The Future of Home Buying: As Easy as Google Maps Combined with Consumer Privacy

Years ago, we all kept paper maps in our cars, then came early (expensive) navigations systems, followed by sites like Mapquest where you could print out specific sets of routing directions. Garmin quickly came out with lower-cost personal navigation systems, and now, we all have Waze on our smartphones and can easily embed Google Maps or Mapbox on any website.

As discussed at the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) Fall 2019 conference, real estate has come a long way from the paper catalogs used years ago. Keep reading to see the behind the scenes at the industry conference, and learn how new tools are changing how to search for a home for both consumers and Realtors.

Large real estate portals selling consumer information

Zillow and Trulia earned more than $1,333,600,000 (yes, $1.3 billion) in revenues in 2018 with the majority of that revenue coming from selling consumer contact and budget information to real estate agents and other providers.

According to their 2018 annual report, their IMT segment is defined as “We generate revenue from the sale of advertising services and our suite of marketing software and technology solutions to businesses and professionals primarily associated with the residential real estate, rental and mortgage industries.”. Ask the average agent paying for their tools/advertising, and lead information is the primary value they see, and this accounted for $1.28 billion of their TOTAL $1.3 billion revenue. That’s how much your clients’ info is worth!

Consumers are quickly becoming aware of what happens on Zillow and other large real estate portals with their information. You would never go to a website and enter your contact info, along with the $500k value of your 401k, and let them know that you are planning to move investments in a few months, but that is equivalent of what happens when someone is looking for a $500k house. You’re telling an information broker that you’re planning to have a major financial transaction in several months.

Realtors are increasingly realizing that sending their clients to these large portals is causing them to lose clients because their clients’ info is being provided to “Premier Agents” of those sites, so they’re in essence referring clients to their competitors.

Smart real estate agents realize that consumer privacy is a competitive advantage and with a modern IDX engine and consumer tools, they can provide an even better home search experience on their own website.

Real estate data and tools following growth of maps and navigation applications

Remember paper maps in your car? I was at the front lines of the HERE Technologies (NAVTEQ) that provided the map and traffic data behind almost every map and navigation application in the United States and Europe and shaped the experience we all use almost every day today.

Here’s a quick 10 minutes of my talk from The Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) Fall conference about the parallels real estate agents and consumers are seeing today with what happened with map/navigation apps 15 years ago.

If you want to geek out a little more on innovation in the mapping industry and see more of what’s coming in real estate, here are pages 6 and 7 from RESO’s recent case study “It’s Inevitable: Moving to Replication via the RESO Web API“.

Auto Manufacturers Move to APIs

This was the situation when car manufacturer Toyota released the first navigation system in 1987 on the Toyota Crown. “While Google Maps was first released using GPS in November 2007, many of us first experienced a change in the navigation experience that was only possible due to a change in spatial data being accessed via APIs. This was done by pioneers like MapQuest’s Find Me and later by Waze, the GPS navigation software app owned by Google. This change in how the data was accessed also created a fundamental shift in how companies collected spatial data.”

A major player in this transformation was Kurt Uhlir, currently Showcase IDX’s Chief Marketing Officer. Uhlir was part of the small team that realized that there was a more efficient way to collect, enhance, and verify the data and created the spatial data and navigation industry that grew NAVTEQ from $85 million in revenue to $1.2 billion. Companies previously spent hundreds of millions of dollars on field teams and remote data to create their core asset (spatial data with 250+ attributes per road segment and millimeter-level accuracy) around the world, according to Uhlir. When Google entered the arena, it spent an estimated $300 million in 18 months to collect only a portion of the road network in the United States and Canada.

Since then, the technology Uhlir and his team invented and patented has been used by companies like Waze, Google Maps, Apple Maps, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others, and is quickly becoming the backbone for the data driving much of the autonomous vehicle industry.

“This seemingly small, behind-the-scenes change to accessing spatial data via APIs was the triggering change that led to the vast majority of motorists using Waze to get directions to our next open house, people playing games like Pokémon GO, and many of the athletic applications we use to track our progress today,” Uhlir explains.

Borrowing a Page From the Navigation Industry

Uhlir cited the example of the navigation industry moving from one data set to an API. “Most people have multiple mapping apps on their phones that provide full navigation,” Uhlir explains.

“While the spatial data industry saw mass consumer adoption of navigation thanks to Garmin, Magellan, and TomTom offering personal navigation devices, it really was a change in how the data was accessed, combined with the mass adoption of smartphones that made navigation a part of our everyday lives.”

“HERE (formerly called NAVTEQ) has been the dominant map provider in the United States, Europe, and much of the world for decades,” said Uhlir, adding that everything from printed Rand McNally maps to car navigation systems to personal navigation devices and even websites like MapQuest were powered by HERE data and a few smaller data providers.

