A looming storm is set to blanket your city with ten feet of snow. You click on your local news website’s “weather” link and there’s no mention of it. Just pictures of kids building castles in the sand. Wouldn’t that be bizarre?
As I see it, it’s just as bizarre that here, in 2008, two years since the market got on the down escalator, only a handful of real estate companies have managed to alter their websites to reflect the conditions of the market.
Click on any brokerage website.
Take a look at the home page.
You would think it’s still 2004.
Box of Real Estate Rain
Look outside the window. The sun is not shining on Main Street.
But you wouldn’t know it by looking at the websites of most brokerage companies. It’s 1999 — or maybe 2003 based on a design and voice that nearly mocks the box of real estate rain in which many communities are drowning.
So what’s wrong with images of happy smiling people standing in front of homes, shaking hands with agents under a yard sign with a big “SOLD” rider dangling below?
Nothing, if that’s your bag.
But my guess is that’s what every other broker in your market is doing. And I would be concerned about that. I’d worry that by not addressing the realities of today’s market — and providing intelligence on how to make sense of it — my brokerage may come across as uncaring. Uninformed. Or, worse, not able to offer critical advice or solutions to my marketplace.
If I owned a brokerage today, the first thing I’d do is gather my best people in my conference room Monday morning, fire up a browser and start looking at the websites of every one of my competitors. I’d note how most of them more or less look just like mine. How our IDX feeds are alike. Our navigation. And how none of us are addressing real estate in 2008.
I might also scroll over to Trulia Voices and see how many of my agents, and their invaluable insights, are being leveraged there rather than on my own brokerage website.
And then, I’d get fighting mad.
What Davison Real Estate does now
Go ahead. Play by the book. Keep pretending a ray of golden real estate sunshine is beaming down on your marketplace. Not me. I’m surrounded by declining values. And a marketplace of freaked out, frightened homeowners. Davison Real Estate Company sees that as a opportunity.
Here’s just a little of what Davison Real Estate would get moving on Monday morning:
- Publishing a neighborhood-by-neighborhood market report on a monthly basis and posting it on my home page.
- Placing video on the home page of me and some my best agents talking about the micro-dynamics of the market and offering sound advice backed by facts.
- Scrubbing the website copy to make sure that it acknowledges the challenging times.
- If my market was hit by foreclosures, offering a hotline or live chat to anyone who needs instant help. I would actually staff this. “Floor time” would take on new meaning.
- Launching a “now may not be the right time to buy or sell” campaign powered by the truth.
- Hiring a team of great writers to completely rewrite the decision support content on my site to reflect today’s market, not 1997’s — when that copy was originally written.
- Setting my Listing Alert feature dead-square on the home page and encouraging everyone in my community to use it like a stock ticker to keep track of home pricing.
So you own a brokerage with X number of agents. All of them have ideas. Knowledge. Market specific specialties. All of them have answers to the questions that ping-pong around the inside the consumer’s head.
I know that somewhere inside your management team there is someone tapped in to your marketplace. They know everyone and everything.
What have you done to harness all that critical intelligence that sits inside your vault?
It is shocking that here in 2008 I am still hard-pressed to find a brokerage site whose front page even remotely touches the realities of the market and the needs of the people mired in its challenges.
That’s a bummer. But, if you’re like me, you can also see that as an opportunity to shine.