Still Not Sure How Important The Internet Is In Real Estate Sales?

Published by Barry Cunningham September 15th, 2008 in Marketing tips.

This is Barry Cunningham’s (co-host of RealEstateRadio) first guest post on Sellsius. There are many things I love about Barry. Heading the list is his fearlessness in expressing his opinion, even if it runs contrary to the (so-called) wisdom of the crowd. And while others might hide behind a comment policy to censor opposition, in the name of living room civility, Barry is just as fearless in defending his position against all comers. As readers of this blog know, I am an advocate of free speech– free speech as defined by the Constitution, not my living room (besides, you’d have to take your shoes off to comment). I do not whitewash people’s words, or judge them on niceness, to “protect” contributors. Why? Because free speech is not a right reserved only for those with good manners. Besides, contributors are not in need of my protection (how parochial), certainly not Barry.

Anyhoo, here’s Barry’s post:

The California Association Of Realtors recently released their “2008 Survey of California Home Buyers”. The data found in this survey isn’t all that astounding to those who have actually been using such information to improve their business. However it further underscores how many real estate agents are out of touch with reality in regards to what today’s consumer wants and expects.

I can hear it now. The stubborn cold-calling, door knocking old school, 3 yards and a cloud of dust, real estate agent angrily discounting the data in the survey. “It doesn’t apply to me”. “Real estate is local”. “My market is different.”

You know them, you’ve probably read their baseless, rantings on multi-agent, back-slapping, hoo-rah sites wherein no amount of data, survey results or trade information relates to them. You know them, they are the ones who still probably have AOL email addresses and may in fact still think that AOL is the Internet.

They’re the ones who are just finding out that you can take screen shots of images on your computer or believe there is “Google Juice” for “an open house this Sunday in Boise”.

If you’re still reading their blog posts and listening to what they have to say after you read this information then you deserve the lack of income you are enduring.

Does that upset you? It should! It’s time you as a real estate agent who wants to run a “business” wakes up and takes notice of what is REALLY going on in the industry.

The CAR Survey was conducted using a sample group comprised of recent homebuyers. 1,249 who used the Internet and 351 who did not and went the traditional route.

Like I said earlier, the data is not startling, but it is remarkable. Here is what the survey found:

1. Home buyers expect and want real estate agents to answer the friggin telephone or respond by email! People, can you imagine calling your local hair salon or dentist’s office or lawyer’s office and not being able to get in touch with anyone and if you do, no one returning your call?

We all know that real estate agents are some of the worst communicators on the planet. Unfortunately, the consumer knows this as well.

96 percent of Internet buyers expected a response within four hours or less…31 percent of the Internet group expected an IMMEDIATE response!

84 percent of participants ..let me say that again…84% of buyers said that they considered the agent’s response time to be either a “very important” or “extremely important” factor in their decision-making process.

I recently took 20 random listings off of the MLS and called each one of them. I called on Friday morning and Saturday morning. 40 phone calls in all. 2 agents answered their phone and only 4 called back.

Do you really think the real estate industry is slow or have agents simply given up? Until real estate agents grasp the idea of communication as a business tool, there are going to be a lot of real estate agents existing under the poverty level. This is an easy fix. You see what the consumer wants. Deliver it! Real simple. You don’t need a business coach to learn how to be accessible and answer the phone or an email!

2. “I don’t work with buyers because I’m a lister and buyer’s waste my time”. Nothing signals the label of dinosaur quicker than these words being spoken or written by a real estate agent. If you hear a real estate agent uttering these words, back away, no run away, lest you be struck by the rapidly approaching comet.

Today, gas prices across the USA are rising because of the recent hurricane. Refineries are not able to produce gas so the price goes up because the inventory can’t meet the demand. Unfortunately, in most markets across the country, the same supply and demand impact is not present.

In fact it is much to the contrary. There is so much inventory that it has dwarfed demand. So why are some “mega-producing” agents heralding the fact that they are “listers”. Doesn’t their statement pretty much mean that they don’t understand Business and Economics 101?

Now let’s look at that nutso mantra of “buyers are hard to work with” BS that we keep hearing. I have a question…too hard to work with compared to what? The NAR says that the average buyer’s agent spends 14 or so hours with a buyer. So just what is the buyer taking you away from? Oprah? Dr. Phil? You’re other job?

