It seems that every Realtor I run across has horrible war stories of their attempts at establishing themselves on the Internet. Realtors shelling out thousands of dollars on Web sites that “might be doing something” or “look pretty” is par for the course. The way a businessperson conducts him or herself on the Internet should be no different than any other aspect of their business. You should have concrete metrics on how your Web site is working for you.

It seems that every Realtor I run across has horrible war stories of their attempts at establishing themselves on the Internet. Realtors shelling out thousands of dollars on Web sites that “might be doing something” or “look pretty” is par for the course. The way a businessperson conducts him or herself on the Internet should be no different than any other aspect of their business. You should have concrete metrics on how your Web site is working for you. You should know how many sales you make as a result of your Web site and should do everything in your power to keep your percentage of Internet leads growing above the industry average.

There are five main reasons why Realtors on the whole, have not profited in any great numbers from the Internet. I’m not saying there aren’t a few Realtors out there making a killing. But they either have figured out what I’m going to tell you or they are so popular that they could fart and sell a house.

Here are the five main reasons Realtors cannot turn a profit on the Internet:

1. Web designers don’t understand real estate

Just because someone claims to be a Web designer doesn’t mean they are in a capacity to reinvent the way you do business. If you happen to choose your local mom-and-pop Web design firm to build your site, don’t expect the sky to open up and money to start pouring down the information super highway. It just doesn’t happen. Same goes for the $100 do-it-yourself template special–it doesn’t work. If you really want to see some actual results, you need to hire a company that specializes in real estate technology. Usually this route is more expensive, but will turn exponentially higher profits.

Always check at least three references before taking the next step with any company. Also make sure they provide the following services in-house:

  • IDX (Internet data exchange) integration

  • Customer relationship management 

  • Search engine optimization

  • Pay-per-click management

If they don’t provide these services, or farm it out, your Web site will either be ineffective or overly expensive.

2. Realtors don’t get enough leads to take it seriously

The majority of Realtors don’t get more then one to five Internet leads per month. And these numbers in the Realtor’s mind just don’t warrant more effort to be speedy and efficient with the leads they obtain. In other words, many Realtors take their time when responding to e-mails and inquiries either because they are too busy or feel they have more important things to do. If they had reason to see the value in the Internet, anyone with a pulse would put more effort into becoming more tech-savvy and treat an e-mail the same as a phone call.

The average response time to an e-mail inquiry is three days, according to the National Association of Realtors. If it took my Realtor three days to call me back, he/she would no longer be my Realtor. Why should it be any different over the Internet?

3. Tech-savvy Realtors have enough knowledge to get themselves in trouble

Tech-savvy Realtors tend to be the most unlikely to hand over the reigns and let a professional handle their Web presence. Most of these Realtors tend to try and build their Web sites themselves. If you have enough time to be on the cutting edge of real estate technology, your Web site isn’t giving you enough leads, and thus you must not be as close to the edge as you think. If you are a Realtor, be a Realtor–don’t moonlight as a Web designer. Your clients deserve better. No one can be the best at everything; the key to success is proper delegation of responsibilities.

4. Realtors want short-term gratification forsaking long-term profitability

More than 80 percent of Internet leads are looking at least four months into the future. Thus you must have some system for retaining these long-term leads. From experience, the best way to do this is through some type of daily or weekly e-mail notification when new properties become available. This gives your clients what they want and keeps your brand in front of their eyes. If you are just getting e-mails and phone numbers and contacting the prospects once, then tossing them aside, you are missing out on more than 80 percent of the profit you could be making.

5. Ninety-nine percent of Web sites are missing at least of one piece of the puzzle

There are four pieces to a successful Web site. If you are missing any one of the four, your site will not be as productive as it should be.

  • Targeted Traffic – Make sure you use both online and offline advertising to bring as many unique visitors to your site as possible. This includes pay-per-click advertising, signs, fliers, television ads, etc.

  • High Sign-Up Rate – Your Web site should capture visitors’ information, with no exceptions. Furthermore, make sure your Web site is capitalizing on the traffic it is receiving. It should have at least a 10 percent sign-up rate, meaning you should get 10 leads per every 100 visitors to your site. Anything less than that is like throwing money out the door and losing leads to your competitors.

  • Customer Management Tools – Make sure you can communicate with the leads you receive. If there isn’t a tool in place to organize your leads, Murphy’s Law will take over and the majority will get lost or underutilized.

  • Accountability – You should act as a team with the broker as the captain. A lead shouldn’t be allowed to sit five days without action. An e-mail should have a maximum 24-hour response time. You need to put in place a series of rules and regulations to bring order to the otherwise chaotic world of the Internet.

Don’t be another statistic. Don’t pay $4,000 for your glorified business card. Find yourself a professional who understands technology, but more importantly, one who understands real estate. If you do, you will be far ahead of the game.

Justin Tracy is the founder of Realty Generator, a broker-centric lead generation and management system. He also created a real estate technology certification called RET Certified.

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