Editor’s note: The housing market is slowing, but it hasn’t stopped innovators from debuting new technology and communication systems of use to the real estate industry. The Web 2.0 boom is rearing its head and providing new ways for the industry to communicate with clients and market home listings. In this three-part report, Inman News gives an update on some of the hottest technologies in real estate: mapping, video and blogging. (Read Part 1 and Part 2.)
Stan Mackey, a Realtor in Bellevue, Wash., recently learned a thing or two about the power of blogs. A couple of entries on his blog and his home seller client’s blog created some buzz that resulted in more than 7,000 hits on the virtual tour of the listing in one week.
Mackey, like many real estate agents, is new to blogging, having set his up a mere two months ago. But his first blogging experience was enough to convince him to continue.
Blogs can be an innovative source of free advertising for real estate professionals, though the medium is most effective when used to educate and communicate rather than to sell, experts say. While more agents are setting up blogs to cash in on this trend, many still wonder how this medium works for their business and how to measure success in return on investment.
Mackey admits that his seller client whose blog entry netted him all the traffic is Robert Scoble, a well-known blogger, technical evangelist and author of “Naked Conversations: How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers.” But the agent still sees the value in keeping up with blogging and said he’s determined to post at least two or three entries per week.
“Scoble’s blog really opened my eyes; I had no idea that he has millions of readers,” said Mackey, an agent for Coldwell Banker Bain in the Seattle area.
“Granted, a lot of people were curious to see where Scoble lives,” Mackey said, “but that part was an eye-opener because I thought, ‘wow, I need to keep up with this.”
Mackey said his goal is to enable people to learn a little more about him and view him as “not just your average stuffy Realtor.”
Scoble, a veteran blogger who gave his home listing and agent a mention on his blog, Scobelizer, noted the added exposure a blog gets on search engines and other blogs, for instance.
“Let’s say I was relocated to your neighborhood and needed to buy a home. How would I find an agent? I’d bet I’d go to Google and do a search for something like ‘Seattle’s best real estate agent,'” Scoble said.
He also noted that blogs are updated often and that people link more to sites that change often than those that are static. Also, sites that demonstrate authority will receive more inbound links. “How do you pick between two real estate agents online? Well, if one is taking lots of pictures, writing interesting stories, giving tips about the neighborhood, which one do you think will get hired first?” he said.
“A blog is just the easiest way to communicate with the world and demonstrate that you love what you do and are an authority on it too,” he said.
Jim Duncan, an agent with Century 21 Manley Associates in Charlottesville, Va., said that blogging has helped him develop relationships he wouldn’t have had otherwise. “I’ve met people in town … that I’m reaching out to strictly because of what I’ve done with this blog,” he said.
Duncan, who’s been blogging for about a year and a half at RealCentralVA.com, said he can attribute about four to six client relationships directly to his blog. He says the power of blogging is the knowledge, content and community that result from it, and not just using it as another place to post listings.
He said that two things have changed for him since he started a blog: “More people are paying attention to what I write and I’m more knowledgeable about my market and various impacts on my market.”
New York City agent Noah Rosenblatt has done something really out of the box with his blog, UrbanDigs.com. Rosenblatt offers to chat live with site visitors every Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to noon EST.
“The live chat feature has been unbelievable,” said Rosenblatt, an agent with Citi-Habitats Inc. “I wanted a non-aggressive way of meeting people and have people be able to ask me questions without them thinking I just want them as a client.”
“All my colleagues thought I was wasting my time with this thing,” he said. But it’s been paying off. Rosenblatt said he had his first signed contract with a client he met through his blog about a month ago.
The agent said he had the idea for UrbanDigs in June 2004 when he first started selling real estate, and the site launched in September 2005. Since then, he’s invited other real estate professionals to blog regularly on the site.
“It always takes a lot more time to do than anyone thinks. The key is good content; there’s got to be a reason to come back,” he said. His theory for good content? Tell it like it is and always be honest.
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