Getting leads, Tech trends

The complete idiot’s guide to getting Internet leads in real estate

Over the past decade, we’ve worked with hundreds of agents and seen a whole lot of different tactics to get Internet leads.  Since “how do I get leads?” is the most popular question we hear from clients, we’ll lay everything on the table for you.

There are 2 distinct ways to get Internet leads and we will go over the pros & cons.

PROs CONs
Buy leads from sources such as Trulia/Zillow, Realtor.com, etc.
  • Fast results
  • No need to generate your own content
  • Expensive
  • Depending on your area, lead quality might be bad
Develop your own Internet content and attract organic search traffic
  • Sustainable long-term without spending big bucks
  • Leads tend to be higher quality
  • Harder work
  • Results can take time

As a general rule, developing your own content & getting organic traffic is the best long-term strategy.  It’s a LOT cheaper over the long run, and the quality of the leads are significantly better.  We asked a current client of ours to describe her experience buying leads and here’s what she said:

Trulia/Zillow was a huge waste of money for me.  I did a 6-month campaign and spent about $1500 and literally the only leads I got were for rentals or for homes that sold 2 years ago.  What you’re buying with Trulia/Zillow is placement on their property pages so that if a buyer finds the house, your name shows up in the top 3.  But for whatever reason, I didn’t get a single lead on a real house for sale in 6 months.

Realtor.com was a little better — they scrub their leads so that you’re getting a real email address & phone number and they guarantee a certain number of leads per month.  But it’s pricey and most of the leads I got were for houses under $100k.

Writing good, quality content (and lots of it) on your own website is definitely harder work, and quite frankly a lot of agents would PREFER to throw hundreds of dollars a month at Trulia/Zillow with the hope that they’ll get a decent lead or two.  But without any doubt, our most successful clients are the ones who put the time/effort into building their own Internet presence, with good local content.

So what do I do?

Believe it or not, about 85% of what you need to do is pretty much common sense.  Start a website.  Have an IDX/property search that captures leads.  Write blog posts with good LOCAL content at least 2 or 3 times per week.  Then use Facebook / Twitter to drive traffic to those blog posts.  Rinse, repeat!

There are certain techniques that can help raise your rankings but in general, it’s all about content.  CONTENT, CONTENT, CONTENT!

We’ve said it again & again.  There is no secret or magic bullet to getting Internet leads.  It requires hard work & patience, and the agents who put in the time/effort to attract traffic are the ones who get the leads.

Tech trends

Beware the shark-filled waters of web development firms

Three years ago we wrote to be wary of tech-less tech firms. And today, we were again reminded how important this advice is.

One of our clients had recently contracted with a local web development firm to create a site for her. We often host sites for clients as courtesy and we agreed to do so this time as well.

Grumpy old man.
Get off my [digital] lawn!
We called the folks she’d hired and when we told them we have our own servers, without the typical “point and click” type interfaces you get with the major hosts (like GoDaddy, etc), there was silence on the other end. Sure enough, within an hour, they said they preferred to host it themselves (thereby incurring more charges for our client).

This might be sort of “get off my lawn”-ish, but our firm has been around 10 years & our head tech guy has been writing code for 20 years.  Look, we like new technology and love automation.  But at some point, SOMEONE has to know how a web server works.

We strongly recommend that before you hire anyone to build a website for you, ask them a simple question: DO YOU WRITE CODE?  If the answer is “uhhhh,” we humbly suggest you call someone else.   And if you ever want a sanity check, feel free to call/email us.  We are good at sniffing out the sharks. 🙂

Charlotte real estate market, Getting leads

Charlotte/Mecklenburg mid-2015 market update

Yowza, it’s been over 6 months since we’ve blogged!  So much for leading by example, eh?  Let’s try to make up for it with some rock-solid analysis of the Charlotte market.

Mecklenburg county homes sold per month   Mecklenburg county avg price   Mecklenburg county condos avg price

Now that’s a healthy market. But how about some areas within Mecklenburg?

south charlotte homes avg price cabarrus homes avg price union homes avg price gaston homes avg price uptown condos avg price

Okay, so Union County has seen a slight decrease from 2014, but other than that, there isn’t a shred of bad news in here!

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 4.01.04 PM

 

Both Charlotte & Mecklenburg County are sitting with just over 5 months of housing inventory.  That means in many areas we are in a full-blown seller’s market.   There are a whole lot of subdivisions with fewer than 4 months of supply:  Collins Park, Barclay Downs, Sedgefield, Merry Oaks, Elizabeth, Madison Park, and Chantilly, just to name a few.

