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Why Your Local MLS is Sinking to #2 in Home Searches

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A Study

Case Study: Okay, not really and “official” case study, but get this

Derek and I go to take a listing. It is a referral from another one of our sellers. It is a home that was previously on the market for 9 months at $250,000. Adorable home in great condition, beautiful lot, etc. However, it has minimal online marketing and just a couple pictures. These folks got about 4 showings in the entire 9 months they were listed … and they were listed during the hoppin’ Spring and Summer months, too!

Before we commit to list it, we attack the #1 culprit as to why the home did not sell: PRICE. However, after thorough research, we find that the home was actually priced perfectly. … Interesting.

We take the listing and price it at the previously listed price of $250,000. From there, we launch our internet marketing program. And then … We get 14 showings in 2 weeks.

We called some other listing agents in the area to see if maybe the area activity was just picking up.

No. Just us.

So, we call the agents who were showing our listing. We really wanted to know what was driving all these Buyers to our listing. They weren’t too much help. (Go figure.)

We branched out and started taking a closer look at our other listings. Guess what? SAME STORY! ALL of our listings are getting more showings than their respective competition.

We then ask our Buyer Agents questions about how their Buyer clients are picking homes to go see … and finally, we start seeing a pattern …

Home buyers are finding homes they like ONLINE…

…telling their agents about them, who then look for that specific home on the MLS and set the showing. … and (side note) they are picking the homes with the MOST and BEST pictures.

Buyers MUST be understanding the FULL benefits of being represented by a real estate agent … and MORE than just as a “person to find a home for them” … Because it looks like the Buyers are finding the homes ONLINE first.

The local MLS has now become more of a secondary “What are the 3rd bedroom’s dimensions? and How can I set an appointment?” portal.

Making a Point

Now, there is a standard that the local MLS has, regarding validity of information, that no other online site can promise. So, I’m not yelling “Kill the MLS!” … I am just making a point that the MLS is losing ground on being the “place to start” in home searches.

It appears to me that there is a direct correlation between how much a home is advertised online and how many showings it will get. In this market, getting more showings is CRUCIAL, right?

Which lead me to this: If an agent is NOT advertising their listings all over the internet, are they really fulling their fiduciary commitment to their Seller clients?

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29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Paula Henry

    September 7, 2008 at 11:39 am

    Mariana – I am making this a part of my listing presentation – well, actually, I already do. Buyers ARE finding the homes online first – it is up to us, the listing agent, to make sure our clients home stands out – great pictures and lots of them.

    There are many IDX solutions which give much more detail than our local boards site. Online clients want information.

    I laugh at agents with the “Old School Rules” attitude, who say to me, you don’t need all those pictures; buyers will find homes on the MLS or through their agent. Or, the really old ones – you have to advertise in the paper and have to do open houses. Oh well, those who are ahead now, will be ahead next year and the next.

  2. Matt Wilkins

    September 7, 2008 at 11:58 am

    I agree that today’s buyers want as much information as they can get BEFORE they ever step foot in the property.

    With regard to inteiror photos, I belive that a lack of them either shows laziness on the agen’ts part of an embarrassment of the agent and/or seller as to the condition/decor of the property. I have the attitude that buyers want to see extra photos NO MATTER what the condition is. Many buyers can overlook minor details or will offer accordingly.

  3. Todd Carpenter

    September 7, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    Just to play Devil’s advocate, are your listings getting offers, or just more showings? I ask because I’ve talked to a few buyers agents who kind of resent online shoppers because they find homes they want to look at, but those homes rarely become the homes they make offers on.

  4. Jim W

    September 7, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    if a picture is worth a 1000 words. I hope to have at least 10 to 20 pictures, and a quick video. People will watch a ok made video if there is a chance to see more and get a better feeling of the house.

  5. Laurie Manny

    September 7, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    Great post Mariana! And so very true. Buyers are involving themselves online in the search for their next home even after they begin working with an agent. They are calling their agents and telling them which homes they want to see rather than waiting for the agent to suggest which properties might suit their needs. Driving buyer traffic is critical, somewhere in that gaggle may be the right buyer.

