Far Less than You Might Think
“I was being ironic.” – Roxanne Kowalski (Daryl Hannah)
“Oh, ho, ho, irony! Oh, no, no, we don’t get that here. See, uh, people ski topless here while smoking dope, so irony’s not really a, a high priority. We haven’t had any irony here since about, uh, ’83, when I was the only practitioner of it. And I stopped because I was tired of being stared at” – C.D. Bales (Steve Martin)
Give ’em What They Want
Once upon a time during web-based real estate’s Paleolithic era, it was just fine to have a simple sales site that trumpeted how wonderful you were and how many millions of dollars in sales you’d accumulated. Then the environment changed and static sites, particular the cookie-cutter template sites with identical content, were relegated to the morass as blogs emerged from the primordial ooze and began to find their legs.
More recent evolution has seen the general real estate blog abandoned in favor of hyper-local blogs – all the information you possibly could want about bake sales and Little League games and farmers’ markets and the local high school team. Which all is well and good, except it completely missed the point of what it is someone looking for real estate wants to see. In a word, real estate.
Building your local street cred is crucial if you’re working to acquire listings. Except your blog (and your real estate site) is going to attract far more buyers than sellers. And those buyers, while possibly interested in a bit of the local flavor, will always always always have more interest in the homes available. If they want the packet from the Chamber of Commerce, they can go to that website instead.
So, in short, today’s ironic message coming to you on a real estate blog is you don’t need to blog to find and dominate a niche market.
Start Your Blog. Now Stop Writing.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with microblogging about everything down to the last pothole in your neighborhood’s main drag. It’s just that fewer people care than you think outside of your neighborhood and that at the end of the day, it’s a great deal more work with little additional benefit.
Want to know what you need to dominate a neighborhood?
- Identify an active neighborhood – a few thousand homes, tops, with some decent sales history
- A good domain name, hopefully rich with keywords
- Listings, listings and more listings
- Basic community information
- Still more listings
- A contact form
- Um … more listings
Get the picture? It’s the listings that are the driving content of your site. People want to see the houses. So make sure you’re giving them those houses in as obvious a manner as possible. And with platforms such as WordPress available, creating a so-called “blogsite” – a blog functioning as a relatively static web site – can be accomplished in mere minutes.
Working with one agent today, we were able to get the framework for a focused neighborhood site put together in an hour or so. Once the IDX is available, we’ll be set. (I’ll add a link at the bottom once I have permission from the agent to do so.)
Keys to Remember
Going with a neighborhood niche site requires a slight change in your thinking. The point isn’t traffic … just about anyone can drive huge numbers with a gimmick or two. What you want is focused traffic – people who are looking for one specific neighborhood. The traffic will be less but there will be far less chafe with the wheat.
One of my niche sites is Westbrook Village Real Estate, which averages 15 to 30 visitors a day. The site also received about a half-dozen or more search registrations every week. Huge numbers? In the grand scheme, perhaps not. But keep in mind this is a neighborhood with only 5,000 homes. And there are dozens of unique visitors coming to look for homes and other information every day.
Ventana Lakes Real Estate, another niche site, generates far less traffic because there’s less word of mouth about the neighborhood. In about 18 months of existence, the site has generated two closed sales for about $600,000. Again, not huge numbers in the grand scheme. But when you consider my total investment has been less than $50 … well, you can do the math.
Even better, the need for fresh content is somewhat lessened when you’re working with the often less competitive search terms for niche neighborhoods. Quality content posted once and tweaked every now and again for freshness is all the Google juice you’ll need (unless you’re trying to corner Beverly Hills.)
Cost Efficiency Promotes a Shotgun Approach
Today in the office I was told by one of the owners that I need to have my business coming from multiple baskets. She meant to be working not just on the Internet. But as a co-worker pointed out, I am working out of multiple baskets by operating multiple websites with different audiences. My primary blog, three different retirement community sites, another for Scottsdale lofts … it’s a shotgun approach which may seem to be thoroughly unfocused but rather casts a fairly wide net.
That’s necessary because odds are against you retiring early by working just one small neighborhood. But if you’re able to add a transaction every month or two to your total in a hands-off manner … why not do it?
As real estate trainer David Knox says, you don’t have to be good. You just have to be there. I’d like to think that I’m good but more to the point I’m there. And there. And there, too.
So can you.
It can take years to get well enough established in a neighborhood that the owners turn to you with their listings. But buyers are a different beast for one basic reason – you don’t matter. The homes do. Provide them with the homes and they’ll pick up the phone or click the submit button on your contact form. The first agent to talk to a prospective client often wins the business. Make sure you’re their first contact by being the source for what they really want – homes in a given area.
Time to Get Started
So what do you need to do?
Identify a neighborhood where homes are selling to some degree, a destination spot where people actively want to move and where the residents tell their friends about the great place in which they live. Find that neighborhood, get the domain name and start the blogsite. If you’re not that tech savvy, find someone who can do it for you.
Either way, you’re looking at a fairly minimal investment of time and/or money that has the potential for significant return. All by putting an IDX feed in front of the buyers as they sit at their keyboards looking for their next home.
Is it something you can afford to ignore? You do so at your own peril. Because if you don’t take advantage of the opportunity, someone else will and they’ll get the business that should have come to you.
That’s not ironic. That’s just sad.