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2008 to do list

4 minute read

Here is a little to do list for 2008 for real estate agents. Just some things to think about.

Resist Fee Increases
Yes they will all be at it again. Telling you how much they have improved, how much benefit they are to your company, oh and how much you mean to them. The truth is they just know you will have no choice but to pay and they have to increase profits. So if they create another category such as Super Platinum tell em you have better things to spend your money on. If a customer is looking for a house in Brisbane they are not going to look at the first page, they will look through all of the listings. Another thing is that users are becoming so much more sophisticated with their browsing. Of course the portals know you are in deep rivalry with your competitor across the road and if they can sign them they know you are a monty to pay.

Get your website up to standard
If your website is not standards based you will pay a high price in 2008 with Internet Explorer 8 arriving and also Firefox 3.0, which both support web standards. If you want to know if your website is already standards based go here.

Spruce up your website
Get your website up to the latest standards, make sure you have RSS Feeds, Google Mapping, Photo Galleries, Video and Podcasts and also make sure you have a blog to to inform your potential vendors. Dump any resemblance of a splash page, get rid of any frames and while you are at it, get it out of your skull that users want pretty flash movies – yes I know, you want it, it makes you feel special, but it is bad for users and worse again for search engines.

Make sure each of your listings has their own unique page, this is because a raft of international websites are coming our way and they only carry a small amount of data and then link to your website (yes that’s giving you benefits)

Get onto FREE Websites
I know most of these portals suck and you don’t get many enquiries but the more people that join these sites the more popular they become, so make sure you have a feed engine with your supplier and get your listings on some of those free portals and more importantly classifieds websites (which are already popular). Most of the feed companies will not export to these sites unless there is pressure from you.

Re-think Newspapers
Yes they serve a purpose but only to promote your brand, they simply do not sell real estate any more. So engineer your newspaper advertising around getting more vendors to your website. I am not saying dump newspaper advertising, but get clever and talk to your local rep about what more they can do for you and your vendors.

Mellow Yellow
Go for a simple text only Yellow Pages advertisement, yes you need to be here, but it is not used by anyone to find a property and very few people (if any) use it to find an agent. They may be bringing out a heap more types of guides but seriously, hardly anyone bothers with it any more. Before anyone from Yellow gets upset, I am talking about real estate. Yellow is over for agents, so spend that money promoting something else.

Local Reps
Be hard on your local reps from portals and newspapers, they are good about spreading guff about how great their offering is, but challenge them always, it will save you money and perhaps give you a better position! Most of these reps do not understand the Internet, so get to know your biggest medium, check out Wikipedia (not perfect) on issues such as the start of the Internet and how it works, RSS feeds, xml, and real estate portals.

Think Smart
Your marketing dollars are spent in a number of ways. Each of them should be designed around promoting your brand awareness. Whether it be give away advertising for local communities/charities or full colour spreads in newspapers. Also talk to real estate portals about better positioning your brand.

Any other ideas folks?

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21 Comments

  • Dave Platter
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 10:15 am 0Likes

    Peter, good post–except for the part where you’re taking diggs at us at realestate.com.au. πŸ™‚

    Just wanted to add one to the list: manage your leads, so that when you get an email from a potential buyer or seller you get every ounce of value out of it.

    We often hear from the people that use realestate.com.au that they contact some agents by email and even phone, and sometimes never hear back.

    Everytime an agent fails to respond to a lead, they are throwing away whatever money they spent to acquire that lead. And, they are throwing away whatever money that lead might have generated for them.

    I’ve never been an agent, but I try to imagine how hard it must be to juggle all the demands agents have on their time. This seems like a use of time well worth the effort.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 3:38 pm 0Likes

    Feeling guilty Dave? I don’t think I mentioned REA πŸ™‚ I do think you suggestion about leads is an important one and I will write about that this weekend.

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 8, 2008 at 9:08 pm 0Likes

    It could have been about any company or all till you mentioned “Super Platinum” .. Then Dave and everybody new it was REA πŸ™‚

    Next Dave will be asking how you found out the name of their soon to be released new product.

