Buyers Want a Home, Not an Agent

J Philip Faranda March 22, 2011

J Philip Real Estate -

For my fellow agents: 

Steve Loynd has written a post I relate to quite a bit- the experience of shelling out big bucks to a service that promises to deliver a pipeline of prospective buyer clients to your inbox, only to pull the plug after thousands of dollars down the drain with no return on the investment.

The proposal typically goes like this: Pay us $XXX and our super duper Magic Internet machine will send hot, eager, ready to bust out their checkbook buyers right to your inbox. Sure, the fee seems hefty, but if you sell JUST ONE it pays for the whole year! After that it is all gravy! Then, you can build a team of happy, busy buyer agents and by this time next year you’ll be loaded and prosperous. You’ll be acne free, lose weight, and that foot corn will go away. 

Only, it never works that way. After three or six months and a few grand sucked out of your account you pull the plug because the quality of the contacts is awful. Half the phone numbers are (123) 456-7890 and many of the emails addresses are no@nev.er. What’s wrong with this picture? What happened to the super duper Magic Internet machine?  

Allow me to explain something, and I’ll preface my words with the caveat that my numbers may be modest in some areas of the country, but they put me in the top 10 of my 7500 member MLS for transactions every year since 2007: I have over 250 closings to my credit since June 2006. Not one of the people who bought with me or bought one of my listings ever said they wanted an agent. 

They wanted a home. 

Bear MountainA guy sitting in front of his computer looking for something with a 2-car garage and a flat back yard isn’t going to jump for joy because you have integrity and are the assistant commissioner of the town little league. Not enough people will care that you have your cocker spaniel in your picture and teach Sunday school if they don’t know you know where they’ll get that 2-car garage and back yard. They get online, log onto a home search or google a neighborhood, address or town, and start looking. That’s when they get to us. A few may call an agent first, someone in their sphere perhaps, but you can’t build your career on such a thin slice of the pie. They seek a home. If you don’t have inventory on the shelf, you get no traffic. It is as simple as that. Get more listings. Inventory, or at least the access to it, gets buyers. 

Think I’m wrong? Fine. Consider this: even Redfin, which touts commission rebates, transparently rated agents, and overall seeks to offer a better mousetrap, has a killer home search. That’s how they get their people. And I know. What about EBAs? Exclusive buyer agents have no listings! So what? They still have a home search on their site if they have half a brain! That is the key to the kingdom- homes. 

How useful is your home search? Do you highlight it? Do you know how to work the back end of registered users? Do you incorporate it into your blog? Or are you tapping away, letting everyone know where the fireworks are this weekend & where to drop off their recyclables, only to have people use someone else to buy a home? Do you like it when you go to a restaurant and the server is overcharming and all you want is a menu? How do you think buyers feel? 

They do not care about your flair. 

My point, and it really is the keys to the kingdom if you want a bigger slice of the pie, is that in 2011 you either have to get listings, have a superior IDX home search on your site, or both if you want to grow. Get more listings. Get a good IDX and don’t keep it a secret. Link to it. Use it. Pimp it. If you are blogging, make your home search the call to action in all your posts. 

There it is, folks. Disagree if you want, but what I just told you works for every business model I know, and my firm has been my laboratory on the matter since 2005. 

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