Marketing thoughts, in this fast disappearing "hybrid moment"....

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring)

Very interesting statistics coming in, now, re the impact of the internet on the real estate industry.

In one recent survey, done by the National Association of Realtors and Baylor University School of Business, in the U.S., it charted where buyers found the home they purchased:

* 34% from Real Estate Agent.

* 32% Internet.

* 15% yard signs.

* 7% Friend, relative or neighbour.

* Less than 1% from Home Books and Magazines.

In the same survey, when buyers and sellers were queried as to how they chose their Realtor, only 4% were chosen because of their company affiliation.

I find the above statistics to be very interesting, indeed, and to support what I first noted a good three years ago. Affiliation with a name brand franchise model no longer delivers on the referral option that was once an essential part of that "big box" name.

With the internet, the buyer doesn't pop by a franchise office in Toronto, say, and ask to be referred to a Salt Spring realtor. It's rare that this would happen, today, and yet 10 to 15 years ago that was a vital part of such a franchise option.

With the internet, the buyer is searching out areas / realtors/ inventory on Google or some other search engine, and they do this for a substantial time before deciding "where" to look more indepth, and "who" to call to do so. The contact comes directly from the internet, and the contact for this buyer might simply be the realtor who has the last listing that caught the buyer's eye. Company affiliation, then, has become unimportant. Even realtor "name" becomes less important. It's about the listing information that captured the attention. Brand loyalty, to either a company or a well-known realtor, is evaporating.

In a city environment, yard signs might play a role in being discovered. Not so useful in a secondary home/discretionary marketplace, though, unless the sign is "up" during the "season". July/August/September could be seen as Salt Spring & the Southern Gulf Islands "season", where signage might attract a potential buyer's interest, while they're "on Island". Otherwise, the sign sits for a lengthy time, and only the "locals" are driving by it.

With only 1% of buyers coming off Home Books and Magazines, where does that leave the Driftwood supplement, our main print publication? It might catch a few "looks" in the "season" -- someone popping off a boat, at the marina, and picking up the real estate supplement, or catching the ferry to a Gulf Island, and viewing property options en route, but in the "off season", no one would see this publication, except the "locals". It doesnt' "bring" a buyer, then, for most of the calendar year.

The car industry, the stock market side of investing, the book business...the internet changed all of these businesses, severely, at an earlier point in time. It's now the turn of the real estate industry.

Even the mls system is not as valid a medium of information as one would hope for. The data input sheet used for all areas are too uniform. If there's one thing the internet is teaching us all, it's the ability to be "niched". In one Board, recently, they stuck a private island listing in an area that was a good 3 hours away, geographically, just because they didn't want to create a "slot" for this one-off Island. Was that good service for a seller, a buyer, a listing agent, a buyer's agent? I don't think so! Surely, in today's digital world, it would only have been a couple of mouse clicks, to "get it right"????

So, if we're in the middle of a serious shift, in how real estate is "being done", for the benefit of the two parties to any transaction (that's the seller and the buyer), what is the way for a realtor to significantly "market" a property? And how can that be made to work for a secondary home/discretionary marketplace, where the buyer isn't "local"?

Big questions! Needing answers....

Your thoughts are always welcome!

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Pat Champion
Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty - Mount Dora, FL

This is interesting information-with the Internet many people are changing the way they do business and think of business in general. A good Internet presence is essential.

Sep 24, 2009 11:49 AM #1
Scott Leaf Personal Real Estate Corporation
Keller Williams Elite Realty, Port Coquitlam, BC - Port Coquitlam, BC
Scott Leaf & Associates Real Estate Team

Hi Li, I generally agree with the findings, but as always there are always exceptions to the general rule.  I find that using Homes & Land mag, for example, is an excellent Listing Tool that a seller can relate too.  The eyes tend to gloss over when I reference keyword placement and search engine optimization LOL.

Sep 24, 2009 11:52 AM #2
Robin Rogers
Robin Rogers, Silverbridge Realty, San Antonio, Texas - San Antonio, TX
CRS, ABR, MRP - Real Estate Investment Adviser

Most of this is good news for me, Li, since I'm an independent broker-owner looking for a few good agents in the next year.

Thanks for the thought-provoking post.



Sep 25, 2009 08:03 AM #3
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Appreciated the comments!    I still use print media in my secondary home marketplace, as the buyer isn't "local".   The Homes and Land website, though, is more valuable to me than their magazine.    Too hit and miss!     To stay in biz, I think that magazine formats are going to have to be the "online" source.

Sep 25, 2009 11:29 AM #4
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

It is amazing to me that Agents in my office swear up and down they get buyers from the Homes Mag in our area.  Let them spend their money then!

