I speak to real estate professionals on a daily basis about real estate websites and marketing. Most of the time I love these conversations. We discuss strategies to get more business, things that have or haven’t worked for them in the past, and (my favorite) their long-term goals and how they’re going to achieve them. One of the topics that can go one way or the other is the topic of real estate websites.
Many real estate professionals still don’t have a real estate website. They either just haven’t signed up for one, or even worse, they don’t see the need for one. Some real estate professionals are fine relying on websites like Zillow and Realtor.com as their online lead generation sources. While I understand the short-term gains these sites have like ease of setup and quick access to home searchers, I don’t see how these websites will help you with your long-term goals. Here are four things you give up without a real estate website and two arguments to convince you why you need one.
Without a Real Estate Website, You Don’t Own Your Future
Have you ever used an amazing website for something, and then found out one day that they were closing their doors? I know I have (RIP manilla.com). This is even more prevalent today given the number of startups with great ideas and great funding trying to make it work. If you’re trusting an external source for all of your leads, what happens when they decide to change directions or close their doors? A great example in the real estate space is Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia. Imagine how you’d feel if you’d invested all of your resources into marketing on Trulia and are now unsure about the long-term future of your business’s main lead source.
When you have your own real estate website, you own your future. You get to decide how long your “doors stay open”, what you offer, what makes you unique, everything! There are so many resources available today to consumers wanting to simply search for homes, it’s no longer a unique selling proposition. What are you providing that’s UNIQUE? Having a unique platform and a unique experience are two important parts of what should be your overall unique strategy.
Without a Real Estate Website, You Don’t Own Your Leads
Have you ever applied for auto insurance from a company and then, for the next three weeks, received nothing but phone calls for auto insurance quotes? Many companies have business models built on collecting and selling or collecting and marketing to leads. This is the online version of “whoever has the gold makes the rules” because online, leads are gold. Leads become interested prospects, which become clients and sales. When your lead generation strategies are all based around external platforms, you’re relinquishing your power to generate your own leads, and subscribing to their business model.
When you have your own real estate website, you own the leads. All leads generated from your website and landing page contact forms are yours to keep and market to. And, when you have a great real estate lead nurturing campaign in place, even if they’re not ready, you’ll be able to nurture them and, down the road, turn those leads into interested prospects, which become clients and sales.
Without a Real Estate Website, You Don’t Own Your Data Accuracy
Have you ever received a phone call for a listing that sold over six months ago? You then find out that many of your sold listings are still showing as active on Zillow. All large real estate sites, including Realtor.com, get their listing data from your local MLS. The data always originates locally and is passed up nationally. Unfortunately, these larger sites don’t do a great job of keeping the data accurate and updated in a timely manner.
When you have your own real estate website, the data is always accurate because it comes straight from your local MLS via IDX listing feeds. If a listing gets sold, it’s immediately updated on your website. You’re delivering better value than the big boys because you’re presenting a true picture of your local market availability.
Without a Real Estate Website, You Don’t Own Your Style
Large real estate sites are built to scale for the masses. This means they have to be uniform with limited to no customizations. Your profile page looks the same as everyone else’s profile page. You can’t add your own unique style, layout, branding, or ideas. You also can’t decide what types of leads you want to receive or what types of information you want to offer.
When you have your own real estate website, you get to customize it for your target audience. You can add or remove features to better the experience for your website’s visitors. Look at the great user experience that users receive at InfluenceRealEstate.com. They have customized their website to not only match their unique style and branding, they’re also providing unique information that’s importand and relevant to their target audience.
Consider This: You Are More Than Your Listings
When I was in real estate, I used to say, “anybody can show you houses; that’s not why you’re paying me.” I truly believe this, too. Your value as a real estate professional is in your local market expertise, your expert advice about the ins and outs of real estate transactions, and your unwavering commitment to seeing each transaction through to close. When you only showcase yourself on larger sites that—truly—are listing portals, you’re making the silent statement that the listing rules all—that you have nothing to add to the conversation.
When you have your own real estate website, you become so much more than your listings. You become the wealth of information in your head as you share that information through thoughtful and relevant blog posts, case studies, and personalized recommendations—all meant to speak to and engage with your target audience. Think of the missed opportunities someone like Andrew Fortune of GreatColoradoHomes.com would lose if he trusted only in external listing portals to generate leads for his business versus becoming the local real estate expert for his market area.
Consider This: It’s All About Long-Term Strategy
I’ve met a lot of real estate professionals in my career. While it’s true that some come and go, many stay for the long-haul. They make healthy and prosperous careers out of their obsession with real estate. Yet so many real estate professionals make business decisions (and this IS a business) with a short-term focus. I think this, in part, has to do with the fast pace with which technology is moving. It’s hard to know what’s going to be the next big thing versus the next big flop.
That being said, I think this is even MORE reason why it’s important to have your own real estate website. Websites aren’t going anywhere. They’re established, they’re proven, and they’re an integral part of our everyday lives. It may not be as cheap as an agent profile on Zillow, but neither is the payout. The more you give to it, the more you nurture it, the better it will become, and the harder it will work for you.