Browse Category by Getting leads
Getting leads, Tech trends

The secret of high successful agents

Recently, we reminded you that the #1 rule of websites is that content is king. We will now take it 1 step further and share the secret of our most successful clients (the ones who get tons of Internet leads).

This is a secret so big that most web/marketing experts will almost certainly not mention it in casual conversation.


Wait for it…

The agents who get the most good Internet leads are the ones who work the hardest to post good content about their cities and neighborhoods.

Yep. The secret is there is no secret — it’s just a bunch of hard work.

We’ve been in the IDX business for almost 7 years, and we’ve seen countless approaches to getting Internet leads. We are obviously in a very different climate today than in 2005. There are fewer agents, but competition is stiffer to capture willing & able buyers. But the principle remains the same — those who work the hardest to post good content frequently will (usually) be the ones to get the leads.

If a web or marketing consultant tells you that simply by spending $X, you will be vaulted to the top of Google forever, be very, very skeptical. Our clients who get the most leads do all their own SEO work by posting good content frequently — in a variety of places.

Don’t be intimidated. If you’re one of our IDX clients, remember, we want you to be successful. Feel free to message or tweet us anytime for advice. We are happy to point you in the right direction!

Getting leads, Tech trends

The #1 rule of real estate websites (that most people forget)

You know those smooth-talking consultants who wanted to charge you thousands of dollars to “get you to the top of Google?” There’s one very important message that it seems they often fail to deliver:


I cannot understate how often we run into folks who spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about attracting visitors, but little to no time worrying about capturing/closing them.  SEO is important, for sure, but is it more important than content?

If you don’t have a property search that gives buyers a multitude of search options, along with metrics such as neighborhood values, distance to amenities, and comparable sales, then they will look elsewhere for that information, no matter how great your search engine placement is. And if your website is just a keyword-packed bunch of blog posts without content that is useful to your audience, you are similarly missing the boat.

Today’s buyers and sellers want information, and lots of it.  The agent that gets their business is not necessarily the one who is #1 in Google, but the one who does the best job of balancing being “found” and presenting great information and data to potential clients.  I would bet that if you looked at a list of the top producing agents in your area, a decent percentage of them are not at the top of Google!

We’ve been in the real estate technology business for 6 years, and the common thread among our most successful clients is a rabid commitment to producing good content.  In fact, the ones who sell the most are, in my cases, not even receiving the most leads!  They just do a great job with the leads they do get, and are diligent about continuing to add content to their sites and direct traffic to their property search, where they can capture leads.

SEO is important, but nothing beats good content. Ever.

Charlotte real estate market, Getting leads

Assessing June market data & watching for ‘move-up’ buyers

The 4th of July weekend is in the books, and we can now start to assess the “tax credit” closings in June and take a look at where the market is headed.

As expected, activity was up in June : there were about 11% more closings than there were in May.  But perhaps surprisingly, the average price of homes sold in June was also up : by about 8%!  Here’s a chart (note, you can ignore the July data, which is still very incomplete) :

So, where are we compared to previous years?  In 2009, 1,655 homes sold per month, and so far in 2010 that number is about 1,600.  If post-tax credit activity continues to be slow, then 2010 will probably not surpass 2009 in activity.  However, thus far in 2010, the average price of homes sold is up by about 3%.

The big question remaining in 2010 is whether those people who sold to the “tax credit” buyers in May/June are going to go back out & buy another house this summer.  Mortgage rates are at a historic low, and given the media’s daily hammering of how bad the market is, anyone in a position to buy is might find themselves in what might be the best buying environment in a generation.

Metro Charlotte has simply not seen the massive housing collapse (in terms of prices) that other areas of the country are experiencing, and other than low activity (closings per month in 2010 are roughly half what they were at the peak, in 2007), you’d be hard pressed to find a “safer” market than Charlotte, given the economic storm that the area has weathered.

So, let’s cross our fingers that a bunch of those 4,000+ homeowners who were able to sell in May and June get back out this summer to find a good “move-up” home.

Posted via email from Charlotte real estate technology, IDX, market data

Charlotte real estate market, Getting leads

Don’t be scared of the big, bad anchorman… home sales not so bad in Charlotte area

The news came out yesterday : home sales from April to May plummeted after the expiration of the home buyer tax credit.  The numbers were as bad as they’ve been since the Commerce Department started tracking this data in 1963.

I probably had 5 or 6 friends give me this news in one way or another, and then the talking heads on TV dissected it ad nauseam.  So, naturally I had to see what the story is locally in the Charlotte area.

