Thursday, June 30, 2005

Lesson #13 - Tuning a realtor website

In a comment to Lesson #12, Pat said, "I'm always amazed at the degree to which realtors are willing to buy a stock website with essentially no personalization at all." And this is true.

So what could a realtor do if he/she wants to create a great web site? As with the dental sites discussed in Lesson #9 - Creating a custom web site, the first thing I would do is a survey of the best realtor sites. I would pick the best features from them. That would be a great way to create a list of site ideas.

I would also put myself in the customer's shoes -- what things would really help a customer who is arriving at my site for the first time? I am not a realtor, nor am I looking for a new home, but here are some thoughts:
  1. I would assemble a list of tools that would help a home buyer. A list like this might be a good starting point: Web Guide: Real Estate: "Whether you're looking for your first home--or second, or third--or trying to unload while the market is still hot, these web resources can help answer your real estate questions."

  2. I would create a list of frequently asked questions that I am asked as a realtor. I would make the answers friendly, helpful and inviting.

  3. I might also created a highly-tuned guide, or a specialty FAQ, for my local area. For example, where in the local area are the areas/subdivisions to focus on for starter homes, new homes, investment homes, large homes, etc.? Where are the areas to avoid? Which areas have especially heavy or light traffic? Whatever. Answers to these questions could be especially helpful to people who are new to the area.

  4. I might create a blog where I tell little success stories, talk about local trends, discuss new developments, list especially good deals, etc.

  5. I might create little features like home-of-the-day/home-of-the-week. (The magazine called The Week has an especially interesting page like this every week (although they don't seem to echo it on their website, so you'll have to find a paper copy to see it).

  6. And so on...
In other words, I would give both local residents and newcomers a reason to visit my Web site. I might try to create the best realtor web site for my local area. I would also refer clients to specific areas of the site when appropriate.

A realtor site does not necessarily need to get high traffic to be effective. A realtor, generally, is actively working with a only handful of people at any given time. If the site is highly effective for that handful of people and makes their lives significantly easier/better during the process, then it is a great Web site. The clients who touch the website will have a better impression of the realtor, and that will translate into more return customers and more word-of-mouth referrals.

8 Comments:

At 1:41 PM, Anonymous jim said...

I think with the housing markets as hot as they are, I don't think working on a website is a high priority for a realtor. Perhaps when the markets cool you'll see more realtors thinking more about their website as a means of generating traffic to themselves.

 
At 4:56 PM, Blogger John Peterson said...

Better yet, how's about a map and a database, so I don't need the agent (and their 6% commission) at all?

Something like housingmaps.com could do to real estate agents what Travelocity et. al. did to travel agents.

 
At 8:11 PM, Blogger Chui Tey said...

The hardest job for the realtor is to find house sellers. A site about squeezing the last dollar of value through improving presentation et c. might find sellers better.

 
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