The Failed Promise of Real Estate 2.0

Posted by: Louis Cammarosano on February 23rd, 2008

Is RE.Net becoming RE.org?

In the past three years, we’ve seen plenty of new entrants, lots of Venture Capital money and endless blog posts extolling the benefits of the new transparency that Web 2.0 brings to the real estate industry.

Recently, Realtor Magazine also jumped on the Real Estate 2.0 bandwagon.

Despite the hype, so far I have not seen any empirical evidence that it is working. This may be because the appearance of Web 2.0 technologies coincided horribly with the collapse of the general real estate market.

Or, maybe not.

Perhaps, it may be time to start calling “Dot Bomb” on Real Estate 2.0.

Here’s why Web 2.0 for Real Estate isn’t working:

1. Real Estate 2.0 Has Only Shown Anecdotal Successes

To date, to the best of my knowledge, no Web 2.0 Real Estate company has shown a profit. In, addition, I am aware of just three blogger/professionals making money directly from their craft – Jay Thompson, Diane Cohn and Brian Brady (all HomeGain guest bloggers).

For RE 2.0 to claim success we need to see people other than conference organizers, a handful of Realtor bloggers, consultants and blogging software providers making money. While RE 2.0 can claim a fair number of individual successes we are not seeing widespread success.

So is the Web 2.0 crowd just talking to itself? Pete Flynt, co founder of Trulia, asked a similar question (“am I just talking to myself?”) while touting the effectiveness of Trulia Voices recently at Real Estate Connect in New York.

Mr. Flynt explained how a desperate seller met a real estate agent late one night on Trulia Voices (Jeopardy for Realtors) leading to a closed transaction. Check out Mr. Flynt at 15:50 of the video as he tells a compelling Trulia Voices success story.

The isolated individual successes of RE.net remind me of a kid who with just a stick and string catches a whopper of a fish and is ready to declare himself to the world primed to go toe to toe with the commercial fishermen and their large fleets and nets.

In contrast to the anecdotal successes of Web 2.0 for real estate, HomeGain agents, using HomeGain (Web 1.0) products have closed over 10,000 transactions in the past two years. Click here for an example of the success of HomeGain Agents on just one of our products.

2. The Consumer Experience is Too Good

Many RE 2.0 sites have great consumer experiences that don’t seem to translate into much of anything other than lots of unique visitors, page views and blog mentions.

Web 2.0 real estate sites seem to be missing a critical point – their websites don’t really promote Realtors or their services. Rather, they promote cool features like heat maps, mash ups, blogs, loads of listings, aerial photos and user generated content all in an effort to drive page views so they can sell ads. For many Web 2.0 real estate websites, the Realtor is a side show where WeightWatchers and Netflix ads are displayed prominently.

Sure, Web 2.0 real estate websites have great free content, but so does the public library and neither turn a profit.

At HomeGain.com, we feature the real estate professional. Our BuyerLink program sends HomeGain.com visitors directly to real estate agents’ or brokers’ web sites, AgentEvaluator promotes the benefits of finding a Realtor, and AgentView features real estate agents exclusively around our content with no extraneous ads, just a direct pathway (email, lead form, phone call) for HomeGain.com visitors to connect with them.

Critics of HomeGain say, “the consumer experience is not that good”. We have limited content by design. We are not trying to wow our visitors, but rather to get them to connect with our Realtor customers.

I am reminded of an Italian restaurant, Dominicks, that I used to frequent in the Bronx on Arthur Avenue. The first time I dined there I asked to see a menu. The waiter, in declining my request in pragmatic southern Italian fashion, asked “Did you come here to read or to eat?”

Similarly, I have to ask “Do you go to a real estate site to be entertained or to find a Realtor to work with? If consumers want to visit an entertaining real estate site with a “great consumer experience” or to “participate in the conversation”, HomeGain is not for them; there are plenty of Web 2.0 sites consumers can visit for entertainment or a participatory real estate experience.

We did not design our web site to encourage the excessive viewing of listings, the participation in forums, or the voyeuristic viewing of the valuations of neighbors’ and celebrities’ homes. HomeGain takes the view that real estate is not entertainment, but serious business best conducted with the help of a professional Realtor.

Besides, what better overall experience, consumer or otherwise, is there than visiting a web site and finding a Realtor that helps you get your home sold for $600,000?

3. Social Media and User Generated Content Are Not Suitable For Real Estate

RE 2.0 is trying to apply Social Media concepts to a category that doesn’t lend itself well to it.

Arts and Entertainment thrive on conversation. Social media, therefore, works well with movies, books, restaurants, and music.

User generated reviews of movies and restaurants provide a good counterpoint to the limited points of view of professional critics. Many people have seen dozens of movies and eaten at scores of restaurants and their opinions are generally unbiased and rooted in experience. If the reviews of movies or restaurant come from a trusted network of “friends” in your social network, you may give their reviews or recommendations higher credibility than those of professional critics.

Further, unless the reviewers are the owners of the restaurants or directors of the movies, they have no vested interest in convincing you to eat at a particular restaurant or to see a particular movie, other than as a friend who wishes to share a similar pleasurable experience.

In contrast, buying or selling a home is not a social event. It is a very personal transaction that most home buyers and sellers would prefer to keep private.

