REALTORS® need to evaluate websites through consumers' eyes

By Kim Shindle | Oct. 26, 2010 | 3 min. read

The biggest threat to broker and franchise websites is their failure to keep pace with the online marketplace, according to the WAV Group, a real estate consulting and research company. Third-party websites are winning by offering consumers the most engaging consumer experience around a depth of property information, according to Mike Audet, founding partner of the WAV Group. As a result, these sites have become destination sites for consumers.

REALTORS® and brokers should take a few tips from some national real estate sites. “Zillow and Trulia have done a great job of marketing and dressing up the data on their websites,” Audet said. “They give the consumers all sorts of information and the consumers believe what they see, thinking the data is correct when it may not be.”

When consumers visit some national sites, then click on a listing to get more details on the franchise site, the experience is less than thrilling, Audet said. “Franchises have dropped the ball. They aren’t communicating with consumers and giving them the information they need. REALTORS® have the best data and are held to a higher standard because of the NAR Code of Ethics. We have MLSs that won’t put sold information on their sites but the consumer can go to Zillow and see it. We’re not giving the consumer the information they’re looking for,” he added.

“We’ve been concerned about data quality on third-party websites,” Audet said. “They have great sites but generally poor data quality. Our dilemma is that the consumer believes the quality is the same as a broker site; after all, the listings have the broker’s name on them. Poor data quality misrepresents the seller and reflects poorly on the broker. Moreover, it begins a virus that diminishes the reputation of real estate professionals.

“Brokers and REALTORS® need to look at who their competition is and look at the websites through consumers’ eyes. By offering a better search experience with rich amounts of listing data — neighborhood, market trends, tax, sold and school information – third-party websites have taken a significant lead over most brokers and franchises in the eyes of the consumer,” Audet said.

Brokers can find a supplier to provide broad data to add to their websites that will enhance the consumers’ web experience. The WAV Group recommends finding a single-source vendor who can normalize sold, tax, market, neighborhood and lifestyle data from multiple MLSs into one easy-to-use listing detail page on the broker/REALTOR® website. This vendor should manage the company’s listing syndication as a component to the service to insure that consumers referred from third-party websites are taken directly to the company’s listing which is presented in a superior way.

“Consumers can find much of the information they need online but they need to come to a REALTOR® to help them interpret the data. REALTORS® are selling themselves short; it isn’t the data that makes a client come to you, it’s your professional experience,” Audet said. “It’s time for brokers and franchisors to invest in the online battle and compete to win.”

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