Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part series. Read Part 2.
When it comes to hiring a real estate agent, the most important factor from the consumer’s viewpoint is trust. The question is: What is the best way to establish trust, especially when your initial contact with a potential client may be digital?
Is the Google generation (those born after 1993) really that different from the baby boomers who went before them? While the technology they prefer may be different, the No. 1 thing that both groups want is trust. If you would like to increase your trust factor with your clients, here are six ways to do it.
1. What does Google say?
Long before most Google generation leads contact you, they will research you online. If you haven’t done so already, search your name on Google along with the words "real estate." If you have a common name, add the city where you work as well.
What does your search reveal? Is the search rich with data about you or is the only link to a page on your broker’s website with just phone number and no other information? If this is the case, most young people will look elsewhere. To remedy this situation, be sure to complete your profile on your broker’s site, as well as your local multiple listing service if it provides agent profiles.
Since the search engines now include social in their rankings, it’s smart to have profiles on the major social media sites. For example, when I searched my name on Google, the first entry was to the "About Us" page on Inman.com followed by a link to the "About Us" page on RealEstateCoach.com. The next three links were social: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The final first-page results were my speaker page and RealEstateCoachRadio.com. Although the order was slightly different, both Bing and Yahoo returned similar results.
2. Do you give online buyers and sellers the information they want?
Two research studies conducted by Point2 Agent profiled thousands of its Web users. The studies concluded that having at least 20 photos is critical to attracting a buyer’s attention. At the recent Hear It Direct real estate conference in Dallas, panels echoed the same sentiment.
As several panelists explained: "If the property only has one or two photos, I don’t even waste my time. The listing agent should include 20 photos or more."
The challenge is that the photographs may not accurately represent the property in its current condition. To illustrate this point, many agents have discovered that it’s smart to use an architectural photographer. Using wide lenses and photo editing software, the photographer can make the property look much bigger and more attractive than it does in person.
This is where video can come in quite handy. The Google generation wants the truth about the property condition, and a video provides a much more realistic look at room sizes as well as actual condition.
3. Why bother with Internet leads?
A substantial number of agents have grown irritated over the fact that the Google generation wants tremendous amounts of information, quality pictures and video, but they don’t want you to call them. The agent response is, "Why bother?"
Even if the buyers don’t want you to call them, it’s important to provide these tools since sellers use them to determine whom they will hire to list their property. Like buyers, sellers search online before contacting a Realtor. By staging your listings, providing professional photography, plus video, you are much more attractive as a potential listing agent as compared to those agents who fail to make this effort.
4. Avoid forced registration
The Hear It Direct panelists repeatedly reiterated, "If you try to force us to register, we’ll just surf somewhere else." Having said that, however, if you offer your Web visitors a coupon for $200 off on their home inspection or some other item of value, almost all of those who are interested in buying or selling will volunteer their name.
5. Don’t bother with paid ads
The Google generation is adept at search. They tune out the paid/sponsored ads on most pages and go directly to the organic search results. If you are paying for Google or Facebook ads and not closing any deals from this advertising, stop doing it now.
6. They hate broker mail
The Google generation is tuned into recycling and protecting the environment. As one young man put it, "All these broker postcards are a waste of money — I just toss them into the recycle bin."
What do you think of when you think of recycling? It’s extra work. For the Google generation, paper fliers, postcards or other products that "kill trees" are not only environmentally insensitive, but your materials have just given them extra work where they have to clean up after you.
Once your Web connection contacts you, the next issue is how to establish trust and credibility when you are face to face. See Part 2 of this series for more ideas.