The same type of qualified social network that exists for reviews of movies and restaurants does not for real estate. The average person may have seen a fair number of movies and eaten at a great number of restaurants, but most people have not bought or sold many houses, so their opinion on the home selling and buying process is far less qualified than that of a professional Realtor who has participated in dozens of real estate transactions. While, what Charlie from Arkansas may think about a particular movie may be relevant, his views on buying and selling homes are probably less so.

The type of user generated content on RE 2.0 sites is also far from unbiased. For example, take Zillow’s Make Me Move feature, that allows consumers to add information about their homes so they may generate an ad for their homes to convince other consumers to make an offer.

These Make Me Move entrees read like biased advertisements. They generally don’t include any negative comments from the owners, whom after all, are trying to sell their homes. Consumers can’t add any counterbalancing comments, because unless they have been in the home, they’ll be unaware of either the selling points or the pitfalls of the home. Thus, one of the highly touted benefits of user generated content, transparency, is missing in this RE 2.0 example.

Besides not being transparent, the success of the Make Me Move feature also appears to be anecdotal. Zillow lists three Make Me Move success stories on their web site. Their names are Laurie B, Ron G and Nick C.

A line from a Simon and Garfunkel song, “The Boxer” comes to mind when thinking of the Web 2.0 Real Estate crowd when they only highlight but a few examples of success. “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”

4. Real Estate 2.0 Smacks of Smugness

Early adopters always and deservedly get a bad rap. They tend to think of themselves as “changing the face of” “re-writing the book” or “revolutionizing” something or other. In the case of RE. 2.0, something far less earth shaking is actually happening.

RE 2.0 adherents are putting pins in maps and displaying neighborhoods and calling them “mash ups”; they are displaying videos of homes and naming them “virtual tours”; they are writing their points of view and calling their cyber megaphones “blogs”; they are asking for comments on their blogs and web sites and calling it “user generated content”; they are getting people together and calling it “social networking” and they are keeping a record of everything ever said in their social networks and calling it “social media”.

Revolutionary for real estate? I think not.

Real estate is still a very personal and manual process that no amount of blogging is ever going to change.

Questions that may seem relevant and hyper cool today like, “are you blogging?” will soon become arcane and laughable. What would you think of someone who asked you today if you were into or “on” the Internet? or asked if you had your OWN website?

How about if they asked you if you were “on” Email? AOL? CompuServe? Or, if you were into Faxing? CB Radio? (what’s your handle?) the Telephone? Electricity?

Early adopters like to describe others as “not getting it”. This helps cement their unique position as one of those among the few that do. We hear from the RE 2.0 crowd things like “They don’t get the net” or “they don’t understand the power of social media or Web 2.0 concepts”.

The early adopters try to impress us with their erudition by spouting phrases like “in today’s Web 2.0 world there are a multitude of distinct, viable ecosystems being spawned.”

Yawn.

While Web 2.0 is perhaps not yet ready for prime time, it does hold promise. We will be watching it closely and so should you.

To learn more you can try:

4Realz Seminars
In a series of one day seminars, Dustin Luther and Jim Marks will cover social networking, blogging, Internet marketing strategies and web site conversions.
Los Angeles, March 6
San Diego, March 19
Orange County, March 31

Bloodhound UnChained Social Media Marketing Conference
The two day Unchained Conference will bring together real estate practitioners to help other real estate practitioners with practical advice for their online marketing efforts. The Unchained Conference is the brainchild of Home Gain blogger, Brian Brady and guided by Bloodhound Blog founder, Greg Swann.
Phoenix, AZ, May 19, 20

Or you can try the granddaddy of them all, what I call the Blogger’s Ball – Inman Real Estate Connect
San Francisco, CA, July 23-25

Also check out Web 2.0 real estate consulting firms:

Domus Consulting
Principals – Pat Kitano and Kevin Boer

1000 Watt Consulting
Principals – Brian Boero and Marc Davison

Ok, time to back off the hammer. See you on the backslide and I’ll have my ears on.
10-4 RE.2.0

Louis Cammarosano

Share

Comments

58 Comments on “The Failed Promise of Real Estate 2.0”

Brian Brady

You really don’t believe that Web 2.0 doesn’t work, Louis. If you did, you wouldn’t be building a powerful industry web log.

However, you make some excellent points. I hope you’ll humor me:

1-Anecdotal success is always typical of a new media. Television sponsors called early TV too dramatic and eschewed it for radio for a few years. Quality programming changed the experience and the shidt took place.

2- I agree that current offerings are focused so much on the consumer that it scares away most practitioners. That was typical of a Web 1.0 experience as well until the consumers were talking to thin air (Lending Tree mortgage quotes dried up). When Web 1.0 platforms realized that practitioners had an equally as important role, they adopted and the model worked.

3- If you think buying a home is not a social event, you haven’t been in the car with a family looking. It’s as much emotional as it is financial. In fact, the greatest agents understand that.

4- My response to this point is my opening. Louis, you get blogging..or you wouldn’t be embracing it.

