After the dot.com bust it appeared the initial promise of the internet was vanquished and the naysayers were right, that only geeks were using the internet and that business on the web couldn’t be conducted for profit.
So much for naysayers. The internet is now used by every bubba, grandma and you-name-it around the world. The internet is fulfilling its promise and rapidly becoming a standard tool of business, advertising and communication.
The argument is over whether real estate agents should be using the internet to conduct business. I’m sure there are successful hold-outs, and it’s probably true that many agents don’t have a comprehensive internet plan to conduct business, but it’s now pretty much a no-brainer that the internet is the place to be for real estate business.
NAR is addressing the issue, agents are getting their own websites, brokerages are putting together plans and every conference, workshop and seminar has something to say about it.
Many of us are way beyond all that and our main concern is just how best to utilize all the possibilities now that we’re in the middle of it. For those just starting, I’d suggest catching up fast by reading blogs like Bloodhound, Agent Genius and, of course, this one, HomeGain.
But, also, to get the full effect, I’d suggest joining social sites where agents are gathering and sharing information. Many agents have profiles on Facebook, and many agents are now Twittering. HomeGain has a closed network of real estate agents on HomeGain Nation.
Follow the trails, comment on different sites, become known, ask questions, watch what the best are doing—get connected.
There’s no way to understand or reap the benefits by lurking and periodically checking out a site or two—the only way to understand and benefit is to get immersed. At the very least, get a website that captures leads and that is optimized to be seen by search engines—or join an offering like HomeGain that does it all for the agent.
But don’t make the mistake of getting a template website and pretending you are connected—it’s like many have said, a billboard in the desert.
I make these recommendations because I believe with all my battled heart that any new agent coming into real estate will be lost if they don’t get connected and use the internet to conduct business going forward—the ones that are successful without an internet presence will be the exception, not the rule.
You may have a successful old-timer in your office advising you to forget about it, that it’s a waste of time, but believe me, things have changed and the way the old-timer became successful is going to very difficult to replicate in the age of the internet.
Consumers now expect it and think you are a weak player if you are not connected—they probably won’t even find you to start with if you are not online to be found. While it’s true that some traditional methods still work, don’t put too much stock into that, because we are getting to a point where change is going to be rapid—in the next ten years the industry will change completely and those who don’t change with it will be left behind (I’ll stick my neck out there with this prediction).
Current times demand a level of professionalism like the industry has never known, and the demands will only increase as time goes on. We are not only competing against one another now in small areas, we’re competing against national real estate sites that offer more and more information every day.
It will become a challenge to add enough value to the process to be needed. Some say we must go beyond competition to define our role in the future, that we must be seen on a larger stage as the creators of the industry’s future. This is a tall order for an agent who is worrying about paying dues, gas bills and making ends meet from transaction to transaction.
One might look at the whole of the internet and say “The heck with that, I’ll just farm this little area and carve out a decent living.” The problem is that competition will be fierce and online homebuyers and sellers will be led to other sources before your mailouts and door-knob hangers reach them.
The consumer will go online and someone will grab them and impress them with easy to access information, images, maps, articles, and promises of sophisticated service that’s difficult to match with the old spiel. The consumer will not care so much that you are home-grown and went to high school around the corner—they will be seduced by the bright light of their screen as they surf and gather information and are touched on a daily basis by automated follow-ups that greet them each morning with pretty pictures of homes they can gaze at over a cup of coffee.
No, it’s all changing, and changing rapidly and it can be overwhelming. But there is hope – there are:
- Plenty of agents online willing to share information
- Sites like HomeGain who offer a starter-kit and ongoing support to become a web 2.0 player
- Conferences like the recent Bloodhound Unchained—and they have packages you can buy if you can’t make the conference
- Hundreds of blogs and real estate social sites and
- Again, the wonderful thing is that people are willing to help you become connected and learn a new way of doing business
So, I say even though you may be getting some traction from traditional methods, get connected—believe me, you need to be. Join the evolution.
To read more from Mike, click here.
Mike Farmer is the Owner/Broker of Mike Farmer Realty.