Real estate professionals need the internet to conduct their business. A few years ago, it used to be enough for a realtor to have an in-person office, hard copy materials, and maybe a basic website with contact information. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the influence of technology have both radically changed the motions of buying or selling a home. People aren’t just turning to the generic internet to research suitable properties; they’re also looking for someone trustworthy and professional to assist them through the buying and selling process. As such, real estate professionals need to devote time to building up their online presence and look for ways to set themselves apart from the competition. In this next installment of our blog series on online growth tips for specialized industries, we’re considering how a website, social media, and digital marketing can give you an edge in today’s ever-evolving real estate market.
Create a Resource for Buyers
When we think of real estate and how it is represented on the internet, we usually think of slideshows of pictures showing all the rooms and amenities of a home. While it is certainly important for a realtor to have these slideshows on their websites to advertise properties to clients, realtors might also consider restructuring their website as an informational hub with advice, statistics, and basic how-to processes, especially for first-time home buyers. In their 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the National Association of Realtors found that for 47 per cent of buyers, the first step in their home search process was looking online at properties for sale, with only 18 per cent of buyers first contacting a real estate agent. Throughout their broader search, nearly all buyers used online tools at 96 per cent.
With so many people turning to the internet to conduct their initial searches and research, realtors should prepare themselves to respond with content on their sites beyond pictures of the properties they have recently listed or sold. A real estate agent’s website does not always have to be about selling. Instead, these websites can serve as an educational, trustworthy resource with credible answers from an industry professional. Blogs are gaining traction as one kind of platform to share helpful content with existing and new clients, as well as strengthen search engine optimization (SEO). For realtors, a blog can help prospective buyers find answers to questions like the following:
Should I be looking to buy a home or rent a home? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
Should I sell my home privately or should I use a real estate agent?
What kind of costs do I need to be aware of when buying or selling a home?
What should I keep in mind when exploring options for a home loan?
What kind of mortgage is best for me? What factors should I weigh more heavily than others?
Answering the questions of anxious and uncertain home buyers is by no means a waste of your time as a real estate professional. Instead, sharing this expertise can ease their mind and even open the door for them to contact you for a consultation. As much as the real estate field is about buying and selling, a home is almost certainly the biggest purchase in anyone’s lifetime, which makes an informed and aware approach all the more important.
Capture Digital Leads
Like the contracting and medical industries, a website is also a foundational part of online advertisement for real estate professionals. When websites are used in tandem with social media and digital marketing strategies, your chances of lead generation significantly increase. For realtors, capturing digital leads is crucial now that prospective buyers are doing so much of their research online rather than in-person. As you attract more and more traffic with your buying and selling blog content, your website should invite these new users to reach out to you for personalized, professional advice. Your site could then make use of online contact forms so you can quickly receive and read requests, as well as ensure that no lead goes unnoticed. For example, integrating online contact forms into your website can be helpful for adding new contacts into your content management system. If a user leaves a contact form only half-filled out, your system might be programmed to follow up in a week to ask them, “are you still in the market for a new home?” or “do you still need a hand selling your home?”
You can start simple with an online contact form and just get the basics from your users. Of course, you should also leave a blank message box in case your client has other things to ask or tell you.
If your client is buying, consider asking for information like the following:
Phone number and email
Budget for a new home
Needs for a new home (e.g., number of bedrooms, bathrooms, area of town or preferred school district, etc.)
Nice-to-haves for a new home (e.g., big backyard, pool, covered patio, double garage, laundry room not in the basement, etc.)
If your client is selling, consider asking for information like the following:
Phone number and email
Timeline for selling your home
Level of understanding of the selling process (rated from one to ten)
Specific needs during the selling process (e.g., marketing plan, online listings, professional photos, potential upgrades before listing, etc.)
Using social media alongside online contact forms is also important for capturing digital leads. Real estate professionals often structure their social media accounts, especially Instagram, as a kind of photo album of all the sales they’ve closed with now happy homeowners. Even with this theme, you can still add friendly calls-to-action in your captions and profile biography to continue directing soon-to-be buyers and sellers to your website. The link to your contact form might be right in your biography or it could be included in an auto-reply message in your inbox. You should explore all the different ways you can capture leads through social media and digital marketing. But remember that your goal will always be to send users to your website.
Build Your Personal Brand Identity
Realtors often come to be known in their communities for their personalities. Though many real estate agents are tied to a brokerage or agency, that doesn’t mean they can’t look for ways to showcase their character, passion, and expertise in the field. Regardless of where you are based in Canada, real estate is a competitive career, and the little things can make all the difference when it comes to securing the trust of a new client. The convenience of a generic brokerage-provided website is, of course, very tempting for a busy professional, but taking the time to add some information about who you are to your website can set you apart from the crowd. You might start personalizing your brand identity with information like the following:
Your years of expertise in the real estate industry
Your core values as someone who helps others buy and sell their homes
Your passion for real estate and how you came to be in this career
Your preferred clients (e.g., first-time buyers, families, single adults, empty nesters, etc.)
Adding a photo of yourself, your team members, and your office can also add some personality to your website. Instead of staring at your name and email and wondering who you are, a photo helps your clients imagine working with you, and they may even go as far as to imagine a celebratory, deal-closing handshake. When it comes down to it, your business is focused on buying and selling houses, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take a moment to also market yourself.
Photos of the clients you’ve worked with and their matching testimonials can also contribute to your personal brand, especially if your clients mention your core values and show appreciation for your dedication and experience. Maybe you’ve recently worked with two parents who were very thankful to you for helping to get them and their five kids into a new six-bedroom home. Instead of letting that story pass by unnoticed, get some photos for your website and follow-up with them in a few weeks to ask how they’re enjoying their new home. Though it may not seem like it on the surface, there are always stories attached to the journey of buying or selling a home, and they make for touching and captivating website content. From first-time owners to new immigrants, there will always be faces behind the six- and seven-figure prices.
Time to Redesign Your Real Estate Website!
If you are a realtor or other real estate professional, and you would like to begin building your own website or make adjustments like the suggestions in this blog, please reach out to the CodeMasters Inc. team to set up a consultation to discuss your needs and ideas. We are committed to helping you establish and maintain a sleek and professional website in anticipation of your business’ bright and promising future.