(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. See Part 2.)

Do you want to help your sellers get the most for their property while also earning a full commission?

(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. See Part 2.)

Do you want to help your sellers get the most for their property while also earning a full commission? If so, then it’s time to look at some of the great online resources that will provide your listings with maximum Web exposure for a minimum cost.

Whether a seller is going “For-sale-by-owner” or hiring an agent, sellers want to achieve the highest possible price in the shortest period of time. Sadly, due to the heated sellers’ market over the last several years, full service agents have allowed companies with alternative business models to define their value strictly based upon the commissions they charge.

In reality, when a seller chooses an agent based upon the commission, they are only looking at the issue of price, rather than value. Value is a combination of both price and the services rendered. What’s interesting is that the bulk of consumers want value rather than price: only 15 percent of all sellers purchase based upon price (i.e. the commission charged). Five percent want premium service. The other 80 percent want value. What top agents have demonstrated repeatedly is that people will pay a full commission provided they see the value that the agent brings to the transaction. This means that up to 85 percent of all sellers are willing to pay a full commission provided the agent can show how the services the agent provides help the sellers net the most money when their transaction closes.

According to the “2005 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers,” 77 percent of the buyers surveyed used the Internet as part of their search process. Since so many buyers are now searching the Web, it’s critical to have the strongest possible presence if you want to help your sellers obtain the highest possible price. A strong Web marketing program begins with your traditional marketing. Use your print advertising campaigns to drive potential clients to your Web site where they can view multiple pictures and virtual tours of your listings. The important issue each company and agent must address is where to invest their marketing dollars so that they will yield the greatest return.

National search-engine placement

Obtaining top placement on the big search engines is so expensive that it is out of reach for most agents. Few agents can afford pay-per-click programs for terms such as “Los Angeles Real Estate” or “Dallas homes.” Nevertheless, there are excellent options that cost little if any money and provide great results. To market your services on major search engines, you can obtain organic placement (free placement versus pay-per-click, where you bid for your search terms and are charged for each person who clicks through to your Web site) by using a niche approach. Instead of using “Los Angeles real estate,” I might use “Brentwood luxury properties Los Angeles” or “10560 Wilshire Condominiums Los Angeles.” I could also use a term such as “Austin probate sellers.” When you use phrases, it’s less expensive. You also obtain much better results because people looking at those links will be interested in the particular type of property that you are marketing.

Local search-engine placement

For brokers and agents who cannot afford to compete for major pay-per-click terms in their area, there’s another place you can advertise with minimum cost. The Google and Yahoo local pay-per-click programs cost little money (the minimum amount you pay to advertise is approximately 15 cents per click). To see how this system works, click on the “local” tab of Google or Yahoo. Type in the name of your city and enter the terms “homes for sale” in your city. In most cases, what you will see are a series of entries similar to those found in the yellow pages. There will also be map that shows you where each of the businesses is located. If there are no “sponsored results,” this means that no one is bidding for those positions. Also, Google has just started putting its local links on many of its national searches. In some cases, the local advertisers may have better position on the national search engine than they could achieve by using the standard pay-per-click program.

Realtor.com–more bang for your marketing buck

Many agents and companies post their listings to Realtor.com. Did you know, however, that Realtor.com provides the real estate feed for AOL.com and the WallStreetJournal.com? For the price of listing on Realtor.com, you have your listings exposed on these other high traffic sites as well. It’s important to let your sellers know that listing with you gives them additional Web exposure on these important search engines. One of the interesting points about the Realtor.com search engine is how it ranks which listings to show first. Alan Dalton of Realtor.com says that their research shows that their visitors click on the listings that have multiple pictures and/or a virtual tour first. Visitors usually ignore listings that only have a single picture. To obtain top placement with the Realtor.com search engine, use multiple pictures plus a virtual tour. If you would like to save money, you can produce your own virtual tour slide show using Microsoft’s Photo Story (http://www.microsoft.com/windows/plus/dme/photo.asp). For only $14.99, this software turns your multiple photos into a simple virtual tour.

Want to learn more about giving your listings maximum exposure on the Web? See next week’s article.

Bernice Ross, co-owner of Realestatecoach.com has written a new book, “Waging War on Real Estate’s Discounters,” available online. She can be reached at Bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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