Just in case no one has noticed, the internet is hot for Realtors. I have been plugging away giving tips and this fellow Marc Rassmussen has written an article saying almost step by step what I have been promoting for some time now. This is a great primer if you are new to Realtor Internet Marketing.
More and more people are turning to the internet to research buying or selling a home. A National Association of Realtors study indicates that 74% of real estate buyers started on the internet. It is easy for home buyers to look at property for sale over the internet. The internet is changing the real estate industry.
The value of the internet for Realtors will vary according to each market. Here in Sarasota, Florida the internet works well for real estate agents because we have a lot of people buying second homes. Most of those people will start their search on the internet. Making six figures will be difficult in a small, rural market where the internet is not that widely used to find homes for sale.
This biggest challenge to a Realtor is finding clients to work with. There are many ways to find clients – internet, farming a neighborhood, social clubs, direct mail, open houses, door knocking, friends and relatives, etc. I have seen successful Realtors use any and all of these sources of business. There is no one formula for success, there are many. Find out what works best for you. I am not saying that getting business from the internet is the best focus for a Realtor. The highest producing real estate agents in any market are not the ones who focus solely on the internet.
Benefits of using the internet to get business
- This is a passive form of sales. You put your message out on the internet and people hopefully will contact you. It does not require you to knock on doors or cold call.
- There are a lot of people using the internet to find homes. This is how it works now and I don’t believe it will change. It is so easy for a person to hop on the computer and see real estate for sale within seconds. With new technology it will get easier and easier for home buyers.
- If you have a website that ranks well in the search engines you will receive a lot of leads. Most of them will be buyer leads.
- You can get leads via email while you are out doing other things.
The negatives of using the internet to get business
- Most people who use the internet are typically very early in the buying or selling stage. This requires a great follow up program. Most buyers will start on the internet 6-8 months before actually buying. The internet prospects rarely lead to an immediate sale.
- Loyalty is a problem. People surfing the internet have so many choices. There are so many Realtor websites out there that most buyers are not loyal. Since they do not have a previous relationship with you then why would they be loyal? It is not a fault of the buyer. That is just the nature of getting new business. This is not just a problem with internet clients but all new clients.
- You meet a lot of tire kickers or people who want free information. This happens with other lead sources as well.
- Building a website that ranks well in the search engines is extremely time consuming. It is getting tougher everyday getting a good ranking in the major search engines. You won’t rank well and stay there. It is an ongoing task. Be prepared to do some work.
- You are at the mercy of the search engines. Most people won’t find your site unless you are on page 1 or 2. I recently was #1 for numerous search results on Google. In November of 2005 Google changed their algorithm. I lost most of those #1 results.
Pick your own domain name
Get your own domain name. Don’t be cheap and use one of those free subdomains. That will cause problems when trying to rank well in the search engines.
Pick a website provider
There are so many website providers out there. You can go with a custom (more expensive) website or template website. If you don’t want to work on the site yourself be prepared to spend some money. Your site needs work so you can do it or you can hire someone else to do it.
Do some homework and preferably get a referral from another Realtor on who to choose. Some of the more popular template real estate website providers are:
I personally use http://www.realestatewebmasters.com for my websites. Their websites are very search engine friendly.
If you want a website like no other have it built specifically for you. It costs more money but could be worth it. I have seen many top ranking sites use these and other website providers.
Make your website sticky
Alright, so you created your own domain name and started a website. You either have a custom kick butt original website or a template site. You can make money from both of them. Now, you need to make it sticky. That means when people visit your site you want them to stay there.
Most people visit Realtor websites to see homes. Remember that fact. Get a website that shows homes for sale. You can do this by having IDX(internet data exchange) or VOW(virtual office website) capabilities. These are simply two different ways to show people homes for sale with slight variations.
Most Realtor Association offer access to an IDX. IDX allows websites to show listings from all participating brokers. This is is a necessity in my opinion.
Create original content that users would like to see. Most agents just get a template website, make a few minor changes and then pray that someone finds them. This won’t cut it. Either create the content yourself or hire someone to do. Search engines like original content and I think they reward sites where the webmasters has spent some time and built a useful website.
Make sure you have plenty of ways for people to contact you on your website. It is very important to have links to your email or better yet forms for people to fill out if they want more information or questions.
The goal of the website is to start a relationship with the potential buyer.
Ranking well in the search engines
This is probably the most important, and hardest tasks.
My website http://www.thesarasotamls.com is on the first page of Google and MSN for several search phrases (I am currently penalized in Yahoo). There are thousands of articles, books, websites and discussions on how to rank well in the search engines. Many people spend all day, every day trying to figure out how to get their site at the top. You can choose to do this if you want. It is a time consuming process.
If you want more immediate results you can use Pay Per Click (PPC). When you do a search on any of the three major search engines you will see Sponsored Results or Sponsored Websites. You can pay to be on the first page of the search phrases you want. In a competitive real estate market like Sarasota, Florida the desired search phrases can be expensive. PPC is the best option for most people. For more information on PPC go to https://adwords.google.com/select/ or http://www.overture.com
Keep in mind that you can have the best website in the world but if no one can find it you won’t make a dime. Search engines and using PPC can generate a lot of traffic.
What to do when you get leads
Remember, most internet leads are long term prospects. Most home buyers or sellers start early. You have to implement a program to build the relationship and stay in contact with them. This is the hard and boring part in my opinion. It requires a lot of discipline. You can create some sort of database or file system to continually stay in contact.
When I get interested buyers that are not ready to do anything immediately I set them up on an automated property email program. They tell me their requirements and my MLS system will email them daily with any new listings. It is a good way to stay in their face. However, if you don’t contact these people via phone or email regularly there is still a good chance you will lose them. Stay in touch with them because most agents give up quickly on prospects.
Once you have a website that is getting plenty of visitors you will get leads. Some of them good, many of them bad. This is where your sales skills come into play. Your database of prospects will grow.
Know your market well
Make sure you know your real estate market. You will get many leads from people who are unrealistic about property values.
I rank well for people searching for Siesta Key real estate. That is a gorgeous barrier island off Sarasota, Florida. It is not an inexpensive place to buy real estate. I frequently get visitors on my website who want to buy at unrealistic prices. Don’t spin your wheels on prospects that won’t accept current prices. This requires you to know your market well.
Don’t be afraid to fire a prospect
The focus is to work with serious, realistic prospects. Again, don’t spend too much time on people who will only buy when they find the deal of the century or the seller who wants must more than the market will bare.
Make sales goals
Let’s say you want to gross $150,000 a year from the internet. Find out what your average commission is in your area. In Sarasota, Florida most of the homes on MLS are offering a 3% co-broke. If my average sales price is $400,000 then my average gross commission is $12,000. Therefore, I need to sell about 13 homes. Obviously, these numbers will change for your market. Work the numbers and then make your goals.
In a nutshell:
Build a good website that visitors find useful and make it easy to contact you.
Rank well in the search engines either through organic listing results or pay per click. Pay per click is more immediate and probably the best option for most.
Create a database of the website leads and be diligent about staying in contact with them.
Work with good prospects and don’t waste your time on unrealistic prospects.
Make sales goals and work hard to achieve them.
I have somewhat oversimplified this process. There are a thousand more details that can’t possibly be mentioned in this article. However, this information will definitely get you started to building a six figure income career in real estate from the internet.
Realtor in Sarasota, Florida and surrounding areas – Siesta Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, Casey Key, Bird Key and Lakewood Ranch. Has been selling real estate over 6 years and consistently sells millions of dollars a year.