The rapidly rising price of Florida real estate may appear to represent a growing market, but as prices continue to increase, the rate of houses being sold is steadily declining. According to the Florida Association of Realtors (FAR), median home prices rose 13 percent from $221,100 to $249,700 last month, while single-family homes sold decreased 31 percent, from 23,844 to 16,392. Prices have increased even more rapidly statewide, the FAR reports, with an increase of about 96.4 percent from 2001 to 2006. However, there is no need to panic.
Nationally, we are experiencing a period of equilibrium in the housing market, according to NAR housing industry analysts, and overall sales remain strong.
"The single-family existing-home market has eased its pace, but the market is returning to a more normal balance after a long run of record sales and low inventory," says president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, Beverly Pindling. "With economists predicting the national housing market to be the third-best ever (below 2005 and 2004), by comparison this confirms that Orlando remains a very strong local market." As the real estate market approaches equilibrium and prices and the rate of sale continue to have an inverse relationship, how can Florida realtors combat the current market situation? The answer is simple: the Internet.
According to a study conducted by the National Association of Realtors in 2005, the use of the Internet to search for a home has risen from 2% in 1995 to 77% in 2005. With so many buyers turning to the Internet to search for a home before they even contact an agent, it’s important for real estate agents to have all their information available online. This is especially true with the competitive nature of the real estate industry. If an agent doesn’t have a fully equipped website, the buyer will go somewhere else for information. And they definitely have many other options.
Over the past five years, says the NAR survey, the number of agents with websites has increased 129%, leaving those without a website far behind the pack. Many agents cringe at the mere thought of creating a personal website, however, but the relationship between real estate and the internet shouldn’t be intimidating. It should be intriguing. Never before have agents had direct access to so many people with whom they would not normally reach. In terms of lead generation, only referrals and repeat clients rank above the Internet as the most effective methods of gaining new business. However, creating your own website takes some time and effort, which many of us don’t have to spare. That is why seeking some experienced help could be the ticket to successful, stress-free online marketing.
To take some of the edge off, a digital marketing professional can assist you with many aspects of your website, such as helping you with your User Interface (UI) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, and assisting you with your overall online marketing and advertising plan. Your job is to provide the information the clients are browsing for, such as home buyer tips, recent mortgage rates, relevant articles and MLS data as well as the money to make sure it’s done correctly. If the thought of paying somebody to get you online is discouraging, remember this old saying: You have to spend money to make money. Agents who have mastered this mantra are reaping the benefits.
Once you have a website, there are still some decisions to be made to ensure that you get the most coverage possible for your listings. First, in order to display your listings you will need to sign up for a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) and get authorized to receive the IDX data from your local MLS. IDX, or Internet Data Exchange, is the means of extracting data from the MLS and delivering it to a website for public consumption. In other words, IDX makes it much easier for potential buyers to browse your site for listings that fit their needs, giving the "little guys" some of the same marketing potential as the "big guys". If you don’t display IDX search tools on your website, potential buyers could possibly pass up your site in favor of the competition.
A common synonym for IDX is Broker Reciprocity, so, in other words, when setting up your site you have to choose if you want your listings available on other brokers’ sites and their listings available on your site. You may be asking yourself, why would I want to display other brokers’ listings on my website? When you display these listings, you give potential buyers a reason to keep coming back to your site, making you a reliable real estate resource for your area. And allowing other brokers to display your listings is basically just free advertising. The more places your listings show up, the faster they are likely to sell. What agent doesn’t want the greatest possible amount of exposure for every listing?
Taking advantage of this expansive, inclusive resource, will give you an edge over other agents in the Florida real estate market who don’t have a personal website and signing up for IDX services will ensure that you rise above those who do. As the Internet becomes a standard in marketing a successful business, how can you afford not to focus your efforts on this rapidly growing channel?
About IDX, Inc.
IDX, Inc. creates solutions to promote and connect sellers with buyers using innovative server-side technology. Headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, IDX, Inc. specializes in advanced web-based application development for industries and businesses worldwide. IDX Broker, the primary application developed by IDX, Inc., helps inventory and real estate professionals generate the most leads at a low cost.