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Huge Disadvantage When Marketing Properties As 'Do Not Display Address'

The two big reasons I've heard agents market properties this way is 1) a marketing tactic to generate more calls and 2) at a seller's request for privacy or fear of theft.  There is now data to support that you will actually get more contacts if you do show the address.  Hopefully this data will fuel the seller's desire to get the home sold and overcome their security fears.  

It was found that properties which DO display receive 6 TIMES the page views that properties that hid the address.  Further, properties with the address displayed also recieved 6 TIMES the inquires. 

Why is this?  3 main reasons:

1) Map search - Today almost every real estate site has some kind of map search, as well as a list search.  On Zillow, if we are told not to display the address (NDA), it will appear as such in the search results - but we can't display it at all on a map (essentially giving up the location).  Map search is a VERY common and comfortable way for people to search.  The map drives many page views into a particular property, and NDA properties miss out on this exposure.

2) Mobile search - Many mobile applications have GPS enabled search to answer the question "what is for sale around where I am right now".  Without being able to map properties, again it would reveal the location, NDA properties are missing out on the huge opportunity of mobile exposure.  This one will continue to grow in importance.

3) Search Engines - We all know that search engines are important website visitors that can't be ingored.  There is huge opportunities for specific addresses to be found in search results, and this likelihood of this grows as people become more specific in their searches - even searching for actual addresses.  Again, if the address isn't displayed, Google can't see it, and can't serve it. 

All three of these significantly contribute to the amount of traffic a listing will receive if the address is displayed verses if it is not.  The exposure loss can be huge.  And with less page views, obviously comes less inquires. 

In pulling the numbers, one thing that did surprise me was that the percentage of times someone did send an inquiry was actually the same if an address was displayed verses if it was not.  So this contradicts the idea that hiding the address generates more responses.  My guess is that the people who do reach out to find out where the property is located must counteract those who are annoyed by the lack of data or discount the property altogether because the location is hidden. 

 

* I pulled these numbers from Zillow, as it is a database towhich I easily have access.  But I would believe that the numbers are relatively comparable to other websites on which your listings are appearing. 

 

 

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Comment balloon 39 commentsSara Bonert • May 04 2010 11:10AM

Comments

Location based searching and social networking are getting huge and those how do not understand the power will be left behind.

Posted by Carla Dimond, (Silicon Valley) (CATARRA) about 9 years ago

Good post Sara, I find myself educating sellers all the time about the importance of SEO and branding their properties from the herd.

Posted by Cathy Roesch 618-233-1000, St Louis MO Auctioneer, Estate Appraiser & Auction (Palatium Auctions Moving, Downsizing, Liquidation Auctions, Estate Sales. 314-690-1978 Certified Personal Property Appraisals ) about 9 years ago

Great post.  Very clear proof as to why you must disclose an address when selling a home.  How can you expect to sell your home if you want to hide the fact it is for sale....

Posted by Jon Sigler, South Windsor Homes for Sale 860-306-8029 (Keller Williams - Greater Hartford) about 9 years ago

Sara,

I once made a mistake and marked my new listing as "do not display address" and it took me ove a month to get it straightened out with Realtor.com.  I should have just cancelled it and relisted, but...  Anyway, you are absolutely right - get all your Google juice!

Posted by Marzena Melby, Realtor, Twin Cities Minnesota Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Burnet Realty) about 9 years ago

I never understood agents blogging or marketing without an address. Go figure.

Good data to back that up.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) about 9 years ago

The thing that bothers me are the MLS's the default the IDX entry fields to display without the address. I'm always having to help explain to agents why the address is not displaying - because they didn't see to change that default setting. Then their seller calls them and wants to know why it didn't map or it is not available in a certain area etc. This is just another example of why it is important. Thanks for the stats.

Posted by Angie Vandenbergh, A Crye-Leike Blogger (Crye-Leike, Realtors) about 9 years ago

I am surprised people still do that.  I remember when our listings first went online we talked about not disclosing addresses but I don't remember the last time I saw it in Central Ohio.

Posted by Maureen McCabe, Columbus Ohio Real Estate (HER Realtors) about 9 years ago

Sara, I couldnt agree more!  I think that the agents that hide the address are stuck in the old school days of the MLS when there were books and no internet!  It is hurting the seller to not provide the info since 85+% of people search on the internet first before contacting an agent!

Posted by Robert Rauf (HomeBridge Financial Services (NJ)) about 9 years ago

Sara,

No address. Usually, location is a real problem! The area is bad, the street is bad or something else is wrong with it.

That's the message I get.

Brian

Posted by Brian Madigan, LL.B., Broker (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage (Toronto)) about 9 years ago

Hi Sara:  This is a really timely post for me.  I was just speaking with a client this week about this issue.  I will be sure to share your post with her.

 

Thanks!

Caroline

Posted by Caroline Wright (The Wright Solution) about 9 years ago
Nowadays with the web it may be true versus before in which advertising consisted of print ads.
Posted by Jesus Sotelo Carrillo (Capitol Real Estate Group) about 9 years ago

Sara - Frankly, I haven't really ever understood why an agent would choose not to reveal the address of a listing, but that's just me.

