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What’s Worth Knowing?


Teach Me Something

There has been a lot of reference to how much can be learned if practitioners were to read industry blogs. However recently I’ve noticed that the has put more emphases on who’s blog is bigger…oops, I mean better. There is seemingly more in-fighting than valuable information in recent days. Therefore, I want to take a reprieve from that pattern.

As I’ve stated before, there are two books I think should be required reading for all practitioners. The first is the Swanepoel Report and the second is the NAR profile of Buyers and Sellers. I want to take a few points from those resources to get you thinking.

Why Such Concern?

Swanepoel’s Report said that “87% of Brokers (surveyed) feel that servicing smarter and more informed consumers are their largest concern.”

I have no idea why the industry fears such things. I don’t want information about the buying process, hidden from me as a consumer, why would we expect that the consumer wouldn’t want as much information as they could get? The consumer who has a good handle on the process, should be that much easier to work with. Having the knowledge doesn’t mean that they no longer have a need for an agent. To the contrary; the information is so overwhelming, they need to have someone to aggregate it for them. The fact that movie previews reveal the entire movie, doesn’t stop people from going to the theater to watch the entire movie.

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Show Me The Numbers!

NAR’s 2007 report shows that when consumers (reported 87% use the internet in their search – I think that’s low) search the internet for real estate information, they found the following useful:

84% Photos (at least 6) – Yet the average number of listing photos are 2

82% Detailed Listing Information

60% Virtual Tours / Real Estate Shows / Videos

39% Maps of the area surrounding the property

37% Neighborhood Information

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26% Agent Information

I think it’s easy to extract from this information exactly how an Agent should setup their webpages. I think it’s also easy to see why Blogs are such a powerful tool, currently. Most blogs that I visit have very basic information about the agent or author; they are generally full of real estate information. The blog writers talk about the area, how to search for homes, and why certain types of agency practices or benefits. Knowing what the consumer is looking for, should help decide what to write about.

What Is the Consumer Looking For?

Knowing what the consumer found useful is actually the second step, knowing what they started off looking for is also important.

95% were looking for Properties For Sale

21% were looking for Area Information

4% were looking for an agent

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4% were looking for a particular Firm or Franchise

It’s interesting that almost all the static webpages I find, are page after page about the agent’s resume, yet only 4% of consumers are looking for such information. It’s an unfortunate truth that most consumes feel most agents are basically the same. We know that’s not true, but finding a clever way to correct that impression is a challenge for many.

Be Unique!

Statistics are only a guideline. They aren’t always reality, but it’s the best indication of what consumers maybe thinking. Each agent should take this information and work it into their own plan. It’s important to do what works well for you. A lot of practitioners are successful with their blogs, because they have created them and maintain them in a unique manner. That’s what’s working today, tomorrow there will be some new technique that some visionaries will create and adapt.

Whereas it’s good to know information, such as who consumers find you, it’s more important to know where the source is for that information. I’ve provided this information from the NAR Profile of Buyer’s and Sellers 2007. There is a considerable more that could help your business by reading such resources.

While you’re trying to explain to your sellers why you put so much effort into internet marketing, and so little in print media; it’s good to have these exact numbers and resources. This can help save you time and money with informed consumers who will trust a report more than your word.

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Written By

Matthew Rathbun is a Virginia Licensed Broker and Director of Professional Development for Coldwell Banker Elite, in Fredericksburg Virginia. He has opened and managed real estate firms, as well as coached and mentored agents and Brokers. As a Residential REALTOR®, Matthew was a high volume agent and past REALTOR® Rookie of the Year & Virginia Association Instructor of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter as "MattRathbun" and on Facebook. Matthew's blog is



  1. Chris Griffith

    May 11, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    ….and I read this in between adding listings to a point2 site to syndicate, craigslist and my blog, while watching Private Ryan.

    Excellent advise. Give the consumer what he’s looking for. That’s not that difficult, after all. Right?

  2. Scott P. Rogers

    May 11, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    >> “87% of Brokers (surveyed) feel that servicing smarter and more informed consumers are their largest concern.”

    Hopefully the “concern” just means that it’s “on their mind” — and it’s an indication that Brokers will put the majority of their focus on continuing to be able to offer great information, analysis and insight to these smarter and more informed consumers. How’s that for looking at the half empty glass as half full?

    >> 95% were looking for Properties For Sale

    I believe it! And measurement of consumers’ online behavior supports it. My brokerage’s web site ( sees between 90%-95% of the traffic on the site within the property search areas.

    Matthew — it would be great if you periodically provided some insight and commentary from the buyers & sellers report — it has some great information that I don’t go back to look at often enough!

  3. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    May 11, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    You have made some good points. I believe you too. You have to have info and yet have your own style. Most of my cleints now come from my site so something must be working. its a lot of work to blog and maintain an updated site and that is why you do not have the competition that you would think.

  4. Barry Cunningham

    May 11, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Maybe my message gets diluted by angry comments but as I mentioned to you about RE’s an amzing book and has so much data you are should be mandatory reading.

  5. Susan Hilton - Texas Aggie Realtor

    May 11, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Great advice! Working on posting a great deal more information about the area and our listings!

    Susan Hilton – Realtor & Sales Trainer for Century 21 Beal, Inc. #1 in Real Estate in Bryan and College Station Home Sales – Bryan College Station Real Estate & Community Blog

  6. Mack in Atlanta

    May 12, 2008 at 7:01 am

    You make a very important point that agents should quit designing their sites around me, me, me and start providing unique relevant information that addresses the site visitor’s needs.

  7. Matthew Rathbun

    May 12, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting.

    Barry, I want to say that it seems that I was able to make the same point you did, without the angry comments to get our readers to the same conclusion. I know I’ve failed in the past, but I am trying to work on delivery…

  8. ines

    May 12, 2008 at 9:35 am

    The informed consumer is our best client – finding that “perfect formula” for what works in your blog and to provide information that is useful to your audience is not easy, but it’s extremely powerful once you achieve it.

  9. Jacinda

    May 12, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    I’d have to say the numbers by NAR are off. How are pics more useful than a virtual tour? Pics can be taken at certain angles to manipulate the room/area, which is great for sellers, but bad for people looking for something because they can show up, realize it’s really different, and be mad that they wasted their time. It’s tough to manipulate a virtual tour like that.

    I also think floor plans should definitely be up there. They’re incredibly useful when it comes to more limited spaces like condos and townhouses.

  10. Scott P. Rogers

    May 12, 2008 at 2:59 pm

    Jacinda — I have to agree with the survey respondents that indicated that photos were the most useful. Multiple photos can be much more helpful than a virtual tour — though, I use both for marketing my listings. If an agent is going to manipulate the photo angles, they’ll manipulate the virtual tour too. And I DEFINITELY agree the floor plans should be included — even on single family homes, they are VERY helpful!

  11. Mike Taylor

    May 13, 2008 at 5:59 am

    I love it when other agents don’t get it and design a site around how great they are. That means buyers will come to my site and find listings and hopefully stay.

    The bar has been raised on what consumers expect out of a real estate website nowadays and your site doesn’t provide them what they want immediately you stand no chance.

  12. Ken Smith

    May 13, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    The top item on the list should be accurate information.

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