Online Case Study: Gib Olander Buys a House
The future of real estate agents is a special cause of mine, since my wife is with Century 21. So whenever I hear someone has bought or sold a house, I always ask them: “How was the agent experience? What did you do online?”
So when I saw (on Facebook) that my pal Gib Olander just bought a new house, I couldn’t resist asking him these questions. Gib, who runs business development at Localeze, is as search-centric as a human being can be. But here’s what he said, via e-mail:
We did use a full service agent, who is a long-time family friend with more than 30 years of real estate experience. If it weren’t for the fact that I had a relationship with her I would not have utilized an agent on the buying side of a real estate transaction. If there is ever an industry which needs to align themselves with search marketing, it is real estate.
My agent is a very successful and an experienced pro … yet I was consistently able to uncover information about the market I was interested in via search as or more quickly than she was able to provide it, now I understand that I am not the normal internet user, but I am sure that the next generation of home buyers will be just as adept at search as I am. I never once picked up a print publication to look for a home and I was in the market researching this community for six months.
From a buying and research perspective I used these sites.
Trulia is the most informative tool, just amazing information they really are doing a great job. Average price per square foot, comparable homes, school and community stats, quarterly buy and sell reports.
Realtor.com has the listings and a few tools but nothing really unique, their MLS listing database and pictures of homes are their bread and butter, I can’t imagine buying a home that wasn’t listed here.
Zillow – nice mapping but not that useful
Iggyshouse was useful in finding some new or off the beaten path listings
Craigslist was useful and they often had photo’s when no one else would.
I see the real-estate agent from a “buying” perspective going the way of the travel agent, they will still have a place in special circumstances or where the buyer doesn’t have the ability to negotiate a deal for themselves but unless they reinvent their value proposition I wouldn’t invest in their future.
From the selling a home perspective, I absolutely see the real-estate agent’s role as my homes – SEO expert. I know, I need to step away from my search kool-aide and get a life. But really I want an agent that is going to make sure my house is found in and by all the ways possible when a buyer is doing their research, I want my listing to be optimized by the set of keywords that most people search. Build me a viral website, load it with pictures. You can keep your print ad.
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Great to hear your perspectives. We’re honored.
Overall, we are just at the very early stages of where we want to take the product and think we can do a much much better job and we’re making improvements every week. Keep on watching. Perhaps it is just that everyone else does a worse job that we do…?!
I would also love to hear about the experiences of some real users test driving some of the newer social tools in their real estate research. For example, ask a question or for advice at http://www.trulia.com/voices/ and on similar services at linkedin and Y! Answers. Would be great to see how the responses differed and how useful they were from any of the readers who are in the market.
Now if Trulia could offer a product that allows the seller to list their home along side the MLS… click & brick method, this would allow the seller to improve the reach of their listing by allowing both the old & new programs a place. I am a ecommerce candiate and no longer require someone to open the front door, set up inspections, loan approval, drive bys, school info, title & escrow selection, so take this out of my costs. In the past 2 years I sold a home in S.F.(Marin) and bought a home in SoCal and Tucson. As long as Realtor’s lobbyist continue to own our state capitals, and newspapers (Real estate advertisers) the consumer will suffer..What are all those great agents doing now for the Real Estate Mkt? Open Houses, running ads and virtual tours…time for a change.