A Website May Be Essential, But Not If You Don't Know How To Drive it.

By
Managing Real Estate Broker with Barrington Realty Company License: 471.000044

Almost every week I am contacted by email, text or phone about real estate websites. I swear if I gave up selling homes and running my own show, I could easily transition into building real estate websites as a full blown business. Not that there aren't enough choices out there but I find there is something lacking.

 

Education.

 

If you want to move into the world of selling any kind of real estate and making best use of the internet, there's not a doubt in my mind you need at least one website. But before any of you start doling out the money to have someone provide you with one, you need to educate yourself. This post is written because of a phone call I had yesterday with an AR member who was in quite the predicament. I feel she is not alone. Let's start with some basic education.

 

 

Basics.

 

  • Do not start any website project without a plan. What is your part of the business in your area and what do you want it to be, same, expanded, niche, add an extra niche.
  • What is the goal of the website? Connect the answer to your plan.
  • Providers of websites. Do you want someone to build it for you or do you want to learn how and do it yourself?
  • If you invest your funds into a fancy looking website, no matter who the provider is, without food (new regular content), no-one is going to come.
  • Who is going to provide that food? You, an assistant, a VA?
  • Set it and forget it? You just blew likely thousands of dollars!
  • General websites for geo areas are going to find it really hard and I mean really hard to compete with ZTR and other major real estate web portals.

The rule here is go small. You simply cannot compete with ZTR. Also look at your local area and find your local competition. Start using Google search as a way of finding your competition.

 

If you find a succesful agent in your market who keeps popping up, do NOT use this as a guide to how easy it's going to be. Some of our websites have been around for 10+ years. Our sites have hundreds of pages and posts of content.

 

Don't invest in a prodect that you have no idea how to drive. Most of us have driving licenses and we can drive cars. But if I put a tank in front of you, could you drive it? It's actually not hard to learn how to drive web products, use the providers training, or learn Wordpress yourself, just don't skip it.

 

YouTube is full of how to information!  Wordpress itself has many videos on how to do things.

 

There are many many types of web site products out there. Most will work quite well if you select a specific part of the market, know how to drive what you have, how to feed it, and are committed to doing just that.

 

Independent Thought.

 

Lastly, please don't follow lambs to the slaughter. (I am witnessing death all around with web presences). Start your own research before laying a dime on the table. A website may not be what YOU need at all! 

 

 

P.S. I recommend a contract, so both you and the provider understand what you are buying and what they are selling. Without it you have no recourse. I mean gee folks we sell real estate via contracts for a reason!

 

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Ambassador
2,516,899
Nestor & Katerina Gasset
International Properties and Investments LLC - Wellington, FL
Realtors, Wellington Florida Homes For Sale

I learned the lesson the hard way and thousands of dollars down the drain way. Then I see people who are very successful with their blogs on a simple website and then they go and buy a fancy website and lose all their SEO and drop in their rankings because their blog takes the back seat when that was actually what used to be their front door. I also get calls from people who like this one person, just spent $12,000 on a website that is not going to do anything for her business and it won't rank because it is so full of java and not even a h1 title tag anywhere.  This is because as you said, they don't start with a plan. Katerina 

Jul 06, 2016 07:39 AM #11
Rainmaker
876,233
Margaret Goss
Baird & Warner Real Estate - Winnetka, IL
Chicago's North Shore & Winnetka Real Estate

I know from previous posts that you have spent a lot of time working on your website.  My website, a company format, is beautiful and full of info, but doesn't show up anywhere.  I've had success in marketing other ways, so I haven't concentrated on the website, but I feel I'm missing out.

Jul 06, 2016 09:31 AM #12
Rainmaker
2,442,814
Debbie Gartner
The Flooring Girl - White Plains, NY
The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers

Yep, great advice here.  You definitely know what you're doing.  As you mentioned, most people fail to realize that the key is great and ongoing content.

