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HOW 3rd Party Websites Are A Threat To Real Estate Agents

NAFTA

 

There are not many things I remember about 1999 but I remember this. I was 25 years old, a senior at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas (UNLV) and I couldn’t sleep. Not being able to sleep when you are visiting Las Vegas isn’t a bad thing, but when you live there and you have school in the morning, it isn’t so much fun. I turned on the TV, it was before we had 24/7 programming, before DVR’s before Apple TV and Netflix. The only thing on TV was the news.

I remember it was around 1:00 am and I had a class at 8:40 the following morning it was a cold November morning. As I rolled over and pulled the blanket over myself to keep warm I heard it. A reporter, many reporters yelling, discussing something big – at least they thought it was. The news showed broken glass and thousands of people protesting, yelling, crying and using their own bodies to prevent some meeting that was supposed to occur that day. It was November 30th 2009 and that meeting was the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference in Seattle. Thousands of protesters had come to Seattle to protest the passing of NAFTA. I remember thinking, what the hell is NAFTA and what are these people doing? “They are stupid” I thought. They held their homemade signs and screamed as the police used pepper spray and tear gas to try and gain control of what must have been at least 30,000 people – pissed off.

I didn’t know what they were protesting but I remember the name – NAFTA. NAFTA is the North American Free Trade Agreement. I thought, “what do these people know that I don’t?” “Why are they doing this”? “What’s the big deal?“.  I fell asleep and went back to my life as a 25 year old bachelor in Las Vegas [Yes, it was fun, but that’s another story all together]. I woke up the next day and went to school, and then about my life not thinking about NAFTA again. I graduated from college. Moved to Atlanta, [didn’t like it – too humid] moved back to Las Vegas [to save some money] and finally moved to Phoenix in February 2000.

I went about my life – testing for the DEA and Phoenix Police Department while working at a valley restaurant [my degree was in Criminal Justice with a minor in Marketing]. I was working one day when I approached a new table just in time to hear one of the guys say “It’s that damn NAFTA!” I immediately had a flash back to that cold November morning in 1999 – those people rioting, screaming, yelling, protesting this thing – NAFTA. Turns out, this NAFTA thing was a pretty big deal, I just didn’t get the significance of what it would mean to our country, our jobs our livelihood.

NAFTA is a treaty between the United States, Mexico and Canada that was supposed to stimulate trade between the 3 countries by eliminating many of the tariffs [taxes on imported products] on goods shipped between the three countries. Products made in the U.S., Mexico or Canada and imported to another country carried a high tariff. Importing countries did not want to pay the tariffs, so products  [American products like cars, computers, food, jewelry, gold etc] did not sell well in those countries. Opponents of NAFTA believed it was designed to benefit huge corporations. Lifting the tariffs would drive many small businesses out of it by allowing foreign competitors “corporations” in. Those protesters knew something I didn’t: It also allowed American companies to outsource or ship out hundreds of thousands of American jobs to countries like India and Pakistan that have cheaper labor.

Real Estate Websites

So what does this have to do with real estate?

I was reading an article the other day in REALTOR MAG called Real Estate Web Site Traffic Jumps 27% where they discussed the increase in web traffic to 3rd party websites like REALTOR.com, ZILLOW, TRULIA and YAHOO REAL ESTATE.

“traffic coming from social networks to real estate sites increased 61 percent year-over-year in February. Traffic to real estate sites from Facebook increasing 42 percent alone. Social networks now account for 4 percent of the overall traffic to real estate Web sites, Dougherty notes. The largest year-over-year increases in social media traffic last month were Yahoo! Real Estate, Trulia, Zillow, and Realtor.com.”

Reading the article reminded me of a whitepaper I read in September 2010 from the WAV Group. WAV Group is a leader in MLS Technology, Realtor Association Research, Real Estate Strategic Planning. The white paper was about the online battle for consumers between real estate agents, brokers, franchises and large 3rd party websites. It really got me thinking. It said

“By offering a better search experience with rich amounts of listing data, neighborhood data, market trends, tax data, sold data, school information third party websites have taken a significant lead over most brokers and franchises in the eyes of the consumer experience.” They continued….

.”……The biggest threat to broker and franchise websites today is their failure to keep pace with the online marketplace. Third party websites are winning by offering consumers the most engaging consumer experience around a depth of property information. As a result, these sites have become destination sites for consumers. Consumers use them as a launch pad for property search and keep returning because of the great tools and depth of information that consistently outshines even the best broker and franchise websites.”

What does this mean to you? Most agents don’t know what is going on. [ To use an analogy],  they are {as I was } at home in bed watching TV, wondering what is going on while those like me are trying to get the word out, we would be the protesters I saw on TV in 1999. Yelling and screaming and trying to warn every real estate agent I can that you are losing the online battle for consumers.

Consumers search for homes online, if you don’t believe that you are in the wrong business or you live under a rock. Consumers are landing on these large 3rd party websites instead of yours, which means they will be sent to one of the 3rd party websites “preferred partners”. Which means you lost a potential client before you even had a chance to say Hello [and you didn’t even know it] :-(

What does this mean? Let me ask you this: DO YOU WANT TO PAY FOR LEADS FOR THE REST OF YOUR CAREER? Real estate agents: Your business is being stolen from you with greater frequency than most real estate agents, franchises and brokers can replace it. Worse – they are using your listings to do it. The 3rd party sites know how to optimize content, listings to show up on the 1st page of Google.Why? Because that’s where the consumers are.  That is how they are beating you. But most agents are not there, because they don’t know how. Because their websites suck. Their websites are not easily “found” online, they don’t offer the information consumers are looking for and they are not user friendly. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

The way I see it is this: You have 2 choices.

1) Keep doing what you are doing and watch as 3rd party websites use your own listings against you to drive traffic (consumers) to their websites and away from yours.

OR

2) You can fight. Get a website that works, fill it with dynamic, engaging, keyword rich content and beat them at their own game.

If you chose #2, give PRO-Found Marketing a call. We will build you an affordable website that works and fill it with unique content consumers look for online. We help professionals get found online, we bring customers to you.

 

 



 


 

Stephen

Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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