October 2006

It seems sometimes that people and companies will continue with marketing campaigns because it is just something they have always done. Take the Yellow Pages as an example. Small companies feel they have to keep advertising because that is what they have always done. Never mind that the reach of the once mighty yellow book is dwindling; renewal is just an automatic decision. I feel the same applies to the Real Estate Book. Almost 80% of all real estate transactions begin online, but real estate professionals will still continue to pay $6k or more to be in a book that mostly sits unread in a grocery aisle. A real estate blog is a fraction of the cost, is there for a longer time and shows buyers that the realtor is at the top of their industry. It is time to stop spending money on old print media and embrace the new media of blogs and RSS.

Many real estate blogs have talked about Zillow however most of the real estate agents we speak with really don’t seem to think much of Zillow despite the press it gets.
So when I saw this article about the FTC complaint against Zillow I wasn’t really surprised. Real Estate Marketing can be as simple or complex as you make it, but it all starts with good a content delivery system. The Best Content Delivery system right now is a Real Estate Blog.

Zillow started last February and quickly skyrocketed to popularity with its instant valuaions of homes and easy of use.

Albert Einstein summed it up pretty well, Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Let’s play the analogy game for realtors that expect to receive quality leads.  For years in the past the best sources were newspapers, magazines, the Real Estate Book that sits on the shelves at the grocery stores and local restaurants.  Any print campaign that is distributed to local ZIP CODES within their market.

Over the past 8 plus years, realtors have relied on their website to get them in front of buyers and sellers that need their services.  This involved getting a website and figuring out how to position their website on Google, Yahoo and MSN for searchers to find when they search by related keywords.  Some have had success others have been ripped off.  Needless to say, numbers don’t lie – over 80% of your prospects search the internet for information that ultimately should lead them to you – or your competition.

If you are an agent, and you aren’t getting in front of enough qualified prospects, what is your marketing strategy to fix this problem.  Should you rent more leads by throwing away your money in print campaigns.  Perhaps you could give top search engines more money to be a sponsored listing (PPC).  That will certainly put you in front of about 5% of their searchers.  Or you can make a long term investment into your business and start reaching consumers directly by marketing yourself in your real estate blog.

Think outside of the box and separate yourself from the standard.  Join the blogosphere and give people what they want – information!

One of the things that contributes to the increases in foreclosure rates is mortgage IED’s, or improvised equity devices. These loans are genrally easy to get but are high leverage and high risk and present numerable problems when they mature. IED’s are generally ARMs that start off with low rates, but in a market like today’s they continually adjust upwards. As the interest rates rise, so does your monthly mortgage payment. When the loans have interest only payment terms, if a homeowner were to only pay the interest they could run into problems. If the value of the home goes down, the mortgage could grow to be greater than the value of the home. This could leave no room for the homeowner to bail out without having to raise the cash to cover the difference. Hence the increase in foreclosure rates.

Statistics tell us that close to 80% of buyers and sellers search the internet for information about real estate. Most people rely on the internet as their trusted resource for real estate information in their market. Savvy realtors with strategic online marketing objectives can exploit many internet marketplaces to generate leads for their business.

More consumers are reading information on blogs daily. Blogs have increased in popularity tremendously over the last few years. Consumers continue sharing more information on personal and business blogs daily. The blogosphere has become the internet’s hidden jewel for quality leads. How – the best friend to any realtor is their customers and the referrals they can bring. Word of mouth leads are a realtors bread and butter. A realtor that is willing to think outside of the box can join the blogosphere and give consumers the information they need about real estate. An amazing viral marketing strategy!

Let’s go back and analyze the blogosphere. It is consumer generated content hosted as a WEBLOG containing weekly articles written by people and read worldwide. Articles about anything and everything can be found in social networks, blog search engines, even on search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. Triangle Direct’s real estate clients are given a fully optimized blog, blog marketing strategies for search engines, training and customer support, and free updates. Tap into the blogosphere now with your very own real estate blog!

We talk to a lot of realtor’s.  It amazes me what kind of programs they are being pitched and why realtor’s continue to throw their money away.  I have a client in Chapel Hill NC who listens to everything we say. Remember, anyone can get a blog but if it’s not optimized and you don’t have a clear strategy in mind, you don’t have a chance in succeeding.  What also amazes me is that realtor’s are not jumping on a program like this.  I’ve finally realized that most realtor’s think this is one of those “new” marketing schemes to get your money.  Well, it’s not.  We actually care about our clients and their success and we’re a firm believer in your success is our success.  Without it, we don’t have a company.  So instead of thinking this is “one of those calls again”, listen to what we have to say and offer.  Right now, it’s the best marketing program online for realtor’s and we have plenty of them to vouch for this.  You could end up like this realtor:

“Dear Triangle Direct, I just wanted to let you know that through my blog I have received my second lead for a new neighborhood that isn’t even my listing. Ive posted a few discussions on the type of neighborhood and where it’s located and people are contacting me first instead of the developer. I’ve already secured one lot reservation on a 700k house! Thanks for your ideas and help in creating my blog. Kim vanDusen Chapel Hill, NC “

Your time is now.  Take advantage of it!!

One of the comments that we got from a real estate client is that not only is she getting a lot more leads, but the people who are calling her are much more qualified. They know what they want and are looking for someone who has in depth knowledge of a specific area, neighborhood or subdivision. As with all aspects of online marketing, there is a temptation for real estate professionals to target the high traffic keywords such as “Chicago real estate” or “tampa realtor”. These keywords bring in a lot of traffic. But how well qualified are they? You will get a much more qualified buyer if you target specific areas. Having your website ranked for a dozen or more specific neighborhoods may produce less traffic, but will always result in more sales. Our clients are using their real estate blogs to establish themselves as the local experts. The more local you are, the more of an expert you become.

I was going to do another article about what realtors can write about in their real estate blogs, instead I ran across a nice blog from a real estate agent in Wake Forest North Carolina. This Wake Forest NC Realtor has a blog that has a nice variety of articles covering many topics of interest to someone looking for homes or property in Wake Forest.

Local search continues to become more popular for people seaching for information in local areas. Not newspaper or magazine subscribers. Not even the number of direct mail recipients or peple that pick up the local real estate books. Sure these sources generate a few leads occassionally, and it is good to spend some money to reach their audience but most people search the internet and the blogosphere for information.

Approximately 109 million people performed a local search online from July 2005 to July 2006. During July more than 849 million searches were conducted on the internet. 59% of the searches were done for restaurant information or other entertainment services. The same people are searching for local neighborhood information and local real estate for sale information.

Having a real estate blog will allow you to generate traffic from these searches. If you can update your blog weekly with good information for you can begin generating leads from local searchers. Think outside of the box and let your blog be found as a top resource for local searchers.

We’ve known for a while that search engines like blogs. Google owns blogger.com, a platform that enables Google to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenues; Yahoo and MSN have their own blog search capabilities, and Technorati is rapidly becoming a major player in search. The engines also take blogs into consideration when measuring the relevancy of a website. Our own blog website is a good example. The blog has a pagerank of four on Google and the site itself has 184 pages indexed. Given the time the site has been live, it is a perfect example of the level of interest the major search engines have in blogs, and how a blog can help boost the exposure of a website.

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