All that aside, please pray for me.  Major issue w/ my site this afternoon and the pages are not showing up correct/most not showing up.  I have no idea why.  I'm having them do a reset to Saturday and crossing my fingers that will do the trick, but I may have to wait up to 72 hrs.  In the mean time, I probably won't get many leads (nor sales from my affiliate programs).  I'm so mad and concerned now.

Jul 06, 2016 10:52 AM #13
Rainmaker
53,066
Sharon Kolb
Atlanta Decatur Homes - Atlanta, GA
Broker - Atlanta Decatur Homes

Boy, Corinne, you really know your stuff! Although I've had a website & blog for many years, setting up a new one involves a steep learning curve. You and Katarina have really helped!! Many thanks - you said it all here.

Jul 06, 2016 11:52 AM #14
Rainmaker
830,013
Janis Borgueta
Key Properties of the Hudson Valley - Newburgh, NY
LIC RE Salesperson - Hudson Valley Homes for Sale

Too many people sign on to the third party websites thinking that once they put down a few thousand dollars they will be making $$$ at every turn. It is so important to understnad how it works and that it is an ever moving target that needs constant attention. So worth while, if you are willing to spend the effort and time. Being in charge of your own website is the only option.

Jul 06, 2016 12:09 PM #15
Ambassador
1,659,353
Tammie White
(615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com - Franklin, TN
Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN

I was one of the lucky ones. I didn't drop thousands of dollars but I've populated more than one site before realizing none of those were working for me. Hundreds of hours spent on sites that could never rank.

I don't understand agents who just seem to throw money at every product out there thinking it will bring them instant success. Concentrate on one aspect of the business and run with it. Not everyone is a tech wizard. That's okay. There are other ways to attract business.

Like you, I do think that having a website is a necessary evil. Getting it to rank takes lots of time and effort but if done properly, the results can be staggering. 

Jul 06, 2016 01:52 PM #16
Ambassador
3,280,261
Praful Thakkar
eXp Realty - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Corinne Guest, Managing Broker - exactly! Buying a car that we cannot drive is wastage of money!

Having a website that does not drive traffic to it is the same!

Jul 06, 2016 03:21 PM #17
Rainmaker
613,379
Jennifer Mackay
Keller Williams Success Realty - Panama City, FL
Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582

Thanks for your insights Corinne Guest, Managing Broker - I prefer to be the expert in real estate so I hired an expert in websites - works best for me ;)

Jul 06, 2016 09:50 PM #18
Ambassador
1,523,477
Harry F. D'Elia
Real Estate and Beyond, LLC - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

I also get contacted weekly with people who want to sell me their web site services that promise the world. A person has to put time into it or it will never work.

Jul 06, 2016 10:33 PM #19
Rainer
38,083
Curt Warner
Platinum Sales Solutions - Charlotte, NC
★ Platinum Sales Solutions ★

Kenneth Jones is right, if you can't drive traffic then you have a big problem... whether it be traffic to your website, office, email or even your phone. The goal of marketing is to reach potential clients with a message that has such an impact to move them to action... call, email, visit your office, etc. Too many people (in all industries) are under the false belief that a website is a good source of prospects. In many cases it is not. For most, the purpose should be to build trust and credibility once a prospect has found you from some other source. Driving traffic to a website is very hard, even harder for real estate since the competition is so fierce... thousands of other agents plus the powerhouse national sites. I'm sure Corinne would agree that driving traffic is a full time job. What's interesting is that the NAR found that you're 10 times more likely to connect with a Seller through a referral than through a website. And get this... you're 42 times more likely to connect with a Seller through a referral than through a direct mail piece like a Just Listed or Just Sold postcard. That doesn't mean that some people won't be highly successful gaining new business from their real estate website, just that it is not for the faint of heart. I believe more effort should be placed on expanding your network to increase the likelyhood of referrals. I have a complete post on my site - Prospecting With Purpose.

