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"Winning Web Site Strategies!"


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Wally Bock Photo
10/4/02 Interview with Wally Bock

Digital Age International
P.O. Box 1783
Wilmington, NC 28402
Biography

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Impact of the Internet on Real Estate

  1. The Net increases three marketplace elements: the reach of buyers across geography and time, speed, and transparency of information (about prices and neighborhoods).
  2. The result is that competition is much more intense; the single most competitive thing a Realtor can do is respond to email promptly.
  3. Prior to the Internet, the information that mattered was listings - but transparency makes that information generally available.
  4. The real estate pro now must add value in other ways: what matters most on the commercial side is deal-making ability; on the residential side, it's understanding the process.
The Danger of High-Tech Tools

  1. Technical features have tremendous potential but are often misused; what comes first in buying behavior is comfort with the professional and general understanding of property characteristics.
  2. A frequent mistake with tech tools is giving them a prominence they don'tdeserve over people - the "magic tools" should come into play after the trust level; ultimately, real estate pros still do business with people.
An Analysis of Professional Sites

  1. Agents who do not have their own sites to promote listings are missing out on an important tool; marketing power comes from the coordination of tech tools with traditional ones.
  2. Your web site puts you in touch with people you couldn't otherwise reach by allowing them to reach you; it also gives you the ability to stay in touch so that you are positioned to help them with their next transaction.
  3. Content of your web site should be geared toward the objective of selling‹many real estate sites sell properties, but they don't sell agents.
  4. Beyond identifying your territory and posting a photo of yourself, tell why you love doing what you do, explain what you're good at and give examples; consider posting testimonials.
  5. Company web sites should tell why the company is good in addition to showing listings; the major-company sites do that well in giving history and qualifications.
  6. The ultimate measure of a site's success is not the number of awards it wins but the amount of money it makes; a site's focus should always be on what matters to visitors.
Design Tips for Web Sites

  1. On a web site, you do not have control over three factors that affect appearance and use: band width (connection speed); window size; entry point - search engines have become so good that they take visitors into the body of web sites.
  2. Variation in bandwidth affects speed of such features as virtual tours;variation in window size means that your main information must be visible ina very small window; entry onto any page means that the order of information cannot be counted on.
  3. Don't depend on frames because even if scripted they sometimes don't come up as planned; put key information on all pages and navigation bars.
  4. The most important criteria for a successful site are 1) load speed, and 2) copy - people are looking for information, not entertainment or gimmicks.
Accommodating Web Users

  1. Instead of starting at the beginning and paging through, people online prefer to veer off on links; richness on a web site comes from links NOT from length‹more, smaller pages with pieces of the story allow people to find their own way through the maze.
  2. Letting web searchers find what they are interested in tends to increase their time on site; time on site correlates with buying or following up for more information.
  3. Loading speed is also a consideration; with North Americans, about half leave every ten seconds of loading time, so at least your entry page must come up in that time; the average web consumer has a 56k dial-up modem.
  4. Broadband (only in 15%­20% of households) has not achieved the penetration yet to change what can be offered on web sites; its spread has been slowed by trouble in the telecom industry and the increase of its cost;a desirable price-point is no more than $40/month.
Leveraging Strategies

  1. Email remains the tool with the greatest under used potential; its value lies in doing the traditional things better; responses can be focused more tightly and used for highest exposure.
  2. Email is especially good for staying in touch with previous clients - they tend to come back into the market every six or seven years.
  3. Email is the tool for notifying people with quick information; the Web is the tool for in-depth information.
Favorite Places on the Web

  1. CEOexpress.com is a mighty resource that can be customized with links for you to access anywhere.
  2. The New York Times site offers a lot of in-depth information, including archives.
  3. Intellisearch is a comprehensive periodical information system that allows you to search on people, companies and industries and to set up alerts.
The Future for Real Estate Pros

The pros who thrive will adjust to the shifting habits of educated customers; with information becoming the common currency, knowledge becomes the value - agents need to be able to interpret information.

Contact Information for Wally Bock:

(v) 910-343-8661
(e) wally@wallybock.com
(w)www.wallybock.com


Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

www.wallybock.com
www.ceoexpress.com
www.nytimes.com
www.intellisearchnow.com