These navigation systems and applications used static copies of a subset of the HERE map that was generally recreated by each brand into a proprietary data format,” said Uhlir. “These navigation system and applications used static copies of a subset of the HERE map that was generally recreated by each brand into a proprietary data format,” said Uhlir. “This changed when Traffic.com and INRIX began providing real-time traffic data; these mapping and navigation systems incorporated into the consumer experiences. But the bulk of all spatial data was not accessed in real-time – or even short time,” Uhlir joked.

How to ride the tsunami of innovation in real estate marketing technology

If you wanted maps on your website or in your SaaS application, would you ever think of building your own version of Google Maps or Mapbox? Absolutely not.

Mapbox has invested hundreds of millions in capital, after having raised $227 million and earned many more millions in revenue, to build their solution. Google Maps is known to have invested hundreds of millions building search, display, and routing applications to create the Google Maps API offering. Even if an agent had access to the map data, the cost to build an experience reasonably acceptable to consumers could not be done.

Yet, many people attempting to build “all-in-one” real estate marketing platforms have tried to do this with home search and consumer engagement tools.

The rumor within real estate technology circles is that Zillow spent $25 million to create the technology and systems to ingest all the data they use on their sites. Now, this includes more than simply MLS data, but that’s still a staggering amount to just acquire data, normalize it, and make it internally available to applications like a home search.

Smart marketers and real estate companies have realized that a modern IDX requires the focus of a Google Maps or Mapbox. Showcase IDX has been called an “IDX engine” and referred to as the “Intel Inside” of any modern real estate marketing solution for that reason.

In my keynote talks about Tsunami Innovation, I talk about riding the increasing waves of innovation. It’s almost impossible to stand against a tidal shift of a tsunami, yet when you harness the wave and learn to ride on top, the entire industry changes and people’s lives change.

Home search and consumer engagement tools in real estate are at a similar point to where we saw mapping and navigation technology a few years ago.

I’m excited to be at the front of this change and working with a team that not only loves deep data and technology but that wakes up each day excited to be changing the world.

The central hub to successful real estate marketing

It takes incredible agencies and partners to provide a cohesive marketing strategy that works and is tailored for different teams and individual agent brands.

No matter the marketing campaign, you ultimately have to drive a consumer to an online experience where they can search for a home, save searches, get alerts of new properties, interact with their friends and family, etc. – all without having their information sent to competitive agents and service providers.

“Powered by Showcase IDX” has become the central hub to successful real estate marketing campaigns. We know that focusing on building the modern IDX engine allows other vendors (e.g. CRM, social media management, etc) to focus on what they do best.

Have your own website? Start your trial of Showcase IDX today.

Need a website? See our list of approved website developers.

IDX WordPress Plugin: Transform Your Website Into a Real Estate Lead Generation Machine

Technology continues to redefine many industries, and the real estate world is no exception. While some real estate agents lament the advent of sites like Zillow and Trulia, one thing’s for sure.

Consumers like the convenience of these sites. Especially when it comes to browsing listings. 

Fortunately, you can provide the same convenience on your website through the Internet Data Exchange (IDX).

How? IDX software permits you to make part of the Multiple Listings Service (MLS) directly available to clients. This exciting development is changing the face of real estate lead generation.

Ready to learn more? Continue reading for a full breakdown of how to make it work for you.

The Multiple Listing Service and Your Real Estate Business

Although real estate can feel highly competitive at times, there are clear areas of cooperation and collaboration. These include the MLS, a system that allows agents and brokers to share information about property listings.

The MLS represents a compilation of data from a given region including the unique database about properties being sold by real estate brokers that are members of the each MLS. These databases can be owned by a variety of individuals or groups. There are multiple listing services across the world, from the United States to Canada, Australia to India, throughout Europe, and elsewhere.

They can also vary greatly in scope from citywide databases to national ones. These databases are only accessible to people who pay a subscription fee.

The MLS represents your go-to resource for property listings. There’s no better way to advertise a given property to a wide audience.

Of course, until very recently, the MLS could only be accessed by real estate agents. But, oh how times have changed!

IDX for Real Estate Lead Generation

Now, you can give your clients direct access to property listings and data in your MLS. Why would you want to make this information available to the public?

One of the most obvious reasons is linked directly to the concept of content marketing itself. When you provide your prospects and customers with value, they’ll return the favor by enlisting your services when they’re ready to buy.

Besides ramping up the amount of high-quality content on your website, a simple and easy-to-setup IDX WordPress plugin allows you to craft a bespoke listing of relevant properties curated from the MLS.

In other words, you can focus on a narrow geographic area, price range, or even home type such as customs, as well as highlight why you are a trusted local expert that specializes in the type of home your visitors are looking for. 

This is one area where Zillow and Trulia still can’t compete. 

The ability to create and archive these listings is also very good for your website’s SEO. Why? Because when the listings are seen as appearing on your website, it increases the number of times your pages appear in search engines. And, when you create hyper-local community and neighborhood pages, the lead generation from organic Google rankings have a strong chance of beating out the large portals and national brokerages. 

