It’s an oft-repeated adage that real estate is cyclical. Well, figures recently released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) put the industry back in 2010. That’s because existing home sales have dropped over 15 percent year-over-year.
Certainly, steep housing prices and mortgage rates are dampening buyer demand. However, a more significant reason sales have plummeted is the shortage of homes available for purchase. As of September, there were only a little over 1M homes on the market, down over 8 percent from 2022 and -14.5 percent from 2020.
Finding a path forward
Jon Krabbe, CEO of digital marketing firm Agent Image, acknowledges that these macroeconomic factors make growing your business challenging — but not impossible. He emphasizes that given today’s tough real estate landscape, dominating your market means getting the lion’s share of listings. As such, Jon offers a digital marketing playbook that you can use to stay afloat and thrive.
1. Invest in your brand
Prospects today will vet you more closely than ever. If you want to become the go-to agent for clients in your area, you need to demonstrate a clear separation between you and everyone else — and that begins with your website. Imagine if potential clients visit your site and discover it’s clunky, unintuitive, and outdated. They will inevitably ask: “Why should I trust an agent to market my home when they can’t even market their business effectively?”
Agents who place high importance on staying ahead of competitors will redesign their website every three years, and many agents who have teams have elected to create a team website plus a site for themselves to highlight their accomplishments.
2. Update your SEO strategy
AI tools like Chat GPT topped the charts of marketing’s greatest hits this year. However, Google makes it clear that if you want your content to rank, it has to be useful and people-first. What does people-first mean? Krabbe states, “For years, the game in search engine optimization (SEO) was to write content for search engines, which meant packing keywords into copy, often making the sound a bit nonsensical. Today, Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing and using content entirely generated by AI. You have to review and edit AI-generated copy because it is not always accurate and obvious to Google when it is artificially created.”
Don’t throw in the towel if you don’t have the time to create or manage an SEO strategy. Hire an expert.
3. Dial in digital advertising
This year, anyone executing paid real estate ad campaigns on Meta and Google has faced challenges. Both platforms continue to transition to accommodate generative AI along with policy changes and a housing market with shifting demand.
“At the end of this tunnel, we hope to see a more streamlined advertiser experience for our clients who run their own campaigns. If you are starting out, focus on simple, localized campaigns (like local search ads on Google) to promote your listings and brand,” says Krabbe. The key is to set a budget, understand what you can accomplish with that dollar amount, and stick to the plan for at least 90 days, “ muses Krabbe.
If your budget is limited, put your energy into managing your most important asset: your brand. Set up a Google My Business account and use your profile to tout who you are by consistently posting content and client reviews.
4. Elevate your pitch
Competition for good listings is fierce, and your pitch has to be on point. If you haven’t done so, think about switching to a presentation platform that allows you to create a sleek web-based deck that gives you analytics that can help seal the deal. Krabbe shares, “Since the pandemic, we have been refining ACCESS, our proprietary presentation platform built exclusively for real estate agents. With a web-based presentation like this, you have analytics that can tell you how often your prospect views a presentation, what specific pages they read, and for how long. You can take that data and create an organic conversation around the information they spent the most time on.”
Digital presentations are a powerful tool, but ensure you have an offline backup on your device if you encounter Wi-Fi issues during a pitch.
At a time when the market is challenging, it’s essential to focus on what you can control. As Krabbe says: “The real estate market will likely be tight for the foreseeable future. Agents who can adapt best to the myriad of challenges that beset the industry are the ones who will dominate in 2024.”
About Agent Image
Agent Image is an award-winning marketing agency that caters exclusively to real estate professionals. It specializes in building exquisite websites and running data-driven digital marketing campaigns, working with many of the industry’s leading agents and brokerages.