Louis Cammarosano

Hi Brian you may be right, we may be early in the game and some of the web 2.0 techniques may eventually prove profitable.
HomeGain is embracing the blog to connect further with our agent base and to provide a forum so we can share marketing tips. I am not saying blogging isn’t useful, but rather not particuarly profitable for us. This truly is the .org part of our business. I view the blog as a useful forum to exchange information, not to conduct business. Also I’ve driven around in a car looking for a home with my family but I never felt compelled to share that experience on a blog, nor would I see the utility in doing so.

Anonymous

“This truly is the .org part of our business”

All profitable businesses start with the proposition of “feeding the hungry”. Once you realize that you have food, you turn .org to .com

Brian Brady

“This truly is the .org part of our business”

All profitable businesses start with the proposition of “feeding the hungry”. Once you realize that you have food, you turn .org to .com

Todd Carpenter

If you are only aware of three RE bloggers who make money on web 2.0 stuff, than that says far more about you than it does about RE.net. I think this is just link bait.

You raise a good point about large companies not profiting form Web2.0. But to me, that’s the best part about it. The little guy is empowered.

Louis Cammarosano

Todd
Thanks for your comment. You raise a good point-web 2.0 does empower the small guy. I’m sure there are more than three bloggers making money-but 1.5 million realtors will never make money blogging.(read Pat Kitano’s point that probably only 5% of realtors are suited to blog)
Blogging also empowers the consumer by giving away lots of great information for free.
What remains to be seen is whether the 2.0 companies that provide this information (courtesy of the realtors sending them their listing) will benefit.

REBlogGirl

RSS Pieces is a profitable web 2.0 real estate company providing nearly 500 blogs per month to real estate professionals through our network of resellers. Our clients from Brian Brady, Mariana wagner, Ines Garcia, and many of the top agents in the country like Greg Neuman and Marti Gellens see direct business as a function of the lead generation systems we have integrated in their blogs. Web 2.0 means social web and ajax, we use both tecnologies and have succeeded with only a small influx of outside capital.

I think where most fall flat is that they fail to recognize the value of their service and therefore have offered it for free. Look at ActiveRain for instance, it will be hard to monetize that now after they gave the milk away for free for so long. Zillow will also have a hard time selling service as they have somewhat alienated the audience that should pay- the Realtor.

Having been in VC for many years prior to this industry I can firmly say the days when you could have a concept first and business model second are gone. Today, you need to have a solid revenue model and a solid idea to be successful. The value proposition for the paying party MUST be there from DAY 1.

Where we all need to look next is web 3.0 when the real estate blogosphere catches up to the 2 most important technologies out there- FAOF and SIOC. When that happens- money will fall like rain from the heavens for technology companies smart enough to support those technologies. The rest will be left in the dust.

Mitch Ribak

It’s funny when I read all the stuff on here. It really comes down to what I have been reading for the last several years. The Web 2.0 companies have the answers to all the Realtor problems of using the net as a means of attracting and keeping customers. I recently met with a blogging company that asked me to analyze and give them my opinion on their product. Unfortunately by the time I was done, I had completely changed their business model. They had a great product but couldn’t explain to me why I should pay $50 per month with no real benefit to my business. In the end, if a business doesn’t create enough revenue to either break even or at least make a decent profit, it’s not going to be there in a year or two…maybe three if they have some VC company that has been sold on how this is going to change the Real Estate world.

Take it from a Realtor who does this every single days for a living. We need tools that are going to help us obtain and retain customers. That’s really it. Everything else is fluff. It looks great and may even be fun to experience but in the end Realtors need to be able to capture consumers (leads) and turn them into customers. Web 2.0 companies need to understand that if they really plan on making it in the Real Estate industry.

The only reason I had to develop my own lead capture and lead conversion software was because of the lack of products out there that actually have any value to me, the Realtor. I spend almost as much time consulting with Real Estate companies as I do running my Real Estate company these days. The end conclusion for all of these Realtors and customers is that unless you provide a solution, they don’t want to hear it. Just look at the revenues of all the Web 2.0 companies. At 100MPH we offer a solution to the problem of capturing and converting web visits into web sales. That’s it.

Ok, I’ll stop rambling as I told my wife I wouldn’t get my self going this on Sundays. After all with all the business we get from our Internet programs I don’t have much time to spend with her. Remember the slogan “A Happy Woman is a Happy Man”. It’s the same in Real Estate. “A Happy Realtor is a Happy Web 2.0 Company”. As always if you ever want to contact me directly feel free at Mitch@MitchRealty.com.

Brian Brady

Lots of good insight here.

Mitch understands how Web 2.0 companies will be profitable; if they keep their customers happy. Too many are hung up on the disintermediation theory and worship at the Church of the Consumer.

I wonder why a valued real estate professional would want to engage in any anonymous search or discussion. I guess I’d have to ask what the HG value is, then.

Why are REALTORS letting HG engage them with consumers without disclosing who they are?

Louis, I’d appreciate an answer from the REALTORs, first, before you weigh in. This isn’t an indictment but an honest attempt to understand the value of anonymous interaction with a consumer.

Missy Caulk

Hi Louis, I am a Homegain user and I blog. This year I have closed 4 transactions from blogging and I just started in Dec 06. I believe 08 will be even better as I am still learning.
Blogging is one piece of the pie, or my marketing efforts, not the only one.
If you think it is a failure, why did Homegain put a big banner ad on Inman about blogging with no mention of it being Homegain, until you click on the banner ad?
You must have thought that blogging is something Realtors are looking for?

tony – vidlisting.com

The more things change, the more things stay the same. Success is anecdotal in Web 2.0 because few Web 2.0 business plans have any considerations of standard business planning factors such as barrier to entry and unique value propositions. Success is measured more by influencing A-List blogs and bloggers than actual functionality, usability, and viability as a business.

