Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Critical Need for Rich Data: Part 1

Generating Consumer Response
from a changing consumer

There are some critical online consumer trends to understand by all real estate professionals. According to the 2005 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 93% of visitors to real estate websites are looking for listings.

When asked exactly what they were looking for, 86% indicated the most valuable content is listing photos and descriptions. With new classified listings sites, vertical search engines, national and local FSBO websites, you need to provide a better consumer experience to keep attention and make the consumer want to return to your website.

It is critical to pay attention to this online consumer and connect with them. According to the California Association of Realtors 2005 Internet vs. Traditional Buyers Study, 83% of buyers will use the Internet in their next home search. 62% will be classified as an ‘Internet Buyer’ who will use the Internet as a significant part of the home search process.

Make no mistake however, this changing consumer should be embraced, not feared. Look at the compelling profile of Internet Buyers:

1. Internet searchers are higher income earners and thus more likely to be qualified.
• Internet buyers had an annual income of $185,088, compared with $151,190 for traditional buyers.
- California Association of Realtors' "2005 Internet Versus Traditional Buyers Survey”
• On a National scale, Internet searchers had an annual income of $74,600 compared with $56,600 for those that did not use Internet to search.
- 2005 National Association of Realtors “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers”

2. Internet buyers have conducted more research and transact faster after they contact you.
• When Internet buyers shopped for homes with an agent, they took only two weeks before selecting a home, while traditional buyers took seven weeks.
- California Association of Realtors' "2005 Internet Versus Traditional Buyers Survey"

3. Internet buyers take less of your time in the homes search process
• Because the Internet allows buyers to preview homes, a typical Internet buyer only viewed 6.2 homes with their agent, while traditional buyers visited 14.5 homes.
- California Association of Realtors' "2005 Internet Versus Traditional Buyers Survey"

4. Internet buyers are more likely to use a real estate agent
• 93% of Internet searchers used a real estate agent while only 75% of non-Internet users or traditional buyers, used a real estate agent.
- 2005 National Association of Realtors “Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

5. Internet buyers are growing in numbers
• As the graph above shows, Internet buyers are increasing as a total percentage of real estate consumers. 62% of all buyers are now using the Internet as a significant resource.
- California Association of Realtors' "2005 Internet Versus Traditional Buyers Survey”

A listing is a marketing asset. Your competition, FSBO sites, the Zillow’s of the world, are all aggressively trying to connect with the consumer. You have to keep pace if you want to generate online response and create a destination point for consumers.


Introduction to Rich Data

The Critical Need to Publish Rich Listing Data: Why Your Competitive Advantage Online Depends On It

With online competition heating up, consumers are finding and revisiting websites that give them what they are looking for. Traffic is becoming more expensive to generate. Your content needs to be found, it needs to hold attention, generate return visits and generate response.

There are 3 emerging trends you critically need to understand and capitalize on in order to take advantage of a changing industry. Those that understand and take action will lead. Those that do nothing, will at a minimum, leave money on the table and in the worst case, lose their livelihood.

The 3 trends are changing consumer behavior, syndication and search, and the way the Internet is changing brands. Consumers want more access to data today. They want to do their own research and become more involved in the buying and selling process. Search engines are evolving. Not only is search becoming a more important way to advertise, it is changing by focusing on vertical markets and improving they way content is indexed and represented. The Internet is creating and destroying brands. With the volume of online traffic surging, the Internet may be the most important medium to promote a brand and those that ignore it suffering. It’s not good enough to just ‘be’ there. You need to take an active role and develop an online strategy.

Rich data in real estate refers to the publishing of detailed, quality photos, property descriptions and information. The discussion I’ll have in 3 parts will explain why publishing rich data is crucial to take advantage of the 3 big trends we are facing in real estate.


Monday, May 15, 2006

New Feeds

We're excited to get some new feeds up for our Point2 Agent members. This last week, we have been testing the new feeds live on Propsmart, LiveDeal, and EdgeIO. Here are some samples:


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Monday, May 01, 2006

Opt-Out Clarification

Brendan's blog post on a National MLS got quite a bit of industry reaction. Inman news published the post as a guest perspective. I was asked the other day however if our support of the NAR's position on opt out was our actual belief or just a capitulation to the industry. It deserves some clarification.

We believe in the need of opt out provisions. In general, brokers are not going to opt out of exposure like Google Base, Yahoo Classifieds, Oodle, Trulia, etc. that advertises them and sends the contact back to them. But they need control over the cooperative marketing (IDX, ILD, VOW) with other real estate companies. Brokers shouldn't be forced to cooperate with companies that undermine their business model. The MLSs can't however have a selective-opt out provision, it's anti-competitive (probably). But Brokers can make individual business decisions on whom to cooperate with if they have the technology to do so. Handshake is meant to address that need.

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