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2008-03-07 10:34:00

Online Marketing: Realty Pros Create Explosive Growth, Income

If you're like me, all the bad news of late can take its toll on your enthusiasm. "Sales down 26%!" "Foreclosures Reach New Highs!" "Feds take aim at Realtors!" It's news, but it gets to be the kind of mood setter that doesn't do any of us much good.

Believe it or not, there are still PLENTY of your fellow real estate professionals holding their own and prospering and there are still many tremendous success stories in real estate today. Despite the little blurb in another newsletter this week that reveled that only 65% of REALTORS have their own web site and that only about 10% of those are in any way effective, we continue to learn of wonderful successes by those utilizing the Internet.

Why so many real estate professionals aren't reaping any benefits from the Internet is a situation that defies logic, to me.. Despite unrefuted and unquestioned data showing that 80+% of all residential real estate transactions involve the Internet, most real estate professionals put up a site, treat it like a billboard (you know - people will cruise the web, see my billboard, and beat down my door), and move on. Because they rarely receive a lead, let alone a sale, from their site, they have concluded that the Internet is a lot of hoopla.

A friend of mine is a successful REALTOR here in Southern California. Currently, he has about 12 high-end listings - normally a cause for celebration. The problem, however, is that he isn't selling any of those listings (Does this sound familiar?) He can't figure out why this is so. Maybe it's because anyone looking for a home from the comfort of theirs can't find him OR his listings, because like so many others, "I've been doing business for 20 years successfully and I know what works." No web site, no Internet presence, no way for anyone outside a person driving by the listing to know about it as one of my friends properties for sale. He dutifully mails his town with every listing. Yawn. "What about the market beyond his town?" I asked him. He got a glazed look on his face and mumbled something like "There's plenty of buyers right here." Folks, there's one heck of a lot more buyers crawling the Internet every day. You need to be there, and you need to be prominent.

Now, contrast my friend's situation and outlook with that of Mark Nored of Home Finders Service in Eugene, OR Mark has fully integrated the Internet into his business and he has been less affected by the current "correction" we hear about daily. Mark has built a wonderful business that continues to grow and the Internet is at the core of that success. Home Finders Service has opened multiple offices and services the entire Willamette Valley.

Currently, Mark has two prime subdivisions going in Oakridge, OR Elk Meadows and Salmon Creek A premier large lot goes for about $55,000 and Mark is able to put a 2,200 square foot home on one of those lots - with the kinds of upgrades usually only seen in million-dollar properties - for about $350,000. Additionally, thee products have fabulous views and boundless outdoor recreation opportunities; all just 35 minutes from Eugene , where home prices appreciated 37% last year! Clearly, Mark Nored has good product. Does Mark send out mailers? Yes. Where does he put his marketing emphasis? Mark does business from all over North America because the Internet brings it to him.(You can take a look at these at info on the two subdivisions at http://www.oakridgehomeinfo.com/. - Golf Courses, Mountain views, cherry cabinets, home theater systems, granite countertops - all that is standard, too.)

By now, you're thinking: "So what?" This is all very nice, but how does it apply to me? Another way to look at it would be to say; So what if Mark's volume was $25 million three years ago, $51 million this last year, and well over last year already this year? So what if he has ten full-time and three part-time agents on his team (and very little turnover)? So what if his personal income will exceed a million dollars this year? In that line of questioning, so, what is this man doing?

"I realized early on that I had a much better chance of having a happy and permanent team of agents if I could keep them supplied with good leads," Mark stated when I called him up to ask him how he is growing so successfully even in this downturn. "I decided that our company would be a little 'old school' with some 'new school' technology. We recognize that even in a high-tech world, real estate is all about the customer. The customer may come to us from the Internet, but we maintain constant personal contact which we know is the #1 factor in maintaining success." So far, Mark could be characterized as another smart young man who works hard and does well. I assure you, however, that just how well Mark Nored does is more than remarkable, it is worthy of sharing..

"When I first started marketing on my web site, we averaged 800 visitors to our web site per month. In April of this year, we had 52,036 visits to our site! It finally got to the point where I had to institute a '10-page-view rule;' after a visitor had looked at 10 pages on our site, we had to ask them to sign in. The 52,036 visits were for the month AFTER instituting the rule; the month before that, we had 95,000 page views! The new 10-page rule dropped the visitor's page views, but it sure increased the quality of our leads!

