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How Do You Know You Can Trust a Real Estate Agent?

How Do You Know You Can Trust a Real Estate Agent?

There are online tools to help

In a previous blog post, we talked about the new era in real estate that allows homeowners to compare real estate in their local area with just the click of a few buttons, using lead generation and comparison sites. As easy and efficient as a lead generation site like OpenAgent may be, and although they’re structured in a fashion to help maintain their independence so they can provide objective information to homeowners, they are a business, after all — and one that seeks to double their revenue in the next 12 months.

This means they have a vested interest in converting each user who comes to their site and hands over their contact details, by matching them up with a real estate agent. For some homeowners, who are either time poor or new to the real estate sales process, using an intermediary like OpenAgent will make the process a whole lot easier. For everyone else, however, they may prefer to do the legwork themselves, so they can be doubly sure they’re appointing the right agent to sell their home.

All agents have to be licensed

Although most real estate agents will disclose their license number on their website, business cards, or by hanging their certificate of registration somewhere in their office, like Bill Tsounias a real estate agent for McGrath in Sydney does, it’s always a good idea to verify that information yourself. In NSW, for example, the Service NSW website includes a portal where you can check a real estate agent’s license.

In addition to seeing that the agent is licensed, it will also list any conditions associated with the license — i.e., whether they may exercise the functions of an auctioneer — any compliance issues, such as disciplinary actions or prosecutions against the agent. It will also list any associated parties, and whether a manager or receiver has ever been appointed before, which provide key details on the financial health of the license holder. There are similar registers in all other states and territories.

First impressions still count

But for all the research you can do into an agent’s license and recent sales history, one of the most important things you can do is to have a conversation with them, be it over the phone or in person. Their manner and temperament, and the way they explain key issues to you should help you decide which agent you feel most comfortable with selling your home. These first impressions still count, even in the digital age.

It’s company policy for McGrath agents to list their license number on their website so it makes it a lot easier for buyers and sellers to verify whether an agent is licensed to handle a particular real estate transaction. It also shows that McGrath is committed to honesty and transparency, an important ingredient in the success of any real estate agent today, and like McGrath, Bill Tsounias is just as committed to being a genuine and reputable real estate agent.

He’s come onboard with Virion to create his own professional website, where he can showcase his current listings, share information about his recent sales, and provide tips and advice to homebuyers and owners about the real estate market and what to expect when buying or selling a home. We have other agents on board who keep clients and vendors up to speed with information and listings using Facebook and other social media. 

To begin building your online brand, contact our team to discuss which digital marketing options will suit you and your digital marketing goals. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.

 

Is Facebook Going to Become the Next Big Thing in Real Estate?

Is Facebook Going to Become the Next Big Thing in Real Estate?

What ‘data’ makes Facebook so valuable?

As the most successful and most widely-used social media platform in the world, Facebook has amassed a lot of data over its 12 years of existence. That data is what makes Facebook so valuable, but it’s also what guides its business decisions. Facebook knows what emerging trends will be the next big thing, before you could even conceivably call them emerging trends. It’s how they knew to acquire Instagram; to introduce online advertising; expand into news publishing, by developing its Instant Articles service. Facebook is also a major platform for businesses, because of its emphasis on building communities, with whom you can share and discuss information that’s important to you. And all that data Facebook has under its belt, makes it easy to target people not already a part of your community.

Indeed, Facebook is also a major focus of nearly every real estate agent we speak to when we’re discussing their digital marketing strategy. Every agent wants to be on Facebook, and given that it’s more popular than… well, to borrow a phrase from John Lennon, Jesus, it makes a lot of sense to be using Facebook as part of your content marketing strategy. But there are a lot of real estate services using Facebook in ways that have the potential to disrupt the real estate model even further than it already has been.

Using Facebook as a directory for real estate agents

All that data Facebook has under its belt, in addition to the sheer volume of people who use Facebook on a daily – if not, multiple times per day — basis, has made it a very useful platform for real estate businesses to create online directory resources that connect buyers and vendors with real estate agents. The American-based HomeASAP service is the number-one real estate agent directory on Facebook, with over 457,000 members in its directory. As a directory that also connects buyers with real estate listings, it has the power to change the way people look for and buy real estate.

