As we enter 2021 it's a great idea to set new goals for our Real Estate Business and create new ideas to implement into our business plan. As the Designated Broker and Owner of Tri-Cities Real Estate Market Leaders, I like to monitor shifts in the Real Estate Market and evaluate if it's time to make adjustments to stay relevant with current trends in Marketing and re-evaluate the best way to leverage technology to implement forward-thinking into an effective business plan for a Real Estate Company.
Tri-Cities Homes for Sale | Residential Real Estate
Since each Real Estate Market is a little different I would like to share what is effective for marketing Homes for Sale in Tri-Cities Wa then you can evaluate if these ideas would be effective in your area or share what brokers are doing in your area to build Brand Awareness around the local Real Estate Broker who is actually performing the Residential Real Estate service.
Real Estate Companies | 2021
When you think about the relationship between a Real Estate Broker and their Real Estate Company the first thing you need to ask yourself is:
“What does the company provide to the Broker for the fees that the broker pays to the Franchise”?
Each State uses different terms to define a Real Estate Agent, A Real Estate Broker, and a Real Estate Company.
In Washington State, we eliminated the Term Real Estate Agent years ago. Now every “Real Estate Agent” is a Real Estate Broker instead. The old term Real Estate Broker is now replaced with the term Designated Broker or Managing Broker.
If you are a Designated Broker you are the Principal Broker in charge of total operations for the Washington State Real Estate Company. This means that you will be held accountable for any violations or findings through a state audit relating to advertising or safekeeping of completed Purchase and Sale Agreements. However, the Designated Broker can create a Delegation Policy and appoint these tasks to a Managing broker. In business practice, the Managing Broker should recruit, and monitor new brokers that enter the company. Washington State has a law that puts new brokers in a probation window with heightened monitoring on all of their Real Estate transactions and advertising for the first two years of being licensed.
Before we could discuss how to grow your real estate business we first needed to define your current position within the structure of your real estate company.
How to pick a Real Estate Company to work for?
When a Real Estate Broker decides to hang their license with a Real Estate Company they may have different goals in mind for what they seek to achieve by working for that company. If the broker is brand new they may not care what the commission splits are and they may just want to be around experienced Realtors who can teach and mentor them on the best way to start practicing Real Estate.
If you are an experienced Real Estate Broker and you have been practicing Real Estate for years then your demands from your Real Estate Company will be different than a rookie who has never sold a house.
For the sake of trying to offer real estate marketing advice, I need to assume that you are an established Real Estate Broker who understands how to write a Purchase and Sale Agreement and you do not need to call your Designated Broker for advice on every transaction to ask them what addendums you need and or how to keep help your clients confident in your decisions when you represent them when they are buying or selling a home.
Real Estate Marketing Advice
Now that we have established that you are a confident Real Estate Agent/Broker and you understand how to create Purchase and Sale Agreements with no help from your Designated Broker or Managing Broker let's jump into the best way to grow your business for 2021.
Remove Unnecessary Overhead
If there is one thing that the Covid 19 pandemic has taught us it would be that we do not need an extravagant office to conduct Residential Real Estate. It has been preached over and over again that Home Buyers and Sellers are turning to Google to start their online home search before they pick up the phone and decide who to call to help them buy a home or sell a home. Therefore, if you are paying your Brokerage $27,000 a year to cap out then you are missing out on a lot of funds that could place your marketing dollars in front of potential clients who are using Google to research who they want to work with. With the rise of National Companies like EXP, you are seeing that brokers are tired of the old 60/40 split with a cap rate to go 100% commission averaging around $27,000 from the National Franchise companies. Even though EXP has a much lower cap rate than many of the Realogy-owned franchise companies like Century 21, Coldwell Banker, ERA or Sotheby's I still will challenge you to go one step further and avoid paying EXP they're requested $16,000 a year. If I was forced to join a National Company it would be EXP with their 80/20 split and $16,000 cap to go 100%. However, there is a reason that I do not work for EXP. The reason is that I opened an Independent Real Estate Brokerage over 10 years ago and it was the best Real Estate decision that I have ever made.
Why you should be an Independent Real Estate Company
Large Companies Like Google and Facebook have made it easier than ever to use their services to create hyper-local ads targeting your keywords to find consumers that want your product or service. If you understand that your keywords are city name - homes for sale or city name- Real Estate then you are better off generating business on your own. It’s easy to contact a web developer like Real Estate Webmasters and say sign me up for your best Real Estate website then start building landing pages like I did right here with my Tri-Cities Homes for Sale Landing Page. On average most reputable web designers are charging around $300 per month to get your website up and running.
Google my business - Real Estate Company
Google has said over and over again that they want to deliver local results directly to the Googler who is using their service. When you own the local Real Estate Company providing Real Estate Service it's easy for the consumers who are searching using your keywords to find you. For Example, let's look at the lowest cost national company Exp Real Estate. They still charge a $16,000 a year cap rate. However, if you bought your own programmer you would pay $3,600 per year on Hosting and Web Design Fees per year. That leaves you $12,400 per year left over to improve your search results.
For the purpose of planting your flag on the moon, you will need to claim a brick and mortar address to start with your Google my Business profile and begin creating your local Citations for SEO.
