In the ever-evolving world of real estate internet marketing, it’s crucial to understand that not all online listings and strategies are created equal. If you are selling your home, you may have encountered marketing pitches from agents claiming to promote your property on the internet. But what does that really entail? When a Realtor says they will market your home on the internet and promote on social media, what does that really mean? Let’s embark on a comprehensive guide to unravel the mysteries of internet marketing in real estate.
Table of Contents
- What You Will Learn
- Real Estate Internet Marketing is a Must
- Where Does Listing Data Originate? Brokers and Agents
- There are Differences in Online Listing Portals
- Not False But Misleading Information
- Real Estate Internet Marketing
- Tips to Find A Realtor with Robust Digital Marketing
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What You Will Learn
In this expose, we’ll dive into the intricate web of real estate internet marketing. By the end of this journey, you will gain valuable insights into:
- The nuances of listing agreements and who truly holds the keys to your property’s online presence.
- The workings of third-party listing portals and the potential pitfalls of relying solely on their data.
- The inherent inaccuracies of automated valuations and why local expertise trumps algorithms.
- The misconceptions surrounding internet marketing, featured listings, and top placement.
- The not-so-secret sauce of creating an online presence that draws organic traffic and positions you as a local expert.
- The importance of providing targeted, community-specific information to attract pre-qualified buyers.
- Key questions to ask when evaluating a real estate agent’s internet marketing prowess.
Now, let’s unravel the intricacies of real estate internet marketing step by step, with practical examples and the resources you need along the way.
Real Estate Internet Marketing is a Must
In today’s fast-paced and digitally-driven real estate landscape, a holistic marketing approach that incorporates traditional marketing, internet marketing and social media marketing is not just beneficial; it’s absolutely essential. The way people search for homes has fundamentally shifted. The vast majority of potential buyers now start their home search online. They browse listings, explore neighborhoods, and virtually tour homes before ever setting foot inside. Real estate agents must add internet marketing and social media marketing to their overall real estate marketing strategy.
The internet is a vast and dynamic space where information flows freely, and unfortunately, not all of it is accurate or reliable. When it comes to real estate marketing, there are indeed false claims and misconceptions that can mislead both sellers and buyers. From inaccuracies to overhyped promises, buyers and sellers should be aware of the fundamentals of real estate internet marketing.
Where Does Listing Data Originate? Brokers and Agents
In the world of real estate listings, it’s essential to grasp that all residential listing agreements are with the broker. Agents, under the license of the broker, add the listing to the local MLS (Multiple List Service). With the permission of the seller, the listing gets “syndicated” or distributed to the websites that specialize in advertising homes for sale…Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com, etc…and the list is large. These websites receive direct data feeds from the local MLS, ensuring uniform listing information.
There are Differences in Online Listing Portals
While real estate listing portals may appear distinct, they all source their data from the local MLS. Discrepancies can arise due to data lag or other delays in updates, or incomplete information. The listing information can have terminology that doesn’t translate well across platforms, or sometimes it isn’t updated when the agent makes updates in the original MLS. There are several ways that inaccurate information can be found on these “third-party” listing portals:
- Status changes may not be up-to-date. One of the common criticisms of the portals is that information is not up to date. We find homes that have been under contract or even sold that still show as active. Agents postulate theories as to why this kind of information is delayed. Some believe that it keeps more information on the site and helps the site show up when someone is searching for that home. Some portals may prioritize driving traffic to their sites over providing comprehensive data.
- Price changes may not be up-to-date. Sometimes they are just inaccurate.
- The details can be missing, as they are not fed into the third-party listing portal from the MLS, or they are not in the form or terms that translate to the portal. This means the Realtor needs to sign in and update or add the correct information, if the site allows that step. Realtors may or may not do this extra step. Sometimes the information is not possible to add or correct.
- Sometimes information just doesn’t appear. The listing portal site would like to keep you on their website as long as possible, for as much information as possible. If any information leads to another site, for instance the real estate agent’s site for details, or their YouTube channel for a video, that information can be left out.
It is important to point out that these sites are not real estate websites, they are marketing websites. Marketing websites do not operate under the same laws as a brokerage, which means they are not held to the strict standard of a brokerage.
Estimates and Internet Valuations
Automated valuation tools like Zestimates and Valuations can be significantly flawed. These algorithms can’t account for local nuances, making them unreliable for accurate property values. Local expertise is irreplaceable, as only a real estate professional understands the intricacies of neighborhoods.
In this Washington Post article, a Washington D.C. brokerage was quoted for documenting that Zestimates are getting worse. Of 500 estimates, the values ranged from 62% under, to 150% over the actual sold figures.
It’s important to emphasize that online valuations have limitations:
- Lack of Personalization: These tools rely on algorithms and public data, so they can’t account for the unique features or condition of a specific property.
- Local Nuances: Real estate is inherently local, and online valuations may not consider neighborhood-specific factors that affect value, like school quality, crime rates, or nearby amenities.
- Data Lag: The data used by online valuations may not always be up-to-date, leading to inaccuracies when markets change rapidly.
- No Substitute for Professional Appraisal: When it comes to making significant financial decisions, such as buying or selling a home, it’s advisable to consult a licensed appraiser or a real estate professional. They can provide a more accurate and personalized assessment of a property’s value.
