I wanted to circle back with the community and address the many questions that I have heard floating around about RealEstate.com and hopefully clear up some of the miscommunication or misunderstanding. Based on my last blog post on the RealEstate.com Local Expert, here are the main questions or areas of confusion with RealEstate.com. Leslie Ebersole and C. Lloyd McKenzie wrote great posts summarizing the questions that many in ActiveRain have about RealEstate.com. Leslie and everyone else, I apologize for the delay.
1. What is RealEstate.com? RealEstate.com is a real estate web site owned by Market Leader with very high domain authority and brand recognition in the real estate industry. It was purchased in September 2011 from LendingTree left the real estate business to focus on mortgage and education. It generates roughly 1 million visits per month and 7 million pageviews per month (as averaged over 2011). RealEstate.com will be relaunched in March 2012. Our goal with RealEstate.com is to have a clean, photo rich web site with MLS listings that prominently features real estate professionals. Currently the web site is the same as it has been for the last three years. That is why Leslie had initially seen the ads for the Gilt Group and other ads on the site.
2. How is RealEstate.com different from Zillow or Trulia? Are you an ad or an agent? Zillow and Trulia have done a phenomenal job in driving traffic through search engine optimization. Kudos to them. But have you seen how many ads are on each page of Zillow or Trulia? On every page, there are an average of 12-15 ads per page including national advertising and featured agents. Add "featured listings" and the number of ads per page in dramatically higher. Our goal with RealEstate.com is a clean, photo-rich real estate web site with MLS listings, featuring ONE real estate professional PER PAGE. So rather than have four featured real estate agents on a page, we want one. BUT there are different sponsorship categories on many pages including the Local Expert, Homes for Sale, Home Valuation, and others in the future.
3. What is the RealEstate.com Local Expert? The RealEstate.com Local Expert is a good branding and display advertising opportunity to consumers looking for neighborhood or local information. According to the 2011 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, neighborhood information and quality is critical to home purchase. US Real estate agents and brokers can buy an exclusive sponsorship of the local information pages of a city on RealEstate.com. Unlike Zillow or Trulia, only one real estate agent will be featured per page. The local information pages on RealEstate.com will contain local market information, school information, and local shopping information. The city sponsor will also be able to post links to their local city page to feature the agent's local market and neighborhood expertise. Here is a link to a presentation on the RealEstate.com Local Expert used by the sales team.
4. How much traffic will I get? Similar to Zillow or Trulia, the RealEstate.com Local Expert does not have a traffic guarantee. Some larger cities will get significantly more traffic. Others will get nominal traffic based on the number of people living in the city and their Internet usage. RealEstate.com Local Expert packages are priced from $79 to $499 for large metro areas. The pricing is largely based on the number of people living in each city. The lowest priced display advertising on Zillow or Trulia is priced at $125-$150 per month for a non-exlcusive banner ad.
5. Are there home listings or homes for sale information included in the RealEstate.com Local Expert? No. There will not be any home listings included in the sponsorship for the RealEstate.com Local Expert program. The RealEstate.com Local Expert is only a sponsorship of the Local Information pages for a particular city. Local information includes local market and neighborhood information, school information and shopping information. The RealEstate.com Homes for Sale will be a separate advertising subscription.
6. When will the RealEstate.com Homes for Sale Subscription be available? Our goal with RealEstate.com is to feature all the listings from the MLS. Zillow and Trulia have roughly 60% of the listings depending on the market. As anyone in real estate knows, every MLS has different rules in terms of who can show listings and how those listings can be shown. So we need to have conversations with every MLS board in the country to make sure we are within MLS guidelines. This is time consuming and unpredictable, so we do not have a hard & fast timeline when homes for sale sponsorships will be available on RealEstate.com I wish it were simpler, but it is not.
7. What happens when consumers are searching for homes for sale on RealEstate.com? It will depend on the city. If MLS listings are available on RealEstate.com, then the consumer will stay on RealEstate.com. If MLS listings are not available on RealEstate.com, the consumer will be directed to an MLS approved IDX web site where they can search for home listings. I know this is not an ideal situation, but we want to make sure we deliver the experience that the consumer is expecting. Hopefully, as our MLS coverage expands, no consumers being directed off site to see home listings.
8. Will any content from ActiveRain be on RealEstate.com? No content from ActiveRain will be auto-syndicated to RealEstate.com (unlike Localism can be with the hyper local posts). Agents will be able to link to their ActiveRain blog from their local city page. Why are we not syndicating content? 1) ActiveRain members control their content and we would not syndicate their content without explicit permission. 2) Duplicate content that shows up on both ActiveRain and RealEstate.com could hurt the domain authority of both sites. 3) Plagiarized content on ActiveRain or RealEstate.com will negatively affect both web sites. We need to tidy up duplicated content and plagiarized content issues on ActiveRain in early 2012.
9. How is ActiveRain involved in RealEstate.com? We have tried to keep ActiveRain.com and the ActiveRain community separate from RealEstate.com. No points. No content syndication.
That being said, the staff at ActiveRain is involved with RealEstate.com. As most of you know, the sales team is selling RealEstate.com We are putting in place a CRM tool and now have an inventory management system, so things should work much smoother.
ActiveRain is the hyper local blogging and social media authority in real estate. ActiveRain has sold local sponsorships on Localism and ActiveRain for the past three years. We will also be working on training and coaching for how real estate professionals can use RealEstate.com in their local advertising, blogging and social media campaigns.
10. Why is the staff at ActiveRain involved at all? Great question. What we have found is that only a small percentage of real estate professionals will really take the time and effort to blog or use social media. It is new and can be time consuming. Many real estate professionals are not willing to put in the work to blog and many real estate professionals are not good writers. If an agent is willing and able to blog, he or she will be successful as proved by our Rich Real Estate Agent, Poor Real Estate Agent research and our piece on the best marketing practices of real estate professionals. Yet, a large percentage of real estate professionals choose to advertise. They can advertise in the local newspaper, in Homes & Land, pay per click marketing on Google, buying ads on Zillow, or being part of RealEstate.com My sense is that only 15% of real estate professionals will blog actively.
But, right now, we did not want to launch another exclusive geography advertising product on ActiveRain.com, since we want to continue to foster a sharing community on ActiveRain.com
The staff at ActiveRain (and Market Leader) will continue supporting, promoting, and training on ActiveRain.com, SEO, blogging and social media. We will also be supporting and developing advertising options for those agents who want to buy advertising (as we have done on ActiveRain Local Sponsorships and Localism).
If you are interested in RealEstate.com, please contact our VP of Sales Kate Yackley by sending her an email to email@example.com Kate, Kerrie and Bob will be monitoring comments on this post and responding. (I am out of town next week, I will likely not respond until 2012 - everyone needs a break, right?)
Here is a link to the RealEstate.com Local Expert sales presentation again if you are interested.
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year ActiveRain!