Sales dropped from April to May, but only about 5%.  However, over that same period, the average price of those sales rose by about 4%!  Note that the graph we’re attaching shows June data, but it is still incomplete (the data is through June 23).

We’ve been hearing bad news in our business for about 2 years now, but it’s critical to remind your clients that market stats are a local thing.  Things might be awful in one area of the country, but that doesn’t mean they’re as bad here in Charlotte.  The fact is, we never saw a value “spike” here like they saw in many areas (such as Florida and California) and so prices have been rather stable, even in the face of a recession.

So, get on the horn and reassure your clients, and feel free to use our graphs if they’ll help.

Posted via email from Charlotte real estate technology, IDX, market data

Getting leads

Content is king: spread your knowledge, drive traffic

When we started in this business in 2005, getting Internet leads was much easier by comparison because there just wasn’t as much competition out there. But now, virtually every real estate agent on planet Earth has at least 1 website, and are vying for the same buyers you are. Here are some tips to stay ahead of the crowd!

1) Create searches and post them!

Got a few minutes of down time? Go to your IDX, do a search, and copy & paste the URL into Facebook/Twitter/your blog, etc.

Example: Did you know there are over 100 3BR/2BA houses under $250k that are within 3 miles of uptown?

Be creative!

Here are some options for homes under $200k that are in the sought-after Myers Park school district!

Get inside the mind of your potential buyers and post the searches you think might interest them.

2) Give the people what they want : stats!

Our IDX is loaded with great data. Let’s say you have a listing and you want to show that it’s a great deal. Post the “Market Check” page with all the nearby solds.

Example: Check this out! In the past 6 months, the average house within a mile of my listing has sold for $50k more than this home is listed for!

Or, if you’ve got our “Neighborhood Analyzer,” you can give great information about a neighborhood :

In Providence Plantation, sellers have taken about 3.5% less than list price in the past 3 months.

Or post a graph to *show* them:
Providence Plantation

Take advantage of the data! This is good stuff that buyers and sellers really want to know. Think of unique ways to present it and post it to your various sources : Twitter, Facebook, etc.

3) More is better

Our clients often ask us : how often should I blog, or tweet, or update Facebook? The answer : more is better. If you sell Lake Wylie, for example, the more good stuff you post about it, the more likely it is to be found. Buyers do a lot of searching online before they choose a Realtor, and if you’re the one posting the good stats and providing the best information, you have a better shot at getting that lead.

Getting leads, Tech trends

IDX WordPress plugin now available : instant SEO!

WordPress is one of the most popular publishing platforms on the Internet, and now our IDX clients can incorporate neighborhood listings into any WordPress site via our new WordPress plugin.

With this plugin, you can now create a neighborhood page, insert 1 line of special code, and voila… all listings from that neighborhood will appear. And better yet, they are clickable, so a home buyer can view more details on the property, and contact you if they are interested. We also provided links from each property to our most popular features : DealSniffer, Go Green, and Market Check — that way, a buyer can get all the “good stuff” in one place, and you are the expert who provides it!

This plugin also allows you to install a “widget” that displays 5 of your featured listings, which means even more exposure for your sellers.

The best benefit of all of this?… you guessed it : search engine optimization (SEO). Google will “see” all of this great text (street names, neighborhood names, school districts, property remarks, etc.), and your site relevance will improve!

We are providing this as a free goodie for the “office” version of our IDX. Those with the “agent” version can add it for only $5/month.

Getting leads

Why it’s critical to write your OWN copy on your website

One of our clients does a great job writing tons of original content on their websites. If you search for a neighborhood in certain parts of Charlotte, you’ll see at least 1 or 2 of their websites on the first page of Google. They’ve worked very hard for this, and you can imagine their surprise when they stumbled upon a competitor’s site that had “lifted” their copy, word for word.

There are two very good reasons why you should never steal someone else’s copy.

  1. You can get sued. If you have a few minutes, read this blog from ActiveRain. This is serious stuff. People spend time and money on their content … if you steal it, you’re risking a pricey lawsuit.
  2. It won’t help you, anyway. Google is very smart — that’s how they became the 300-ton gorilla of search engines. When they index sites, they know if one site is a copy of another (or if one block of text is a copy of another), and will mark it as spam content. So apart from risking the aforementioned lawsuit, you will not get very good search results by doing so.