  • Barney
    Posted February 9, 2008 at 9:49 pm 0Likes

    Refuse to do business with companies that lock you into 2 year contracts so they can stop you from changing to another supplier. You can Free the market up from this type of lock in contract by saying NO else you will change suppliers. All you will get is ordinary service, until the contract resign time in a few years. The software contracts are heading done the path similar to mobile phone with lock in contracts.

  • Jake
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 10:20 am 0Likes

    Just when I thought “Peter must be getting kickbacks from REA for all the attention he is giving them on this site!” πŸ™‚

  • Paul Devine
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 2:11 pm 0Likes

    Whilst I agree with you Peter, buying the latest and greatest packages from the portals does achieve something you don’t mention and thats brand recognition.

    Having your agencies properties with company logo plastered all over the first page and subsequent pages drills home, maybe subconsciously, your branding and enforces in the viewers mind your strong position in the market they are searching.

    I wish it was an even playground and only one package but this will never be the case with large internet companies.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 2:33 pm 0Likes

    Paul, I agree, but why does a 2 kilobyte image have to cost more? I know why they do it, but to me it is simply just a lot of rubbish and you can only get away with it- if you are are in a duopoly or a monopoly.

    And what if everyone has that logo and everyone has the premium subscription?

    To me the difference between each agency is not the logo – it is the quality and time taken on the copy of each property.

    I think around 50% of agents (do a search and have a laugh on rea or domain) have to lift their game. Some of it was attrocious.

    I was also quoting some agents this weekend for their web development and it is so good to see great images and careful well laid out content. I also checked out their competition and if I were these agents, I would be telling my vendors to look at the time taken for presentation, because they leave their competition for dead.

    Yes, branding is important (very) but I would very very wary of just going up ‘grades’ in subscriptions just to get a better logo and branding before looking at the presentation of listings.

    Agents should have a minimum document, this is the bare minimum a listing is allowed to have to go live. I have written about this before.

    Some food for thought for all of us

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 2:49 pm 0Likes

    That what they would have you believe. Anything that REA sells that cannot be directly attributed to increased traffic they pass off as increased brand awareness. In many areas you have to wade through 50 ore more feature properties before you get to the rest of the properties. How can they all be offering brand awareness.

    First we had premium accounts showing logos, feature properties, banners, then guaranteed top spot, now feature all, brochure all etc etc etc.. where does it end?

    In Surfers Paradise there is 183 feature properties right now. Do you really think that anybody gets any branding recognition from that. The only result is more money in the REA coffers.

    The charge it because they can, and because people will pay it. When this issue was raised once before I asked if this and all other of their super premium options were really worthwhile why didn’t they offer them in other markets they compete around the world. Why are these options only available in the local market? Because they are the substantial market leader…

    When the local rep tried to upgrade us to feature all or Brochure all I asked her to give me just one office that was market leader in their locality who was using either product and was willing to either speak to me about it or who had resigned to do it again. They could not provide one name and to me that speaks for itself.

    Generally (and I do mean generally), I believe this products are often sold to agents who are desperate for ways to gain market share against other local agents. These products are held up to the be the magic solution that very few would find them to be.

    One office I know asked me to look at their Internet stats and give them some direction. It turned out they had an REA banner campaign running, and Google Analytics showed for the traffic they had received they had had been paying $60 per click. When I pointed this out to him he was shocked… of course when he asked REA for an explanation ….. you guessed it… it was all Brand Recognition!!!

    I am all for brand recognition… but in our industry the best way to achieve that is with SOLD on a signboard πŸ™‚

  • Dave Platter
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 4:33 pm 0Likes

    Dave from the REA Group Here.

    Peter, I know you’re too modest to mention it. So, I wanted to say congratulations for your excellent write up in the Future of Real Estate Marketing blog. It’s here for those who want to bask in your glory:

    http://www.futureofrealestatemarketing.com/building-broker-web-sites-in-wordpress/

    Way to go, mate.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 5:12 pm 0Likes

    Thanks Dave, although, I was going to write about it all myself and shut down the site and just re-direct to the article for a day or so….(joking)

  • snoop
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 8:53 pm 0Likes

    Point is ,a lot of valid comment
    But…is the great monster REA so all powerful agencies cant afford not to keep paying the annual fee increases or resisting the somewhat extortionate demands to sign up for the two year contracts a previous poster mentioned.
    Seems its a one horse race these days.
    Fin review today has a big article about myhome even losing ground to homehound.
    So whos left?
    Farifax havent increased much in terms of share or traffic.
    Is REA becoming the Telstra we all love to hate,complete with the we know whats best for you attitude?