Although real estate agent directories aren’t new — there are plenty similar services, like followit, Local Agent Finder, Agent Select, etc — HomeASAP is unique because it’s directory is hosted entirely on Facebook. Only buyers, vendors and agents with a Facebook account can access the directory, further evidence that Facebook has, itself, become a search engine in its own right. And because the service is hosted on Facebook, you’re able to capture more data than if a person were to anonymously visit your a website.

Could Facebook topple the Big Two property portals?

Facebook allows agents to monitor who’s visiting their page, and it also provides them with a casual way of engaging with potential buyers and sellers who may not be ready to speak on the phone yet. This isn’t possible on a property portal — whether it’s an app or website. Sure, you can track them by inserting a line of code into your website, but they’re still anonymous until they give your their contact information. With Facebook, you know who’s visited your Facebook page, and you can make contact with them by making a friend request. Because Facebook also makes it easy to share and disseminate information right from the platform itself, it has the potential to topple the property portals, which currently provides agents with little promotional or marketing opportunities, and likewise provides only very rudimentary statistics about who has viewed their listings.

Considering that, second only to Google, Facebook is the world’s most used website and is responsible for generating a quarter of all web traffic, it certainly has the potential to become a powerful player in real estate. If Facebook isn’t already a part of your content marketing strategy, you’re missing out on valuable lead generation opportunities, not to mention potential buyers who may be looking for their next home.

Success on Facebook begins with a successful strategy

Facebook is the ultimate social media platform, and even though it’s an effective platform to build your online profile and market your services to potential buyers and sellers, your success is still entirely dependent on whether you’re using Facebook in the spirit in which it is intended — a social network to connect with people and share information that matters to you, with the emphasis being on the word ‘social’.

To be social means to have a free flow of information that people will engage with, comment on and share within their own, wider social network. If you want to keep people engaging with the information you share with them, you need to create a strategy that starts a conversation and encourages others to continue that conversation.

To use Facebook to begin building your online brand, contact our team to discuss which digital marketing options will suit you and your digital marketing goals. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.

Build Your Online Profile Using a Mobile App

Build Your Online Profile Using a Mobile App

You can now create your own beautiful business apps

Now that property marketing has mostly moved online to property portals like realestate.com.au and Domain, a real estate agent’s ability to leverage their current listings to get new ones has been significantly eroded. This is a trend is set to continue as the real estate model becomes further disrupted by technologies that shift buyer behaviour from searching for properties, to waiting for a notification about one that matches their requirements. These days, if an agent is to build brand awareness from which they can generate new listings, they need to spend time building their profile online, and the best way to do that is to use content marketing.

Content marketing involves creating and publishing original and engaging content online. The content you create can be anything, from educational videos to informative blog posts to downloadable guides. But if you want to get really original and really, really engaging, you could even create your own app that you can use to push all sorts of content and notifications directly out to vendors and buyers alike.

Applications are the future of online marketing

Apps are where the future of online marketing is going, as more and more people use devices — like smartphones, tablets and even smart watches — rather than desktop computers and laptops to access information online. Applications also improve the user experience, while providing the developer with valuable information not usually available when a person simply browses a mobile version of a website.

Developing your own custom app is now increasingly simple, just as creating your own website is, thanks to WordPress and other such content management systems. An app development system like Flok, for example, allows you to easily create your own app — and a beautiful one, at that — and then promote it using social media, email and SMS marketing, with a built-in analytics dashboard to measure its success. Apps work best for businesses with repeat customers, so try to create your app with the goal of encouraging people to use it regularly.

It’s time to build lasting relationships

For too long, a lot of real estate agents have neglected to build lasting relationships with their buyers and sellers, seeing the sale and purchase of a property as a one-off transaction that’s not likely to come around again anytime in the near future. This was all well and good when people turned to newspapers, shopfront windows, and signboards to find out about a local agent in their local area, but this isn’t how the real estate model works anymore.