The best way to get an affordable Real Estate Office as an Independent Real Estate Broker is to reach out to Virtual Real Estate Office Providers in your area. When I was creating my Tri-Cities Real Estate Company I found a Law Firm that had a huge office and did subleases called a virtual office. You get full access to their conference rooms, reception, and everything for 30 hours a month for $140.00 a month. That brings your total office rent up to $1,680 per year. I do most of my work from a Home Office and I use my Macbook from home to do 99% of my Real Estate work. However, if I have a client that wants to go meet at a conference table to discuss something I have access to a Really nice brick and mortar office for less than the desk fees of what most National Companies charge. You can see photos of my office here, “Tri-Cities Real Estate Market Leaders.”
After you have your brick and mortar office set up and your website is up and running it's time to start building local citations to put yourself on the map in Google Search Results. The Fastest way to optimize your local citations for local SEO is to purchase a Yelp Account. This costs around $600 per year but it will save you a lot of time when you think about all of the companies that Yelp Syndicates to and how fast you can make posts and updates from Yelp. Local Businesses are the biggest things giants like Google say they want to reach. So, why not make it easier for them to reach you without the middleman?
Website Optimization | Tri-Cities Homes for Sale
Website Optimization has been the bread and butter for Real Estate for the last 10 years and moving into 2021 now is the time to re-evaluate your goals and decide where you can make cuts to improve your web optimization. With large Companies like Zillow or Realtor.com dominating the SERP results, brokers may get discouraged and not even attempt to work on their website. However, I would argue that almost every National Website is just selling local brokers' content in exchange for profit without doing anything. Therefore, if you look at the local Brokers' Return on Investment from generating a home sale online the local broker can afford to create a much larger PPC campaign than the national company. For Example, if you sell a $450,000 hour with a 3% commission you earn $13,500. What does Realtor.com or Zillow make when they charge the local broker a flat fee to buy leads per month?
The answer is that they should not make anything because the local broker should be creating local web pages that target the same Keywords the National Companies do. The difference is that the local page created by the local keyword will only target the exact search term they want to do business with. For Example, I am a Real Estate broker in Tri-Cities so my keywords would be:
Choosing what web developer to use and what tools to use to optimize your website is a huge Decision. My favorite go-to source for Content Marketing and SEO research for my Real Estate websites has been SEMRush.
Hopefully, Google will release an algorithm update that will make it less desirable for National companies like Zillow to create a business controlling SERP results to sell leads to local brokers. Instead, the local brokers should do business directly with Google to display the actual content produced from the Realtor that is a member of the local MLS displaying the IDX information.
Who makes the best Real Estate Websites?
I have had websites created by Agent Image, Real Estate Webmasters, Real Geeks, iHouse, and many others over the years. An important thing to remember when you buy into a website or a platform is that you are also buying into a community that may help you develop ideas to create content or make new internal sites or external links too. I have spent a lot of time on WordPress looking at things like Divi, Elementor and now Generate Blocks. With Google freaking out about the newest update ready to hit us this May 2021 I would say that if you are going to going with a WordPress site I would make sure that it is fast. Therefore, I am not a fan of page builders like Divi or Elementor. I like the WordPress theme Generate Press Pro ran with Generate Blocks Pro.
You can write all the content in the world but we all know that people are going to visit a Real Estate Website because they want to see Homes for Sale. Therefore, the backbone of the website is how the IDX display looks and operates on a mobile device. Also, to get return visitors you're going to want to be able to create saved searches and set up email campaigns to re-engage past clients.
If this is done right this alone would be the single most beneficial part of being an Independent Real Estate Company instead of joining any franchise Real Estate Company. When you are a thumbnail buried in a large corporate website surrounded by hundreds of agents it's much harder to stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, all those corporate brokers are following the same rules on cold calls, client splits, and saying the same thing.
When you are an Independent Real Estate Company writing your own content on your website you are free to offer your clients anything that you can think of. I would say this gives you more ammo for hyper-local internal landing pages and options to stand out from the national companies.
I would argue that the broker who wants to brand themselves as a local expert to clients should get familiar with the idea of creating new pages and writing on those new pages. Furthermore, reaching out to other people on the web within forums or blogs is a great way to start building out external links back to your website to try to improve organic results for SEO.
Real Estate Marketing Content
Now that you have trimmed the fat and reduced your wasted overhead and optimized your budget to target local consumers using Google it's time to start building out your Marketing Content. We all know that Google owns YouTube and creating videos that engage clients is supposed to be the next big thing. Why not start making YouTube videos to embed onto your website and start writing blog articles to post on your website?
SEM Rush has some great tools for helping grade your content and the best practices for adding keywords to your content so that you can keep your readers attention. Using Social Media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin in and Instagram is a great way to push your content. After you write an article you can create a boosted post on Facebook that will drive traffic to your article or that new listing you just created a drone tour on.
I am a huge fan of creating drone tours on my listings. You can check out some of my Video Tours I have been making on my YouTube Channell here:
These clips will give you an idea for a way to show your clients a great way to boost the appearance of their home online. These National Companies are not creating this content. We as Real Estate Brokers and gathering up the video tours, marketing photos, and writing the marketing description and we are giving all the credit to large multi-billion dollar companies that take the credit.
I would like to see more brokers break free from the national companies and put their marketing dollars into local search results pushing their content from their platforms.