The R Word
There was a time when I didn’t want to hear the “r” word. In fact, the mere mention of the “r” word would launch me onto a soap box where I’d spent considerable time and effort preaching the purity of the real estate search and the evils of requiring registration before people could see what they came to see.
Step one of the conversion took place the first week of August when I asked several friends to look over my web sites and see what was missing. Where was the disconnect between the traffic I recorded and the number of leads I was generating through the Internet. Because, after all, having a website truly is a form of lead generation if done correctly. (When done incorrectly, it’s a waste of server space.)
One of the answers that came back quickly was the need to add registration to the searches. I hemmed. I hawed. I equivocated. And then I told @mizzle, “Okay, I’ll try it.”
You Have to Be There
Five minutes later, registration was a reality on my six websites. And within the hour, the first registrations started to roll in. Until Jay Thompson jumped in, no one registered as Donald Duck. There have been a few interesting ones since, but those contacts are easy to delete.
Despite what I believed to be the case, there was little objection to the requirement. Those who didn’t want to provide real information didn’t and they still gained their access. But more importantly, at least to me, there were dozens of people willing to share their information with me. And this a new line of business was born.
Two weeks ago, I closed escrow on a house purchased in Westbrook Village by someone who had been browsing the site. Where was the added value to justify my request for information? It was in the design of the site itself, a one-stop shop for information on the community. Not a blog, mind you. But a blogsite that provided just about all anyone looking in the area would need, with the IDX feed as the hook.
Today I opened escrow with a second client who came through one of my neighborhood blogsites and registered.
What do these cases have in common? Both were looking with purpose. Both were ready to buy. And both would have pulled a real estate agent’s name out of a hat if I hadn’t proactively called them. As David Knox says, you don’t always have to be good. You have to be there. I was there – only because I turned on the registration for the website.
Basic Business Reality
There will be those who will criticize me for turning to registration. And that’s fine. Until the last couple of months, I would have joined their side of the conversation. But then I realized, I’m not providing listings and other information to attain some theoretical level of moral perfection. There’s no grade in real estate for artistic impression. This is a business. And as such, the bottom line is the bottom line.
No one is required to use my services, though depending on the community in which you’re looking I’m a bit difficult to avoid. (And that’s intentional.) But if you are going to use the information that I pay for and that I provide to my clients, then I believe it’s fair to ask who’s doing the looking. A simple quid pro quo.
Maybe hearing the confession of an unrepentant convert will not convert those who see registration and other such tricks of the trade as some sort of evil. But for those who may be on the fence, I urge you to give it a try and see what happens. (Unless you’re in Phoenix. Then you’re welcome to leave registration off.)
Once can be a fluke. Twice is the beginning of a trend. And frankly, if I’d been smarter about this earlier in the year, this year’s 18 escrows (and counting) would be far closer to 30 for this one-dog show.
October 22, 2008 at 9:16 am
Jonathon, welcome to the dark side. I have read a lot of posts about how IDX registration is a betrayal to the customer and do not understand that perspective. I don’t know any other industry that criticizes each other for having the audacity of requiring basic contact information in exchange for information the customer wants. Your experience shows why the NAR VOW polcies are so important. Imagine in sites like Trulia or Zillow could show all the MLS lisings in the nation… they would not require registration and imagine how that would effect the amount of people who would come to your site to search homes.
October 22, 2008 at 9:50 am
Great article Jonathan. This question has been up for debate for a while now on our message board. Opinions range from turning off registration completely – the idea that registration will scare potential prospects off, to having various registration parameters, or enforcing a full registration to capture those serious buyers – all with varying results. Glad to see you’ve had some success as a fairly recent convert to the ‘yes for registration’ side of the debate!
October 22, 2008 at 11:32 am
You shouldn’t have to repent for the way you chose to run your business (assuming it’s legal of course). You are free to run your business however you see fit. We’ve had this conversation, you know i struggle with picking up the phone. It’s silly, but it is what it is.
That reluctance may, or may not change. Who knows. The bottom line in this business, and something I love about it, is there are many different ways to make it work. Some tactics work for some and not for others.
I keep flip-flopping on the registration thing (though the fact that I’m even considering it is a significant change from my past actions). One day I’ll settle in, who knows on which side. Articles like these help, as it’s nice to hear success stories on any method. Appreciate your sharing JD!
October 22, 2008 at 11:59 am
Jonathan, I am standing on a chair clapping. (((clap, clap))) (well besides the fact you stole my last topic, LOL)
You know how I feel on this issue, I know some Realtors don’t like it, but hey I don’t like print ad’s or open houses. I like what works and brings in business and the site I have that it is required, is what brings home the bacon.
Those that register, stay !
October 22, 2008 at 3:33 pm
Good article Jonathan. I used to be against registration but now I’m all for it. I had the same feelings about it being intrusive and scaring visitors away. But in my case only people I personally told to register would actually do it to get updated listings.
Now I let visitors get a taste by viewing a few listings (5) then I ask for registration. They’ll see that my IDX is far superior (I also use Diverse Solutions) and want to keep looking. If they don’t then so be it – I won’t really know anyways.
Good luck and I hope it keeps working for you.
October 22, 2008 at 5:07 pm
My theory is this: People are not stupid. If they don’t want you to have their information, they wont give it to you. If they give it to you, my experience has shown that more times than they EXPECT you to contact them and welcome your assistance.
However, it all boils down to comfort level and who you align yourself with. But it is good to note that there is not a right or wrong way to do this…
October 22, 2008 at 6:42 pm
Jonathan – Congrats on the business! I too use a site which requires log-in and recently wrote about whether I should use asite which doesn’t. Right now, I have two set up and am testing. Initially, the site required log in site brings me more names and more business. I personally don;t like to pick up the phone and call people, but it works – and I really appreciate the way Mariana explains it.