Should Agents Have Own Search Portal?

by Michael Lam | Sep 27, 2015


It’s hard to ignore all the publicity as of late with news of the merger between Zillow/Trulia and NewsCorp/Move Inc –   What do they all have in common?

They are large corporations fighting for an increase in market share. The keyword here is “market share”. Each owned substantial market share before the merger, but after the merger it’s almost unfair to realtors and brokers who host their own websites with search portals.   Why do they have a competitive advantage?

Your site is not modern or unique

Go and ask 100 random buyers where they look for homes online. Most likely, 50% are using one of the 4 domains owned by the above companies. Then, ask them to try your own website to look for homes. Two things will happen.

  • Because your website was not truly customized, you’re using a cookie cutter portal site from an IDX vendor that uses the exact same layout for other agents all of whom paid for same functionality. So, your portal doesn’t stand out.
  • Functionality is not as robust and flexible as the power house portals above. Review your portal before answer the following questions:

    • Is your site mobile friendly?
    • Can you track your Users behavior to better understand their needs? Are there any analytics on your site to draw from?
    • How fast can you add a feature or make changes?

Agents are forced in a corner. What do they do? They already have a website because it’s what all of their colleagues have. Generic IDX vendors that offer “affordable” sites are spoon-feeding agents the idea that having a search portal is going to make their site better or more competitive. But with Zillow and leading the way and blanketing all agents’ sites, what true value does your website have while incurring a high cost without a healthy ROI (return on investment)? Below are reasons why your website falls short compared to the search portal giants.

Not SEO optimized

IDX vendors who charge you to implement your search portal or create your website may claim its “SEO” optimized, but the reality is no one can ever truly optimize your site 100% of the time because the SEO landscape is constantly changing. Your vendor isn’t constantly tweaking your site to keep it optimized, are they?

everything possible |

everything possible |

Also, is your vendor adding content to your site? I doubt it. For a site to be truly SEO optimized you have to add content and be unique. You need people linking back to your site. Basically, technical changes to your site don’t really improve your SEO ranking. Instead, they make sure your site isn’t negatively affected by search engine penalties.

Keep in mind that IDX has to scale for them to make money, so they create templates. To get truly a customized site you’re talking about shelling out thousands of dollars (anywhere from $5,000 – $50,000) depending on how unique, robust and feature rich you want your site to be.

No Analytics Equals Lack of Capitalization

What analytics can you draw from the site and search portal you’ve implemented? Do you know what keywords customers are searching? Do you know what they are looking at?

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wavebreakmedia |

Most likely, a generic implementation will not have analytics without charging you more money than its worth. Without properly tracking your site’s metrics, you’re running it blind. You’re only assuming people might be landing on your site; but, to really capitalize on your website, you have to track it accordingly.

No Difference Between You and Other Agents Using The Same Vendor

Vendors have to scale to make money which is why they charge an affordable monthly rate to maintain your site. For this to be affordable, the work implemented needs to be repeatable so the same work can be applied to other clients who use their service. This becomes a problem because if every agent in your firm is using the same vendor, most likely each site will look very similar to one another. How is a user going to engage and uniquely identify with your site?

What’s the verdict?

Agents need to be more collaborative. The whole purpose of MLS was to collaborate with other agents; it was designed to be a place for host all listing information. Now that this information is essentially made public by the giant portals, agents need to re-invent themselves. Agents need to be more in tune with their clients’ needs. To do this, you must use technology tracking. Agents can do their best to ask questions and hope clients will be as transparent as possible, but many times clients won’t even know what they need. Their behavior in online searches will reveal what their needs are. To track this you need a site designed to gather analytic data and you need to share this information with other agents

Agents should use their website like a business card. They should create a site that all agents can use to collaborate and funnel client search data. If agents work together and get their clients under one platform, it’s easier for agent to optimize results. Don’t try to do it yourself. Instead, let another company manage home search SEO. Allow that partner to compete against the giant search portal while you work on maintaining and serving your clients’ needs.

There is an upcoming platform designed to not only track a user search patterns, but also store user preference and needs online. Having such information in one platform is extremely valuable, as this means agents who represent sellers can scan through buyers needs and match them with the right seller home. It works vice-versa for buyers because a buyer preference will be taken into account when searching.

What makes this truly unique, is this platform lives inside your Facebook Messenger app, made by where its a AI chatbot. You can conversationally speak to it to find homes. This app you can go to it directly here,Realtors Bot.

Realtors Bot on Facebook

It’s a cutting-edge site that assigns a score to a user’s search preference. It quickly evaluates homes for the user and lets them know if each result meets all of their unique parameters and, if not, which requirements are missing.

Check it out yourself, HomeTrueScore . If your not an agent but interested in viewing this site, contact your agent to sign up.

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