Agents need to prioritise building lasting relationships online, long before a homeowner has even considered selling their property, so that when they eventually do decide to take this step, there is only one agent they have in mind — you! If you produce content that covers both sides of the real estate process — buying and selling — then you’ll be able to capture the passive buyers that the market has lost since the decline of newspaper advertising.

Increase awareness of your brand by building relationships with other local businesses

If you haven’t already, reach out to local businesses in your area and build a reciprocal marketing relationship with them. With a service like Flok, you could sponsor a loyalty card for your local cafe by using the loyalty card app to give regular customers of your local cafe a free coffee. Use your branding on the loyalty card app and promote it, both in the cafe, on social media, and through your other marketing.

The best part about using an app, rather than a traditional paper loyalty card, is that for as long as the app is installed on a person’s phone, you can send them push notifications. You can also use it to collect email addresses, so you can continue marketing to them. Since everybody loves coffee, the uptake would be relatively swift and it would be used regularly, providing that you don’t use it to spam users with irrelevant marketing messages.

Success online begins with a successful strategy

Before you can begin using an app to sponsor your local cafe’s loyalty card, you need to create a strategy for capturing user data, determining their interests (i.e., buying, selling, renting), and being able to use content marketing that will cater to those interests.

To begin building your online brand, contact our team to discuss which digital marketing options will suit you and your digital marketing goals. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.

Technology Savvy Real Estate Agents Get More Listings

Technology Savvy Real Estate Agents Get More Listings

Don’t be the loud-talker at the social media dinner table

Think about the last time you engaged someone to perform a professional service for you. Perhaps you were looking for a plumber, an accountant or, say, a digital marketing agency. How did you find them? In the case of the latter, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that you probably did a search online and came across us that way. This is how the vast majority of people search for professional services these days and, as I’ve mentioned before, it’s how you’ll get your next listing, providing you’re technology savvy.

By technology savvy, I don’t just mean that you know how to use an iPhone or iPad. You’re not even technology savvy if you also know how to use a smart watch. To be technology savvy, you need to be shrewd in the way you use technology, and when it comes to finding and winning new listings, this means you’re using technology to market yourself and grow your online profile in ways other agents in your local area aren’t.

Technology savvy agents start with content marketing

To be technology savvy, you must build your profile online. Many people erroneously believe that building your profile online means creating a website, getting a Facebook account, and then that’s it. What they overlook is that a website needs stuff on it; that is, text, images, videos — in order to make it a website. That stuff is called content, and content is the same stuff that you post on Facebook that your friends like, share and comment on. Content marketing, then, is the publishing of stuff on your website, social media platforms, and elsewhere that you contacts will like, share and comment on, but which also markets you and your services.

The technology savvy part comes in when you determine precisely the kind of content you need to publishing in order to achieve your conversion goals. A conversion goal can be anything that results in the user taking a specific action — whether it’s signing up to receive a newsletter, downloading a market report, contacting you for a property appraisal.

If you have your own, personal Facebook account, think about the kind of content you publish there on a regular basis. It’s typically content that means something to you — typically, you either empathise with the message or you don’t — and that you know will also resonate with your friends and family and greater social network. This is how you need to approach the content you publish in a professional capacity. There is literally no exception to this rule. You must always publish content that is relevant to you and your customers (your vendors and buyers).

Publish original content across multiple platforms

Emphasis here on the word ‘original’. Don’t make the mistake of retweet or republishing content created by other people on your social media platforms. All this does is send all your hard earned traffic to an online behemoth, like realestate.com.au or smh.com.au or the like. Let them get their own traffic. Instead, you should create your own original content, by writing and publishing one or two blog posts a week or uploading a video blog or both. This way, when you push it out through social media and your friends and followers share it among their own social networks, you’re sending that traffic back to your website, not someone else’s.

If you’re going to use social media and, although I caution you to select your social media platforms wisely, I strongly advise you do use social media, you need to ensure you’re using it correctly, otherwise you needed bother. I’ll go into this in more detail some other time in a separate blog post, but the general rule of social media is to be social.

