Is it enough to publish your listings on your company website, your personal website, the multiple listing service, and Realtor.com? If you want to provide maximum exposure to the marketplace for your sellers, then the answer is an overwhelming "No!"

Statistics by Web research firm comScore, shared with Inman News by Realtor.com-parent

Is it enough to publish your listings on your company website, your personal website, the multiple listing service, and Realtor.com? If you want to provide maximum exposure to the marketplace for your sellers, then the answer is an overwhelming "No!"

Statistics by Web research firm comScore, shared with Inman News by Realtor.com-parent  Move Inc., show that the top two real estate websites for total unique visitors — Realtor.com and Zillow.com — together accounted for about 17 million unique visitors in May 2010.

What is surprising is that the majority of each site’s Web visitors did not visit the other site that month, according to comScore data.

What this means to you, as an agent who wants to help your sellers get the maximum amount of exposure for your properties, is that it’s smart to market your listings on as many real estate portals as possible. The reason: Many of these portals reach very diverse audiences.

For example, Homefinder.com, a property search site that had about 910,000 unique visitors in May according to comScore statistics, partners with over 130 newspapers, which allows real estate agents to reach those buyers and sellers who are searching on newspapers’ websites but aren’t necessarily visiting the major real estate portals, too.

In today’s Web 2.0 environment, younger buyers and sellers are eager to engage in conversations about their homebuying and selling process. They like doing their own research. Realtor.com offers a database of how-to guides to give them a great starting place. Consumers can also pose questions at the site that will be answered by a Realtor.

For those who want to engage in a forum or ask questions of a larger user group, Zillow and Trulia are among the sites that provide forums. The forums of these two sites allow for multiple responses to the same question from multiple sources.

For example, at real estate sites Zillow.com  and Trulia.com, visitors can pose questions publicly, and the answers are available for all to see. Response time to most questions can be rapid, although some questions do go unanswered.

On Trulia, visitors can rank the various responses with a "thumbs up." On Zillow, users can see how many people responded to the question and how many people viewed the answer.

The research shows that today’s buyers and sellers often begin looking online 12-18 months prior to the time they are planning to transact. At that point in time, they are not yet ready to talk to an agent.

These visitors are in exploration mode rather than transaction mode. This may account for why so many people early in the search process prefer sites that are independent of the real estate brokerage business.

Several large real estate portals that are not affiliated with brokerage companies offer up a large share of the total U.S. for-sale inventory to their visitors. More importantly, they appear to be independent from Realtor-sponsored sites.

For clients who don’t want to be dripped upon, called, or contacted by a Realtor for months prior to the time that they’re ready to purchase, such sites provide an important alternative.

Also, it’s quite common to see posts on these sites asking for feedback on how to find an agent in a specific geographical area.

What this data suggests is that agents need to go beyond some of the traditional Web marketing portals to reach a wider group of potential clients who are not visiting traditional real estate portals.

As the folks at Zillow put it, "Due to the limited audience overlap among top national listing sites, agents and brokerages must cast their net as wide as possible on the Web and broadly syndicate listings to the top sites that home shoppers visit most frequently."

In other words, to reach the broadest audience of potential buyers for your listings, you must be marketing on multiple real estate portals that include your multiple listing service, your company and personal websites, Realtor.com, plus as many other high-traffic real estate portals as possible.

The folks at Point2Agent (full disclosure: the company is a business affiliate of mine) have coined the phrase "distribution trumps destination." What this means is that as an agent trying to reach the greatest possible market for your listings, you need to throw your net far and wide rather than narrowly.

Syndicating your listings to multiple real estate portals in today’s competitive real estate market is an absolute necessity. In many cases, your company or your local MLS may be providing this service on your behalf.

Remember, the greater your exposure, the more likely you are to sell that listing for the highest possible price in the shortest amount of time.

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