Real estate portals are gaining popularity, but the role of a broker is still extremely important.
Many brokers believe portals such as Homefinder.com and Homes.com are pricing Realtors out of the market, fearing one day those portals will sell properties directly to consumers, thus putting real estate brokers out of a job. According to the National Association of Realtors 2012 profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 96 percent of homebuyers under the age of 44 used the Internet in their home search, mostly through one or more real estate portals. Whatever the case, there are various ways that brokers can protect their value in the real estate transaction, as a recent article by RISMedia explained.
1. Become educated about portals and how they affect your business – If you decide to list with a portal, learn what its advertising practices are. This is important, as these are where your advertising dollars are going, so you must choose wisely. You want a portal that is most suitable for your company – not one that, for example, offers ads from competitors on your listings.
2. Local is key – Homebuyers and sellers want the expertise from local brokerages, not aggregators that often have unreliable information. Local brokers must communicate and demonstrate expertise in their local market by providing the finest content. Those that possess a leading content strategy, along with the best website, need not worry about large portals as consumers want in-touch, local content. But remember, you must stay committed and engage with your customers.
3. Quickly follow up on leads – Online customers need speedy responses; otherwise, they will look elsewhere.
4. Validate online information on behalf of consumers – Many online portals receive their data from many sources; therefore they may contain outdated, incomplete or inaccurate listing data. You may help by weeding out this unreliable data and making sure it is up to date.
5. Say “no” to syndication? – While many brokers report getting a great deal of activity and exposure from portals, numerous companies have chosen to withdraw from them due to dissatisfaction with the portals’ policies and issues of cost. Yet, smaller brokerage firms do not have the power and resources to commit to developing a stronger Web presence. Therefore, for smaller firms, opting out of portals would not be the best solution.
6. A broker must work to win – While syndication will never hurt a business, it certainly won’t propel it forward. It is the broker’s job to increase their investment, skillset and engagement in this rapidly changing world of real estate transactions.