Last week I was talking to an Agent who works at a large, well known Chicago Brokerage. This Brokerage is not a national company, but has an outstanding reputation in Chicagoland. However the Agent was considering moving his license to another company because he felt like he wasn't able to leverage the Brokerage's name on a national level and attract his transient market. Over 60% of the people that live in the neighborhood in which he specializes come from out of town and out of state.
When we think about how people are finding Real Estate information, we all know that the Internet is one of the first places they turn, especially when undergoing a long distance move. Today, instead of just asking, 'do you use the Internet" a better question to ask is "how do you use the Internet" or "what sites are you using in your online search".
The California Assn of Realtors (CAR) recently published their annual Internet Vs Traditional Buyer Report and it begins to answer these questions. They found that 35% of people started their search on Google.com. When asked what sites they visited in their home buying search (multiple sites were used), they said:
- 81% - Websites with listing of homes that buyers were interested in
- 80% - Individual agent websites
- 80% - Realtor.com
- 54% - Zillow.com
- 40% - Real Estate company websites
- 24% - Craigslist
- 7% - Google
So in thinking more about the fact that 35% of people are starting their search on a major search engine, I went to Google.com and searched "Chicago Real Estate". This is what came up in the top 10 organic positions:
- A new small, local company started by two guys
- Chicago Tribune's Real Estate site
- A large, Chicago Brokerage (coincidently, it was this Agent's company)
- An Agent's site
- A Remax team's site that deals with all of Northern Illinois
- An Agent that specializes in Lincoln Park
- A Chicago Brokerage that has about 100 agents
- An Agent's site
- Largest Brokerage in Chicago, which is not a national company
- Chicago Brokerage with 18 Agents
The Internet is an interesting medium in that it evens the playing field when it comes to getting exposure. If the Agent's only objection to staying at his currently company is that he is worried people don't know about the brand, he has only to go to the main source where people are finding real estate information and see that this is not the case.
Furthermore, when you look at the websites consumers are using, they are visiting individual Agent sites 2 to 1 over company sites. Which says that, regardless of your brand, you have a strong chance of getting people to come right to you, if you are willing to invest the time and resources into an Internet marketing plan.
Now, I know that there are many other benefits as to why someone would go to a national company (such as a national relocation department), but conversely there a whole list of benefits to working for a smaller independant company (namely the splits). I just put these thoughts together for this Agent who was thinking about switching companies for the sole reason of out-of-towners finding him and his company.