Jul 06, 2016 11:04 PM #20
Rainmaker
2,099,588
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

Today, without a doubt, a website is an electronic business card. Get one

Jul 06, 2016 11:22 PM #21
Rainmaker
1,765,637
Andrew Mooers
MOOERS REALTY - Houlton, ME
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

With all due respect, IMHO you can compete and dominate over the RTZ. You are local full time which means you blog post, upload images and videos about the flavor of the community. You provide the information about schools, churches, Internet lawyer banker etc providers. RTZ is not doing that and your voice is stronger locally standing alone and stocking the information shelves. Your property listings on your controlled websites have more details, more images than the limited slots, you can have links to your blogs about farming, waterfront development, buying land, owner financing, whatever the sought after topic that RTZ is not doing. The big three regurgitate what we put in the yes, no, maybe and number fields. Add the rest of the story, the deep rich and tasty for those hungry for local information that is fresh, in depth and always being added to as the town crier, the Paul Revere.

Jul 06, 2016 11:41 PM #22
Rainmaker
2,225,264
Tony and Suzanne Marriott, Associate Brokers
Haven Express @ Keller Williams Arizona Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Serving Scottsdale, Phoenix and Maricopa County AZ

Corinne Guest, Managing Broker "Don't invest in a product that you have no idea how to drive...It's actually not hard to learn how to drive web products, use the providers training, or learn Wordpress yourself, just don't skip it."

Right on target - and - Re-Blog!

Jul 07, 2016 01:26 AM #23
Rainmaker
1,196,080
Beth Atalay
Cam Realty and Property Management - Clermont, FL
Cam Realty of Clermont FL

Hi Corinne, I'm not an expert when it comes to websites but I had a vision and knew what I wanted on my website, though I threw money down the drain in the past, I'm pleased with what I have today. I did hire a professional who does what I ask and does a great job. Great advice and analogy, wishing you continued success!

Jul 07, 2016 02:03 AM #24
Rainmaker
1,259,896
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
your real estate writer

Well said - on all points. 

I worry about agents who hire some company that will control their site when its finished. What it that company goes belly up?

One of my long-ago animal rescue clients had a "web guy" who got mad at her for soliciting donations and wiped out her entire site. Since she had no back ups, it took more than a year to replace all the copy, news clips on video, etc. 

It also bothers me that some of these companies limit the number of pages or the length of the pages. I once wrote buyer/seller articles for an agent who was "allowed" to change the copy in the article - but not the titles. So I had to write original material to fit an existing title.

That wasn't difficult - but why should anyone who is paying the bills have so little control? 

Get a copy of the contract - and read it carefully before you agree to anything. 

Better yet, get a Wordpress site and find a guru to help you set it up and teach you how to use it. Then start filling it with content relevant to your niche. 

There are those who call me a control freak, and they're probably right. In this case, I think maintaining control is imperative. 

Jul 07, 2016 02:50 AM #25
Rainmaker
771,076
Jan Green
HomeSmart Elite Group,Scottsdale, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

So true. Another thought, because Scottsdale is such a "brand" it is very difficult to get to Page 1 on any search.  I wish I had known that before I switched from JanGreenAzHomes.com to RelocatingtoScottsdale.com.  I would never had made that switch.  I lost google ranking and a lot of traction.  Length of time in a site is critical!   Great post!  

Jul 08, 2016 04:26 AM #26
Rainmaker
975,985
Will Nesbitt
Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria - Alexandria, VA
Nesbitt Realty is a family-run brokerage.

847-363-3686 Corinne Guest, Managing Broker in Barrington, IL.

Jul 08, 2016 05:26 AM #27
Rainmaker
3,419,533
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for the great tips and advice. I will bookmark this post.

Jul 08, 2016 10:34 PM #28
Rainmaker
2,374,916
Evelyn Johnston
Friends & Neighbors Real Estate - Elkhart, IN
The People You Know, Like and Trust!

I need to get back to my websites.  I Have been away to long.

Jul 10, 2016 01:02 PM #29
Rainmaker
370,655
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Specializing in Brookside, Waldo, Prairie Village

I need to check out my website on a regular basis....need to outsource this!!

Jul 12, 2016 04:17 AM #30
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