Well-honed “people skills” are a vital attribute for real estate agents, along with local knowledge, marketing talents, attention to details and negotiating skills. Increasingly, however, not only first contacts but a large and growing segment of real estate business is conducted online rather than face-to-face.
It’s Not Just Property That’s Listed Online Anymore
The “old-fashioned” MLS Listing Book has all but disappeared from the real estate landscape, and the vast majority of prospective buyers first view listings online. That trend has brought about important changes in property descriptions and mandated a need for better photographs. Online listings have also all but eliminated the need for onsite open houses, and printed property flyers.
A similar evolution is underway in terms of the way clients select real estate agents. Those who are ahead of the curve have already taken steps to establish a “virtual portrait” of themselves and the services they offer. It requires a different set of skills. But it is a vital step. Agents who neglect their online presence are going to fall behind in their efforts to represent sellers and find prospective buyers. Those clients who prefer in-office meetings and exchanging business cards in person will never disappear, but the new age of marketing points in a different direction.
Developing a distinctive online presence is not only a smart professional move, it will soon become the primary method of building a successful real estate career. Traditional marketing, advertising and networking can remain an effective way to get your name and your face in front of the public. Involvement in service organizations and charitable events cements an agent’s reputation as a decent human being with a “life” apart from the business.
However, future clients are much more likely to travel to a website rather than to an office to satisfy their curiosity and explore your listings. They are also likely to read online testimonials and ratings before they will ask neighbors and business associates for agent recommendations. And the reach of an active social media presence is immense. Think of the potential: Your market is no longer limited to the local geographic area. The internet can bring clients from anywhere in the world!
Think About How the World Sees You
Online reputation management is an important part of the new world. However, it might be something requires expert help. It involves a more thoughtful approach than having a website and posting occasionally to Facebook or Instagram. A limited or poorly-executed online presence might have the effect of driving business away.
Digital marketing and web design experts can be instrumental in helping real estate agents optimize exposure, manage content, boost engagement rates and assure that the digital “picture” is one that speaks of success. That’s a foundation on which to build even greater exposure. The goal is to project an image of authority and solid achievement while still appearing approachable and personable. It’s a balancing act that many agents manage extremely well in person but have not yet mastered on the digital page. And this is definitely not the place to seek advice of a “digital native” like a teenage son!
Your business or personal website should be the starting point. It’s perfectly appropriate to have a page on a shared website, expanding that to a well-thought-out complementary presence on social media sites tailored to the audience you want to reach.
Offer prospective clients a variety of pertinent and topical information by writing a weekly blog post. Discuss local market trends on a monthly basis, explain financing options and real estate terms; offer advice on credit management, or promote local events and charitable efforts. Interact with the local community through social media and develop an online community to boost engagement and build referrals.
It will take time, but it will define your business success for the future. Don’t be left out in the cold!
Dylan Snyder is a team leader and real estate consultant at The Snyder Group – Keller Williams Realty Luxury Homes. His business is augmented by his high-caliber team of seasoned buyer specialists and a dedicated marketing department.