Need some advice from real-estate website owners...

7 replies
I'm toying with the idea of marketing real estate websites to local offline companies, partly due to my discovery of the wonderful Open Realty program, partly due to the fact that many of them seem to be clueless with SEO, and partly due to my guess that they are desperate for business in the declining economy.

But I digress...

I'd like to build a starter site as a portfolio, and to SEO it to have something to show to prospects. But to do that, I'm in the catch-22 of needing content for SEO purposes, but not having customers due to the lack of content and SEO.

What is a good way to fill up the site with listings? I've been "stealing" them manually from other sites, but it sure is time consuming and not totally on the up-and-up.

I'd like to hear how others bootstrapped their realty sites.
#advice #owners #realestate #website
  • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
    This is a niche I have a little experience in, so take this for what it's worth...(not very much )

    The boundries for this niche leave a lot of gray area. You can easily cross the line and get in trouble with the local MLS gods. This has happened to me as well as a good friend of mine. I just deleted my site because the guy that oversees who gets fried stepping over the line is a 35+ year freind of mine and gave me a heads up.

    My other friend wasn't so lucky. The VAR (Virginia Assoc. of Realtors) sued him and won. That cost him a lot of time, energy and money. The outcome was he simply had to rewrite ONE line on his website to comply. Ironically, he had made the change even before the case went to civil court. The VAR was looking for Case Law in this matter, and used him as an example.

    If you don't have a Real Estate License, things can get pretty sticky very fast. I don't have one, but I am a real estate investor and have websites that I sell my own properties on. These are perfectly within the boundries, because if you are a principle in a RE deal you have the right to maximize your buying or selling opportunities.

    From your post it looks like you may be scraping the MLS or equiv. This is not legal advice, btw, so you will need to check with your local MLS, but I can see where you can be setting yourself up for a fall on this one if one or more of the local agents complain.

    Regarding building SEO websites for local brokers and agents, I don't see any problems with this unless the local MLS has an exclusive contract with another company for this purpose. The data feeds, how they are disseminated, who is allowed to use them, what data can be put on a particular site, and a host of other factors, are in a legal transition due to the internet.

    In many MLS jurisdictions a third party, including another agent or broker is not allow to delete or add any information to a listing. Whatever the Listing Agent puts downs is what needs to remain intact on that given listing. Although another broker or agent may have a better idea as to how to position a given property, such as better pictures, or better verbage, it is strickly forbidden.

    In my neck of the woods, NAR (National Assoc. of Realtors) and VAR have come under attack for being too restrictive, and in 2008 lost a case where the outcome was they were required to loosen up some of their restrictive practices. In Illinois there was also a battle along those lines, specifically what the scope of Exclusive Buyers Agents would be. The only reason I mentioned these is that there is a lot of flux happening in the real estate legal arena, and you need to keep abreast of any changes that may impact your ability to work in this niche.

    I'm starting to write a book here, so my apologies. Bottom line...if you just want to help Realtors or Real Estate Brokers or Agents with their SEO, and remain strictly an advertising facilitator, you should be ok. If you cross the line and do anything that falls under "Practicing Without a License", or violating any local agency restrictions you can find yourself on the wrong side a lawsuit against folks with very deep pockets. HTH

    KJ
    Signature
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[444461].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
      Originally Posted by Killer Joe View Post

      I'm starting to write a book here, so my apologies. Bottom line...if you just want to help Realtors or Real Estate Brokers or Agents with their SEO, and remain strictly an advertising facilitator, you should be ok. If you cross the line and do anything that falls under "Practicing Without a License", or violating any local agency restrictions you can find yourself on the wrong side a lawsuit against folks with very deep pockets. HTH
      Is your book done yet? It'd be nice to have some sort of guidebook on this. This is a market I'm interested in too. Local newspapers have sections devoted to real estate listings and there are local magazines and sites that just deal list properties that agents have paid to advertise. I don't have any interest in accessing or using the MLS; I'd just like a site that lets agents, or FSBOs, list their properties for sale. The site would promote the local amenities; anything dealing with the details and specifics of any property would be up to the advertiser.
      Signature

      Dan's content is irregularly read by handfuls of people. Join the elite few by reading his blog: dcrBlogs.com, following him on Twitter: dcrTweets.com or reading his fiction: dcrWrites.com but NOT by Clicking Here!

