The Internet helped many real estate agents change the way they market their services. Now the same agents are changing the way they approach other aspects of the business – in particular, the process of capturing, filtering, and contacting leads. Web marketing helps attract more leads, but it’s becoming clear that agents might not be the right people to deal with them anymore. As the job shifts elsewhere, the role of agents is being redefined.
Many real estate agents likely saw the change coming thanks to the difference between web leads and non-web leads. It can generally be boiled down to a difference in commitment: non-web leads are often solid referrals from other professionals who already know the client, while web leads can represent anyone with ten seconds to fill out an online form. Many Realtors with an online home search require people to fill out a contact form in order to view full details on a particular listing, and this tactic has had positive and negative results – mostly negative. People will readily supply their email address in order to view listing pictures, but that doesn’t mean they want to buy a home – in many cases, they’re simply spam-bots posting fake email addresses. These leads are less than ideal, but Realtors can’t afford to disregard them entirely – that’s why their role is being re-defined.
If Realtors are to keep their new web marketing model, they must also find a new lead management process. As it turns out, they might not have to look far; brokers might be in the best position to deal with agents’ web leads. With their broader range of professional contacts, and generally superior office technology, brokers can filter more emails and follow up on more leads that look like they might go somewhere. The shift is also natural because most brokers function mainly to provide support to Realtors where necessary, and don’t have a high web presence themselves.
An agent-broker partnership would bring real estate in line with other industries where leads and sales are handled by separate bodies. In the mortgage industry, for example, more than 70 per cent of leads are filtered and supplied by real estate agents. The model proposed here works slightly differently because here Realtors supply the leads, but brokers filter them.
A smoother lead management process would also enable Realtors to focus on sales and client service, the two most basic aspects of their profession.