With 1 million plus realtors out there in the United States, it is safe to say there are also a lot of individual agent websites.

However the effectiveness of these real estate websites are rarely seen given the average agent’s budget of a couple hundred dollars a month, if that, to spend on SEO and internet marketing. Compare that to the millions of dollars Zillow, Trulia, and realtor.com (lets call them the big three) spend on SEO and digital advertising. Essentially an agent website is a losing proposition from the beginning as a primary source of online leads. Further perpetuating the ineffectiveness of these sites is the fact that we live in a mobile driven world — more consumers are using mobile apps to search for real estate than websites.

The fact is that the big three spend millions of dollars every year to make sure they come up on top for real estate searches. In my opinion, spending money on a website to search the MLS and look up your bio is simply a waste. It provides little or no value to the consumer as the chances of your website being inferior to the big three is pretty high. Consumers expect a level of functionality realtor website templates cannot simply deliver. Face the facts, your clients are still going to go to the big three to research homes before they buy. Use this as an opportunity to help consumers navigate housing searches and provide insider knowledge to help them make purchasing decisions.

The role of the realtor is changing as real estate agents are no longer the gatekeeper to housing data. They are changing, I think for the better, to local professionals who can provide deep knowledge about the community and know how to close a deal. Streamlining the housing search, expediting closing, and providing references to local pros are the new roles of the modern real estate agent.

To provide the best real estate experience to your clients and step into the role of the modern realtor, here are three steps:

1. Don’t change consumer behavior, optimize it.
Chances are your clients are going to search the big three to find and research a house. Engage with clients to let them know housing data found on these sites can often be misleading and inaccurate. Let them know to call you for clarification regarding housing information. This way you can keep communication flowing throughout the housing search process

2.   The web is dead. Go mobile.

Your clients use apps, you should too. Real estate is inherently mobile. Agents do not make money sitting in an office. The money is made out in the field meeting with clients, acquiring listings, and closing deals. This is why your own app to run your business is crucial as a modern realtor.

3.  The majority of your leads comes word of mouth, enhance it.

Growing up in the real estate business, the one underlying factor I realized to real estate success is word of mouth referrals not online leads. The business of real estate is relationships. I believe the majority of a realtor’s marketing budget should be used to leverage technology to enhance relationships translating to an increase in word of mouth leads.

 Will Caldwell, a recent college graduate living in San Diego, is the CEO and co-founder at Rivolix, a mobile real estate tech company that helps Realtors generate more word-of-mouth leads.

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