Friday Flash: The King of Leads

The guy is smart. Really smart.

He’s a big broker with a strategy. He doesn’t worry about portals or “disrupters” – he plays them.

He seeks opportunity while others curl up in self-preservation mode.

I call him the King of Leads.

He finds them in the nooks and crannies of Zillow, sometimes exploiting the harebrained deals cut by other brokers looking to put a leash on the media giant.

He helped fund a lead scrubbing startup. Cobbled together a unique solution for routing leads to his agents. He’s prying open his accounting software to find clients who bought with agents who have left his brokerage so he can run them through a predictive analytics package, then market to them.

He works every angle, knows the numbers cold and moves fast.

He doesn’t spend money on online leads, he invests in online leads.

And he’s killing it.

His conversion rates are at least 5x higher than the generally accepted 2-3% benchmark. He’s making his agents happy while making tons of money from them on lead referral fees.

You may know that I’ve never been a fan of our industry’s infatuation with – and dependency on – low-converting online buyer leads. And we have seen more brokers blow fortunes chasing leads than we care to count.

This guy proves a big broker can make it work, but – and of course there’s a but – only with an extraordinary level of commitment, intensity and investment.  

If you’re not all-in, opt out.

Whither the Broker Public Portal?

It’s a fair question, and one I had asked myself even though 1000watt was involved in its formative stages and remains strongly supportive.

I got an update a few weeks back and the project is very much alive. Dozens of large MLSs representing over 700,000 agents have signed on. The portal’s front door – Homesnap.com – has been updated and is now on par with Zillow, Trulia and Redfin as far as the search experience goes.

The new question is this: what now?

More on that later.

A couple fun tidbits from Zillow’s wonderful 2017 Housing Trends Report:

  • Millennial sellers are more likely to go FSBO than any other age cohort – a whopping 57% try to sell their own place. However, overall, across generations, only 11% of sellers are successful in this endeavor. This last number appears to be going down, even as many markets strongly favor sellers, conditions that usually produce a temporary spike in FSBOs.
  • Millennials are the most likely to try to negotiate terms with their listing agent, but least likely to be successful in winning concessions.

In other words, Millennials aren’t so scary after all!

I live in Oakland. I have been breathing the airborne remains of Northern California housing stock all week.

It’s sickening.

The loss of life – 29 known dead as I write this, mostly older people too slow or too isolated to get out of harm’s way – is heartbreaking. These losses are forever.

The thousands of homes that have burned thus far (the fires are still raging) represent thousands of personal tragedies too. But here’s the thing about people who own homes and  lose them:

They rebuild.

I saw this happen firsthand after the 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm, which killed 25 people and destroyed nearly 3,000 homes. Very few people bailed. Today, you would never know the street on which I grew up was reduced to ash 25 years ago. The trees are back, and so are the people.

Homeownership works magically. It empowers people. It gives them pride. And it provides the force and will to come back from tragedy.

If you sell homes, what you do is important.

Enjoy the weekend.

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