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December 23, 2005

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Dustin

Tim,

It is a very interesting topic, and I got my fair share of flaming when I took the opposite side back in this post:
http://www.raincityguide.com/2005/10/01/agents-are-you-prepared/

Interestingly, I think that you're arguments make ton of sense if we're to assume that real estate search is going to stay the same. However, if agents continue to put barriers to finding homes, that is only going to play to the hands of all the new real estate search sites that are cropping up that are have the ability to bypass agents altogether (I'm thinking of sites like Trulia, Propsmart, and maybe even Zillow.)

I think the competition that agents need to be worrying about is not competition with other agents, but rather, competition with competing ways of buying and selling homes!

Tim O'Keefe

Dustin-
I agree that agents need to look out for the other sites.

But those other sites can at best only scrape content from other classified sites, unless they have express permission from your local Board to publish your data!

So if you see a site that is out there like many of these newspapers sites, I think you have to ask yourself. How do you as Board paying Realtor, benefit from the local newspaper publishing your data, openly and without registration? DO you get those leads? Who benefits?

The opposite argument of course is that the Board is doing the responsible thing and getting the listings out to the world.

Even if the world was to change, and there was no NAR, someone is going to get paid for published data.

As Realtors, I would be very concerned how your data, is being pimped around freely by the Boards. Again, if the papers and what not captured leads for the Board then I wouldn't see a problem with this.

But I think that agents have in the name of a skewed sense of Fiduciary responsibility, let their MLS data go to the wind.

Ask yourself, if the lawyers controlled this, would it be free and open registration?

Tim O'Keefe

Do you guys charge a cut rate commission? Because if your website sold these houses all by themselves, then how can your service be worth 6% +/-?

Does a Classified Ad, or the local, 4 color "Homes and Whatever Magazine", sell houses?

The most your website can do, like the traditional media, is to generate a lead.

You show the property, sell the home, negotiate the sale, and close the escrow/sale. There is a whole bunch of time and effort called selling and managing put into those four activities.

The offer to purchase is nowhere on yours, or any website that I can see. Because it would be a regulatory nightmare.

Otherwise if the contract was on your site,and your site sold the property, your service is not worth 6% of half a million dollars or more, let alone would it be worth $500.

The net, at its very worst can be just what the old traditional media is/was. Show an ad, wait for the phone to ring.

The difference is that instead of the local paper, you have thousands of other webpages competing with you, and that will show the very same ad (idx/Vow Data).

The reader of the traditional ad is loyal to the local rag or magazine.

The real estate website is a commodity until you can capture the reader and earn loyalty thru a drip and follow up system. Bringing them to a head whereby they ask you, or you ask them, to either get pre qualified or to see a home.

I find most agent blogs are an attempt to build huge content to build the "brand" of the agent.

It is my belief that this is great, but does not come into play until the housebuyer seller has done their preliminary research of homes. Then the ability to create loyalty can escalate by a skilled follow up campaign. That is when all that personality and content will matter. That is when concern about what agent to use will matter.

Remember, people come to the web to research. There is a reason that Amazon learned early on to add sticky content about the book. Because you can buy a book anywhere.

Amazon knows that people come to the web to dig information and research. The MLS is by its nature, simple and organized method for home and neighborhood comparisons.

One of the biggest frustrations with Ecommerce is that consumers go online to research, and then buy at a local more trusted location.

Thus, why would you give -free- access to your data? Is it not exclusive? Does it not have value? What is free worth?

Does it not make sense to capture the visitor, and begin interactions with them? To build a relationship? Or to wish and hope for the phone to ring?

The competition will only increase and reliance on image advertising will not serve you, as more and more pages try to capture that same position from the engines as you.

As always, thanks for your comments as there have been some good cases made. And, I am told, it has at the very least deepened many agents thought processes of marketing online. Thanks!



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