REALTORS: You can use promoted posts to showcase your listings!

But don’t!

Greg Vincent asked the seemingly obvious questions as to whether agents should use Facebook Ads to send consumers to their post about a listing or a page on their website featuring the listing.

The answer is neither.

I’ve been buying Facebook Ads on-and-off for quite a while and have seen no evidence to suggest buying ads on Facebook makes any sense at all. Facebook is super-quick to take down non-performing ads (i.e. ads that people aren’t clicking on), and I just can’t image that the typical listing has any lasting value for consumers. If, and only if, Facebook someday figures out who is likely to move to a geographic area AND lets you target those people, I might change my mind.

Looking from a larger perspective, at just about every presentation I’ve been giving over the past few months, I’ve been harping about how Facebook makes so much more sense as a sphere building tool than as a tool to reach your next client.

If you’re curious why I make the distinction between reaching consumers directly and building your sphere, check out the Agent Business Cycle diagram. Based on countless interviews with agents (as well as my own surveys), I feel comfortable saying that the majority of agent business is generated from sphere building activities (whether they be reaching into an agent’s community or connecting with past clients)… and Facebook is the ultimate sphere building tool.

Used “right,” there has never been a social network that will help you to reach new and relevant people (i.e. friends of friends/fans/followers) so easily, but when used “wrong,” Facebook will quickly take just about all your influence within your network.

So what do “right” interactions look like on Facebook? If you’re brand new to the idea, I recommend checking out Networking Engine Optimization, but in summary, you want to be creating content (and promoting content) that will get people to interact with your business page. More than any other factor, it seems pretty clear that Facebook determines the relevance of something by looking at the interactions of their friends (whether it be comments, likes, new fans, wall posts, etc.).

Create a page with no interactions and expect to have a relative “black hole” in Facebook in the same way that a website without any inbound links is essentially a black hole to Google.

How much value do you get out of listing on Craigslist?

Visits per ad type
Visits per ad type

One of the websites I mentioned at the Inman presentation a few weeks ago was listing number.   One of the most interesting elements of the site is just how trivial it can make tracking ROI of an agents marketing spend… and along those lines, the folks behind Listing Number just published their first set of results for the average number of hits generated by different marketing types.

The dataset is (presumeably) pretty small still, but it is interesting to see just how many hits a craigslist ad generates relative to other marketing options.

LA Times Examines Local Home Search Options

Over two days in June, we searched each site for three-bedroom, single-family homes on the market in Santa Monica.

The results:

These numbers are always in flux, but from what I’m seeing I think there are between  90 and 100 MLS listings on the market and around 45 to 50 foreclosure listings.

Finally, it’s kind of a waste to do this kind of research unless you’re willing to do a quality analysis. My experience has been that the sites that do not have direct access to MLS info tend to have more listings that are out-of-date and/or listed with outdated prices.

zillow homes in santa monica

* It’s worth noting that I’m pretty sure the reporters messed up with their Zillow numbers… When I just did a search that limits the results to 3+ bedrooms in Santa Monica, then there’s a little graphic that says there are 166 listings for sale, but those are for ALL homes for sale and only 64 of the homes match my criteria.   The Zillow results should probably have been closer to 64 listings which would put them slightly below Trulia.

Jeff Turner announced the latest video project from…

Real Estate Shows.  It’s a tool that automatically turns a Real Estate Shows virtual tour into a video format that can be widely distributed on the internet. Jeff gave me the low-down on this project a little bit ago, and he convinced me that this was not an easy task to do right… But that he felt really good about the technology they were using to convert and compress the video.

I know that some would say that virtual tours aren’t video (they said it today during our roundtable on video), but by simply exporting their shows to video format, the Real Estate Shows team is opening up a ton of new distribution opportunities…

On the hunt for new real estate marketing tools!

The great folks at Inman News have asked me to put together a 15 minute presentation at SF Connect this year… and I’m downright excited about it.   The title of my presentation:  50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.

I’ve got some huge shoes to fill in that both Jamie Glenn of Trulia and Brian Boero of 1000watt have given versions of this presentation at recent Connect Events… and their presentations were top notch.

The Plan?

I’ve been given 15 minutes to talk about 50 technologies… Let’s break down into what that means in terms of the amount of time I have to explain each technology. Fifteen minutes is 900 seconds. Given the fact that I at least have to introduce myself and let my audience know I’m available for speaking gigs, I’ve already blow 30 seconds right there… Combined with the fact that I’ll need at least two 10-second water breaks, I’m down to 850 seconds or 17 seconds per technology!   I’m known for speaking fast, but the pressure is really going to be on!  😉

I Need Your Help!

