NEW YORK–Brokers, agents and online companies are figuring out new and interesting ways to put home listings on the Web. Three industry players in the New York scene showed their Web sites during Inman News’ Real Estate Connect NYC and addressed questions about what a newcomer to their sites could do to maximize what they want from the experience.
“They could do two things,” explained LaLa Wang, president of MLX.com. “One is an ad hoc search to specify the area; the number of rooms, the price range. Or the broker could use the client management function, which retains the search parameters of the client.
Brokers could manage a long-term relationship with the client and be able to e-mail listings to them directly, she added. “The broker is performing a customized search and can expand the parameters,” she said.
Jeff Wolk, the 2003 president of the Manhattan Association of Realtors, had a different take, saying brokers should check with the MLS because in that instance they can visit one site and search for all the firms participating in the MLS.
“And there is the issue of closed data and closed listings,” Wolk said. “If you go to any MLS in the country, you can check closed data. That’s how people check property. Our site is the only place that is collecting closed data and month after month, there is more of it.”
Brokers want to know when they price a property what similar properties sold for, Wolk said. “That is what a true MLS is designed to provide.”
CityRealty.com President Dan Levy said his site functions in a different manner. “The site is used to generate prospects and also give clients ‘peer’ buildings,” he said.
It shows apartments in buildings that are similar to what the client is looking for, and it supplies the broker with a qualified buyer who already has a good idea of what they want.
“By the time we contact the broker, we can give specific information to that broker. The broker then has a variety of ways to search for the actual listings,” Levy said.
David Elgrabli, president of RealtyMX.com, is more concerned with the initial product.
“I build real estate sites. The most important feature for a real estate Web site is distribution. One-click, real-time posting is something I encourage. For that reason, Craigslist is one of the most popular sites,” he said.
The panel agreed that photos are very important to the success of a real estate Web site. “There are many different ways to photograph buildings,” Levy said. “The quality of the photos is important. It always surprises me that an agent would market a high-priced property with a very low-budget photo. There is a major difference is selling an apartment with photos versus one without. Plus, the number of photos is important. The more photos, the better. Six to eight is good. There isn’t a downsize to photos, unless you go to the extreme.”
“In New York, agents are always on the go and they don’t realize the importance of taking good quality photos,” Wolk said. “The consumer wants a choice.”
Wang said her company has found that consumers click on apartment listings with photos 20 times faster than apartments that don’t have them. And many sites now use atechnology that allows the photos to rotate on the site, she said.
The Web will be more of a factor than ever before in the marketing and selling of real estate, and the online experience will be more sophisticated than it presently is going forward, according to Wolk.
“The basics have to catch up to where the ideas are,” Wolk said. “But I don’t believe people will search for apartments on their cell phones. The clarity will be better but you will still need that live broker to actually show you the property. What the Internet has done is allow the consumer to more quickly navigate the obstacles.”
Due to the complex nature of the Manhattan real estate market, the broker will always be involved in the search process, Levy said. He also feels that videos will play a bigger role on the Web as 70 percent to 80 percent of residential real estate transactions will be initiated online.
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