The fact is that the recent CAR study shows that “Traditional” buyers take as much as 10.3 weeks searching for a home and wanted to see almost twice as many homes with their agent (23.3 homes) as Internet buyers (12.7 homes).

200% more, twice the amount of work…Hello McFly!! , I ask again. Buyers are too much work? Maybe you are working with the wrong buyers!

3. Today’s consumer is not satisfied with the performance of their real estate agent. Again, not surprising. In the CAR survey, customer satisfaction with the home-buyer process dropped inEVERY category and dropped 16% from the preceding survey last year. Wow!

Almost 80 percent of those who were not happy with their agent’s performance said the agent “did not negotiate aggressively on their behalf”. That’s completely understandable since most real estate agents are not trained negotiators.

I recently watched a David Knox video and he amusingly pointed out in one of his workshops, that going back and forth with counter-offers is NOT negotiating. Don’t you think if you are going to be in this business that you might want to learn some negotiating skills?

Watch Divorce Court or re-runs of L.A. something! If you’re not going to learn how to properly negotiate then you are doing a disservice to your soon to be former client. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard a real estate agent tell me how “insulted they were by my low ball offer”. No…what’s insulting is that you don’t know how to negotiate aggressively and you expose yourself as an amateur by making such an utterance.

Why do I say “soon to be former client”? The CAR survey found that only 71 percent of the Internet buyers would use the same agent again. That would not be all that bad except for the fact that this is down 21% from the same period last year.

If you think that’s bad, it only gets WORSE when you speak to traditional buyers. Among the “traditional” buyers, only 27 percent reported they would use the same agent again…which is down 20% from last year and down an alarming 52% from 2005.

Business people do not ignore this kind of data. However, many real estate agents will.

3. You need a well marketed, SEO intensive Blog or website if you are going to survive as a real estate agent. There it’s said. It’s in black and white. What are you going to do about it! Going to keep hanging out singing Kumbayah on some mass agent community network or are you going to actually up your game and get your site up to today’s standards. Your choice but guess which agents are going to succeed?

Homebuyers who used the Internet in the home-buying process reported that the first Web site they visited was Google (40 percent), followed by (28 percent), Yahoo Real Estate (8 percent), and Zillow (5 percent). Four percent reported that they first visited the Web site “of a home that I was interested in,” while 3 percent reported that was the first site they visited and 13 percent were unsure.

Hmmm, when 40% of the market is using Google to find homes just what do you think they were searching for? If you have to think too hard for the answer you may already be lost!

They’re not looking at single property websites, they’re not looking at your broker’s website, they are not looking at your company’s main website. 33% of respondents cited an individual real estate agent’s Web site was cited as the most useful Web site during the home-buying process.

4. Yard sign calls, brochures, pamphlets and the like are of little or no interest to today’s consumer. They won’t deliver you business! The survey found that 90 percent of buyers in the Internet group found their real estate agent using the Internet, while just 9 percent found their agent through a for-sale sign and 1 percent through an agent’s marketing materials.

Ok, so what are you going to do with this information? We already know that most will discount it as it not being relevant to their endeavors. Some won’t believe it and others won’t even know how to respond. That’s fine.

It’s the others out there that this is written for. That small percentage of maverick real estate agents who use contemporary data and means to actually run a real estate business. You know who you are. Take this data and run with it. You are and will continue to distance yourself from the pack and this survey confirms you are on the right track.

For the rest of you, please, by all means, continue with your ignorance and old school methodology. It’s expected and counted on. Seriously, how else are we in the New World Order of Real Estategoing to overtake you if not for your ignorance.

For that, we thank you.

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3 Responses to “Still Not Sure How Important The Internet Is In Real Estate Sales?”

  1. Josh Maxwell Says:

    I just stopped by your blog and thought I would say hello. I like your site design. Looking forward to reading more down the road.

  2. patrick Says:

    well hello i am using your stats here

    and your arguments really are very true. I suggest u have a look at the future if OPEN Google doc based Realtor websites in HD. checkout the concept herenits under development but you can see what the NO 2 trafficked real tor website in LA is soon gonna look like

    now the reason for this post good fella is feedback on the layout and the fact that every page on this site is powered by a Google doc. and that this GD based site has SEO built in in the right way. I think we smell a new model for the web savvy realtor here…

    patrick martin
    Now2k inc developers of the HHH GD based site
    see also

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