    Todd, real estate has always been a numbers game. The more traffic that can be driven to a listing the higher the likelihood of finding the right buyer. Just because a buyer doesn’t write an offer doesn’t mean they aren’t interested. Buyers are eyeballing properties on line, viewing them, then sitting and waiting for the inevitable price reduction before they write their offer. Sometimes they lose the property to another buyer, sometimes the reduction doesn’t happen, but when it does, they write. Without the marketing and without the traffic, as Mariana has stated, it just ain’t gonna sell.

  6. Ben K

    September 7, 2008 at 1:12 pm

    Nicely written, but I’m not necessarily understanding the point of the post in respects to the title. It’s pretty much an accepted fact that the overwhelming number of buyers are looking online to find a home. And, local MLS’ feed the agent, broker and Realtor.com websites for which the buyers are finding those home. Most buyers don’t differentiate the “MLS” from agent, broker or third-party websites, either. I do agree that agents need to utilize various online resources to promote their listings, I just don’t see the point where the MLS’ are losing ground.

  7. Mariana

    September 7, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Paula – I believe that those of us who are ahead of the curve NOW, will be near-impossible to catch up with later…

    Matt – In this market, we cal ALL afford to be picky. I am not going to take a listing (for the most part) where the Sellers do not work with us regarding price and condition.

    Todd – Thank you for bringing this up. Most of our listings are selling faster than our competition. Is it due to the fact that they are all online? Maybe … So far, most of the buyers looking at our listings are qualified and ready to write (based off of the multiple conversations that we have had with showing agents). This particular home has been #2 on people’s lists and it has only been on the market a few weeks. Average DOM is almost 3-4 months. … And like Laurie mentioned, a lot of real estate is a numbers game. The more eyeballs that see our home, the more likely we will get an offer.

    Laurie – Thank you for your insight! Excellent: “The more traffic that can be driven to a listing the higher the likelihood of finding the right buyer.”

    A great phone call i got the other day was from an unrepresented online buyer who said, “When can you show me [property x]? No matter WHAT site I go to, THIS home always winds up being my #1 house. It is everywhere.” (We showed the home, but she got beat out by another buyer who wrote an accepted offer first…)

  8. Mariana

    September 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    Ben – I linked the title to my post about halfway through the post: “The local MLS has now become more of a secondary “What are the 3rd bedroom’s dimensions? and How can I set an appointment?” portal. … I am just making a point that the MLS is losing ground on being the “place to start” in home searches.”

  9. Ben K

    September 7, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    Mariana – thanks for the response. Maybe it’s a regional thing. Buyers don’t have access to the MLS so it was never a primary place to start, unless you referring to agents being the first one to notify buyers of new listings rather than buyers seeing it online first. The time difference between a new listing entering the MLS database and aggregating to broker websites is 15-20 minutes and it’s very likely buyers will know of it sooner than their agent will (if they have alerts set up).

    I bought my house before becoming an agent and I found the property online before my buyer’s agent knew it was available…and that was 5 years ago. So, I guess, I’m still not seeing the connection between widespread online promotion and MLS’ losing ground/becoming secondary.

  10. Mariana

    September 7, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Ben – Our Buyers don’t have access to the MLS here either, unless we set them up on a “prospect”.

    What I meant by it being a primary place to start is that home buyers would tell their agents what they wanted, the agent would look for that home in the MLS and provide the search results to their Buyer client. Now, the Buyers are finding homes online, telling their agents the addresses or MLS numbers, the agent verifies that it is still for sale on the MLS and then sets the showing.

    The MLS appears to be taking a backseat when it comes to finding a property initially.

  11. Jim Little

    September 7, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Mariana,
    Are you Posting to all of the usual suspects, or blogging the listings? Inquiring minds want to know.
    Thanks,
    Jim

  12. Mariana Wagner

    September 7, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Jim – Both. I just wrote about Blogging Your Listings here a few days ago.

  13. Carolyn Gjerde-Tu

    September 7, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    There are so many times that a pro photographer can make the house look “better” on the screen than in real life, but at least it gets buyers excited to see the house. I definitely have clients who want to see things based on what they see online.

  14. Jim Duncan

    September 7, 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Mariana – re: this:

    The MLS appears to be taking a backseat when it comes to finding a property initially.

