Wouldn’t it be great if leads from your listings came directly to you?
You can stick a sign in the front yard of your listing and the phone will still ring but sign calls are no longer a consistent source of business. I know one agent that claimed 25%+ of his business used to be from leads wanting more information about the property. Inman recently wrote an article quoting Andy Florance, CEO of CoStar, calling Zillow’s business model of putting digital yard signs in our listings Unethical. Past CEO Spencer Rascoff, countered on a Notorious ROB podcast and said then IDX is unethical, the difference is most brokerages getting leads told us from the beginning they were our competitor not originating as our partner, or their client, only time will tell what direction this goes. BUT FOR NOW, this is directly affecting us. That potential buyer (and seller) are going to the real estate Internet aggregators (such as Zillow, Realtor.com, HomeLight, or Trulia) that pops up first or is their favorite. Zillow alone gets 36 million visitors so we know more people are Googling and wanting to search electronically instead of calling the number on the sign.
The Challenges We Face
The first challenge is that several real estate aggregators are winning the war according to their public Valuations. The challenge for the consumer is that they think they are talking to the listing agent or “Specific House Expert”. When in reality they’re likely going to be connected to a new agent or one with no knowledge of the neighborhood, let alone the property. These companies are more concerned about making money instead of getting the lead to the best agent who knows everything about the house.
We have a huge opportunity to be more transparent and provide the property routing system to get leads inquiring about your listings straight to you.
When buyers, sellers, and neighbors inquire on our platform, the rDigz platform (www.rDigz.com), the contact goes directly to the Seller. Why it is FSBO marketing, who has a listing agreement with Agent Audrey who has been an elite agent for years. She has already been in the home, interviewed the seller, and is excited to assist the seller and get that buyer or neighbor into the house and answer all of the questions. When the seller passes the contact information for Agent Audrey to follow up and provides a SIMPLE and SEAMLESS sale for her seller.
The second challenge is getting the word out. As I said, collectively we sold 87% of the house and if we band together across brokerages, we have the buyers to get top dollars. We are marketers and we know how to drive traffic, as we build this brand, and as long as we work together, we will get these homes sold for top dollar. Fortunately, the real estate world has swung in control of the Consumer who prefers to drive around the neighborhoods and find homes on their own. We will leverage this.
Let’s take a closer look.
Nosy Neighbor Ned is looking to sell in the next year or so. He wants to stay up on the market to figure out how much he can get. He loves his neighbors but does not want everyone to know his business. He has seen all of the estimates online, but his floor plan is modified and he thinks another one with a floorplan like his is coming to market and is original, so he is super curious when he sees a post go up.
Our predecessors and current brokerages did not fight hard enough to win the war on the web! To be fair, brokerages made a choice as they could not be all to everyone, and in a move to be competitive, started offering fewer services as their value proposition changed from being a lead generator and moved their focus to agent tools, but leads are the lifeline of our business. Unfortunately, we were not in the decision-making seats of the leading brokerages but we are definitely paying hefty lead fees to those internet brands that made the right decisions on investing on the web, what we now refer to as aggregators. I can’t help but feel we should be getting a larger piece of the pie for the amount of blood, sweat, and tears that went into building the relationship to get a sign in the yard, then to let these potential clients only find us if we pay a 3rd party to connect us.
To make it even worse, slanting the floorboards more in favor of dominant Internet real estate brands like a cartoon, now “all listings marketed by Agent” need to be recorded in MLS, according to MLS 8.0. As soon as that sign goes in the ground the listing is then syndicated out to the leaders on the web. Agent Audrey the listing agent becomes anonymous, as she fades to small print hidden on webpages. The Nosy Ned inquiry goes to the BFF of the website, instead of to you the listing Agent. You’ve worked your entire life to know everything about real estate and would, honestly, be the best person, having been in the house, to ask questions about that home. You have spent time with the seller, who fills you up with all of the great neighborhood and home details to share with potential buyers you just don’t get to talk to the buyers except through their agent, who got your lead by paying the fee.
We used to be able to market pre-MLS so that we could squeeze out a couple of those sign calls. Now that 90+% of the buyer’s google the address when they find a property or just go straight to real estate Internet brands to start their search and have become more loyal to these brands that the Brokers would have through 10-15 years ago when they made a choice to not develop a stronger web presence. Now it’s up to us, and I have a plan to win and take back our industry before we go too far.
We are focused on helping our fellow great agents of the valley, You just reviewed all of the comps, you are at the top of your game. We just need more people to tell!