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) about 9 years ago

Sara- I liken it to the agent who doesn't put the asking price on the brochure. I mean with the internet you can find it out instantly. Give the buyers what they want.- Great post!

Posted by Mark Smith (Cherry Creek Properties, LLC) about 9 years ago

When I was a buyer before being an agent, I would always do a Drive-by before I even called about the house.  If I couldn't find it, I probably never called.

Buyers need their freedoms without having an agent.  That's what open houses and drive-by's are for!

Posted by Jeremy Lamb, Champaign-Urbana, IL about 9 years ago

Hiding the address probably worked in the newspaper era (2005 or earlier) not now.. Try hiding the price instead. I don't...

Posted by Raj Dhaliwal, Personal Real Estate Corporation (Century 21 Coastal Realty Ltd.) about 9 years ago

Sorry, what you are trying to do is to get agents to put in the addresses so that Zillow can then use them to creat a Zestimate for the property. Without that address that is hard to do. As many of us have told you over and over, our contracts FORBID us from putting our listings on sites that do auto-valuations and/or allow reader comments on the homes. Since you offer no opt out from your less than accurate service of Zestimates and force them on us, it is logical that many are hesitant to say where the property is located. This disingenuous attempt to get people to give out information you want is not cricket. We have asked for an opt out ability before, but the powers that be there think they know our customers and our needs better than we do.

On most sites I DO give the address, or at least the street and cross street. I certainly understand the benefits of doing this in most situations. But to follow the instructions of my customers I must not allow their listings to appear on auto-valuation sites. And I think it unfair for a company to force me to breach my contracts and diminish the confidence my customers have in me.

Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 9 years ago

@John

Interesting. I've never thought about it like that before. Interested in a response from Sara, although she makes some strong points in favor of listing an address as well.

Posted by Phi Vo (Go Insurance Rates) about 9 years ago

Sara, I'm with Jason.... you'd think the agent and both seller would want the buying public to know their home (address) is for sale.  Great post!

Posted by Jennifer Archambeault, An Austin Texas Realtor (Cardani Group, REALTORS® - Austin Texas ) about 9 years ago

Excellent points Sara, I have tried both with different forms of advertising and even though consumers are now doing more online they still drive by the properties prior to calling in many cases.

Posted by Duane Murphy, Broker- Owner-Real Estate - (Expert Real Estate Partners LLC) about 9 years ago

Sara - I simply cannot believe that a seller believes that by hiding an address it will benefit them. Perhaps that is an agent thing to make the phone ring? From a theft perspective, these are probably the same sellers who require appointments where the listing agent is present - never a good idea in my book. This is one of those internal tests we use to gauge seller motivation. Do they want to SHOW and SELL? Or so they want to SIT? <--- A great David Knox-ism...

Posted by Christianne O'Malley, Exceptional Service - Delivering Results in Reno! (RE/MAX Realty Affiliates) about 9 years ago

Great post. Both Android and iPhone have the Zillow app along with other location-based apps that use GPS or wireless signal to locate your position.  Buyers are more equipped than ever.

Posted by Peter Di Eduardo (West End Residential) about 9 years ago

Hi Sara, Now a days its actually more is better. the more you hide, the harder it gets. Thanks.

Posted by Bill Desai (Bill Desai Real Estate Services, Ontario, CA Lic. #01029863) about 9 years ago
I totally agree. Some could just pass up the listing and make it sit on the market
Posted by Chris Alston, Silicon Valley, California (Chris Alston (Keller Williams Realty, Silicon Valley, California)) about 9 years ago

Angie (#6) - Great point, thanks for bringing that up.  Hard to believe that would be the default!

Brain (#9) - Yes.  But also, even if the location is great, you'd risk people assuming this if the address is hidden.

Jesus (#11)  - You are totally right, that there are definitely different strategies for different media.  At least with print, you wouldn't be missing out on Google juice. 

Jeremy (#14) - Me too!  But when I did call, I was a much more qualified call.

Christianne (#20) - The listing agent having to be there is a whole other debate - but an interesting one.  In the city of Chicago, both agents very often show up.  I was surprised to learn that after buying homes in three other states where they didn't.

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) about 9 years ago

I'm guessing it depends what price point you're in. Not listing the exact street address is fairly common for high end properties in the Houston area for a number of reasons ... starting with what John # 16 said, plus security, privacy  concerns and others. The MLS pinpoints the neighborhood, the MLS region, etc. so the "area of town" is known. What is avoided are drive-bys (showings are by pre-qualified appt), and possibly inaccurate property valuations by third parties.

Posted by Judith Sinnard, The SMARTePLAN Lady (SMARTePLANS; Houston, Texas) about 9 years ago

John (#16) -To insinuate that this post was written to solely benefit Zillow and not the agent/seller is incorrect, paranoid and many statements in your comment are factually wrong. 