Compass Search Tools

As you might expect, with so many visitors, we generate a constant flow of great well-qualified leads. We did this by purchasing a subscription to ONE product: Compass Search. They told us that traffic would increase, once people could find our web site, and they weren't kidding. Not only that, but with our Compass reporting tools we know everything about each of those leads: what town they are from, what search engine sent them, what actual search they typed in to find us, if they are a return visitor, who referred them, and lots more. Every lead is automatically entered into our follow-up program and we can track its progress, Especially in this challenged marketplace we have today, our people love having a steady and predictable flow of leads like this, and we believe that it sets the stage for us to be continually successful. All our agents have plenty of interest from plenty of prospects, all of the time. These leads produce a higher qualified buyer than any other kind of lead I have ever been familiar with."

As we all know, it's impossible to sell anything without someone to sell it to. As such, leads are the mother's milk of all real estate sales. Imagine if you could receive even a few REAL leads from people interested in what you sell each month. Not "pre-scrubbed" names and addresses of people who were curious about how much their house is worth, but real people actually looking for a home in your neighborhood! Mark Nored doesn't have to imagine it because his site (http://www.hfsgroup.com/) produces solid leads every day.

Mark ticked off the three things he felt most important to attracting Internet buyers:

  1. A useful and user-friendly web site with lots of good information;
  2. A Compass Search subscription so people looking for homes can find you and the reporting system that lets you manage the people who do find you (Mark's total Compass program costs $239.95 a month!);
  3. Converting those visitors to leads, incubating them with personal contact and attention until a percentage of them become sales.

It's not that complicated," he added. " You show what you have to offer on your site, you make sure people can find you, then you monitor their interest and follow up with professional real estate agents committed to the company and to their markets. It can't stop there, everyone in the organization has to think alike: my transaction coordinator is the best, my marketing coordinator is the best, and our entire team's success is my #1 goal. Together with our strong Internet presence and ability to mine high-quality leads each month from our site seems to keep us doing well even in the midst of this slowdown we all are experiencing."

"I have high expectations and I expect results. I have a great support team and I have the Internet working for me as a tool. I have a dream and I share that dream, and its rewards, with my team. We use the best tools available, and our Compass subscription has allowed us to take our web site to the next level".[ If you are serious about attracting Internet buyers, go to this link (http://zjaf0zx8.1landing.com/) and see if your web site can be found. A real person will evaluate this, not a machine.] "If your web site can't be found, neither will you or your listings be found by people looking for homes on the Internet. I think that Compass Search is a great bargain for any serious real estate professional, but no one can question the benefit of expanding our marketplace to draw buyers from all over North America. I don't know of any other cost-effective way to do that but with the Internet. Compass helps me mine the Internet; their organic SEO and Search Placement (among other things) puts me in EVERY market. My leads come from EVERY market in North America - I'm not just selling to folks from my area anymore."

Mark has built a great organization that treats its customers like royalty and continues to prosper. That part of what he does has nothing to do with the Internet. But he is the first to tell you that it is the Internet that fuels his company's continuing growth. You see, today, just treating customers like royalty won't cut it, any more than just posting a sign in the yard cuts it. You must find the customers. Instead of the few hundred who may drive by a property monthly, why not put your site where thousands of people drive by monthly? There's no better way to do that than on the world-wide web. That's where the action is, and that's where the action is gong to continue to be.

In closing, I ask you to reflect upon these statistics from the California Assn. of Realtors: "92% of Internet buyers found their home on a web site. 66% of Internet buyers found their agent through a search engine." Mark is not in California, but he finds those figures to be entirely correct. Want to sell more homes? Start a long term plan that includes really working the Internet. Mark Nored did and success continues to grace his business. It can happen for you, too. 

(About the Author: Mike Parker is a principal at the Blackwater Consulting Group, Inc., and specializes in online marketing for business professionals. You can reach him by e-mail at mailto:mparker@theblackwatercg.com for a free copy of his booklet "Especially for Real Estate Professionals: 15 tips to help your web site make you money" send an email to e-mail realestate@theblackwatercg.com.)

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