com will receive exclusive, high-quality leads and the tools to convert these leads. MyQuickFarm.com The $1 leads from MyQuickFarm.com include first name, last name, and email address. Once purchased, they are exclusive to the purchasing REALTOR®. A minimum of 100 leads is required (for perspective, Listingbook has already had an agent purchase more than 7,000 leads). These leads come from third-party sources as well as the Listingbook website (http://www.listingbook.com/home/).
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Meeting Gen Y's Demand for Online Transparency and Information
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