Real estate agents: Do you have a favorite tool or technology that has become indispensable at making your business operations more efficient?   My preference is online tools, but I’ve have to find 50 of them, so I’m honestly not very picky at the moment!

Real estate tech providers: Do you have a tool you think is worthy of being featured at SF Connect?    Let me know, but make sure I can “sell” it 17 seconds or less!  I make no promises, but again, I’ve got to find 50 tools in less than 50 days, so I’d appreciate any help you can give!

My Bag of Tricks

Here’s an outline of the previous presentation.

Jamie Glenn:

  • Listing Sites (12 sites)
  • Social Media (9 sites)
  • Multimedia (15 sites)
  • Communication (7 sites)
  • Blogging (9)

Total: 52 sites!  Plus, his last slide through in 9 “bonus” resources!

Brian Boero:

  • Things that will help you work smarter and cut costs (10 actions)
  • Things that let you engage customers and prospects in new ways (8 actions)
  • Things that will help you grow your professional network (3 actions)
  • Blogs you should read (and watch) (7 actions)
  • Market smarter – and cheaper (6 actions)
  • New advertising opportunities (5 actions)
  • Technologies that help you leverage your knowledge (3 actions)
  • Things that shrink space and time (3 actions)
  • Technologies that help you meet the neighbors (4 actions)

Total: 49 actions.   Although much to his credit, each-and-every “action” included at least one technology tool and many of them included multiple tools!!!

I have both presentations in front of me, and I can tell you that they both did an excellent job of providing a wealth of information in only 15 minutes!

My Presentation

Lucky for me, I still have over a month!   Unlucky for me, I just typed out all the notes I’ve taken to date and I have only 33 technologies listed that are appropriate for the title: “50 Technologies To Help You Survive the Downturn.”

Here’s an outline of how I grouped the various tools, concepts, websites so far (but note, I’m positive the final outline will be MUCH different):

  • Online Marketing Basics
  • Publishing Tools
  • CRMs
  • Inspiration
  • Analytics
  • Listing Syndication
  • Listing Tools
  • Connecting with Consumers
  • Connecting with Professionals
  • Video Podcasts
  • Communications
  • Identity Management

However, rather than bias you’all by starting with my list of sites I would include (or listing out the websites from the the previous presentations), I’d LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear some of the tools, techniques and technologies that you think would be worthy of being included in this list!

4realz Exclusive: Realtor.com unleashes the Zillow killer and you…

…didn’t even notice:

new home values tool on Realtor.com

Apparently, Realtor.com launched their answer to Zillow recently without much fanfare!

The first thing to note is that the new tool mixes estimates for home values along side listings from the Realtor.com database. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, but even with an announcement from NAR, the blog world has been silent. (And I’m told by someone-in-the-know that it has been live with a link from Realtor.com for a few weeks already!)

The part that seems to be missing is accuracy of the listings.

For example, the VERY first comparable I tried shows a home value estimate that is clearly way off base… The home at 26227 Adamor Road in Calabasas, CA which recently sold for $575K is listed on Realtor.com with an estimated value of $925,399 and Zillow with a zestimate of $564,000.

Recently sold home on Realtor.com

OUCH! If I was a REALTOR trying to sell a home on Adamor Road, I sure would be pissed if REALTOR.com was estimating homes were selling in the million dollar range, but actual sales were closer to the $600K range! A “beta” label only goes so far!

The second example I tried (by simply typing in Seattle, WA and then zooming in randomly until I could see a listing) was the home at 7352 26th Ave in Seattle, WA showed a recently sold price of $880K, the Realtor.com home value is $690,000, while the zestimate is $900,500.

For the third example, I decided to head further east to Chicago (no real reason other than NAR is located in that area). I randomly landed at 1729 N Melvina Ave in Chicago, IL which recently sold for $225K. the Realtor.com home value is $218,183, while the zestimate is $247K.

Results:

Two horrible estimates and one decent estimate out of three tries. It makes sense that the realtor.com team has not made a PR push around this feature yet! 🙂

On a related note: Things get even more interesting when you think that NAR took on a similar project (was called “Gateway”, now called “Real Estate Channel”) to aggregate home information across the country. These types of projects are not cheap… so why create duplicate efforts?