The Psychology of Listings and Rates

Real Estate Technology with BoomTown

Disclaimer:  This has post has nothing to do with web-designers or developer quality. 

Which site would you think gets more traffic and generates more leads (this isn’t an optical illusion)? 

Ugly Betty

Pretty Woman


Answer:  Ugly Betty, hands down (you’ll have to trust me, I’ve seen both sites traffic metrics).  Why/ How??  It’s easier to locate Ugly Betty’s listings than Pretty Womans.   I don’t believe this to be by (intelligent) design, which makes the point of this post…it’s all about the listings.  So much so, I’d lay a healthy bet (if I were a betting man) that a blog-site that only had the following text on it’s home page:




would out ‘click through’ a site that had: Blog blog blog, beautiful pictures, sexy voice-over videos, or some dude walking out of the margin of the web-browser across your site.  (A wonderful blend of Ugly’s stats and Pretty’s CSS here.)

When potential consumers go to the web in search of real estate, they’re looking for listings.  They don’t care who’s providing them, they just want to see them, all of them, and everything about them.  Whoever provides easiest access to listings (on purpose or not) is most likely to get the lead and the client.  Go get a text based listing manager, plug it into your well populated, properly configured blogsite, make it the center of attention, and watch the people stream in on purpose and by accident. 

In my opinion this is why Redfin has maintained through the ‘Another Discount Broker’ smear campaign, where so many others have failed.  This is no small task; they are persevering in an industry that has been almost impenetrable to new business models.  Why?  It’s more than their rebate. 

You are only 2-3 clicks away from listing nirvana, no name or phone number required.  After the initial buzz wears off you find yourself engaged by the fact they’re also willing to rebate you some commission, akin to a sale…everyone loves a deal and most everyone outside the industry thinks Realtors are way overpaid.  Their leads are being converted to clients and no one has even spoken to them yet. 

It’s rather ominous (to the naysayer) that Redfin and ‘Discount Brokerage’ are less and less mentioned in the same sentence and even more so that it’s main detractors are almost solely other real estate professionals.  I actually saw a blog post the other day solely about Redfin losing a listing…one listing.  You could create a whole social network around lost listings for any other broker house, yet Redfin gets tagged for losing one…My dream job would have been to be their Chief of Marketing, but I digress  

Maybe one day soon, more real estate professionals will see this is a highly preferred way of doing business.  Give them listings, appeal to their consumerism, and let them contact us…on purpose or not, it’s (very) simply brilliant.  This company plays in fine tune with the psychology of the status quo; there are lessons to be learned here for those willing to listen. 


The same is true in the mortgage industry.  Consumers want rates…rates, rates, rates.   Whoever makes it easiest to find rates, usually gets the lead and the client.  Television demonstrates the power of the rate.  DiTech, CountryWide and every other lender with enough cash to produce a commercial sells a rate.  Never mind that a majority of the people who actually respond to this advertising will never qualify for the advertised rate, they showed a rate.  Mortgage brokers should do the same, give consumers easy easy access to rates, the real rates, true wholesale rates and require little more than an email address in return. 

So whats the psychological play for the mortgage pro?  Pricing.  Show clients pricing, 10 levels deep in both directions if that’s what it takes.  Don’t manipulate the pricing, or you will lose all credibility in this increasingly transparent marketplace.  Professionals say that too much information actually hurts the consumer.  Guess who doesn’t care what you think?  The consumer.  They’re gonna look until they find rate nirvana and there isn’t a thing a mortgage pro can do about it, except adapt


It’s long tail consumerism, a paradigm shift away from the less is more marketing philosophies. 


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Marc Blasi
Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Hi Jeff-

As we both know - there are a lot of changes just around the corner - it's all going to be pretty interesting.

Aug 22, 2007 03:27 AM #4
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Jeff - I like this piece- you make good points about marketing. It is all about access to information that is what the consumer wants. I agree that there are a number of agents that have a problem with Redfin based on their commission policies.

 I for one don't have a problem because of their discount model. Their model has certainly changed our business and will continue to do so as it catches fire. I think it was inevitable anyway that the present commission structure would change due to the Internet. I don't take anything away from innovators which is what Redfin is as a company.

I do have a major problem though with their lazy real estate practices. As an example a Redfin agent expects a listing agent to do THEIR job by meeting THEIR buyer at a showing. How does that benefit their client? It doesn't!! If you can't be at a showing how can you possibly give YOUR client good advice? The arguement from Redfin's side then becomes the listing agent should be doing everything to get the house sold. A poor arguement to back their discount model.

 I have only gotten a small test of Redfin because they have not penetrated my market. I had one experience with them and it was just like what I had heard by reading over the Internet. Hey Bill can you show X house to my buyer I can't make it? HUH???

Making it easy to access MLS is fine but you still need good systems in place to convert those leads.