    I see it a bit differently – with buyers/consumers doing more of the searching online, the MLS is actually poised (if they can possibly seize the opportunity) to be market leaders – with one big difference – the buyers are doing the finding and the Realtors are doing the representing. I’ve said it and seen it said many time before – there is a shift underway where Realtors are not finding the homes for the buyers; they are representing the buyers in their purchases. And this is a good thing, I think.

  15. Mariana Wagner

    September 7, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    Jim – That was one of my points. Buyer Agents are seen more for their powerful representation than for their abilities to find homes. This rocks.

  16. Matt Wilkins

    September 7, 2008 at 6:15 pm

    My MLS offers a relatively new feature where once a search is saved it can email new/updated listings to the clients real time. This has been a service that my clients absolute LOVE and many now no longer bother with other sites instead relying on my constant email to be in the know about available homes.

  17. Louis Cammarosano

    September 7, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Marianna
    There are a few counter arguments to posting your listings everywhere.

    This topic was explored in great detail over on Sarah Bonert’s (of Zillow) Active Rain site earlier this year

    Sarah raised the breach of fiduciary argument, which if it did not seem as a pitch to list on Zillow, might have received greater credence.

    https://activerain.com/blogsview/512312/Violation-Of-Fiduciary-Responsibility

  18. Benn Rosales

    September 7, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    As an agent, we’re pretty enlightened to the idea of being blackmailed into using products because it’s in the best interest of someone, somewhere. The simple truth is that the broker does answer to the call to market on the internet, and he does so on the MLS, and I suppose that if Zillow would like to show buyers homes on the MLS and collect a commission on the transaction, the person from zillow would only need a license in the selling state.

    I have all the respect in the world for Sara, I just happen to believe that it was never in the best interest of consumers to confuse them with incorrect property valuations that cannot be removed nor corrected- It’s a pretty website though.

  19. Michelle

    September 8, 2008 at 9:40 am

    I’ve been marketing online for years now, and manage the online property marketing for several agents in my office. The ones that have their pricing totally dialed in are selling their homes much faster than the competition that is not marketing online, the ones that don’t, aren’t. And that’s the deal with marketing your properties online, you have to really get your pricing methodology down pat. Online marketing alone will not sell your listing. Online marketing combined with the right price (especially from day #1), will sell your listings much faster. I only use online marketing that provides tracking, and having done it long enough now, I know within a matter of 2-3 days if a price needs adjusting, based on the number of hits. Often the agents I work for don’t always agree…but you can only lead a horse to water. Most “old(est) school” agents are still getting their heads around the whole internets thingy for property marketing. Some enough so that they hire me ; ).

  20. Matt Stigliano

    September 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm

    Marianna – Brilliant post (again). I think San Antonio isn’t the most tech-minded city in the world when it comes to real estate based on what I see online (bad photos, lack of photos, not listed in even some of the major online services, etc.), yet we’ve got some big tech companies here in town (and those people must live somewhere, right?). Its one of the things I think that sets me apart and one of the things that I’m working on in order to stand out in the crowd.

    I am finding much more of the “I found this on the internet” type calls rather than the “can you find me a house” type calls.

  21. Vicki Moore

    September 8, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    I get frustrated by my local MLS because there are so many other sites that are superior – they offer me the opportunity to post more photos, more language in better format, ability to make quick flyers with html for craigslist, flexible ability to create statistics, on and on. Basically the local MLS is far behind the competition before anyone even gets on the site.

  22. Judy Peterson

    September 14, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I’m syndicating listings out to more than 30 sites between my Blog, Visual Tours, Postlets and my Brokers marketing. Our MLS recently upgraded to 12 photos and some agents don’t even use all 12 spots! Whereas I can showcase up to 50 photos and panoramas in my Visual Tours. Every Seller in every price range deserves to have the best presentation of their property.

  23. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    September 17, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    The local MLS are most likely set in their ways. Our MLS does not let agents have IDX that they can use. The large Brokers in New Orleans want to get the leads themselves. Since its a monoply no one strives to keep the latest technology intergrated in the on line searches. In the end this opens up the door to their demise.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?

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nostalgia

Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.

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Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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Business Marketing

Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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