If there are sellers in there considering selling, now is a great time.  Or, so says the postcards you should be sending…  😉

It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen seller’s markets, so enjoy it!  Even the areas with high inventory are typically not more than 9 or 10 months.  Just a few years ago, 9 months inventory would have been considered very good.

Have a great summer and party like it’s 2005!

Tech trends

‘Responsive’ IDX is live!

We have redesigned our IDX from the ground up, to be “responsive,” meaning mobile users stay on the same website rather than being redirected to a “mobile-only” search.

Responsive IDX Responsive IDX

We went to great effort to make sure this new design continues to have all the great localized data for Charlotte, such as Neighborhood Analyzer, DealSniffer, & GoGreen!

Charlotte real estate market

2013 home values in metro Charlotte: up, up, up!

With the 3rd quarter in the books, let’s take a look at how 2013 has looked:

  

Now those are some nice charts, eh?  The biggest gains are in the city of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County – both are up over 10% from 2012!

Even condos aren’t doing too badly:

  

Overall, condos are up 8-10% from 2012 in Charlotte/Mecklenburg, and we’re seeing minimal gains in most areas other than uptown:

However, though uptown condo values are down, activity is up:

As always, feel free to steal these graphs and let us know if you have questions, or if there’s any data we can crunch for you!

Charlotte real estate market, Getting leads

Could it be [gulp] … a SELLER’S market?

If you’ve been in the business for a few years, we don’t need to tell you that we’ve gone through many years of a strong buyer’s market in most areas.  But the tide seems to be turning.

As of May 1, the following popular neighborhoods in the Charlotte area have fewer than four (4) months inventory:

  • Cameron Wood
  • Beverly Woods
  • Colonial Village
  • Sherwood Forest
  • Merry Oaks
  • Thornhill
  • Adrey
  • Stone Creek Ranch
  • Cady Lake
  • Jetton Cove

To put in perspective — 6 months is considered a “balanced” market, i.e. neither seller’s or buyer’s market.  For most of the past 4 years or so, inventory around Charlotte was anywhere from 9-14 months or so.  But suddenly, inventory is very low in a lot of areas.

What do I do with this info?

Farm, farm, farm!  If there are homeowners in those areas who are even considering selling — now is a great time.  Many (if not most) homeowners have no idea just how much the real estate market has changed in the past year.  The agent to deliver this news may very well be the one to get the listing(s).

And don’t forget that our IDX service comes with an “Absorption widget” that you can put on any website.  This allows you & your clients to see inventory stats for any neighborhood in the Charlotte metro.

Charlotte real estate market

Charlotte neighborhood values: higher than 2007?!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 years, you know that the entire country has gone through a real estate downturn.  Across the country, the “market peak” varied from 2005-2008 or so, and in some areas (i.e. Las Vegas, Phoenix, areas of Florida, etc), values in 2013 are still up to 40-50% lower than they were at the peak.

For the metro Charlotte area, on average, current values are around 13% lower than they were in 2007 (which, in general, was the market peak for the region).  Overall, not too bad.  But surprisingly, some areas are doing quite well.

Here is a chart of the value change of every neighborhood with at least 1 home sold per month.  Yes, some are still struggling, but many are at or near where they were back in 2007, which is pretty remarkable given the severity of the downturn.

Neighborhoods such as The Peninsula, Cedarfield, Midwood, and Birkdale have actually surpassed their 2007 values.  Others, such as Baxter Village, Chantilly, and Piper Glen are within about 5% of the peak.

Given how low inventory is right now (under 6 months in many popular areas), now is a great time to encourage  homeowners in hot areas to put their homes on the market.  Use our market stats plugin or the graphs available in neighborhood analyzer to create content for your blog and/or postcard campaigns.  It’s been a long, long wait, but in some areas it’s actually a seller’s market!

Tech trends

Spice up your blog with graphs

In this day & age, buyers and sellers want information, and lots of it.  And you have an MLS membership with ability to pull any sort of statistics you like.  So we now have a quick & easy way for you to transform those numbers into a neat & tidy chart, like this one:

Just go here:  https://www.davisfarrell.com/graph_creator.html

Input your data (up to 4 data points), and voila… a graph you can grab & use anywhere you like.

Enjoy, and happy blogging!