Ask the Real Estate Expert About Real Estate Web Sites
Q. What is the percentage of buyers who now access the Internet as a first step in the buying process?"
The National Assn. of REALTORS states that in 1995 2% of buyers used the Internet. By 2005 that number was up to 77%, and fully 9 out of 10 buyers used a real estate agent during their search for a home.
Buyers first identified the home they purchased on the Internet 24% of the time in 2005. This means that fully one quarter of home buyer first found their home on the Internet, while 36% said that their first information on the home they purchased came from the agent. I expect those numbers are continuing to tighten.
Q. What do I need in my real estate web site?
What do you want to get out of your web site? If you are trying to have an all-in-one solution for you and the customer then you may want Prospect and Client Management and Lead generation capabilities. Perhaps you will have a CMA request form integrated with personal visitor accounts or the ability to capture and sent new listing information to the customer directly.
Are you going to want to be notified when a request is made by a customer through your web site, or will you simply then add them to a drip email marketing campaign? Do you want to allow FSBO listings to be added to your personal web site? You will certainly want the ability to include unlimited listings, photos, and virtual tours.
This is really up to the individual. Current agent web sites include all or some of what I’ve mentioned. Personal preference and customer interest should constantly drive your web site. I tell students to ask their top five clients, “What do you expect to find on my web site when you visit my pages on-line?” The answer given most often to me is “information on current market conditions” or “free reports or tips on helping me prepare my home for sale."
A great first step is to write those free articles and publish them on your web site. Make sure they are printable and have your name all over them so that a consumer can print your contact info out whenever they want to! Then the sky is the limit!
(Curtis Hilty, ABR, GRI, TRC, e-PRO, MRE is a real estate instructor and Certified e-PRO Trainer, Van Education Center, 303-245-0258/800-455-8348.)