  • Glenn Batten
    Posted February 11, 2008 at 9:46 pm 0Likes

    REA is just about a business necessity in runnng a real estate agency today. Thats a fact I doubt many could dispute with maybe the exception of some areas in Sydney where Domain offers some market penetration.

    If it was not such a business necessity they would not be able to get away with such tactics… I just believe they take it to far but thats a typical corporate mentality and if I was a major shareholder I am sure the change in perspective would provide a different opinion πŸ™‚

  • Max
    Posted February 12, 2008 at 10:23 am 0Likes

    One critical point that has been overlooked in the brand recognition comments above is what was the ad on the banner about?

    Was it a call to action banner so you would then look for click through? Was the selling message a strong one and a great reason to click on the banner?

    Or was the ad a standard shot of the agents face and hence branding themselves? There is nothing about this type of banner that screams click me so you couldnt expect a high click through rate.

    So it may appear that the agent paid $60 a click, with brand recognition was the answer from the rep and this could be spot on and money well spent.

    show us the ad?

    Also on the point about internet portals charges, i notice that no one mentions how many sales the interet gets them and the $$$ made from it? its by far the most cost effective medium that an agent has to list and sell properties.

    Portal fees may have gone up but so have agent commissions with the rise in property values but i dont hear anyone complaining about that?

  • Slimey
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 9:36 am 0Likes

    “Dump any resemblance of a splash page” i love seeing this in practice. The Ray White Annandale Website looks so SPRUCED UP. Way to follow your own advice.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 10:07 am 0Likes

    Thanks Slimey. Sometimes in life you put up a fight with clients and you lose. My company actually had nothing to do with that, as you will see from the credits in the footer.

    But thank you for the lovely comment Slimey, good to see people investigating things further. In fact I have 3 clients with splash pages.

    The Ray White Annandale site I like all except for the splash page. S0 I do demo it on my clients but jump past it from the link, the others (and many more) I do not link to or promote on my website as I do not like them.

    So good to see you on this site Slimey and hope to hear more from you!

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 20, 2008 at 10:28 am 0Likes

    Oh and by the way Slimey. I do know who you work for and I hope your real estate web development arm continues to boom. πŸ™‚ Have a great day!

  • Slimey
    Posted February 21, 2008 at 9:37 am 0Likes

    Its annoying having to give in to clients that dont listen to the advice you give.

    Its like they don’t trust the web designer they hired.
    I do agree that sometimes you have to give in to keep the client happy.

    As a fellow web designer i try and pride myself on making website that are up to standards and are very accessible. Accessibility was one aspect you didn’t mention.

    But cant please them all.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 21, 2008 at 9:43 am 0Likes

    Hi Slimey

    It sometimes comes down to a commercial decision, do you fight for what you believe in and keep fighting delaying a project and upsetting your client? Or do you eventually give in to their demands.

    I do remind them every time I speak with them that they should remove it, but they are the bosses and it is their decision. I think the site looks great apart from that splash page.

  • Slimey
    Posted February 21, 2008 at 12:22 pm 0Likes

    Oh i agree that the site looks good. I was looking through your portfolio and that really jumped out to me. But when i found the splash page i almost left without checking the actual site.

    I have tried to explain issues in design to people and can totally understand everything you are saying.

  • Craig
    Posted February 21, 2008 at 4:52 pm 0Likes

    I tried to have a look at Ray White Annandale but unfortunately was just presented with a blank white page. Maybe being ‘Ray White’ thats what they wanted, but I suspect not. If you don’t have flash enabled in the browser which I don’t in Firefox at work then it seems impossible to get into the site (without going View Source and looking for the url to the index page).

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted February 21, 2008 at 4:59 pm 0Likes

    Craig

    I already know this and so does the client. I have forwarded these comments to the design company.

    Regards Peter

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