Sunday, October 28, 2007

MLS and Todays Internet Home Shopper

I was speaking to an agent last week regarding another site I'm involved in called MLS Maps. I was explaining to the agent the benefits of the Map based search technology that is now available to Realtors in most MLS markets and he informed me that map based search was useless and wasn't going anywhere. This seriously caught me by surprise as most of the newer listing sites I visit involve some use of map technology with most sites simply using the Google map API and doing a mash up.

Is it just me or is this agent not keeping up with technology and the needs and wants of Internet home shoppers. What really killed me is that he said he worked mostly with relocation clients and they would have no use for a map based search since they don't know the area. This surprised me even more since that is one of the biggest reasons I give for having map based search on your web site.

Think about, you are moving from Denver to Minneapolis as you have just accepted a job with SuperValu. The HR rep tells you their headquarters and your new office will be located in Eden Prairie, a suburb of Minneapolis which you have never heard of. For most relo clients there are at least a few priorities including a short commute, proximity to good schools, if you have kids, and proximity to other interests you have like maybe parks, lakes, the airport if you love to travel or need to travel for work, etc. I can't think of any better way to find a home in a strange city then by a map and the address of where you will be working, going to school, etc.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, if you are an agent and you have a web site without IDX broker reciprocity MLS listings, you are wasting your Internet marketing dollars and your time. The single most important thing to an Internet home shopper is inventory, God help you if the inventory on your site consists of your current listings. And remember to keep your eyes open for map based search solutions for your web site that will make your site more sticky and get you way more buzz marketing, especially if you are the first in your market.

Friday, October 26, 2007 disappears, if only for a moment.

I had an agent call me today and ask me what happened to . I am aware of the site and I think it is a good site and in fact I am suprised that it is off line this evening. I only hope that it is temporary as all web sites have certainly had their issues with hosting. If not, please visit our site and encourage your clients to recommend you there, were are up and running!

Best of luck to Home Thinking.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Zillow Quandry

OK so Zillow is getting a bunch of traffic, that's a fact but the question for Realtors is what kind of traffic is Zillow getting and how can it help me? Is Zillow getting hits from potential home buyers, potential home sellers or simply from people who are curious about the value of their home? Oh by the way, there is another big user of Zillow, mortgage professionals who use Zillow to determine if there is enough value in a borrowers home to justify a refinance. I'm thinking a lot of mortgage guys are using Zillow everyday which really doesn't help Realtors or home sellers.

My take on the deal is that most of Zillow's traffic is from people who are curious about the value of a home versus someone actually looking for homes to buy. Think about it, any home buyer that has heard the term MLS and has searched for their local mls in Google has figured out that the mother lode of homes for sale is not on Zillow, Trulia or sites like them who are busy trying to build a national database of home inventory, but on the sites of local realtors. So to think of Zillow as a great place to find buyers is a bit of a stretch. I haven't spent any time looking at Zillows Q&A section yet and in fact there might be some opportunities for agents to engage prospects in meaningful conversations that ultimately end in real estate transactions, but this is the same activity that Realtors are being told they should be doing with their blogs.

So what's an agent to do and how much time should an agent spend on Zillow and, what is Zillows ultimate motive in all this? Time will tell but knowing what I know about real estate and the Internet today, As an agent I would be spending my time build my web presence/brand in my local market using tools like a blog and an IDX broker reciprocity feed which gives my visitors access to almost all the homes for sales in their area. At the end of the day, the agent is still the one who makes it all happen!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Agentopolis to Provide Consumer Facing Blogs for Realtors

Agentopolis in conjunction with Blogging Systems will soon be offering our Realtors an incredible blogging platform. This platform will be different than many of the social media sites out there in that our focus will be on the consumer, people interested in buying or selling a home, versus a community of like minded people, like on Activerain. We will make it very easy for our visitors to search through our blog inventory and drill down by state, city, neighborhood and topic so the visitor gets connected to the most qualified agent for their needs.

We hope to have this awesome real estate agent marketing tool up and running by the end of November and we are very excited to be working with the group at Blogging Systems as they have a lot of great experience in this space.

Stay Tuned and if you have any ideas about any features for our blog, please let us know here or by phone or email.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's About Time

Here I sit, reading The Real Estate Tomato blog as I imagine that someday I might be a great blogger and being reminded again of two things, one, I haven't posted to this blog in a very long time and two, if any of us want to get established as an "a-list" blogger in any industry, we have to blog at least once a week or more.

I keep getting hit over the head with this simple fact as I feed myself a line of bull about how busy I am. Truth is everybody in real estate is busy yet some of us are able to make time to post quality content in a consistent manner. So once again, I am committing to finding a way to create and post good content in the area of real estate and more specifically real estate marketing. As the founder and CEO of Agentopolis I spend more and more time on the net reading blogs, publications like Inman News, Realty Times and RIS Media, and checking out no less than 100 different real estate web sites each week. As a result I am developing an understanding and opinion about this sector that I think can help real estate agents sort through all the noise and start making money from their Internet marketing efforts.

Stay tuned as I review all the new sites and marketing ideas for real estate agents and other industry professionals and try to help agents find and use the best of the best without breaking the bank.

This will also be the place where Agentopolis has an open dialogue with the agent community and keeps you informed about what we are doing next to try to further promote the 1.3 million agents on our site.

My title has a double meaning for me and maybe you too. "It's about time" I got my head in the game, and the answer to my challenge is about time!

See you soon.