Since much Web 2.0 functionality is built upon a small number of publically available interfaces, me-too variations of anything that does manage to have a measure of success are able to quickly fragment emerging markets and keep them fragmented.

It isnt hard to figure out that different compensation models drive different intentions and incentives to influence behavior of visitors on any given website. The incentive of the ad based pageview model is to keep visitors on your site wading through differently sliced and diced information bits in an effort to maximize ad impressions – those metrics for success are often different and can be counter to what most real estate agents need: a visitor to send an email or pick up the phone. Does it really matter how long the visitor was on your site if they do that?

Not all Web 2.0 companies are driven by an advertising business model. We at Vidlisting eschewed the ad-based pageview model because of the obvious incentive to keep the prospective buyer engaged on our site. At Vidlisting, we decided on a paid model where the incentive is to deliver the prospective buyer to the REALTOR(r) as quickly as possible. This meant that we actually had to think through unique ways to align our paid services with things that provide value to our customers beyond what free video services offer rather than just copy some combination of features offered by Youtube and Facebook.

Vidlisting has been profitable for the last six months now without a single advertisement. In all, it seems to be working fine for us so far.

Louis Cammarosano

Missy, thanks for your post.
You’ve got it right. You use whatever marketing you need-blog AND Homegain- to promote your business.

I am not against blogging,indeed, in the case against blogging I advise giving it a try. But to paraphrase Brian Brady-its not the magic purple pill.

There are a good number of real estate agents on active rain blogging at people not to use Homegain. So I guess I am entitled to use Homegain to tell them not to blog ;-)

I am not sure of the ads you are refering to. The Max the gorilla ad that we are running on Inman Active rain and elsewhere say things like “blogging not brining enough business” -they don’t advocate blogging.

For all things all Max the HomeGain Gorilla-try
http://blog.homegain.com/category/max

Missy, I owe you a call. Drop me an email with some times that work for you.

Ann Marie Clements

Hi Louis,
We are definitely in a depressed real estate market here in the Washington D.C. area. Sellers have gone about as low as they can go and buyers are still wondering if the market will go lower and waiting to see if it will. Realtors need to use all of the tools that they can to garner business. HomeGain is a wonderful tool. I love HomeGain. Most of my buyers and seller leads from HomeGain are educated consumers. That being said Realtors Have To Do A Litte Bit of EVERYTHING to be successful in this market. Talk to past clients, send just listed & just sold cards (yes I sound like a dinosaur), advertise online and in print, blog and also use social networking sites like Facebook. Everything works if you Work It. Thats me on the cover of Realtor Magazine. I love my 5 minutes of fame..oh and I sold a HomeGain seller’s house today ($448,000), showed them ($700,000) houses and went on 2 listing appts. this week.

Rebecca Levinson

Louis,
You don’t see a value proposition that can be a money maker for web 2.0 business models, nor do you believe blogging will ever become a more mainstream occurence, yet you promote the Unchained and Real Estate Connect conferences at the end of your post, and have opened your blog very publicly to a contributors like Brian Brady and Mary McKnight? Thou doth protest too much.

As far as Active Rain, funny how the industry just shudders at the word “free”. But there were many programs, including HomeGain, that started with a free plateau and were then able to get a revenue share built from a paid subscriber base. You cannot underestimate the power of a think tank that was able to get over 70k members, from all different sectors of the industry, under one real estate roof.

Finally, In the 2007 REALTOR technology survey, only 13% of real estate agents participate in a lead generation company where they purchase leads. Only 24% of agents spent $2000 or more on technology in 2006. I am highly doubting that these figures increased in 2007.

My point? The industry has a long way to go when it comes to technology, the internet and the consumer. But blogging is a great way to begin.

Louis Cammarosano

Ann Marie Congratulations on nabbing the cover of Realtor magazine and on your recent and pending home sales.
My copy of Realtor has not arrived in the mail so I had not seen your picture, but now that I go back and look at the online article, I see you peeking over the top of the page.

Very nice.

louis cammarosano

Hi Rebecca thanks for your comments.
I think you can tell what I am doing. I am taking a position and asking proponents of blogging to show me that it works. I am willing to take a look. I am not promoting any conferences but publicizing their existence if people are interested.

I certainly am learning, even since I made the above post. I am learning there is a difference between companies like zillow and trulia using web 2.0 technologies and individual realtors using them.

I think that realtors using them can connect directly with their potential customers and by pass zillow and trulia.

Bypassing HomeGain is a different story. HomeGain promotes realtors by using its search engine marketing dollars, name recognition, 300 hundred traffic and lead partners and SEO rankings, to drive traffic and leads to our realtor customers.
When you are a homegain customer you tap into all that-something you can’t do on your own without significant effort.

