Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine. In addition to writing print and online articles, Erica oversees the magazine's Broker to Broker content, co-manages the 30 Under 30 program, and manages the YPN Lounge. Connect with her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of the Web 2013: Real Estate Sites
See how your colleagues are using social media, Web sites, and blogs to their advantage.
September 18, 2013
Best Web Sites & Blogs: Individual
Leslie Eskildsen, Realty One Group, Mission Viejo, Calif.
More Best of the Web
Tell-it-like-it-is real estate pro Leslie Eskildsen doesn’t like to sugarcoat. She started WhatAgentsFearTellingYou.com to give would-be clients a sneak peek at the home buying and selling process in her Orange County, Calif., market. Eskildsen’s site has all the right elements: a full IDX search, engagement (such as a “How Much Is My Home Worth?” form to capture leads), social media links, and an easy-to-read, professional layout. But the biggest reason her site is successful is her focus on content—honest, relevant blog posts and videos. She shares everything from her top 10 most dramatic on-the-job moments to her analysis of current market trends. The bottom line is that Eskildsen does an excellent job of showcasing her expertise while answering client questions along the way. Her site has even caught the attention of the Orange County Register, which runs Eskildsen’s posts in the real estate section of the newspaper every Sunday.
Best Use of a Free Social Network
Shaun Arceneaux Madison Premiere Realty, San Francisco
Arceneaux is a perfect example of a practitioner who’s using Instagram not only to show beautiful photos of homes but also to share his own personality, likes, family, and favorite places. “I think users of Instagram like the more candid or ‘real’ photos that users take, as opposed to the professional photos most agents use in their marketing materials,” he says.
In many ways, real estate is a visual experience. The story of a place—home, park, street, or community—is sometimes best told through pictures. During Arceneaux’s “Tuesday Tour,” he posts property photos to Instagram and Twitter in real time. He encourages his followers to tweet questions about properties, and he uses Instagram’s new video function to show specific details of a house, such as landscaping or a great view. “Video is a perfect way to show short clips of slice-of-life moments,” he says.
Arceneaux has landed several clients through Instagram; he has also used it to connect with other local businesses in the area. “Since they are able to follow me and become familiar with me and my brand, it makes connecting and sharing referrals more comfortable,” Arceneaux says.
Best Web Sites & Blogs: Team
Sue Adler Team, Keller Williams Realty, Short Hills, N.J.
The Keller Williams Sue Adler Team is all about highlighting quality of life. The Web site has no shortage of videos, blog posts, and photos covering local festivals, dining hot spots, park events, and youth activities. New Jersey home buyers seeking convenient access to New York will learn from sueadler.com what the Short Hills area has to offer. Best of all, the content is fun and engaging. Web pages are framed with a clearly labeled drop-down navigation system that’s itching to be clicked on. A front-and-center IDX search includes an interactive area map, complete with mass transit commute times to Manhattan. And the site is customer-centric, successfully telling the team’s business story through a robust library of client testimonial videos.
Best Web Sites & Blogs: Company
DOMA Properties, Scott Hamilton, Long Beach, Calif.
DOMA Properties’ Web site is striking for what it doesn’t do: The user is not blasted in the face by corporate branding. The home page is reminiscent of Google’s classic search page, but with an inviting image of a 21st century living room fireplace. The clean, minimal layout gives far more attention to the IDX home search bar than the company name or logo. “It’s all about search—clients want to get to where they can find homes for sale as soon as possible,” says Eric Stegemann, director of strategy at TRIBUS, the real estate technology company that built DOMA’s site. The top navigation offers helpful tools: listings, map search, agents, and communities. DOMA’s blog, which is accessible through a link at the top of the site, is up-to-date with community events, neighborhood facts, and DIY design ideas. With simple yet strategically placed images and links—such as the SnapWidget pulling in DOMA’s Instagram photos—you quickly realize that this real estate company is all about elegance and modern creativity. Social media is also part of DOMA’s site strategy, with icon links tastefully placed (not overly promoted) at the bottom of the site’s universal navigation. This Web site helps potential clients while subtly communicating the company’s brand, a noteworthy recipe for success.
Note: These “best of” recommendations were selected by our editors—with input from readers—for being either superb examples of the online real estate space or tools that promise real efficiency gains. But note: Selection for the article is not an endorsement by NAR.