Think of it as a dinner party. You’re sitting around a dinner table with a few friends, acquaintances, and a few other people you’ve never met before. Everyone is chatting and getting along merrily, until some loud-talker enters the equation. All he’s interested in doing is talking about himself. He doesn’t engage with others when they try to engage with him. Instead, he constantly pushes his own agenda, on myriad irrelevant topics, often talking over others as they try to speak. Eventually, everyone gets up and moves somewhere else, leaving loud talker on his own.

Don’t be antisocial on social media

That’s the dinner party equivalent to someone on Twitter or Facebook publishing the same irrelevant tweets or posts over and over and over, without stopping to see if anyone actually cares or finds the content relevant. It’s the Facebook user that never responds to comments left on their page, or makes an effort to connect with others on Facebook. It’s the Twitter user, who doesn’t retweet or like tweets by their followers, because they’re too busy pushing out spammy tweets about their business.

Whatever you do, don’t be that guy; don’t be the loud-talker at the dinner party everybody runs away and hides from. Remember that social media’s primary reason for existence is as a way for people to communicate and keep in touch with each other — to be social. Use social media and your content to start conversations with people, and then make an active effort to keep those conversations going.

Master all that, and you’re well on your way to being the technology savvy real estate agent who gets the most listings. If you’re looking to build your online presence to gain new listings, get in touch with our team to discuss the ways you can begin building your online brand. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.

Property Appraisals and Market Reports Don’t Deliver New Listings

Property Appraisals and Market Reports Don’t Deliver New Listings

Are your aware of where your next listings will be coming from?

Things that are stuck in the 1990s: newspaper advertising, signboards, DL cards, property appraisals, market reports … and ok, the macarena. However, sticking only to matters of real estate, if you think property appraisals and market reports don’t belong on that list, you would be wrong. Yep. Property appraisals may form a necessary part of the sales process, I’ll grant you that, but, along with market reports, they won’t win you any new listings.

Here’s why:

For a start, there are numerous places to obtain a property appraisal or market report from — the hundred other agents in your local area, both the property portals, the Big Four banks, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, every private research company, mortgage broker, stock broker, investment banker, and list goes on ad infinitum until it’s the end of time and all that roams the earth are robots and drones.

Plus, if I were so inclined, with just the teeniest bit of research, I could gather enough information to create my own market report that, truth be told, would be more complete than any of the ones I could obtain from a business that’s also trying to sell me their services. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t offer prospective vendors a free property appraisal or a downloadable market report — you should! — it just means that it’s not going to deliver you your next listing.

Don’t lose sight of what people are doing online

The internet has fundamentally changed the way people find information, communicate with each other, and look for professional services. When people first make contact with a professional, whether it’s a plumber, accountant, digital marketing agency, or a real estate agent, even, it’s typically after a significant amount of independent research on their industry and past experience. The phone call and the ensuing meeting, by this point, are really just formalities to see how well client and customer will get along — or in the case of an agent and vendor, to see whether the agent’s plan matches the owner’s.

But to get the call in the first place, you need to establish a point of difference between yourself and every other agent in your area, hankering after a new listing. To do that, you need to first accept that your next listing is coming from the internet — not a newspaper ad or DL card. The internet. This means you need to find ways to establish your online presence, through digital and content marketing.

The most important thing to remember as you begin to build your online profile, is that most people use the internet to find information, communicate with others, make a purchase and, increasingly, for entertainment purposes. If you can create content that will cater to one or a few of these reason people use the internet, the more successful it would be.

Honesty and transparency delivers listings

Personalised agent website

When Derek Farmer, a real estate agent with McGrath Neutral Bay on Sydney’s lower north shore, created his personal agent website, its main purpose was educate buyers and sellers about the property market in Sydney, but especially around the lower north shore. Derek created a series of professional shot and edited videos, in which he shared his tips and advice for buying and selling property, and uploaded them to his website, where anyone could access them for free by subscribing to his mailing list.

Content marketing via a blog

Derek also started a blog, where he published blogs that covered all sorts of property market, from the common sales methods used to sell property to the current lower north shore property market trends. He also used his website to showcase his current listings and recent sales successes. Underpinning Derek’s entire content strategy was a desire to provide honest and transparent information about the property market, so that buyers and sellers would come to see him as the trustworthy agent he is.

