While I am relatively new to the real estate business, my education (BSCS) and trade has been software engineering for the last 33 years. …Geese I am getting old. :) My specialty has been in the communication field and my involvement with Internet technology development began in the early 1990′s. I am co-author of 4 US patents within the communication industry and they proudly hang on my wall in my home office.
Real Estate and Market Conditions
My wife and business partner Elizabeth Cooper-Golden has been in the real estate business over 20 years and our life together in Huntsville began 3 1/2 years ago when we married and she re-started her real estate business in Huntsville virtually from scratch. It was definitely a do-over and I admit she was not too happy about it, so I jumped in there and decided to help.
I don’t have to tell interested readers how the real estate market has been over the last 4 years, its sufficient to say it was a down market with annual local transactions decreasing ~30%. This was the business environment and backdrop when I started the @Homes System project.
Website/Social Media Results
Year 1 – 2009
Elizabeth spent her 1st year in business with the local Madison Al Re/Max office and we put up 2 crude websites and implemented a social media marketing campaign for client acquisition purposes. The result of Elizabeth’s first year in Huntsville was being one of the top performers in the Madison Re/Max office with $120k of income from commission splits.
Now I admit that I couldn’t have picked a better test subject partner, because having bought and sold several homes in my lifetime, Elizabeth is the most dedicated and qualified real estate professional I have ever met and it also didn’t hurt that she has a work-ethic that would kill a mule. …lol …really! …Nevertheless, 98% percent of our closed business for this first year came from our website leads.
Year 2 – 2010
We upgraded our websites and established @Homes Realty as an independent brokerage and recruited a few agents that joined our ranks. Our first year as an independent brokerage was a huge success even being selected as a finalist for the Inman Innovator Awards of 2010.
Website traffic, leads, and closed business grew substantially in 2010 and while we are still a small office with a tiny market share, measuring our performance on a per-agent basis we were among the top 10 agencies in our market and our initial tiny presence ended up ranking ~40th out of 210 local offices on a gross transaction basis. This was officially our first year of business in a down market.
Year 3 – 2011
While this is mid September and the year not yet complete, our Website traffic, leads, and closed business has grown substantially again, already surpassing last years performance and we have added a few more agents and need a few more.
Our website traffic and leads have increased ~50% during 2011 and business roughly 25% thus far. The accompanying graphics provide details of this case study, click to enlarge and view.
Traffic, Leads, and Business
Summary of the stats documented in the graphics:
- Regional Site NorthernAlabamaHomes ~273,000 pages indexed with ~8000 listings
- Client Site atHomesHuntsville ~286,000 pages indexed with ~4500 listings
Traffic Sources: Google: 35%, Other Engines: 15%, Direct: 30%, Social Links: 20%, PayPerClick: 0%
- Traffic Summary: 0 – 50,000 unique visits per month in 3 years
- Deployed Virtual Office lead management – 02/14/2010
Initial introductory Virtual Office marketing campaign drove conversion rates from ~2% to ~5%
- Website form leads 20 month history: 1902 leads, ~95 per month, ~3 per day, conversion rate 4.84%
- Website originated phone calls average ~2-3 per day
Can we provide similar results in your market?
We believe we can however the honest answer is: Perhaps!
We are not in the commodity website business and we don’t wish to be, its just not challenging enough for my liking. No matter how great a particular website design is, its not a silver bullet. You can build it, but they may not come. Technical, sales, and marketing skills, assets, and activities must be meshed cooperatively for success. …It’s a System not a website!
For our system to be successful in other markets we know it takes partnering with local brokerages that are active with similar social media marketing strategies. Your local market’s size and competition level will also make a difference. …and yes your team’s work-ethic will always be a major component.