From the Department of Homeland Stupidity comes the newly formed Department of Bailouts. Is there now a sufficient level of converting the United States into a socialist economy for the New Regime President (aka, Treasury Secretary Paulson) to feel that his work is done?
But the above isn’t my special area of expertise. Showing fellow agents how to have a truly successful business is what I am known for. And I find it funny (odd?) when I read something that directly contradicts what I know to be true on that particular subject. It certainly isn’t the first time I’ve seen, "getting listings is no longer the best way to go" – just the first time I’ve seen it from someone I respect as much as I respect Brian Brady. He wrote:
Thirty years ago, the mantra “listers last” was all important advice to a new real estate agent. Today, inventory has been democratized through the IDX search on a website. Open houses then, are a good time to work on your SEO. A REALTOR who controls the SERPS rather than the inventory should profit best from this buyer-centric market.
Okay, fine. But can anyone name even four or five TOP AGENTS who have buyer based businesses? I personally know a couple of them. But I don’t know of any top agent who has had a buyer based (as opposed to a listings based) business who did it for 3 – 4 consecutive years. Can an agent attract buyers via the internet? Absolutely. Can it be done at a level so great that the lead agent (rainmaker) hires many many many buyer agents to handle the load? Again, the answer is a confirmed yes. However, the web traffic – at that level – isn’t normally achieved through SEO but pay per click. All of the huge buyer based operations I know of in the U.S. use PPC to attract the traffic. Not saying SEO doesn’t enter into it but the bulk of it is PPC.
How many of them have done it or will be able to maintain their performance level for even three years? I can’t say, as it (at least to my knowledge) hasn’t ever been done for that long. Which is my main point. Almost all top agents have a listings based business. I am not saying this because I have a listings based business, I am saying it because that is what I found when I went looking at the profiles and the patterns of top agents. What I observed is what caused me to decide to take the path I took – become a lister. I have never seen any confirmed data (vs opinions)that contradicts that.
There is nothing I am writing here that suggests that selling homes to buyers (as we need at least one for every listing!) is bad or should not be done. Oddly, by accident, I am one of the leading buyer side agents (based on number of sales) in the Phoenix market. I discovered that odd fact a little over a year ago. I had been working for years to find out what the "top buyer agents" were doing so I could start doing it too. Once I realized that I wasn’t way behind everyone else but ahead of most everyone I stopped trying to "discover" what I must already know. Our buyer sides came about as a result of marketing our listings. Period. Just doing the things that should be done to properly market a listing produced buyer deals. Lots of them.
An interesting post I came across about a month ago was over at the always-worth-reading, Notorious R.O.B. There was a discussion regarding possible violation of a listing agent’s fiduciary duty to have their listings on Zillow, Trulia, etc. Seems several different lawyers were of the opinion that it could possibly violate a listing agent’s duty to his seller. I disagree. Completely. From my comments to that post on Rob Hahn’s site:
There will always be plaintiffs and lawyers litigating for various reasons. I can not say any lawsuit over which websites a listing was posted on should not occur. I can say that any lawsuit brought for those reasons is without merit. It would have be based on the (erroneous) premise that inquiries from those various sites actually directly helped or caused a home to sell.
The top national site for traffic is Realtor.com. I currently pay about $4,000 a year to “enhance” my listings. There was a time that every 20 leads from Realtor.com equaled a closed escrow on *a* home. Seldom the one they inquired about. Now, the *only* reason I am on Realtor.com is to be able to say to our sellers that “we feature your home on Realtor.com”. That is the ONLY reason. In the past four years, I have never sold a listing because it was on Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow or any of the other sites. I have sold homes to buyers because we received an email lead because we have a lot of listings on those sites. Big difference.
If you are wanting buyer leads those sites may or may not be good. If you want to “impress” your sellers, they can be very good. If you want to actually sell that house I don’t see that they make *any* difference.
All of my listings are on all of the important sites. We do receive some inquiries from nearly all of them and some of those inquiries can become actual leads where we make a sale. I’m not convinced that today’s "internet lead" is much different than the "ad call" of twenty-five years ago. The best data I had at the time was it took about 400 calls (on the average) regarding a particular home to physically sell that home to that buyer. If you only have a few listings and sometimes sell one it can seem like it does not take that many. Get a few thousand and keep track of them and you see a different picture. If this were not true I suspect that most of us would be out of a job – as most sellers could just run an ad (or today, get "internet leads") and sell their own home.
My main points in this post are:
1. Listings were, are and will continue to be the very best method of having a stable real estate practice.
2. There are huge amounts of fantastic nonsense available from lots of different places regarding what is necessary to sell homes.
3. People who can’t see clearly will continue to disagree with point # 1 and therefore continue to attempt to sell the nonsense mentioned in point # 2 as essential.