Aug 22, 2007 03:38 AM #5
Dawn Workman
Veracity Real Estate Group, LLC - Camas, WA
Camas Real Estate Expert, MBA, 480-540-8100
Great post, I love it.  The fact that I love all posts with marketing in the title has nothing to do with it- it is really a good one :)
Aug 23, 2007 04:34 PM #6
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA
Rates are to mortgage sites what listings are to real estate sites- MEAT
Aug 23, 2007 04:36 PM #7
Cyndee Haydon
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
727-710-8035 Clearwater, Beach Short Sales Luxury Condos &Homes
Jeff - what an insightful post - never thought of it that way - but couldn't agree more.  
Aug 23, 2007 05:11 PM #8
A List Realty Group Inc.
Keller Williams Realty e2pllc - Lake Stevens, WA
This is very true, great post. I just heard the same thing from a great internet agent in my office. I can't wait to employ this myself.
Aug 23, 2007 05:34 PM #9
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
Exactly -- its mostly about the listings and what the client's need - not us.
Aug 23, 2007 05:58 PM #10
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Doesn't matter which model web page is used, ugly or pretty, it still has to be found.

Aug 23, 2007 10:51 PM #11
Steve Gilmore
Century 21 First Realty - Tallahassee, FL
Way to go Jeff.  Not many lenders/brokers/LOs out there show pricing without manipulation.  Good for you.
Aug 24, 2007 01:45 AM #12
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
True, true. true. SHOW ME THE HOUSES !!!! That is all they care about until they are ready and engaged.
Aug 24, 2007 01:52 AM #13
Tracy Thrower Conyers
Silicon Beach Properties • KW - Venice, CA
buy. sell. lease. residential in silicon beach.

Spot on, Jeff!  I am so thrilled to see a gold star on my favorite topic.  Congratulations! 

For more information on leveraging listings databases on websites and blogs, I invite your readers to drop by my blog where I wax and wane all day long on this important topic.  =-)

Aug 24, 2007 02:35 AM #14
Jeff Corbett
BoomTown - Charleston, SC

Thx all for the comments. 

Hope it adds to your successful marketing strategies...



Aug 24, 2007 02:41 AM #15
Rick & Ines - Miami Beach Real Estate
Majestic Properties - Miami Beach, FL

X - I think we can take this discussion a step further though.  Yes as a Realtor I am aware that people want to see listings, but we also have different goals with our blogs (i.e- becoming the area expert) - so knowing the psychology of the listing and once we indentify our goals, it's a matter of making the 2 work.  I know I had a conflict on where to include the "search for listing" button on my site and I decided to place it in the most important place under my header.  

It's interesting how in this business we have to be web designers, psychologists as well as good sales people to make it all happen. 

Aug 24, 2007 03:12 AM #16
Laurie Manny
Long Beach CA Real Estate - Long Beach, CA
Listings make the phones ring.  
Aug 24, 2007 05:19 AM #17
Joshua Talayka
Chase Internatinonal - Reno, NV

great post.  to ad to it, once a person clicks on a site, they generally decide whether they will continue to browse withing 5 seconds.  If the layout of your site isn't easy to navigate, you can kiss all the traffic goodbye.  nobody wants to sit there and have to go though an intro video, or have to scroll around to get to the info they are after.  


<a href="" ><img src="">



Aug 24, 2007 06:49 AM #18
Jennifer Monroe
Savvy + Company Real Estate - Charlotte, NC
Real Estate REALTOR®/Broker in Beautiful Charlotte

Interesting perspective, but I'm having the opposite experience in my market. People love slick, beautiful packaging. I hear it so often from my clients when they finally tell me how they decided to work with me or my firm. The look and feel conveys the experience they expect to have working with us. Most use multiple sites to find the listing, then when it comes time to choose a broker, search out the "Pretty Woman".

Good post!

Aug 24, 2007 08:10 AM #19
Christopher Onwuasoanya
Atlantic Waste & Power System - Sparta, NJ
I was one of the show me the houses type. Thanks for the lesson.
Aug 24, 2007 08:19 AM #20
Tracey Thomas
BrokerInTrust Real Estate - Calabasas, CA
CA Real Estate Broker

I think information is very important, but i also think the packaging is crucial  I find that web visitors are not just information hungry but also have short attention spans (like children) and can be enticed to read articles or peruse other information if its fed to them correctly.

TV commercials just don't blurt out products, features, benefits and prices.  They are choreographed to entice and cajole.  People buy with emotion and justify with facts.

I don't think you need every single bell and whistle on a website, but I do think you need good design and engaging content to be successful.  The point is to make the phone ring, not to give out free information.

I do agree with making information easy to find and not making someone register first.

Aug 24, 2007 11:38 AM #21
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA

Listings make the phones ring.

Uh do rates. 

Aug 24, 2007 03:05 PM #22
William Collins
ERA Queen City Realty - Scotch Plains, NJ
Director of Property and Asset Management


Thanks for the post. I like the analogy and see the merits. I don't subscribe to buyer agency agreements. I only work with those who want to work with me and understand how I work. Most of my business is visa vie referrals and that makes for a good business relationship. My customers aren't looking for a friend, their looking for a home, if we become friends in the process all the more better. I am focused on meeting the consumer on a playing field that addresses their needs as it relates to investing in real estate. To survive in this industry, you have to be able to adjust frequently to accommodate the demands and achieve the common goal.

Aug 25, 2007 08:20 AM #23
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