Why some agents are using single-property Web
By Marcie Geffner
If you’re looking for a new way to showcase your listings in today’s
slower-paced housing markets, you may need to look no further than
single-property Web sites. • Strictly speaking, single-property
Web sites, which use the listing address as the domain name and contain
information only about that one home, aren’t new. But these one-house
wonders have become much more accepted now that REALTORS® have discovered
the benefits they offer and technology companies have sprung up to provide
easy-to-use templates and related services at a reasonable cost.
• “We think they work very well, and that’s why we’ve continued to do
them,” says Larry Hood, a broker-associate and partner with his wife in
Elena Hood Real Estate Group at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in
Orinda, Calif. • The simplest single-property Web sites consist
of little more than a virtual tour, while their much more elaborate cousins
may feature dozens of oversized photos, plus
descriptive copy, an audio track, and even video of the home or
neighborhood. The listing agent’s contact information should be displayed
Sellers Appreciate Advantages
Single-property Web sites can be used to wow sellers during listing
appointments, showcase homes on the Web, motivate sellers to tidy up or
make repairs to their homes, and, if a home has been on the market for some
time without any offers, even convince the seller to reduce the asking
Jean Bourne-Pirovic, a REALTOR® at Long & Foster in Silver Spring, Md.,
displays a virtual tour of each of her listings on its own single-property
Web site. The only exception is vacant homes, which she says don’t show
well due to the lack of furnishings. Her main objectives, she explains, are
to increase the exposure of her listings and position herself as an agent
who does high-quality marketing.
Sellers are “incredibly impressed” when they see the Web site and other
marketing materials that she purchases in a package from BakerB Solutions,
a real estate marketing company in Gaithersburg, Md.
“I have a laptop with me, so I can show them what the virtual tour is going
to look like if I have their listing,” she explains.
Once the listing is secured, Bourne-Pirovic uses Web
site statistics to keep sellers informed about her efforts to sell their
homes even if there aren’t a lot of showings or she’s on vacation. The
statistics, generated by BakerB Solutions, track how many people view each
virtual tour and whether those people request a showing or financial
information, among other metrics.
“It’s awesome,” she says. “It lets them see that a lot
more is going on behind the scenes.”
An additional benefit is that single-property Web sites increase the
quantity and quality of calls Bourne-Pirovic receives about her listings
and “weed out calls from people who know absolutely nothing about the
property,” she says.
A Big Bang for 25 Bucks
When David Silver-Westrick, owner of Keller Williams OC Coastal Realty in
San Clemente, Calif., built his first Web sites for his own listings more
than five years ago, it took him two days to create each Web site from
scratch, he recalls. But now that he uses Agency Logic’s technology, a
basic Web site takes about an hour to set up, while a fancier one takes
perhaps two or three hours tops.
A single-property Web site can cost as much as $50 on a one-off basis, but
most aficionados take advantage of bulk-purchase discounts, which can cut
that cost in half for, say, five to 10 Web sites. Hood pays just $25 apiece
to purchase larger quantities. These prices include the domain name
Some providers offer trial subscriptions or allow customers to create a Web
site in advance of a listing appointment and then pay the fee only after
the listing is secured. A test drive is recommended because some templates
are easier to use than others, Silver-Westrick notes.
Google Ignores Single-Property Web sites
One caveat is that single-property Web sites generally don’t rank well in
Google’s search algorithm.
“I suspect [these Web sites] will never rank
particularly high because they have a limited shelf life and you aren’t
going to get a lot of links in, links out, or a huge amount of traffic,”
A high Google ranking isn’t necessary to the effectiveness of a
single-property Web site, according to these realty professionals. But that
lack of search-engine visibility means a strong marketing effort is
required to bring buyers to these Web sites.
“You have to put the URL, the domain name, for the Web site in all of your
other advertising,” explains Hood.
His strategy includes more than 25 different Web sites, such as
REALTOR.com®, Trulia, and Zillow, in addition to direct mail and newspaper
ads, all of which promote the single-property Web sites. In the first two
or three weeks, “when all of this stuff hits,” each Web site attracts “a
few hundred unique users,” each of whom looks at 10 to 15 different pages
within the Web site on average, he says.
A second caveat is that some home sellers prefer not to have the interior
of their home displayed on a publicly accessible Web site. Such intensely
private people are rare, Hood says, but “if they are sensitive, [a
single-property Web site] may not be an appropriate vehicle” to showcase
Silver-Westrick attributes at least two home sales to his single-property
Web sites. In one case, he recalls, the buyer wasn’t even looking for a new
home, but stumbled over the Web site and became so enamored of the house
that he later bought it. But even if such happy accidents happen only
seldom, single-property Web sites can help to connect more buyers to their
new homes as part of a comprehensive marketing campaign.