Similarly, when you guest blog on homegain as a homegain agent member, in most cases you’ll reach far more potential customers than from your own blog.
You can think of HomeGain as a coop marketing service for realtors as w strive to send all of our traffic and leads to realtors. Unlike other web 2.0 companies whose main goals is to take realtor content (listings) to drive traffic so they can sell ads.

See the difference?

Brian Brady

Anne Marie,

Your comment might have been the smartest I’ve heard all month. Blogging (and HG) is a PIECE of the whole pie that is marketing. We must use a MIX of media and business channels to maximize our efficacy.

The more I criticize lead gen models the more I see a use for them.

..and Louis? You’re right to keep an open mind. I do applaud your entry to blogging.

Rebecca,

I love your passion about Active Rain. As you might know, I’m a frequent contributor there. It has done wonders for my business because, like all social media, it gives me an opportunity to make connections with people.

Without blogging, I wouldn’t have met you, Rebecca, Anne Marie, or Louis. I am a serial networker so that means a lot.

Marc

Excellent points on Web 2.0 Louis. While you have put into words what many today are thinking and feeling about the great promise that has yet to realize itself, I concur with Brian Brady that there is more to this conversation that meets the eye.

Our industry tends to adopt slowly, misuse technology and often times go sideways with the sensibility flow by infusing its inherent and traditional behavior into the mix creating less than stellar results.

I would cite the confusing use of map mashups that defy the basic tenets of good UI, the Vegas Strip of blinking widgets and gif’s that are turning blogs into what bad agent websites where back in the 90′s, and the attempts to socially network entities that would never socialize in the offline world.

Critical mistakes, misuses and lack of understanding has, to a great degree, stunted the potential as well as over extended the expectation of of Web 2.0 for real estate.

Save for the few anecdotal examples of success, Web 2.0 has not, to the greatest degree, been implemented in real estate with anywhere near the same level of social architecting and depth that has gone into the development of sites successful 2.0 sites outside the industry.

But there is a bright side to Web 2.0. As Brian points out, real estate is a highly social event. In fact, it’s one of the most talked about subjects back where you and I hail from in NYC. For New Yorkers, real estate is a passionate past time and an ongoing conversation.

I submit that real estate has encountered a great deal of success thus far. We just need to agree that success can be measured by more than how many incoming beans we collect.

More on this to come.

Jay Thompson

“In, addition, I am aware of just three blogger/professionals making money directly from their craft – Jay Thompson, Diane Cohn and Brian Brady (all HomeGain guest bloggers).”

Louis Louis Louis…. this makes it difficult to read the rest of the article.

How do you define “making money”? Is it one closing, one referral, or making X% of your annual income from blogging?

I can assure you that there are far more than two agents and one lender making money from blogging.

ANd as I’ve said before (on this very blog), just because not everyone can make money as a real estate blogger really means nothing. I’ve never made a nickel from cold-calling, door knocking, or through purchasing leads. And some have never made a nickel through blogging. So what?

Louis Cammarosano

Jay
Agreed, I have been called to task by Ardell for the same. A flaw in the argument that I was trying to make as it is based on my imperfect information. Since the post I have been learning of others who are successful with their blogs. My education continues.

Brian Brady

“My education continues.”

..and you’re doing it, Louis. That’s what is so encouraging.

joseph ferrara

All real estate business is done face to face and most houses are bought after they are seen, in person. Stronger relationships are forged offline.
But how do we get to that face-to-face? Through marketing– online and off.

Marketing provides tools (plural) to connect with consumers who are looking for help. No one is suggesting that one tool is better than the other in all cases or that one should be forsaken because it does not do it all. What tool does? Good marketing means using all the tools to connect with a consumer. And web 2.0 is ultimately a tool that should be in your toolkit.When and how you choose to use it is up to you. But it does work. And as the tool is improved, it will work even better. You can choose to sit it out and wait for web 2.0 tool to be improved or you can have a hand in improving it.

A carpenter with only a hammer cannot build a house.

Ken Smith

Tools of web 2.0 do allow the average agent to compete with the largest companies out there. They allow an agent with some time and very limited budget to go out and generate a serious income. The issue is to many agents don’t look for the practical ways to use web 2.0 to generate an income. They are to focused on creating “friends” online instead of focusing their efforts on the consumer.

John N. Frank

Thanks. I grew up in Brooklyn, in Park Slope when it was still Italian, not yuppie (our name was Americanized at Ellis Island in the early 1900s from Casafranco) so I enjoyed your Bronx Italian restaurant mention.

Good to see our story is generating discussion too, it reminds me of the old parable about the blind pigmies coming across the dead elephant in the jungle.

Each thinks its something different depending on where they are and what they’re touching. I think that may also be the case for real estate and the latest Web tools. everyone is seeing things based on where they stand at the moment. For pioneers like yourself its old news and no one is making money from it, so there’s a lot of empty promises. For others just crawling onto the Web, there’s a lot fo learning to do. Perhaps as they learn, some in that group will find ways to achieve the money-making targets you touch on. Either way, it’s fun to report on.

