Just about any writer writing about the future of the internet and vertical search, and companies like HomeGain providing online services to consumers, emphasizes the problem of personalization and context.
Until the semantic web can create the ability to understand personal intent much better, it’ll be up to humans to provide these missing links.
Home buyers and sellers want a personalized response that provides context to their search for homes and service.
They want to know what the area is like, is it urban-flavored or rural-flavored, friendly to kids, friendly to singles, near hospitals, near good restaurants, a walking community, is golf nearby, is it appreciating or depreciating, are the school systems rated high, is water nearby with boat access—a hundred different questions that can help narrow the process and save time and frustration.
The real estate agent who provides the best information will most likely be chosen as the agent to work with.
The agent who can sense what it is the home buyer wants, or can sense what needs a seller has, and can provide the extra something that feels personal and complete to the buyer or seller—this is what consumers are looking for, and will demand more and more.
For those agents working with out-of-town home buyers, gaining comprehensive information of the whole area will be useful in providing personal, contextual service.
Buyers will be impressed when they discover you know the nuances of the areas and can provide that information in an understandable fashion that meets their intent. Canned demographics and sparse information will cause the buyer to search further, without you, to find the information. If you stop them in their flittering from site to site by giving them something special, you’ll be their huckleberry.
What I’m doing more and more is giving prospects links to local information sites and links to a blog site I developed where I’m writing a series of area information posts covering Savannah and surrounding areas.
Once a buyer sees an agent’s site as a one-stop local information site, there is no need to go further.
However, this requires a lot of work and management. The more organized a real estate agent can get by utilizing the best prospect management tools the better off the agent will be. I have a website that provides a good enough management system and just about any system is good enough—IF IT IS USED.
On my blog site, I’ve also created photo albums that allows for descriptions under each photo categorized in areas.
I’ve found people love the pictures and the story that is told by the descriptions—it gives them a better feel for the area and keeps them at the website longer, slowly building a relationship by giving more and more information and understanding. I add a few descriptions each day, because it’s a big project and will take a while to complete—but a little at a time and it’s not so overwhelming.
All I have to do is put myself in the prospect’s place to understand the special difference in personalization and context. It’s what I want when I’m searching for a product or a service and it’s something I deeply appreciate when I find it.
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