January 31st, 2010
This last week I talked to two real estate photographers that have built area listing sites designed to reach home sellers with the message that good photography helps to sell homes ( John Quarles in the Birmingham, AL area and Dan Abraham in the Prince George, BC area). Area listing sites list part or all of the listings in specific area the photographer is working in.
This approach of area real estate sites run by photographers was a new one for me since I’ve not seen it done in the real estate markets that I’m familiar with. In the Seattle area buyers and sellers primarily frequent the big broker sites (Windermere, John L Scott, Coldwellbanker etc.) and increasingly sites like Zillow and Redfin that are beginning to be very high traffic sites. I’ve talked about how marketing directly to home sellers is a great approach because they will insist that agents use good photography if they understand how important it is. But the trick is to reach the home sellers without alienating the agents involved. An area web site does that nicely.
The underlying idea of an area listing site is simple and makes perfect sense:
- Provide great tours for the homes you photograph.
- Put all those tours on a web site along with all the other listings in the area and make it searchable.
- Design the site to sell the idea that great photography and great tours are important in selling homes.
- Promote the site to home sellers and agents by getting a high search ranking, yard signs, door handle flyers and rider signs.
- The result is as John Quarles says: “Sellers who visit the site make the agents call me“. “About half my jobs each month come from new agents this way”
I think it is worth noting some of the details about John’s site because he’s been running it for a long while and it has been quite successful. John says:
Up until last year I was averaging [photographing] around 1000 homes a year and had a full time photoshop employee and writer for the brochures. Since the “depression” last year, I work alone now, but still have jobs everyday.
My site is get high Google ranking for the term “birmingham alabama homes for sale” and normally comes up on the first page. Sellers who visit the sites make the agents call me. But, I have also had some of the areas top producers call me for years.
I started the site a long time ago because I was having trouble getting agents like everyone else, even though I was an agent. It helped get started because I was giving agents a little more that the other “shoot and scoot” guys in town. After a few agents had their homes sold off the site, the word spread and other agents started calling.
So, the site serves two purposes, it gives the agents more marketing for their money and gets sellers to have there agents call me.
If I were starting all over again, I would build a site and buy Google ad-words to offer a little more than the other guy and pick up some agents for sellers looking at the site.
Whoa, 1,000 shoots a year makes me tired thinking about it! It’s hard to argue with this kind of success. Undoubtedly this approach will work in any area where you can get on the first page of a google search for the search term “your-area-name homes for sale”. Home searching and selling is now completely an online activity so your success is dependent on getting high search ranking.
Dan Abraham in the Prince George, BC area is just launching his site with the goal of doing very much the same thing as John has done; get the attention of the home sellers and agents in the area and give sellers and agents a little more than the competition.
I’d like to thank John and Dan for sharing their marketing approach with us all. I’m sure many others can put these ideas to good use in their local areas.