All the best
John N. Frank
Managing Editor, REALTOR magazine

Missy Caulk

Thanks, I kept looking and didn’t see it there, if you know because you mentioned Laurie’s post on AR, I use homegain, blogging and my favorite my PPC Campaign. I’ll drop you an email later this week. Thanks

Brian Block

Louis, while I don’t know many people who base their entire business plan upon blogging and Web 2.0, I do know plenty (and much more than just the 3 you mention) who are making actual $$ from their efforts, including me. I have had 5 or 6 clients meet with me in the last 2 weeks who never would have found me on the internet but for my blog. They feel like they know me already when we get together for the first time because they’ve read my work and seen my personality. As long as I don’t show up in a puke green polka dotted shirt and have crust hanging out of my nose and ears, these blog readers who show up for an appointment will work with me and not interview other Realtors.

It takes time, energy (but very little money) to make blogging work. It also takes some talent. Web 2.0 is not get-rich-quick or get-rich-easy, but it does fuel many success stories.

Broker Bryant

Very insightful post Louis. I started blogging about 18 months ago with ActiveRain being my starting point. I actually found AR through a forum on our FAR website. I used that forum to answer questions for other REALTORS(R) to hopefully help them with their business.

I started blogging with the same intent. I already had plenty of business so getting business from blogging was never my goal. However I have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of business I do get. In fact blogging is now my second most productive activity behind soliciting expired listings.

I was surprised because the Internet has always been geared more towards buyers that sellers. Most of my business from blogging has been sellers.

What works for me is “pushing” my blog at folks. Whenever a consumer contacts me the first thing I do is direct them to my blog site. I also include my url in all of my other advertising and have my blog fed into my websites.

What the blog does is give potential customer/clients a much better idea of who I ma and how I conduct my business than a website does.

It’s actually selling them on “me” before I ever get a change to even speak with them. For me that has been the biggest benefit.

I think a blog is a good addition to a marketing package IF the blogger has the time AND the personality to post regularly and to make it educational and entertaining. Being able to learn and smile at the same time is very appealing to folks.

To blog or not to blog really just depends on the individual. You can certainly make money from doing it but there are many things that will make you more money that are less time consuming. But blogging is fun… Licking and sticking a 500 piece mailer is not.

Web 2 as we now know it will not even exist 3 years from now. It’s a passing phase just like everything else. Hopefully it will evolve into something bigger and better.

Rich Jacobson

Louis – you really should get out more. I would be honored if you would consider joining the ActiveRain Network. We would welcome your voice. It’s only fair since several of our veteran members have contributed to your site. If you did, you would read testimonials daily from our members about business they have gained through their blogging efforts. As with several who have voiced their opinions here, blogging is simply one more marketing ‘hook’ in the proverbial consumer waters. Blogging is not, nor ever will be, the consumate ‘Purple Pill’ that solves the world’s woes or cures cancer. But it is an effective means of engaging readers, establishing a meaningful dialogue, and conveying a sense of your unique personality, perspective, and passion. But blogging IS working. More than you can imagine. But it’s not for everyone. Just like any form of effective marketing, it takes time, effort, and resources. But it DOES work.

louis cammarosano

Rich
Thanks for the invitation. I am learning a lot. I think you meant I should get on line more …

teresa boardman

you are using web 2.0 right now. Interesting. So many companies jumping on the band wagon.

Louis Cammarosano

Teresa

You are correct, we are using web 2.0. And we are also using email, the internet, electricity etc.
My point is not to discourage the use of things that might help one’s business, but to keep their utility in perspective. Indeed, my conclusion in the Case Against blogging is to give it a try and in the Failed Promise of Web 2.0, there is promise.

I like what I have not seen is an open mind regarding HomeGain. Most of what I read from bloggers is -don’t use it.

Currently our blog drives no revenue. However through conversation with you and others I am starting to see the potential in the exchange of ideas through our blog.

Scott

It’s all about visibilty, getting your name out, and be reconconized. I see web 2.0 as just another trendy way to market oneself.

Tom Townsend

I think a large point that is missing here is the resistance by Real Estate Professionals to even embrace the technological aspects of this. As a former VP of a National Internet based Real Estate firm, where I worked with a base of over 5o Brokers and some 500 agents, I can tell you that many need refresher training on simple every day things like email management let alone Web 2.0. The ones you see making the inroads are not afraid to jump in and learn. Many are set in their ways and still think that old ways of networking will suffice. The up coming generations of home buyers have been involved with technology from the start of their lives, many while still in the womb. Wake up and smell the coffee before it’s cold..cold grounds. Marketing is changing and will continue to evolve. Rich Media Content is what the NOW generation wants and it does apply to the home buying experience as well.

Louis Cammarosano

Tom,
You make a valid point. Web 2.0 for real estate may not be working for many because they have yet to master web 1.0.
What I am learning is that marketing methodologies are indeed changing and we need to pay close attention to what works and what doesn’t and embrace that which does and abandon that which does not.

Albert Clark

Lou, you hit it on the head “Real estate is still a very personal and manual process that no amount of blogging is ever going to change” I agree. I would like to pontificate a position that we all regress to WEB 0.0, In working with agents who want to deliver exceptional value, many are getting back to the basics- being available when the consumer is ENGAGED not 20 min later…. to do that we have all sorts of technology ( and yes I do too) to lessen the time gap between interest and answers. NAR said the first responder gets the BIZ. I see agents who deploy our Talk NOW technology on their blogs but they try to promote he blog mainly on their website. Some do a great job of promotion in other ways and I read many of them myself. Realize that 95% of everyone an agent knows is NOT in a transaction mode, meaning they are probably NOT on the agent or brokers site, not exposed to the Blog. Before we move from WEB 0.0 to 1.0 ( eg: email) agents should reassess their ability to to respond quicker. Consumers do not want an auto responder that says “your message is very important and I will get back to you in 24 hours or less.. All they want is for a live body to answer a phone NOW, and not being required to fill out a 2 page lead gen form including shoe size- “I just want to know if the home has a pool…….”