First, if the address is not provided at all, the property is totally rejected from Zillow (and every other real estate site that I know of).  We are actually given the address for every listing on the site, the point here is whether or not we are told to display it publically. 

Secondly, we don't use listing information to create Zestimates.  We use public records (past sales, property PIN info, etc).  If factual information (such as bed, baths, sq ft, etc) in the listing data differs from the public record, we will defer to the listing info and use that instead (we assume the agent is more correct than the county) and recalculate the Zestimate accordingly.  The Zestimate formula doesn't look at sales price.  Without an existing public record in the Zillow system, there won't be a Zestimate, regardless of whether or not we display the listing address. 

Lastly, I will again address the opt-out issue for you, even though I have responded multiple times to this same comment you keep making on my posts.  While I am not a Realtor in FL, and haven't read your sales contract lately, I'll comment from a perspective of the overarching DOJ settlement, from which concept was created.  Over a year ago the DOJ settlement said that sellers had a right to opt out of AVM and User/Blog Comments on VOW websites.  Many MLSs and Assn revised their contracts to align with the settlement, so I would assume FL did as well.  Please note that Zillow is not a VOW, and thus the settlement and contract verbiage doesn't apply.  So by posting on Zillow, you would not be in violation.  However, if this still doesn't satisfy you or your Seller, then I would definitely recommend not using Zillow as a market vehicle at all.  The Zillow audience was built by consumers knowing that they could come to Zillow for Zestimates.  To allow for opt outs would be a violation of this relationship, traffic could suffer, and thus the Seller would ultimately receive less exposure for their property.  If you want more information on this issue, please visit this post.

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) about 9 years ago

Judith (#16) - I agree, good point.  Also a strategy with celebrity real estate.  May be especially true if you don't expect to get a buyer from the Internet, but rather your networks (which is probably a big reason the seller picked you to represent the listing!). 

Posted by Sara Bonert, Real Estate Internet Marketing (Zillow) about 9 years ago

Great post Sara.

Posted by Spencer Rascoff (Zillow) about 9 years ago

Great post Sara.

Posted by Spencer Rascoff (Zillow) about 9 years ago

Some of my listings show up across the internet with no address on them.   All the right buttons are clicked and pushed to say display address but the crazy message appears.  Makes me wonder who's software export/import programs aren't set right.

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) about 9 years ago

Hi Sara -- I have never understood why agents would want to hide an address, except under special circumstances.

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) about 9 years ago

I think that if the sellers are concern about security they should get a BIG dog or invest in a security system.  Both would be negotiable in the sale of the home.  Come on now we have to have a little fun on the Rain.

Posted by Shawn Murray, Omaha NE - 402-250-7869 ( RE/MAX The Producers) about 9 years ago

sara. These are called "secret listings". Makes no sense to me at all to leave the address off. Especially in thijs day and age with Google maps. Folks can even zoom in and do street view. It saves us all a whole bunch of wasted time.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Selling Florida one home at a time (Tutas Towne Realty, Inc and Garden Views Realty, LLC) about 9 years ago

How can you recommend that we NOT use Zillow as a marketing tool when we have no "opt out" as you said we and our customers should not have? In any case, it is obvious that when a reasonable concern is expressed it is disregarded. So be it. If consumers in the area remain confused and are hurt by this lack of understanding, guess that is their tough luck. In the end, karma tends to take care of things.

Posted by John Elwell, You Deserve a Full-Time Agent, Not Reduced Results (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) about 9 years ago

Sara, I have seen these listings occasionally and the first thing that came to mind was, "This agent's just trying to get people to call." That may work some of the time, but the majority of folks are going to skip that house and go onto the ones with an address.

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) about 9 years ago

I find it really annoying when clients call me with a perfect house and no address because another agent didn't want to publish the address so they could get potential clients.  I think they most likely get calls form other agents...  Thanks for the post!

Posted by Shanna Hall, I love selling houses!!!St. Louis, MO 314-703-1311 (Real Estate Solutions) about 9 years ago

I see some Zillow hatin' going on. It probably hurts the seller more NOT to have their property listed on Zillow, IMO. Zestimates are estimates calculated by software. They will probably get better as time goes on and data is updated.

Except under special circumstances, hiding the address makes no sense at all, Zillow or otherwise, IMO.

Posted by Nogui Aramburo, Real Estate Professional in the Raleigh Area (Linda Craft & Team, REALTORS®) about 9 years ago

There are so many families that want out of their unfortunate situation and the agent has become the answer.  Agents would benefit by having a buyer already set up before there is a short sale.  Therefore if you have the property I have your buyer.  If we can work together we can all win, including the home owner, the bank, the agent and the buyer.

Herbert Cortes

New York Real Estate Support Team

 

Posted by Herbert Cortes about 9 years ago

Little Sara.....

You would think that as agents, we would want to simplify and make the process of a home purchase fun, attractive and lucrative to all parties involved.....playing GUESS THE ADDRESS escapes me although I am not surprised at anything now-a-days especially in this business. Thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) about 9 years ago

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