      Dan also writes content for hire, but you can't afford him anyway.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[504986].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author grumpyjacksa
    offer your services to an agency as a "scout", at a referral percentage

    they will supply you with the info u need, as it could mean more money for them if you bring them clients
    Signature
    Ex-ghostwriter now writing exclusive PLR ebooks - Limited PLR Club
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[444514].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
      Originally Posted by grumpyjacksa View Post

      offer your services to an agency as a "scout", at a referral percentage

      they will supply you with the info u need, as it could mean more money for them if you bring them clients
      This is highly illegal where I live. There is a saying that all real estate is local, and that applies to what you can and cannot do to make money in this niche.

      KJ
      Signature
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[444646].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author hammiesink
    Cool! Thanks Killer Joe.

    You're right, I just want to stay on the advertising side of the fence. The realtors can do whatever they want with the site and it's up to them to follow their own laws. I have no interest in working with real estate itself. I just see them as potential desperate customers.

    But my question then remains.

    What are some ways to start up a real estate site when it's true value will only come later, with SEO and traffic?

    How do I lure RE agents to add listings to a site before it's ready for primetime?

    How do I get going with this site?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[444756].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Killer Joe
      "What are some ways to start up a real estate site when it's true value will only come later, with SEO and traffic?"

      First off, I would contact a few of the local brokers and get their opinions on how they veiw what it is you are trying to do. Notice I said brokers, and not agents. There is a big difference in those two terms.

      What you are looking to find out here is information that will allow you to gauge how viable a real estate website will be in your market. ALL markets are different. What works, or is allowable in mine might not work or be allowable in yours. That is why you need to go to the source.

      "How do I lure RE agents to add listings to a site before it's ready for primetime?"

      Assuming there are no 'legal' roadblocks, a good way would be to offer free exposure at first until you build up a following. If you can get one or more agents from every brokerage, or at least a few of the major players, to put a listing on your website you would have plenty of content to get it off the ground.

      Keep in mind that they will be primarily interested in how it will increase their exposure, or lead to additional sales. They will most likely care very little about your needs, wants, or desires. So you need to keep your pitch focused on the benefits to them.

      "How do I get going with this site?"

      Assuming you know how to build a website, or know how to outsource it, create a template that will allow you to add content from the listing agents or brokers who want to participate. This will be along the lines of what you described as your 'portfolio' site. Then start getting out and meeting as many agents as possible.

      We all have different opinions on how to get contacts, but I personally would make an appointment with as many agents or brokers to see them in person as opposed to a mailing or other lead generation tactics. This will allow you to walk out of the meeting with something tangible such as a listing to post, or a signed agreement of services. Real estate is as face to face a business as it comes.

      Once your site gets noticed, or becomes an avenue of revenue for the local RE agents, word will spread, and then print media will be much more effective.

      The next step, if all is going well, is to contact as many title or escrow companies, mortgage brokers, house painters, plumbers, HVAC, contractors, etc, and sell them advertising space. Give that away at first if you need to, as well. You're better off getting your model up to speed on your dime as opposed to some pissed off *client*.

      And don't for get those FSBO sellers. A seperate website where FSBOs can have a webpage for their property can be another avenue for your web marketing skills.

      KJ
      Signature
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[444867].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author winebuddy
    There are already several similar sites out there...

    fsbo.com
    fsbozone.com

    and more. These are nationwide and local at the same time.

    The target market you are wanting to hit has been sold website after website over time and now has no cash to pay for anything else.

    They may be a "hungry" crowd but it's because they are not eating - not because they need a new website.
    Signature
    birminghamshootingrange.comfor sale |"Knowledge is NOT power... ACTION on Knowledge is power"
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[505029].message }}

Trending Topics