Real estate agents can turn a much higher share of online leads into clients than is commonly thought — but only if they nurture those leads for a long, long time, waiting with Buddha-like patience for them to blossom into buyers and sellers.

  • Agents have the potential to vastly boost the share of online leads that they convert into clients, according to studies that uncovered rates at which online leads transact.
  • Online leads who transact don't end up buying or selling until more than a year after connecting with brokerages online, the studies found.
  • Agents need to be patient and attentive with online leads to turn them into clients.

Real estate agents can turn a much higher share of online leads into clients than is commonly thought — but only if they nurture those leads for a long, long time, waiting with Buddha-like patience for them to blossom into buyers and sellers.

Contact-to-close can take a year

“Brokers and agents should take into account the fact that the average time from initial contact to close is well over a year,” said real estate marketing platform provider Boston Logic in a new report on online leads. “Follow-ups should be planned accordingly to this time frame so that they are making contact not only right upon registration, but for many months after as well.”

Nearly half of online leads recently bought or sold a home within two years of registering on websites powered by Boston Logic, according to the real estate software provider. Boston Logic also found that another 20 percent of leads surveyed said they still planned to transact, even though they hadn’t yet.

The takeaway?

Seven out of 10 “Web leads we surveyed are viable business opportunities,” Boston Logic said.

Online lead transaction timelines as measured by Boston Logic

Online lead transaction timelines as measured by Boston Logic

In separate monthly studies of online leads, Atlanta, Georgia-based Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers has consistently found that at least 3 out of 10 online leads end up transacting within two years of registering on the brokerage’s website or contacting the brokerage through listing portals.

If a majority of agents convert less than 4 percent of online leads into clients, as an Inman survey found, the two studies suggest that most agents’ online marketing strategies leave much to be desired.

But many agents’ failure to capitalize on the opportunity presented by online leads may be understandable. Milking online leads for their full value evidently requires a marathon-like time investment.

Extended transaction timelines

Online leads who registered on a brokerage website and ultimately bought or sold a home took an average of 384 days from the point of registration to close a transaction, according to the Boston Logic study.

Metro Brokers finds an even longer transaction timeline for online leads. The typical online lead who transacts within a 24-month window of registering with or contacting Metro Brokers through listing portals doesn’t buy or sell until around 450 days after initial contact or registration, the brokerage’s monthly studies have consistently found.

The studies argue that agents seeking to maximize their return on investment from online leads must approach the task like a Zen gardener: watering and fertilizing leads over long periods of time with Buddha-like patience until they bloom into buyers and sellers.

“12 to 18-month follow-up via phone, email, social media, and retargeting is required in order to convert more web leads into buyers and sellers,” Boston Logic said.

More sellers than most people think

Contrary to popular perception, many of the registrants on brokerage websites that can ripen into clients are sellers, according to Boston Logic. Nearly 6 out of 10 online leads who registered on brokerage websites and later transacted bought a home, while just over 4 out of 10 either sold a home (16 percent) or bought and sold a home (26 percent).

“A much higher percentage (42%) of web leads will sell a home than agents and brokers generally believe,” Boston Logic said. “It’s critical that agents ask their leads if they are looking to buy, sell, or buy and sell.”

Email Teke Wiggin.

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