To answer your other question about how do you market to people outside your local area, I would think you need to use the keywords they are looking for.  If you can, try interviewing some folks who have already bought from you and ask what words they used. Here are some that I can think of:

  • Vacation Home
  • Island atmosphere
  • Summer Season
  • Second Home
  • Waterfront
  • Boat Access

I just ran out of words!  Good luck to you!

Sep 26, 2009 08:36 AM #5
Lee & Carol Barbour, REALTORS
Murphy and Hayesville, NC; Hiawassee, Blairsville, Blue Ridge GA and Copperhill TN - Murphy, NC
Mountain Living Team in Murphy NC and North GA

Our Sellers expect to be advertised in the local newspapers and Home Magazines and we do, but the advantage of buying these ads aretheir internet presence., Home Magazine web sites and building our web sites do the best lead/sales generating. Looking forward to the blogging to start adding to that presence.

Sep 26, 2009 12:20 PM #6
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

I so appreciated all your comments...thank you, too,Evelyn, for your ideas re keywords.   I know that sellers like to see their properties listed in the print formats, including Homes and Land, and other similars, and their web presence can bring client base (has happened to me, in the past, too), but I think there's been a further shift, and we're all in that swimming pool of change, treading come to the fore, on the internet, that is the question....

Sep 26, 2009 02:20 PM #7
Kate Wheeler
Country Homes and Land Murphy NC Realtor - Murphy, NC
CCIM - Murphy NC Real Estate for Sale

Li, I've found that my sellers have no problem understanding that advertising their property in the local newspapers and home magazines is not an effective way to bring in buyers to a vacation and second home destination.  For me, any internet exposure is preferable to print media.  I agree that there's been a fundamental change in the way we do business just in the last 3 years, since the downturn in the market.  Hopefully, we're all out here working together right now to find out what works and learning from each other's experiences.   

Sep 28, 2009 12:45 PM #8
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

You're right, Kate, that things are a little different in a secondary home marketplace...the buyer is from somewhere else/no local market, so local items never worked.  

Oct 01, 2009 10:58 AM #9
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - Our family designs and builds custom homes for your family - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

The real estate books and newspapers are shrinking daily.  The smart publications are moving online, adding Twitter and IPhone functions, and trying to keep up!

Oct 14, 2009 06:21 AM #10
Nicky Dou
Keller Williams Market Pro Realty - Fayetteville, AR
The #1 Realtor in Northwest Arkansas

I agree and love this new concept (or maybe not so new concept) - I have sellers still asking (at times) for print ads. I just try to educate them and with blogs like yours it helps even more - thank you!

Oct 14, 2009 11:35 AM #11
Lesslie Giacobbi
Seven Gables Real Estate - Villa Park, CA


This is really good information.  I actuallly thought the internet would have ranked far higher.  There may also be geographic differences in how people find their Realtor.  The sellers who still like the print ads are the sellers who are subscribing to the Newspaper and they want to see their house in print.  I havn't had a call from a print ad in a LONG time and virtually have stopped doind them except for a few niche markets and specialty magazines that people keep.

Thanks for commenting on my Trends.


Oct 16, 2009 03:57 PM #12
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Such valuable comments, here, and very appreciated!    I work in a secondary home marketplace, with no local buyer at all.   In the past (as in before 2007), I did find quality niche magazine ads of some use in garnering the initial attention.    That's what put them onto the website.    I think there's been another shift, though, since 2008.    I'm finding that a traditional website is now a basement or attic storage item, where a consumer can drill down for hard information, IF they want to.   Otherwise, I think microblogging is where it's suddenly "at" -- because we're all in time famine?   Trained to "hear" in bytes?    Something different is afoot, though, and it's not about brand or agent loyalty.   

Oct 16, 2009 04:10 PM #13
Scott Benson
Geneva Real Estate and Finance - Santa Monica, CA

I think the internet will continue to drive traffic for our industry.  Referrals will always be important as well as social contacts that we leverage for business.

Oct 19, 2009 07:10 PM #14
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

Absolutely.   The ways of communicating with the consumer may shift/change, but the solid "good business practices"/knowledge always remain as a constant.   We are a service industry.

Oct 20, 2009 12:19 PM #15
Joseph Welusz - Evesham Township, NJ

It is still important to place ads in mags.  People might not find the house they are looking for there but many find there realtor through other listings through the mags.

under 1% most likely doesn't look at the correlation between how a realtor is selected and the home they buy

Oct 23, 2009 12:37 PM #16
Ginger Harper
Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage - Southport, NC
Your Southport~Oak Island Agent!

Thanks for such a great post.  As would be, other shared good ideas too.


Oct 23, 2009 08:44 PM #17
Adrian Willanger
206 909-7536 - Seattle, WA
Profit from my two decades of experience

Li, I thought I would go back from 2012 and look how marketing has changed, thanks for postings this. You make some excellent relevant points. 


Best, Adrian

Jul 12, 2012 11:13 AM #18
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