Online Valuations Have Their Place
Online valuations can be useful for providing a general idea of a home’s value, especially for individuals who are in the early stages of exploring the real estate market. They can offer a fast and convenient way to get a ballpark figure of a property’s value. A seller can use a valuation as a helpful tool for initial research and exploration but should not be the sole basis for critical financial choices in the real estate market. They should be used cautiously and in conjunction with professional guidance from a trusted local real estate agent when making substantial real estate decisions.
Not False But Misleading Information
In the digital age, promises of online marketing are abundant, offering the allure of success and visibility with just a few clicks. While it’s crucial to acknowledge that these promises may not necessarily be false, it’s equally important to recognize that they can be misleading. In the world of real estate internet marketing, understanding the nuances and limitations of these claims is paramount to making informed decisions.
1. “We put your listing all over the internet within X hours of listing it.”
You can see from the above explanation, the local MLS syndicates, or distributes, all listings to the websites that show homes for sale. Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, Homes.com, and dozens more, all get the same information fed to their websites from the local MLS sites.
*Unless the owner abstains from internet advertising, or the brokerage opts out of syndication.
2. “Your home is a featured listing on the front page of our website.”
In truth, you will probably find your “featured” home several pages into the search results. If the agent or broker’s website doesn’t show up on the first page of a search, more than likely it will not be seen.
Don’t be swayed by claims of widespread internet exposure. All listings are syndicated online, and “featured” listings can easily get lost in the digital crowd.
What makes a Real Estate agent stand out in the crowded space of real estate internet marketing? A lot of hard work! It takes a lot of continued learning, dedication, and website work.
3. “There is no ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to websites. Agents just need to buy top placement on the big real estate websites like Zillow and Trulia”
Some real estate agents pay for premier placement on the third-party listing sites as part of their business plan. When a buyer is looking at listings, the information on each listing is geared to direct them to the agent who has paid for premier placement, not the listing agent. This is not a negative thing…just something that may not be well-known.
To sellers: My question about the notion of top placement…Do the questions buyers ask about your home get answered by your agent, who knows your home better than anyone? Or do they get hijacked by the highest bidder? When an agent buys a front page placement on Zillow or Trulia, or any of the other portals, that does not make them a neighborhood expert, much less an expert on your home.
To buyers: A similar question: Does buying top placement on a listing site automatically make that agent a neighborhood expert?
Real Estate Internet Marketing
Today’s buyers are more internet-savvy than ever. Recent studies show that as much as 95% of buyers are looking online for their next home.
They search online for information on much more than just homes for sale. They are looking for a lifestyle just as much as they are looking for a home. This is information that usually comes from a local expert, one who really knows the communities and neighborhoods.
Local real estate content creators are able to bring consumers that in-depth neighborhood information (including video and photography) as well as details about the processes and steps involved in a real estate sale or purchase.
Creating a website that ranks well in search engines isn’t a secret; it’s called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Real estate agents who invest in their website regularly experience higher organic and paid traffic and establish themselves as local experts.
To thrive in the crowded online real estate space, hard work is essential. Agents who consistently invest in creating valuable, local content on their websites have a unique advantage. Buyers seek not only homes but also lifestyle and community information, which local real estate bloggers can provide.
Tips to Find A Realtor with Robust Digital Marketing
In today’s consumer-driven, sharing economy, a real estate agent who is successfully marketing on the internet will have so much more to offer than someone who is not. A robust digital marketing strategy will include a compelling website, a social media strategy, high-quality photography and videography, as well as traditional marketing. When you are considering hiring a real estate agent, ask these very pertinent questions:
- Are they really a neighborhood expert?
- Do they have a robust internet presence?
- Do they blog regularly?
- When you do an internet search for them… do they show up? In more than just the third-party sites?
- Are they using Hi-definition video and photos?
- Can they explain their marketing plan? Do they have an internet marketing plan? Or do they just buy premier placement?
Consistent blogging and content creation will enhance an online presence. This creates a robust real estate internet marketing strategy that goes beyond third-party portals.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q1: Are third-party listing portals reliable sources of information?
A1: While they can be useful, third-party portals may contain inaccuracies and delays in updating listing status. Local MLS data remains the most dependable source.
Q2: Can automated valuations be trusted?
A2: Automated valuations like Zestimates often fall short in accuracy. Rely on a local real estate expert for precise property valuations.
Q3: What sets a Realtor apart in real estate internet marketing?
A3: A dedicated real estate internet marketing strategy, including SEO (search engine optimization), video, social media marketing, and blogging, can make an agent stand out. Look for an agent with a robust online presence, local expertise, and a commitment to providing valuable content.
Q4: Is buying top placement on listing sites a winning strategy?
A4: While it’s a legitimate strategy, it doesn’t necessarily make an agent a neighborhood expert. It also doesn’t automatically make your home stand out. Top placement marketing is most often designed to make the agent stand out. Consider an agent’s overall online presence and marketing plan.
In the world of real estate internet marketing, knowledge is power. Armed with these insights, you’re better equipped to navigate the complexities of online listings and make informed decisions about your real estate journey.
Contact Chris Highland for a real Comparative Market Analysis. We’ll give you the human computation.
As a residential real estate team based in central Maryland, we are here to provide our expertise and support at every turn. We are committed to working tirelessly to achieve your home-buying or home-selling goals. If you have any questions, need assistance, or are ready to embark on this journey, please do not hesitate to reach out.
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