Real Estate Marketing’s Slow Build-up To Rapid Change
The nature of real estate marketing today is akin to the ocean before the storm clouds appear. To the tourist the water looks great, to the old salt, the wave patterns portend a big storm over the horizon. Much of real estate marketing has not changed, the yard signs, the post cards, the continual meeting people live and developing and expanding the referral network, and the newspaper and magazine advertising.
But as real estate agent Burke Smith said back in 2007, “Technology won’t replace agents; agents with technology will replace agents.” What is masking this real estate marketing sea change is real estate agents’ natural propensity to not fix something that does not appear to be broken. The most successful real estate agents of today are the ones with the least impetus to embrace real estate Internet marketing or to treat is as an auxiliary marketing tool.
The nature of a market’s change is that the new idea starts small and, even at 100% growth, does not significantly change the market’s dynamics. Then when the 10% market share doubles to 20% the major players in the market take notice, but they are too late to adapt. Detroit ignored the Japanese imports and the customers’ desire for small, trouble-free cars driving that market. Similarly real estate websites were once thought of as the small world of technology freaks selling to computer geeks. But consumer’s buying habits have changed tremendously from 1998 to 2008. The luxury of shopping from home at all hours of the day caused many computer-averse shoppers to master their computer’s Internet browser.
The National Association of Realtors figure on the percentage of buyers who search for houses online is over 80%. Clouding the picture perhaps is the inability to draw a line from the Internet listings searches to the final sales. The agents with the technology, with their one, two, three or more real estate websites, are not waiting for the dust to clear. They have detected the number of real estate website leads that turn into sales increase dramatically year over year and know which way the home selling market is heading. Real estate brokerages that are hiring agents to handle their overflow of leads from their real estate websites are also aware of the marketing shift.
The Internet has turned shopping for homes for sale into a virtual journey. MLS listings are evolving online from static images to walk through slide shows or videos. Google Earth has made checking the neighborhood something anyone can do from satellite photos. While the shoppers are on virtual house shopping trips, it pays to have a virtual real estate storefront.
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