Advice and Opinion

Websites now a prime marketing tool of most real estate agencies

If a real estate agency has limited funds — or indeed any sum of money – to promote itself, where should it be spend first and foremost to achieve maximum marketing impact?

“There can,” says Wayne Albutt, Western Cape Regional Sales Manager for the Rawson Property Group, “be only one possible answer to this question – devote as much of the available funds as possible to a website, before looking at other promotional activities.”

“Although it is undoubtedly true that certain successful agencies have been able to operate without a website, our experience is that over 95% of all enquiries fielded by our agents come from members of the public who have already consulted a fair number of websites,” said Albutt.

“Most of the product information, i.e. the specific details and photographs of homes for sale”, said Albutt, “will usually appear in the two main property portals, ‘Property 24’ and ‘Private Property’ as well as many others.”

“These property portals,” said Albutt, “play a valuable role without which the property sector would not operate nearly as efficiently but from the individual agency’s point of view they do have the disadvantage that one’s information is mixed up with that of other agencies. By way of contrast, the agency’s own website can and will offer the same sales information but will also provide a more comprehensive and personal platform – with no distractions from the competition. In addition to giving information on the properties that it has for sale, it will also, if properly handled, educate the public as to why and how this particular agency is different and possibly more effective than some. The extra data provided will promote the whole ethos and personality of the agency. It might, for example, introduce its staff and any unique services that it provides or it might better identify trends in the market or in specific suburbs in which they practice. In general it will probably keep the public better informed about many of the crucial property issues of the day – this will help the consumer to make better decisions.”

“Both the property portals and the agency websites,” said Albutt, “will always be popular because they can host almost as many photographs as they wish in any home presentation. On certain websites it is often possible to give photographs on most or all the rooms in the house and also include a live virtual tour of the entire home.”

Albutt stressed that the information provided on websites enables the potential buyer to save hours and hours of investigatory time. It will also help him to do his research as and when it pleases him, in the comfort of his home, and to be in control of this at all times.

“In most cases”, said Albutt, “the buyer will look at anything from 50 to 100 homes in the areas he likes and the price brackets that he prefers. The buyer will probably select only three or four homes, rejecting the vast majority of those he has seen on websites. As a result, when he finally contacts the estate agent he will frequently be able to complete his search in a day or two. Before the arrival of the internet, home-seekers often spent weeks driving around with a variety of agents looking at a vast number of homes.”

“Sellers”, said Albutt, “have also benefitted from being able to access websites. Such sites”, he said, “will show them not only such basic facts as the prices for similar homes in their area, but also how other agencies (or agents) are performing and whether they are successful or not. This assists sellers to select the most suitable agent for them.”

Albutt added that October had been the most successful month in the Rawson Property Group’s 32 year history with a 42% average turnover growth on this year to date.

“There are numerous factors contributing to this growth”, said Albutt, “but the group’s branding has undoubtedly played an important part. In the branding work for which Megan Overmeyer, the Rawson Property Group’s Brand Ambassador for the Western Cape, and I are responsible”, said Albutt, “no less than 19 different branding activities are covered altogether, the subjects being such matters as branded car rallies, events, community involvement, flyer drops, advertorials and sponsorships. However, the website was always and will remain by far the most important marketing tool of most go-ahead agencies and, therefore, the more care and attention paid to such websites the better.”