The Pluses and Minuses of Online Listing Services

Many online listing services pull listings directly from local MLS services. Still, there can be some benefit to spending your own dollars for online marketing. Our own Michael Russer shares his thoughts on the benefits and drawbacks of bolstering searches with paid ads.

Plus: You build a relationship with buyers and sellers before you even meet. Because prospective clients can evaluate you and your listings on the Web, they are already partially sold on you.

Plus: Clients do the work for you, prescreening listings themselves and saving you time and effort.

Minus: Customers may be confused by amount of information and not know how to prioritize information.

Minus: Some buyers see culling through online listings of properties as a hassle; they would rather have you do it. Be sure you offer prospects the option of talking with you personally and having you suggest properties that might interest them, even if you use online listings.

Minus: You pay a fee to join the system, with no guarantee of results.

Here are some more tips Russer gives to boost your online marketing plan:

  • Respond to online listing inquiries by "speaking their language." Make e-mail responses personal but professional and reply to their inquiry in a timely manner.
  • Reduce the time spent writing up e-mails by converting your typical response into an e-mail signature, which you can insert into the e-mail (and then modify) with one click.
  • Know that online and phone marketing are two different beasts. What works for the phone may not work online and vice versa.
  • Hire a virtual assistant who understands online listing services to handle your incoming inquiry flow.
  • Make sure your listings are always fresh, eye-catching and fully descriptive with well-written copy. It's difficult to stand out from the online listing pack but regular updates go a long way toward giving you an upper hand on competition with listings that may go stale.
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