Louis Cammarosano

Albert
At HomeGain we agree -we have been moving away from the lead form in one of our S4S product and giving the consumer the option to fill out a form,call or email the agent with whatever comment or question they may have. The form is many respects limits communication between the consumer and agent.
WIth our agent evaluator program we are sticking with the lead form as it is a product that requires uniformity on both sides-the agents compete with each other for the same lead and the consumer gets to compare the agent proposals.

Margaret Woda

This post was too long-winded to hold my attention, but I got the gist early on. Blogging doesn’t work… right? If that’s your conclusion, I have to disagree. Maybe it’s the new listings or buyer-clients that have put $$$ in my pocket after reading my blogs. And, unlike Homegain, it’s free. Seems like a good ROI to me.

Louis Cammarosano

Two other naysayers on Web 2.0

http://finance.yahoo.com/tech-ticker/article/7925/Why-Web-2.0-Isn%27t-Relevant-for-the-Masses…Yet?tickers=ebay,amzn

http://www.globaledge.co.uk/news/details/global-property-chief-attacks-web-2.0-rivals/18831

Jeffrey Miller

Margaret, I’m happy to hear that your blog is paying off.

To answer your question, the original post addressed “Web 2.0″ Real Estate Companies and their relatively non-existent business models, not the relative worth of blogging for Realtors. While part and parcel of the same thing, there is more to so-called “Web 2.0″ than blogging and it is the supposed foundation upon which the next great real estate business will be founded.

To address your reply though, I’d like to point out that your blog is not really “free,” unless the content magically materializes by itself.

In many cases, the opportunity cost in developing and maintaining a blog (or engaging in any do-it-yourself exercise for that matter) may be more than the cost of effective 3rd party marketing programs.

A crude methodology for calculating the true ROI of any given do-it-yourself endeavor is quite easy really.

You must start by calculating your real cost:

1) Determine your desired income.
2) Divide by the hours you have to work to achieve it.
3) Multiply the result by your hours spent blogging.

This is your opportunity cost from which you can calculate your real ROI.

Ultimately, one must understand how best to leverage one’s time and expertise for the greatest payoff.

I’m sure you realize this and trust that you have already engaged in this mental exercise.

Either the result is a positive one for you or you have written off any net cost as a hobby expense, partially reimbursed by the real estate transactions that you can ascribe to your efforts.

I’m sure there are Realtors who are blogging quite successfully and many who do not have the time or talent to do so. I’m sure there are also Realtors that blog with no results but convince themselves otherwise because it helps them avoid the business of conducting real estate transactions.

Louis Cammarosano

Brian
At your request I defered responding to your question until we heard from a realtor.
You asked “Why are REALTORS letting HG engage them with consumers without disclosing who they are?”
Close to 5,000 agents let us do so for one simple reason-That is what the consumer wants.
The realtors obviously would love to have the consumers name but the consumers at the stage of the game when the fill out the form are not yet willing to give up their contact details.

While the web is about transparency, sometimes, concerns for privacy trump the transparency.

Also Brian, one of the points that I made in the above blog post is a real estate transaction is more private that a conversation about one’s favorite movie or restaurant.

Brian Brady

Thanks for your patience, Louis. This is a great conversation, here.

One thing weblogging has taught me is that consumers like anonymity, regardless of Web 2.0 particpants’ claim that they love transparency.

As I’ve stated from the beginning, here, I use EVERY arrow in my quiver and would be remiss to recommened just one marketing channel to anyone.

You’ve stared something great, Louis

Louis Cammarosano

Hi Pete
Thanks for stopping by.

I am a huge fan of Trulia Voices. Thanks for the link.

Listening to the Verve must bring you back to the late 90′s when you were at Lastminute.com

I spent almost the entire decade in London.

Pete Flint from Trulia.com

Louis,
I imagine you’re just trying to stir things up with this post. I’m all for the conversation, that’s part of what this web2.0 thing is all about. For more evidence on why social media and web2.0 is actually working watch this:
http://www.truliablog.com/?p=356
and we have many more videos and examples if you want from the thousands of other consumers that are using the service ever day.

Pete

Alex Greben

As the generation of MySpace addicted minds grows and starts making money and buying homes. I think the 2.0 environment will have better luck. Trulia doesn’t have all the homes I really dont see why people had so much hope for it. They are very SEO savvy, I’ll give them that.

Louis Cammarosano

Alex it may well be the re 2.0 grows up with its members. Or maybe not. My space is great to discover music and “hang out” but I still contend that the home buying transaction is a private matter and of course a grown up matter that may not require the collaboration and wisdom of the masses to effectuate, but will probably still require a real estate agent.