The Ideal Lead Generation Real Estate Resource

You’ll also appreciate the new sense of control and freedom that you have over your listings and the information that appears on your website. And you don’t have to be tech-savvy to utilize this great resource.

Every time your IDX solution lists a home on your website, a URL will be auto-generated for it as well as page titles and keywords. That way, you guarantee more visibility for your website without having to add extra steps to your routine.

And when it comes to metadata? You can easily update your descriptions using the WordPress real estate plugin for added SEO value. A modern IDX platform like Showcase IDX will automatically create this metadata for you, based on your unique personalization settings.

But what about compatibility? And other issues such as load time? Fortunately, a good IDX plugin doesn’t negatively impact either of these areas. 

So, you don’t have to compromise load times to start enjoying these features now.

When you combine a solid real estate theme through WordPress and the capabilities of IDX, you’ll have a website you can be proud of. And one that’ll do the legwork for you when it comes to securing new customers. 

Instead of spending hours cold calling people or sending out expensive mailers, you’ll have a lead generation process in place constantly working for you. What’s more, there are numerous widgets you can add to further enhance lead generation.

Competing in Today’s Real Estate Market

The transition to new technologies hasn’t always gone smoothly for the real estate industry. As you may already know, there has been a contentious relationship between many agents and sites such as Trulia and Zillow.

Some real estate professionals have scrambled to keep apace of these technological changes and wondered how to compete with these websites. The IDX WordPress plugin represents your ideal tool for making this happen.

Applying this technology will not only let you compete with major sites, but it will also give you a competitive edge when it comes to curated listings. After all, the last thing today’s customer has is time.

Shuffling through hundreds of potential property listings on Trulia and Zillow is simply inconvenient, and having your clients’ contact info sold to dozens of agents and other service providers is annoying. But when you craft MLS-based lists around the types of properties your clientele love, you’ll provide them with a unique service.

In essence, IDX allows you to give your customers exactly what they want. Now that’s a potent advertising tool.

But IDX will also make your life easier. How? By placing all of the information that your customers need right at their fingertips. 

That way, you only need to be in direct communication with them when they need a little nudge in the right direction. 

Finally, IDX can help you rank better in Google, which proves crucial to attracting new clients. If you’re not on page one of search rankings, you’re losing business. The IDX plugin can help you ramp up your SEO game.

Gaining a Competitive Edge over Other Agents

While the real estate industry has looked somewhat hesitantly at emerging technologies in the past, it’s time to take advantage of IDX. Or, you stand to lose out when it comes to harnessing the full potential of real estate lead generation.

Today’s savvy digital customer searches for added value. With the IDX WordPress plugin, you can provide this added value while establishing a trusted relationship with them.

What’s more, you can provide your clients with the information that they need at crucial points along the Customer Journey. Ready for more useful tools to help you generate leads? Browse our high-tech, high-quality web tools now. 

real estate lead generation

Strategy Versus Tactics in Real Estate Marketing

Successful real estate marketing today looks very different than marketing even 10 years ago. Sure, the need for a strong personal brand and desire to serve your clients is the same, but the strategy for building your business and the tactics that help you grow have changed.

How should you think about the differences and how to track both? This infographic walks through what you need to know about strategy vs tactics in real estate marketing.

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We’re here to set the record straight on the difference between tactics and strategy.

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

Sun Tzu

Strategy

Your long-term goals and how you’re planning to achieve them. Your strategy gives you the path you need toward achieving your organization’s mission.

Tactics

Concrete steps that describe how you are going to achieve your strategy. They involve best practices, specific plans, resources, etc. They’re also called “initiatives”.

Examples of how strategy and tactics interact that will help you differentiate between the two terms

  • Strategy is based on extensive research, planning, and internal reflection.
    • It’s a long-term vision, whereas tactics are short-term actions.
    • Strategies CAN change to adapt to new internal or external factors in an organization, but these changes shouldn’t be made lightly.
    • It’s much easier to adjust tactics to course-correct than it is to overhaul your strategy, so make sure your strategic planning is thorough.
  • Strategy and tactics work together as means to an end.
    • If your strategy is to climb a mountain, one key component of your strategy might be to decide which side of the mountain you should climb.
    • Your tactics should be the gear you’d buy, who you’d bring with you, your complete trip plan, how long it would take to get there, what season you’d go in, and so on.

Strategy and tactics are two parts of the same puzzle – they work together to help your organization achieve long term success. 

Be sure to actively review both along the way
to ensure progress.

The Future of Home Buying

The Future of Home Buying: As Easy as Google Maps Combined with Consumer Privacy

Agents left $1.28 billion on the table last year. Watch this video from the Real Estate Standards Organization (RESO) conference to see what smart agents and marketing agencies know.

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