Is Your website a bad listener?

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Whether you realize it or not, every time a consumer comes onto a broker’s website and begins searching for homes, the broker’s website is engaging the end-user in a dialogue. Assuming I’m shopping for a home – which is a big assumption, considering I’d rather face the repercussions of wearing a Red Sox jersey to work at Onboard than move again any time soon – I’m having a conversation with the search box. I’m telling you the number of bedrooms and bathrooms I want, my price range, and not much else. In other words, I’m telling you everything I need to know in regards to the physical and monetary characteristics of my dream home. Anyone that has ever shopped for a new home knows that that’s only half of the story.

This information is only a sound byte of the dialogue that your website needs to be able to capture.  Essentially, most real estate websites today are really bad listeners. Let’s think about the conversation flow here. Real estate agents ask quality of life type questions in their first conversation with prospective clients, but this is seldom the case with the website. Once an agent receives a lead, they’re sending out numerous emails and multiple phone calls in the hope of getting answers to all the questions your website wasn’t asking. From a business perspective, it has to make you wonder how much time a brokerage loses in getting someone to contract when so much effort is being wasted simply getting to know a prospective client.

Today there is a way to get that information up front to save time for both parties via Lifestyle Search, which has taken on many forms - though we believe we are pioneering the space.

Believe it or not, Lifestyle Search isn’t a new concept. Way back when the first caveman or cavewoman was shopping around for a cave to dwell in, they were probably just as concerned about the quality of their new area (good hunting nearby? close to stocked streams?) as they were about the characteristics of their new home itself. The reason Lifestyle Search is only now becoming a more readily employed phrase is that the technology is being embraced to catch up with demand. Lifestyle Search solves a major problem with today’s property search capabilities.

What are buyers compromising on?

When it comes to the size of a home people are more likely to compromise on an extra bedroom or bathroom if it means that their kids will be attending top performing schools. When it comes to the price of a home, people are willing to pay a bigger price tag if it means they’re going to live in a quality neighborhood with a good commute. All of this research was unveiled by the NAR 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Now let’s go back to what I mentioned earlier about the dialogue real estate search is currently having and what it is capturing now: price, beds, baths, square footage, condition of the home….all of these things are the first things to be compromised when someone is making a purchase decision on a property. And on the other hand, all of the things that prospective clients aren’t willing to compromise on aren’t being captured by a broker’s site (and are hopefully being locked in by an agent over the course of a time-draining series of multiple emails, calls and/or face-to-face meetings).

On the whole, Real Estate needs to be better at marketing the quality of life that a particular Neighborhood, Zip, or City can offer, as well as the character of a home. Considering the vast array of data that exists for each zip code, neighborhood, or city, I’m sure that every RE professional and technologist can think of a dozen ways in which to slice up their territory and create niche landing pages or SEO strategies built into their current site.

Real estate search isn’t broken, but in desperate need of an overhaul.

Get in touch with us if you’re looking to find a way to transform your site into the engaging, information-dispersing and gathering place it should be. And maybe the buyer browsing your page will actually give you a call for that second date offline.

Image Credit: Paul Hussey on Flickr.com