Jayson

That’s an amazing read with tons of great information and opinions. You addressed everything with great points. I’d have to agree that RE 2.0 isn’t for everyone – as you pointed out, real estate is personal. Buyers go online to find information and do research but they’ll never make a decision based on a strangers recommendation – it’s a face-to-face transaction and outside of straight investments, I think it always will be.

Tax Forclosures

I am glad to post my views and points in this blog, but I must say that webmaster of this blog has done a very great job to make his blog more informative and more discussable

Ian Marshall

Wow. Some serious blogging and deep Real Estate conversations. I am glad to see other agents out here as passionate about lead generation and profitable business models.

Ian Marshall
http://www.ianmarshall.com/

J. Bentz

I agree that some forms of social media don’t work well for real estate, but I think there are too many people using the internet for information that real estate agents are foolish for not using things like blogs and the web as essential brand awareness tools. What’s the first thing a consumer is going to do after you contact them? Look you up on the web. The more of a presence you have online, the better off you will be.

Louis Cammarosano

J.Bentz.
I now agree with you and make a distinction that Web 2.0 for real estate is more of a benefit for individuals than coroporations

Tim O Keefe

It is really hard for me to stay out of this post.
I have been blogging, dare I say yelling from the digital treetops for years that social/2.0/fillintheblank is more sizzle than steak.

Is it more convenient yes?
It it more intuitive yes?
Do I like watching my netflix online? most of the time.
But does it work for Realtors?
When I ask, I get a resounding yes. When I ask specifically, I get a confused look glaring back at me. Most cannot specifically quantify it.
Twitter is the new next best thing. Where is the money in that? Well I can most certainly consult with you where to find your prospects on Twitter. But honestly, you have better things to do.

social/2.0/fillintheblank is often times a social conversation between agents. And it works beee-utifully for that.

But, last I checked buyers and sellers generate sales. The prospects and their “herds” are harder to find because of ease of 2.0 tech generated sites to pop up daily. These people are not on real estate blogs, or forums or sites usually. You see they are too busy actually living their life offline. Johnny has soccer, Mary Softball and somewhere in between homework. So mom and dad are frazzled and uless they where propellers like us they aren’t overly enthused about a ajax or php generated sites.

So the time spent on real estate online or offline for that matter only is a function of neccesity as they start getting serious into the process of buying or selling. They are hot online for maybe a 6 month time frame, give or take.

They spend the time online on more fun adventures when they can. They do not obsess over price except when considering a sale or buy. The people that do not have to sell or don’t want to, are not spending their waking hours bumping blog to blog for the most up todate news on their homes.

So they are transient not only in their attention span but also if they do spend time online in social networks (which if they are over 40 they almost certainly do not) they will bounce from next big thing to next big thing just like everyone else.

So if you are to market to them the game has gotten tougher because the noise is fuzzier than ever.A 57 CHANNELS AND NUTHIN ON Scenario if there ever was one.

This is why it is more important than ever to create content and develop it to capture visitors and send them to a lead capture page. This is against everything 2.0 as somehow the prospects are just supposed to be loved into loving you back in 2.0.

However, as I eluded above and illustrate in a most recent post that Baby Boomers prefer email as their big way to share ideas. This “dumb” non-2.0 technology is standing the test of time and still produces more leads, action response communications, and sales than anything else on the web. And the industry waits with bated breath for the next big thing. When THE big thing has been on their desktop or commercial server since day 1.
http://www.houseblogger.com/houseblogger/2008/07/boomers-not-blo.html

Louis Cammarosano

Tim
Being afraid to ask for business probably hurts more than it helps.
Its slightly disingenious to trash lead generation and rather instead to do it under the guise of “transparent blogging”.
In some respects this could be viewed as a bait and switch if handled inartfully.

Foreclosure PA

Blogging in real estate is here to stay. Using the internet as a free advertising tool for agents and professionals has enormous benefits. An agent would be a fool to not involve themselves in online self promotion in some capacity.

Short Sale Information

Many would consider blogging a waste of time and some people do go way overboard. Traditional methods of communicating to a target market should not be overlooked. Agents shouldn’t assume that their blog is getting to anyone. It takes long hours and hard work to actually get traffic to a blog.

Jon C

I actually have done pretty well in the online real estate world. I think so people have unreasonable expectations when starting a blog. Modest results should be expected and anything above that is icing on the cake. One of my websites http://shortsaleway.com talks all about real estate short sales has done pretty well.

Brandon Green

The success of Real Estate 2.0 all depends on how you do it.

payday loans

Hi!!! blog.homegain.com is one of the most excellent resourceful websites of its kind. I enjoy reading it every day. All the best.

Carmen Brodeur | Desert Mountain AZ

There are a lot more than 3 bloggers making money off of their RE blogs! I may not make my whole income off of my blog but I have certainly done several million of business each year from clients who were impressed by my blog. Isn’t this a blog?? Why are you knocking blogging on a blog?

Leave a Comment

 

For Real Estate Agents

Online Marekting Solutions

For Home Buyers and Sellers

e.g., 1250 S Main St, Burbank, CA or 91506
     Search Foreclosures    Search New Homes    Search Rentals    

Blog Categories

Blog Archives

Real Estate Blogs

Top Articles

Recent Comments

Guaranteed LeadsReferral Lead ProgramListings PackageVisits to your WebsiteFind REALTOR®Homes For SaleHome Values