Real Estate Pros Value Digital Communities

July 16, 2015

Real estate professionals get most of their business from referrals and repeat clients, but a recent survey from NAR showed that agents are increasingly turning to online communities in order to build their brand and generate new sources of income.

"While we do not know exactly how much revenue is generated directly from social media, we do know that social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr do support the building of online communities for REALTORS® to stay connected to current and past clients," says Amanda Riggs, NAR's research survey analyst."They also lend a hand to referrals....People also now have the digital technology to search for a home and then later connect with the agent associated with that property. On social media platforms, agents can showcase homes for potential buyers and thus expand their client base through a digital community."

In the past just having a real estate website was enough, but of the agents surveyed, the majority mentioned that their website did not actually bring in new clients. The real opportunity for agents to increase their client base and get their name out these days is participating in social platforms. Unlike websites, social channels provide an instant way to connect with the community, maintain an ongoing conversation, and build trust.

"Real estate has become a digital landscape where all licensed agents and industry professionals must keep up," says Riggs. "Not only can building an online community be beneficial to business, the price may be too high to ignore it."

Indeed, in the survey, an impressive two-thirds of NAR members said they actively use social media to market their brand and display their listings.

Making connections online is most important for younger agents. According to NAR's 2015 Member Profile, only 40 percent of their business comes from referrals and repeat clients.

The survey even showed that old marketing standbys' like open houses are not seen as profitable to agents, with 64 percent of those surveyed answering that open houses brought them no business.

Facebook and Twitter continue to dominate the social landscape for many, but photo-centric social platforms like Instagram, Tumblr, and Pinterest are a natural fit for the real estate business and are only getting bigger. In fact, a recent study by StatCounter found that Tumblr and Pinterest are better at driving website traffic than Twitter. 

On a different scale, participating in hyper-localized social platforms like EveryBlock can give real estate pros an opportunity to get involved and learn about the hot topics and concerns of local neighborhoods and establish themselves as a community expert.

Why your online circle matters:

  • 65 percent of REALTORS® use social media for their business.
  • 15 percent of new business inquires begin on websites and social media.
  • 43 percent of home buyers begin the home-buying process online.
  • 92 percent of buyers use the internet in their home search process, with 50 percent of buyers searching on a mobile device.

Source: "Online Communities Taking Over the Neighborhood," National Association of REALTORS® Economists' Outlook Blog (July 15, 2015)