February 18, 2011

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4 Essential Building-Blocks for Agents New to Online

propertyadguru.com welcomes this guest post by Ryan Hinricher. Ryan Hinricher is a real estate entrepreneur, blogger, change advocate and founder of Investor Nation, a concierge realty company focused on the needs of the residential real estate investment community.

This article was originally posted on onlinerealestate101.com.

Establishing yourself as a successful real estate professional in 2010 can easily be a daunting task. The real estate market is unrecognisable when compared to just a few short years ago. In 1994 the first online real estate listing was published in an email by Eric Hilding of Coldwell Banker in Morgan Hill, CA which changed real estate forever. Within 1 year ERA launched the first listing portal with over 50,000 listings. Today we have Zillow, Trulia, Twitter, Facebook, iPhones, and thousands of other tools and technologies which power the new real estate economy.

Because of this, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and impossible to stay ahead of the technology curve. I thought I’d put together a shortlist of critical components to your online real estate foundation. These are the building-blocks of any real estate business and most aren’t sustainable without them.

The 4 Building-Blocks:

1. You must find a Specific Niche. The new real estate economy is simply too vast to compete if you don’t have a niche. Your niche will be your area of expertise which you can leverage online and offline for your future marketing, blogging, and web optimisation efforts. Ask yourself this question: Can I really compete for terms on Google, Twitter, and more such as, “LA realtor, Chicago real estate, etc”? I hope you get the picture. You don’t need to find your niche overnight but it is a requisite to competing in an online world successfully.

How do you find your niche? Look for something you feel highly confident about, which you also love. Maybe it’s Miami Beach condos or something similar. By looking around and searching in your area, you’ll find that the smaller the niche the more the person behind the niche seems like a true expert. I’d be hesitant to spend much money on your marketing until you’ve truly defined your niche.

2. A Defined Sales Process is essential for building your business the right way from the ground up. This sales process is going to make or break you in the long run once you start generating leads. Most real estate professionals never plan this out correctly leading to low conversion rates, frustration, and ultimately lost dollars.

When defining your sales process keep in mind 3 things: Recency (how quickly you follow up), and Frequency (how often you follow up), and Consistency (following up at regular intervals). Considerations for defining this strategy include, online replies, Facebook strategy, Linkedin, emails, phone calls, thank you notes, etc.

A good book worth reading to give you some ideas on these is  “Selling the Invisible”.

I didn’t take having a defined sales process seriously until I lost a client to someone who said the only reason he chose my competitor, was they called him back first!

3. A Customer Relationship Management or CRM tool is a must. This is not optional.  The  Dunbar Number is a theoretical number that says the average human can only manage 150 relationships mentally at a time. The average Facebook user has slightly more than this number of friends so how will you suddenly manager hundreds of customers? CRM tools help you manage your customers by setting reminders, sending out auto-replies, and creating follow up communication for you with regards to your clients.

There are many to choose from in the marketplace, both free and paid. I’ve used, in the past 37 Signals Highrise(recommend), Leads on Rails (wouldn’t recommend), Sugar CRM, and most recently SalesForce (highly recommend, but a bit more costly).

Also Josh is running a CRM for Real Estate experiment with Heap on onlinerealestate101.com. I look forward to seeing his feedback.

4.  In-House Lead Gen and your Online Presence go hand-in-hand. These are where you’ll put most of your intellectual capital, personal expression, writing, and branding.  In fact, the online space has been so cluttered that by you having your properties on all the classifieds like Craigslist, Backpage, Oodle, etc. is going to give you little if any competitive advantage at all. Why?  Because there is no longer a barrier of entry into these spaces and everyone, including your competitors, are already using them. That’s not to say you avoid these, but these need to become automated functions of your business.

Your website can provide you residual efforts from much front-loaded efforts. Your web presence should be unique and offer strong call-to-actions which are visually appealing and clear in message. Use WordPress to get started if you don’t have a big budget for a custom site. Offer something of value. The 2 year old report that all of your competitors are giving away too is not something of value. Create original content, build a guide to people relocating, a dining guide, or comprehensive data on a specific neighbourhood. By creating something original you can offer a unique value proposition which will likely usurp what your competitors are offering.

Last thoughts:

Don’t be overwhelmed in your mission to be successful as an online agent. Focus on the essentials which will give you a long term benefit. These building-blocks will give you a basis for which you can add new tools you test out to your business. Otherwise you’ll be chasing a never-ending rush to find the newest, quickest, sexiest real estate tool or trend.


Related posts:

  1. UK Agents Plan to Move Online
  2. Previously on Property Ad Guru: Niche Marketing


  1. The building blocks overview was very informative especially about having a “niche”. I live in a small town and my website http://www.morganhillhomes.com is geared to our small community. I also liked the part where you mentioned “defining the sales process” which is something I think a lot of Realtors overlook. Thanks for the great info!!

  2. Josh Ferris says:

    Hey Alice,

    The new site design looks great! Thanks for reposting this article. I still find myself going back and reading parts of it again. A must for agents looking to keep those 2010 resolutions going!

  3. Alice Allan says:

    Hi Josh,

    Thanks for the encouraging words! Hope you find plenty of other articles here to keep you informed.


  4. Alice, thanks for republishing my article. I hope it was relevant to your audience.




  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by stbaker: New PAG Post: 4 Essential Building-Blocks for Agents New to Online http://ow.ly/16tZop...

  2. [...] a recent guest post, Ryan Hinricher said agents need to define their niche market to stand out in the online marketing [...]

  3. [...] It seems the UK’s financial downturn has some real estate agents reassessing their spending priorities. A survey by property specialists movewithus found that at least 20 percent see a move from their high street premises to a home office as possible or likely over the next ten years. 66 percent of the agents surveyed said they would be likely to focus on their web offering over the next decade, with a further 28 percent seeing it as a possibility. If you’re also considering this move, but aren’t sure where to start, be sure to check out our guest post from Ryan Hinricher: “4 Essential Building Blocks for Agents New to Online“. [...]

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