If you type a realtor’s name into any search engine, chances are the top hit will look pretty similar to that of any other realtor: A photograph and name with a contact form and property listings.
It’s a far cry from the limited information provided in the newspaper ads that once dominated real estate advertising. But while it may seem realtors are advancing in the online world, David Fleming says think again.
“A typical real estate website is static. It’s one sided. It’s never updated and it’s just a template,” says the 28-year-old Toronto realtor for Bosley Real Estate. “You’ve got to let people know who you are, what you do and why. The template websites just don’t do that. It’s just a stock photo with a name.”
And Fleming should know. He had a template site himself, which he says elicited one phone call in two-and-a-half years. Instead, if you type his name into a search engine, you’ll stumble upon his 10,000-hit-a-month website, TorontoRealtyBlog.com. The blog is his alternative method to connect to buyers and sellers and to publish his own opinions on everything from politics to elevator etiquette — all with a connection (however strong) to real estate.
“My blog is a forum where people can anonymously investigate who I am,” he says. “I get a lot more buyers from that blog than any real estate agent gets from working open houses and going to nightclubs handing out business cards.”
Such traditional means have gone by the wayside, just like newspaper advertising, says Fleming. That’s why he’s shifted primarily to social media, also using Facebook, Craigslist, Kijiji and Twitter to reach potential clientele.
From Facebook to Twitter, all mediums are worthy
Fleming’s online motivation stems from his target demographic — 25- to 45-year-olds — that he says is the cross-section of people using the Internet as a first resource for buying and selling property.
“Social networking is where all of the young people are,” he says. “I’ll list something on Craigslist, I’ll list something on Kijiji … I was on eBay in 1997 when the site first started.
“Whether it’s Facebook, whether it's Twitter — any medium you can use to get your listing out there to work for your seller or to attract buyers — you’ve got to stay ahead of the curve.”
And even though Fleming may not comprehend the appeal of a platform, like Twitter, he says he uses anything he can, if it’s going to benefit his clients.
“I don’t really know what it is or why it is, but I’ll use it whether I’m trying to attract buyers or trying to find buyers for my sellers for the properties I have listed. If it’s just a one-sentence new listing in Cabbagetown, you never know who’s following you on Twitter who might be interested in that.”
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