A heated debate erupted at NAR this year regarding who’s #1 on the web for real estate search. The #1 figure in question is regarding which site, nationally, has the most traffic, nationally. Below are a few insights into what this means at the broker or agent level.
1. A ton of traffic on national sites is not in-market traffic. Yahoo manages to get a ton of traffic onto Yahoo Real Estate by linking to celebrity listings from Yahoo.com, celebrity gossip pages, and other news sections of the site. Ask yourself: If someone checking out Tiger Woods’ house a qualified visitor to their site? While there is a chance that someone visiting Yahoo Real Estate to check out Tiger’s house could go on to search local listings and contact an agent, it’s pretty safe to assume that this type of traffic is much less qualified than what brokers and agents tend to receive on their own websites. This type of celebrity-driven traffic gaming is not unique to Yahoo.
2. On a per-agent basis, none of the national sites are very big. For example, Realtor.com states that they have 11.2 million unique visitors. NAR has 1,084,202 members. That comes to 10.3 unique visitors per agent per month. For comparison, I’m visiting one of WhereToLive.com’s clients this week that sees many times Realtor.com’s unique visitors/agent/month. Not a few times more. Many. Try running the numbers for your company to see how your website stacks up.
3. Brands Matter. Which online property would you like to see prospective home buyers and sellers using to research their next real estate transaction? Your site, where you control the branding and have your agent’s contact information? Or a site where ads for your competitors appear alongside your agent’s listings? One where your agents professionally present well merchandised properties? Or one where your agents have to pay a monthly fee to look credible next to their own listings?
If you think that your brand is irrelevant, you don’t need a website. If you want to provide value to prospects and earn their business, you need a great website.
This isn’t to say that national sites provide no value. Far from it. My intent here is to help brokers gain a proper perspective on how much value national sites provide. It seems clear to me that, by choosing the right technology partner, you can provide much more value to your network of agents at a lower cost to your agents than what national sites are offering. You deserve to have local buyers and sellers on your site, and you can if you partner with the right marketing platform partner.