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When it comes to the internet and real estate leads, we know that nearly everyone is starting their search online and that dealing with internet leads can be very frustrating. Often you receive inquiries or leads and respond almost immediately. You will even follow up with these leads again and again, until finally you give up and dismiss the lead as “bad” and move on with your life.

This is a very common response to many online leads, and in several cases, the fact of the matter is, the potential client simply isn’t ready to act on a property yet. That being said, there are also many instances of the problem being with the email reply that the agent sends to the potential client. Let’s examine what many agents do and why it could be costing business.

The Standard Reply
I often speak with agents, and one of the common replies I’ve heard multiple times in response to online leads is to send an email to the client introducing themselves and suggesting a few other properties that the client may be interested in based on their inquiry. Granted, this is a massive generalization, but many people can relate to the statement.

So, if this is the most common reply, why is it problematic?

The answer lies in the context of the situation. While there is nothing inherently wrong with the reply itself, it isn’t doing a lot right, either. National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) statistics have shown that at this point nearly every consumer begins their real estate experience online. We have experienced situations where the general public feels like they have a solid grasp of the real estate market and or its conditions based on their “research,” which we also know often consists of some searching on real estate websites or talking with their neighbors. With that knowledge, we must also consider that in many cases prior to contacting an agent; the consumer has done some level of browsing online. In fact, there are also many cases where the consumer contacts multiple agents, as each one of the properties they inquire about is likely to have a different contact person.

Consider this information now from the side of the client. They spend some time browsing around the internet searching for homes. Once they establish a handful of properties that likely share similarities, they reach out to the contact people linked with the listings.

At this point we know two things: first, that they have looked at many homes, and, second, that they have reached out to multiple agents. As the replies come in, the consumer sees two things happening: They notice that agents are mostly sending a near identical reply, feeding the stereotype that “all agents are the same,” and, secondly, that none of the replies contain anything of value. The perceived value of the response was a list of similar properties, which the consumer has either already seen and/or ruled out. There is no value to that.

Once you are in that situation, it starts to become more and more a luck of the draw-type scenario. One lucky agent will be selected, while the others will remain frustrated at the poor quality of the online lead.

The Solution
The answer to this conundrum is to send something that differentiates yourself. As an example, with Sellstate, all of our members are provided with a neighborhood demographic tool which allows a comprehensive area report to be compiled in minutes. We recommend that our Real Estate Advisors use this tool in this situation, as it provides two benefits: no. 1, it shows the client that work has been done, and, no. 2, it provides useful information to the client that they have not looked at during their preliminary online searching. How great would it be to be able to provide the client with area information about housing, schools or other sales in the area? This also gives an opening to offer another custom report for any area that the client might be considering.

While this is only one possible solution and something that we recommend, there are several other options. The point is to make sure that your reply allows you to stand out by offering something of use to the client. While it is true that many online leads take months before they are ready to move forward or commit to an agent, oftentimes the email you are sending could be costing you business.

Michael Darmanin is COO of Sellstate Realty Systems Network, Inc.

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