Typically, this is the result of a lazy website developer or content creator. If you’ve paid someone to create a website for you and you find out that they stole copy, it’d be a good idea to find a new technology vendor! Most technology companies don’t know much about real estate (that’s where Davis Farrell is different, ahem), and so they might cut a few corners on content. With technology, as with some real estate, buyer beware!

Getting leads

Rule of thumb in real estate websites : more is more!

The Department of Justice’s recent settlement with the National Association of Realtors is beginning to impact the industry : local boards are now required to provide more data! This means Virtual Office Websites (VOWs) and enhanced IDX data, such as “solds.”

Several of our clients have already asked us : how can I benefit by providing so much information to buyers? What is their incentive to work with a realtor if they can freely access this data? Simply put, the paradigm is shifting. The days of restricting access to information are over, and ultimately, those who provide the most information (with lead capture, of course) will be the ones to get the leads.

Your website is bait. But even more, these days, buyers are savvy enough to know that most data they want is out there, somewhere. When it comes time for them choose an agent with whom to work, whom do you think will get their business?

Our most successful clients do 2 things well:

  1. Provide information, and lots of it, about the neighborhoods they want to sell. This is great for Google, and buyers love it. They have a writeup about the area, and also good data, like home values.
  2. Use simple, unobtrusive lead capture forms to gather basic information from buyers who want to provide it (such as the one in our IDX product)

We’ve lost count how many clients of ours pay a fortune for a website that provides none of the information that buyers and sellers actually want. They might get some decent Google placement for certain keywords, but the site isn’t “sticky” and buyers don’t come back.

As more data is being made available by local boards of Realtors, the agents who find ways to use it are the ones who will be the most successful in generating Internet leads… so get on board!

Getting leads

I’ve got IDX … now what?!

We are not your run-of-the-mill tech company.  We actually care about your success, and we often follow up to see how things are going with your business.  Over the years, we’ve gathered a lot of feedback about leads — volume, quality, conversion, etc.

IDX, like your website as a whole, is basically bait.  It’s a tool to lure potential buyers to your site, and hopefully get them to submit their email or phone number so you can follow up with them.  But how many of these leads can you expect to convert into actual clients?  Here are some pointers.

  1. It’s a numbers game. The more people you get to visit your site, the greater pool of potential buyers you have at your disposal.  Statistically, we have found that roughly 10-15% of the leads you get are “good” leads — meaning they give you a good email address, and maybe even a phone number.  They are actually looking to buy, and are receptive to a Realtor contacting them.  But this means about 85-90% of people who fill out the “lead capture” form either submit bogus information, or they submit real information, but aren’t serious.

    So, the name of the game is getting as many people as possible to your website! If you get 1,000 lookers, and, say, 250 of them fill out the contact form, that means you probably will have 25-30 decent leads.

  2. Early bird gets the worm. Let’s say you’re doing a great job of promoting your site, and you’re getting some good leads.  The single most important thing you can do to convert those leads is to respond as quickly as you can.  That means within 1 hour, if at all possible.  We can’t tell you how often we’ve heard brokers complain of leads being wasted because it took an agent 3 days to respond.  Buyers want to feel like their business is important to you, and if you do not respond quickly, they will look elsewhere.
  3. As Bruce Lee once said :  Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Often, new clients quickly become frustrated.  “I’m getting a bunch of bogus email addresses!”  You should expect that.  If someone puts a fake email, it means they’re either not serious, or they don’t want to be contacted.  There is no way to force someone to provide good information, and you have to expect you will get some “dud” leads.  That’s part of the business.

    Don’t stress over bad leads. Delete it from your database, and work to get more potential buyers to your site. Remember, statistically, most of your leads will be duds! When in doubt, remember #1, above : It’s a numbers game.

  4. Work the search engines. There are many Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts out there who can help you make your website Google-friendly.  Our most successful clients spend a lot of time beefing up their website, to drive more traffic to their IDX.  Just having a website with IDX isn’t enough.  There’s lots of competition out there, and the only way to get traffic to your site is by optimization (or paying for clicks via advertising).

Our specialty is IDX, but we’ve been in the website business for a long time.  If you need help driving traffic, we can point you in the right direction.  It’s important to remember that driving traffic takes time and effort.

The good news is that by choosing the best IDX in the business, you’re halfway there, because it means when you do start getting traffic, that traffic will be “sticky” (meaning, they will stay on the site for a while, and come back later).  If you can get people to the site, and respond quickly to those who fill out the contact form, you will be well on your way!