Sufficiently warned by Michael Price about the quality and content of entries submitted to this week’s Carnival of Real Estate, let me dispense with my gratuitous Latin phrase by boldly placing it in the title…and assuring you that my post has absolutely nothing to do with spinach in your dentures. It’s just that I couldn’t find a Latin translation site that would reliably render the following headline: Creative Internet Advertising Your Broker Never Thought Of.
One of the first things you learn from many of the old-timers in the business is the importance of listings, for at least two reasons:
- Your “sales force” — the other agents in your area, some of whom may have competed with you for the listing — does much of the legwork of showing the property to prospective buyers.
- Having a listing gives you an “anchor” from which to further advertise yourself: an ad in the paper, a sign in the front yard, a brochure, a neighborhood mailing, an appearance in the MLS. This may well lead to further business for you…and as a side benefit may even help you sell the home.
The buyer’s agent, alas, has no such anchor. The fact that I represented the most recent buyer of 123 Main Street doesn’t offer a good opportunity to advertise myself. The new owner — my client — is unlikely to allow me to put a “Buyer Proudly Represented by” sign in his front lawn for too long, and if he did, he’d be inviting a host of unwanted guests, thinking the home is still for sale. I could send out a postcard to the neighborhood, trumpeting my success, but postcards are a pretty ineffective marketing mechanism unless you send them out regularly and for a long time. I could take out an ad in the local paper announcing my success, but that’s unlikely to generate any calls since the public has been trained to look in the paper for listings, not recent sales.
The excitement, the story, the marketing value of a transaction has always been quite firmly on the listing side. The buyer’s side is, well, yesterday’s news. While that makes sense, it’s not in sync with the fact that a home spends only a tiny fraction of its life as a listing. During the vast majority of the time in which the home is not on the market, shouldn’t there be some way of getting some marketing around my involvement in the purchase of that home?
The answer, of course, is “Yes.” The Internet does indeed present an opportunity for buyers’ agents to strut their success. At least two examples come to mind.
- Sites like HomeThinking.com ask clients to rate their agents’ performance. The “anchor” for this rating and the (hopefully!) positive exposure is not only the listing side of the transaction, but also the buying side.
- Zillow and its AVM brethren potentially present another such opportunity, though those sites don’t currently have such functionality. While most real estate sites concentrate on today’s news — the listings — Zillow’s inventory is all homes, not just homes that are currently for sale, and the history of those homes has some marketing value. If I wanted to highlight my buying agent experience in a particular neighborhood, I could — for a fee, of course, — perhaps add a virtual “Buyer of this home proudly represented by…” sign that would appear next to my past transactions.
Increasing the marketing value of the buying side of a transaction is unlikely to fundamentally shift the balance of power from the listing side, but it certainly does present an interesting new form of online advertising.
* Translation: You have a big piece of spinach in your front teeth.Tags: Advertising, Business of real estate, Homethinking.com, Online advertising, Real estate, Zillow