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Knowing Numbers Can Save you Numbers

Using Numbers

I love statistics. I don’t always trust them, but I love ’em. Its quite the conundrum. There are always different ways to interrupt numbers. However, yesterday I received the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2008 and one of the super cool folks from NAR Center for REALTOR® Technology sent me a link for their report. But having information doesn’t do anyone much good, unless it’s placed in context.

The Numbers: Where did they find the home?

The Context: Why does this matter?

Whereas some agents are dwelling on the issue that the Buyer is finding their home on the internet 32% of the time and only 33% of the time by the agent; I prefer to look at the fact that consumers are only find the home they buy in the newspaper less than 3% of the time. Knowing this should help agents save some money. To me, fear of the “future” is less productive than knowledge of the present.

If the seller is demanding expensive newspaper marketing, I can show them this report and then show them all the marketing I can do, just by using You can show that you’re covering 80% of the most useful marketing venues, just by being an agent, putting a sign in the yard and using MLS with IDX, Postlets,, Zillow, Trulia, Craigslist, etc…

The Numbers: What did they do when they found the home?

The Context: How can I use this to my marketing advantage

Its also important to know what the actions of the consumer are, once they actually find your client’s home online. Too many agents tell me that their webpage or IDX doesn’t work because they get reports showing lots of “hits”, but no phone calls. Well knowing that only 12% of consumers will find their agent via the home search should help you explain to your clients that 35% may have passed in front of the house and it just wasn’t appealing. People form an opinion of the home within 6 seconds of being in front of it. That’s why curb appeal is so vitally important. Also, knowing that 9% of consumers had some engagement with the mortgage process via their online home search, just might help you get a lender to co-sponsor a web marketing campaign.

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Make your own context

These are just two small items from a plethora of information available to you as REALTORS®, that will help you during your 2009 business planning. Take this information, find some friends and brain storm over what the information means to you, in your context. Use your critical thinking skills and stop seeing these numbers as something that your Broker needs to know!

Bonus: NAR CRT Technology Report

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. Jim Gatos

    November 21, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Thanks.. Where is the link to get this report? Is this something we have to pay for?

  2. Mark Storolis

    November 21, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Good morning Matt,
    My background is in statistics, and I realize that playing the numbers often puts you on top. However, the assumption is that all sellers are logical and will agree with your numbers-based marketing approaches. Though it is not the best use of money, a newspaper ad featuring a photo/address/price does a lot to satisfy a seller’s psyche. So my only qualm traces back to the fact that, as sellers, we provide service, period. Service reaches beyond selling a house with the most efficient and meager funding. Some times it is important to splurge for visual impact in the form of print. What makes my sellers happy makes my job easier – so cover all of your statistically-sound bases and then pay for your “wow” factor.

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    November 21, 2008 at 9:53 am

    Mark: My concern with the mentality of spending money to ease the Seller’s psyche, is simply that I have failed if I haven’t got the Seller’s buy-in on the marketing approach. To do things to “make the seller” happy to use join the lemmings and it simply doesn’t work. Personally, I would rather be able to offer a competitive fee for service or commission on my side, than spend the money needlessly. I also happen to thing this is a regional issue. The more rural, the more effective print media maybe.

    I hear what you’re saying in regards to providing service. But if it is service – “period” than you have a bunch of agents taking unsale-able listings, because they wanted the Seller’s mental health to paramount and not have to tell the seller that they are $100,000 too high. I guess I don’t subscribe to the fact that I provide bad service, by not being direct and honest with the seller. Perhaps there is a balance between our views.

    Jim: The NAR profile of Buyers and Sellers is $50 and can be purchased at I’ve provided a link in the post to help make it easier. The CRT report is linked at the bottom of the page.

  4. Lani Rosales

    November 21, 2008 at 10:25 am

    Jim, here is a summary of the report, let me know if this helps. 🙂

  5. GeorgeMcCumiskey

    November 21, 2008 at 11:31 am

    Statistics are always interesting I agree. Often they’re relevant too. But how about the following spin. The bulk of buyers are finding homes on the Internet and from their agent. Don’t they overlap somewhat. Hey buyer I saw this one on the net and vice versa?

  6. Sarah Nopp

    November 21, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    I agree- numbers are too much fun. Excel is a huge distraction for me. Not allowed to play on it or I get no actual work accomplished. 🙂 Thanks for posting the graphs. I need to order my copy of the book too.

  7. Jim Gatos

    November 21, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    Lani, it helps!


  8. Barry Bevis

    November 21, 2008 at 9:45 pm

    I wish they had dived the Open House/Yard Sign pie up.

    I can see this creating a demand for more open houses…

  9. Missy Caulk

    November 22, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Matthew, I just explain about the print ad’s up front at the listing appointment and it just has not been a problem. Same thing with drop boxes, but I am willing to use those if they want me too.

    Being honest upfront saves lots of headaches on the end for me and the sellers.

  10. Paula Henry

    November 23, 2008 at 8:47 pm

    Matthew – I too, love numbers and stats. Like you, I don’t waste money on print ads which brng me no return, For two years, I paid for a RE/MAX book ad which brought me two phone calls. For $55.00 a month, it was a no-brainer to keep it to appeal to my seller’s psyche, but the RE/MAX book is no longer. The agents voted it out. Over 100 agents and the majority did not wnat to keep it.

    The numbers ae telling and I look forward to the NAR statistics each year.

  11. Paula Henry

    November 23, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Ooops – That is 1400 agents!

  12. Eric- New Orleans Condos and Lofts

    November 23, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    I have done one print ad in 5 years. Explaining your plan is the key to the owner is the key to not spending on print. Be honest and tell them it does not work. They may already know this and an explanation will help you in saving money.

    I just listed a condo on Thursday. I take flyers to the front desk for people to pick up when coming and going. Over 20 had been taken today. I let security know which unit I listed and anyone can pick up a flyer. Its very simple and works to get the unit noticed and of course me noticed to other sellers. No one else is doing this so I do it?

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