The above is a Facebook ad I ran across, because… I guess Facebook thinks I’m a real estate agent. Or, it could be the numerous times I’ve interacted with Morgan Carey, CEO of Real Estate Webmasters. But either way, I actually got curious about this claim: “To become a top producer, you need an accessible website designed to close deals.”
I realized I honestly have no idea where a website fits into the transaction lifecycle of a typical agent and how. I think I’ve assumed a good agent website is important but… why? So consider this a call for opinions, experiences, help, statistics, etc. etc. from the Best Informed Audience in real estate.
My Previously Held Assumptions
Let’s start with why I got curious about this. My assumptions about how the typical “transaction lifecycle” might work for a top producing agent (most of which come from my work with Sue Adler, who is without a doubt a top producing agent) looks like this:
- Homeowners think, “Maybe it’s time to sell the house.”
- They find the agent (usually through referrals)
- They look up the agent on the Interwebz and locate the agent’s website
- They look at the website for background research, etc.
- Call the agent about listing their house –> listing appointment happens
- A top producer would likely win the listing, then the magic happens. Website plays no role from this point on in servicing the listing client.
- “Hey honey? Maybe it’s time we buy a house….”
- They spend the next few months on Zillow/Realtor.com/Redfin/Whatever
- Eventually, they find a house they like
- They find the agent (all kinds of mystery involved here)
- Agent meets them, starts working for them, puts them on a drip campaign (which all comes from the MLS)
- Eventually, between the agent and the buyers, they find a house and buy it. Again, the website plays no real role in the transaction.
Website doesn’t really play much of a role there either, BUT my assumption was that one of a few things happen during the initial property search and/or agent qualification phases:
- Buyer finds the agent through a portal, then after being contacted, looks up the agent and finds her website and reviews it.
- Buyer finds the agent through referral, then looks up the agent website to make sure she’s legit.
- Buyer uses search engines to find a local real estate website and runs across an agent’s website, then uses that website’s IDX search to find a home.
At no point in any of this did I think that the website converts leads or closes deals. The agent converts leads and closes deals, but the website really didn’t have anything to do with either activity.
The website, in my assumption, either functioned as (a) an online brochureware/business card of sorts telling potential clients that said agent seemed like a professional REALTOR, or (b) in the minority of cases, functioned as a lead generation platform for those few who have very high search engine rankings.
Maybe my assumptions are just plain old wrong. Maybe one cannot become a top producing real estate agent in 2017 by simply providing the highest level of customer service, calling on your sphere consistently, and showing up to one’s neighborhood as the real estate expert. Maybe a website that closes deals and converts leads is what you need.
Or… maybe website vendors need to be a bit less hyperbolic in their marketing claims? I can’t say just yet. But that’s where I need your help. I’d appreciate some feedback on and answers to these questions:
- How exactly does the website fit into your marketing and the “transaction lifecycle” (that is, from start to finish, from unqualified lead to closed escrow)? If you could be a bit detailed, instead of just saying something like, “I get mad leads from my websitezzzz!” I’d appreciate it.
- If you are a top producer, what came first? The website or you becoming a top producer?
- If you are a top producer (say… 50+ transactions annually?), what percentage of your business comes from your website? Where does the rest of your business come from? If your website went away tomorrow, how much of a hit would you take on your production?
I ask because I wonder if we’re not confusing (or website vendors are not trying to confuse) correlation and causation. That is, does a nice website make you a top producer, or do top producers who have made a bundle of cash decide to spend some of it on a nice website? It’s kind of like the idea that selfies make you cool… instead of it being the cool kids with cool lifestyles taking selfies to taunt and dazzle the less cool….