Getting leads, Tech trends

Mastering lead distribution and conversion

Lead generation is vital to your business, but once you generate leads, are you doing a good job converting them?

When a prospective buyer sends an inquiry via your website, if you’re not responding quickly (preferably within 15 minutes) to that inquiry, your chance of converting that lead suffers.

One of the most common problems we see with firms (or teams of agents) is a lack of accountability with lead responses.  Leads will get assigned and there’s no telling which agents are responding quickly (if at all).

With this in mind, we were thrilled to stumble on some really cool new technology: LeadRobin.  This product automates lead distribution and allows you to monitor agent performance.

LeadRobin allows you to set up rules for lead distribution, such as “Dilworth subdivision, price over $300k” and then set up lists of agents to receive those leads.  A lead is distributed to “Agent A” and if that agent doesn’t answer the lead within a given time frame (say, 15 minutes), the lead goes to “Agent B,” and so on.

LeadRobin lets you monitor your agents to see who is failing to answer leads & who is the fastest responder.

This is an indispensable tool in today’s market, when buyers demand FAST responses.  Even 1 missed lead could cost you thousands of dollars.  LeadRobin starts at $50/month, which is a small price to pay to ensure that no leads are missed.

Charlotte real estate market

Freddie Mac tabs Charlotte as ‘healthy’ market

One of our clients wrote a pretty cool blog about Freddie Mac adding Charlotte to its list of markets whose “Multi-Indicator Market Index” falls in a healthy range.

In a nutshell, this Freddie Mac indicator tells us how “normal” a market is in comparison its long-term range.  If its “MiMi” valls between 80 & 120, it’s deemed “in range” by Freddie Mac.  Anything under 80 is a slow market and anything over 120 is one where the market is too hot to be considered healthy.

One thing that was interesting from this data, available on our client’s website is that the actual market bottom in Charlotte occurred in September, 2011.  So if you bought a house around then, congratulations because it’s almost certainly worth a heck of a lot more today!

Thanks to Donna Johnson of RE/MAX Executive for sharing this info!


Charlotte real estate market

Charlotte market update 1Q 2016: prices up, activity down

We’re about a month into the 2nd quarter of 2016, so it’s safe to start drawing some conclusions the market.  Let’s dive in…

Charlotte single family avg price southcharlotte-res Uptown Charlotte condos - average price lkn-res cabarrus-res gaston-res Union County NC average price lkw-res

Overall, prices are slightly up.  Uptown condos have seen a bit of a dip, along with homes in Cabarrus county. The average South Charlotte home is now about $430k, 5% up from last year.  Because the region has very low inventory (about 4 months in Charlotte), buyers are paying a premium for desirable properties.

But the other side of the coin of low inventory is lower activity:

Charlotte single family sales per month South Charlotte homes sold per month Uptown Charlotte condos - sales permonth Cabarrus county homes sold per month Gaston county homes sold per month Union county homes sold per month
A few more uptown condos are selling each month compared to 2015, but overall, activity is down about 15% in the region as a whole.

This number should improve as we get through the summer months, but we expect activity to be down in 2016 due to the lack of local inventory across the board and the dip in home ownership we’ve seen over the past few years.  US home ownership peaked at almost 70% before the economic collapse and has been falling.  It’s down to about 63% today.

While low inventory can cause headaches for buyers, we aren’t seeing big spikes in prices or anything too alarming.  At 4.5 months, we are definitely in a seller’s market, but it’s nothing like what we saw pre-crash.  In a sense, fewer buyers looking is a good thing because it keeps the market more in balance.

Charlotte real estate market

2015 annual market report is here!

We’ve been hard at work with our calculators & abacuses and have completed the 2015 “state of the market” for the Charlotte region.

Overall, MLS activity was up 7% and prices were up 5% over 2014.

Charlotte market report 2015

One area that stood out, however, was East Mecklenburg, where activity was up a whopping 18% and prices were up 11%.

East Mecklenburg market report 2015

As a whole, 2015 was a very good year for the entire region.  We made this report available on all our clients’ sites, but you can also view it here.


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.

Buy leads from sources such as Trulia/Zillow,, 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. 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!