After observing the success of Derek’s website, fellow McGrath agent, Bill Tsounias, who works at the Brighton Le Sands office also decided to create his own personal agent website. The strategy underpinning Bill’s website is to also create honest and transparent content as a way to stand out from his competition.

While both Bill Tsounias and Derek Farmer offer their vendors a free property appraisal, they both recognise that homeowners who are thinking of selling their homes and are actively researching the market are not going to appoint an agent based on that alone: They’re looking for agents who are honest, transparent about the process and, above all, humble.

Success online requires successful content

If you’re looking for build a successful online presence that will position you as an authority on the property market in your local area, and will also help you to gain new listings, get in touch with our team to discuss the ways you can begin building your online brand. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.

How to Build Your Online Real Estate Agent Profile

How to Build Your Online Real Estate Agent Profile

Be selective when choosing your ‘brand building’ social media

In a recent blog post, I talked about how the erosion of newspaper advertising is also eroding an agent’s ability to leverage current listings to get new ones, due to the way property portals like realestate.com.au and Domain serve listings to buyers algorithmically, and the way people, generally, use the internet to find a professional service. If I haven’t already made it abundantly clear, your next listing is coming from the internet, but only so long as the vendor has determined that you’re a major player in your local area. This means, you need to start building your online real estate agent profile.

Currently, most agents rely on their shopfronts, signboards, DL cards, and the word-of-mouth referrals from previous listings, but what would happen if none of those options were viable anymore? This isn’t that much of a stretch. Shopfronts and all forms of traditional marketing are on their way out, while word-of-mouth referrals are increasingly being replaced with likes on a Facebook post, a retweet on Twitter, or a blog post shared on LinkedIn.

Facebook isn’t the be all and end all in digital marketing

Most of the time, when I speak with agents about how they can build their presence online, they fixate on social media — Facebook, in particular. And I can understand why. Facebook has amassed a tonne of data about its users, basically because people are willing to share every last detail of their lives on it. This makes it especially efficient at targeting particular kinds of people in particular places. But Facebook is just one cog in the digital marketing machine. Here’s what else you should be doing

Personal agent website:

Most agents have a profile on their agency’s website, just as Marshall Rushford did on the hockingstuart website, but an agency website only serves to promote the entire agency, not any one agent. Like many of our clients, Marshall wanted to create his own personal agent website, so that he could showcase his current and previous listings, in addition to his recent successes. A personal agent website can also be used to capture prospect data, while regularly maintaining a blog will help to establish yourself as a credible source of market information.

Create your own content:

Nearly every agent I speak to makes one huge mistake online: they don’t create their own content. Instead, they link out to content created by other people — REA Group, Domain, RP Data, etc. Instead of sending a prospect to their website by linking to some original content they published on their blog, the agent sends them all to REA Group, Domain or RP Data, and down the rabbit hole of Domain or REA Group’s endless supply of content they go. Only link to your own, original content published on your website, and send prospects down the rabbit hole of your endlessly informative content instead.

Be selective with social media advertising:

I’m yet to be convinced on the benefits of advertising on Twitter. To be honest, I’m not even entirely convinced on the benefits of using Twitter in a professional capacity, unless you create an separate strategy for it, in addition to your digital marketing strategy. Twitter still hasn’t found a way to transition from a place of anonymity, parody accounts and internet trolls (see: Tay Tweets), which makes it an inefficient way to spend your marketing budget. FaceBook, on the other hand, is highly efficient, due to the sheer volume of data it’s amassed about its users, which makes it easy to target specific demographics and to measure your results after the fact. Instagram and Pinterest are also great ways to interact with people online, from a purely community-building perspective.

Success online begins with a successful strategy

You can certainly begin building your online presence by kicking a few ideas around online, but if you’re really looking to have success online, then you need to have a strategy backing it up. We’re a digital marketing agency that specialises in developing online brands, through a combination of online advertising, social media marketing and content marketing.

To begin building your online brand, contact our team to discuss which digital marketing options will suit you and your digital marketing goals. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.