According to a recent survey of brokerage owners and managers conducted by my company, WebsiteBox, most real estate brokerages with marketing websites want their agents also to have an individual Web presence.

By the same token, agents tend to value their brokerage-provided technology tools. A 2013 Realtor Technology Survey Report from the National Association of Realtors found that 62 percent of agents and broker associates find reasonable or exceptional value in the technology supplied by their brokers.

That survey also indicated that agents look to brokerages to provide them with a professional website.

Although most agents and brokers agree that a professional website is valuable, they view its importance from different perspectives. As the NAR report found, agents with websites want traffic and qualified leads.

Brokerages, on the other hand, view agent websites as extensions of company marketing, as our survey findings indicate:

  • 88 percent indicated that agent websites should display the brokerage brand.
  • 93 percent stated that all brokerage listings should be displayed on agent sites.
  • 66 percent agreed that offering agent websites allow brokerages more control of agents’ message and marketing.

Having a brokerage choose their preferred website vendor might be a relief for agents, but it also gives the brokerage more control over its online branding and reduces the risk of conflicting information or poor quality content.

Brokerage branding is valuable, and the more potential property buyers or sellers bump into a brand, the more likely they are to view a particular brokerage as a market force.

Tech helps attract/retain agents

The practice of offering websites to agents was found to be a useful agent-recruiting tool by 79 percent of the brokerage owners and managers who responded to the WebsiteBox survey. Nearly as many (76 percent) indicated that websites benefit agent retention.

Recruiting and retaining agents is much more effective if they receive a professional website with interesting content and lead generation tools that work from the brokerage. Everyone meets their goals, and agents will stay with a brand that brings them leads that generate deals.

Some agents could have a different viewpoint

Although a great many agents want a lot of support and are willing to give up some control in return, not all feel that way. Agents who want to take a more proactive and long-term role in their lead generation might want to own their website and control the content. They look ahead to a time when they might want to change brokerages, and leaving behind the broker-supplied site leaves their accumulated SEO (search engine optimization) behind, as well.

Tech makes agents productive sooner

Leaving agents alone to set up their sites and handle their lead generation and customer relationship management (CRM) systems can be a waste of time and potential. That is likely why our survey found that 79 percent of brokerage managers and owners agreed that offering websites makes agents productive faster.

Also, 86 percent said they preferred websites that allow broker-monitored CRMs. Typically, brokerages see a substantial increase in revenue if agent CRM activities are monitored, encouraged and guided by results.

And because many brokerages educate agents through classes, seminars and marketing meetings, it was not surprising that 77 percent of respondents preferred websites that allow agents to share calendars with each other.

Who pays?

Despite the admitted value of well-managed websites to both brokers and agents, only 45 percent of those surveyed by WebsiteBox felt that brokerages should pay for agent sites. And 52 percent of brokerages that charge desk fees said they would incorporate the cost of individual agent websites into that fee.

There appears to be a major disconnect between the recognition of value and agreement on who should pay for it. It seems that brokers tend to view overwhelmingly agent websites as extended brokerage marketing.

That’s a valid goal, but agents understandably exhibit a more self-focused interest. They don’t mind the brokerage branding approach, but their interest is more in how that branding can bring them more traffic and qualified leads.

Recruitment and agent retention are worth something, but how much? Perhaps the problem lies partially in the cost brokers believe they’ll incur to provide agent websites. If they can find value with an acceptable cost, more of them might agree to fund agent websites.

Peyman Aleagha is CEO of WebsiteBox, a Toronto-based company that offers real estate websites and tools.

Email Peyman Aleagha.

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