Pete Brand
Grand Rapids, MI

I am married to an incredible woman named Amanda and have five amazing children. I would consider myself an entrepreneur and absolutely love the challenge of building businesses. I also love the journey of personal development. I don't believe in drifting through life on auto-pilot. I believe we are presented each day with opportunities to improve and become better. I choose to embrace these opportunities and use the lessons I learn to become a better "me" and continuously strive to embrace each moment!

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How to Pick a Real Estate Agent to Work With

By on April 5, 2011

I was having a conversation the other day with someone about what we felt was a lack of Internet prowess amongst Real Estate agents in our local area.  I’ve personally lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan for my entire life, but if you were to ask me to name 5 or 6 of the top Real Estate professionals in the area, I don’t think I could do it.

Personally I find that disturbing.  Buying a home is the largest purchase most of us will make in our lives.  When it comes time to sell that home, you’ll want to make sure  it is marketed properly so you don’t end up in a never ending limbo or unable to secure that new “home of your dreams” that you can’t close on until…

Now, I know that I am online a bit more than the average person, but that doesn’t change the fact that over 90% of the people looking for a new home turn to the Internet ( that number was mentioned in a 2009 article by the National Association of Realtors).

If that’s the case, don’t you think real estate agents need to get with the program when it comes to marketing on the Internet?

Top of mind awareness is something every business strives for and it’s definitely something that’s not easy to achieve.  A professional however, is willing to put in the work necessary to not only gain top of mind awareness, but also showcase their skills and prove they are a credible choice when evaluating a marketing partner for your home.

The following are three things to think about when evaluating a real estate agent.

  1. Do they have a presence in the social networks? People are spending an incredible amount of time every day on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and an ever increasing amount of new social media sites.  There are conversations happening every second of every day on almost every topic.  You shouldn’t even consider interviewing a real estate agent if they don’t have an active profile on these social networks.  I’m not saying they have to be on all of them, I’m just saying they need to be participating in conversations relevant to real  estate on at least the major sites.  I recently read an article which stated people are 76% more likely to act on a recommendation from a friend over the messaging of a brand.  Your real estate agent needs to understand that and take advantage of the opportunity.
  2. Who is you real estate agent focused on? I understand that to be a successful real estate agent, you need to be good at self promotion.  That doesn’t mean that you need to talk about what a great family you have and how you’re an excellent golfer, and that your kids are amazing world class athletes.  I’ve found there are too many people in general who spend all their time talking about themselves and their companies, yet they never take two seconds to talk about the most important topic … the topic that’s most important to their “buyers!”  People could care less what your handicap is on the golf course.  The only thing they care about is “What’s in it for them.”  If your real estate agent isn’t bringing value to the interview and educating you on the most effective way to market your home … it’s probably because they don’t know.  Make sure your prospective agent is focused on value and not just themselves.
  3. Do they have a digital marketing plan? If you met with a real estate agent 15 years ago and they told you they weren’t going to put your house in the news paper, you wouldn’t have even considered hiring them.  You should have the exact same feeling now when it comes to the Internet, but you should look a bit deeper.  It’s crazy to believe that if you simply put your house on the online listing services that it’s being marketed properly.  You need to find a real estate professional that not only lists your home, but also has a targeted marketing process to drive the appropriate “buyers” to those listings, and make it easy for them to see what your home has to offer.  True professionals will have an established, proven, repeatable process, and they’ll have the ability to rattle off numbers as to how much traffic their average listing receives each week. They’ll also be able to prove it with analytics data if they are a TRUE professional.

My next post will talk about the tools a buyer focused, real estate professional should be using to make it easy to showcase your property.  Remember, the only thing that person that’s going to buy your house cares about is, “What’s in it for them.”  You’ll want to make sure your real estate agent understands that and utilizes technology to make it incredibly easy for those buyers to identify the answer to that question quickly and easily.

If you have any experiences that are similar or contrary to mine, please let me know by leaving a comment below.  If you happen to be a real estate professional, let us know things that you’ve done to embrace technology and create solid relationships with your clients.

  1. Steve Volkers

    April 6, 2011

    Pete, here is a video response – I hope we can get a conversation going!

    As someone who tries to be on top of social media and website SEO, I think it is important to point out the fact that marketing the home is more than just a web presence. Grand Rapids has a handful of agents that are excellent at website marketing, but you also need a Real Estate agent that knows how to consult the home’s owner, price the home correctly to sell, explain market conditions and stay on top of all the new social media that comes out.

    I know for a fact that there are agents out there that can handle everything, but chances are that you will need an agent that relies on their team to keep up-to-date on new social media trends, optimizing their website for SEO and then marketing the home to their fullest potential both online and off. For one agent that is a hefty amount of work to do, but for a team or group it’s a lot easier to stay on top of everything. I look forward to your response.

  2. Pete Brand

    April 6, 2011

    Steve, here is a video response to your video response. 🙂

    I agree that the strongest real estate professionals need to have a solid blend of marketing skills as well as deep expert knowledge. One without the other will definitely limit the potential success.

  3. Dave Nichols

    April 7, 2011

    Great discussion, guys! Top of mind awareness is critical for all businesses! How you get to your prospect’s top of mind is ever changing. Far too many companies are only sticking their “toe” into the world of internet presence and social media. Emarketing and social media presence is crucial and must be part of a overall marketing strategies TODAY to remain relevant tomorrow.

    WWW is a bit like the wild west right now…but for those of us participating more fully – that’s an advantage. Advantages like low cost entry, rules setting & cutting edge techniques. Emarketing & Social media presence demonstrates to our potential clients that we ARE the cutting edge, not just on it.

  4. Jason Johnson

    April 8, 2011

    Oh man where’s my camera!? Great discussion all. I know this post’s focus is on real estate agents but I just have to expand on what you’re all saying here and that is the need for ALL business/business owners, service providers (and of course, this includes real estate agents, and especially when they’re selling my house) to get with the program when it comes to marketing on the Internet.

    I have to concede I am a HEAVY web user, but whether I’m looking for a wet burrito special around town, a detailing service to clean my car, the current beers on tap at a local bar or a real estate agent to help me buy and/or sell my home, I’d encourage all of them to be on the web and in a major way; at least a current website/blog. Of course, a well-feed facebook fan page, google places page, flickr feed, Yelp listing, YouTube channel, the list goes on and on but having a current, fresh, relivant content and online engagement going on never hurts. More and more, people expect this.

    If a person, business or service isn’t on the web it seems as though something is amiss. In fact if a business is not online, then customers (both current & possible) can feel like you don’t care enough to meet then where they are. If a company can’t do something as affordable and as powerful as availing themselves online, while it isn’t a part of their core offering, it still reflects on them in a major way. Do the weeds shooting up out of the sidewalk, the loose door handle and dim foyer have anything to with the taste Joe’s Coffee? Maybe not, probably not; but do you have any reservations whatsoever about the clean, well-kept coffee shop down the road with upbeat barista’s that welcome you in? Not at all. I say don’t let anything get in the way.

    I was referred to Steve by an acquaintance and before I’d ever even talked with Steve, I knew he’d be great. Within two seconds after my initial search on the web I had access to tons of excellent pictures on flickr of properties for sale, videos of Steve sharing selling/buying information and teaching about how market valuations, how they do open houses, other SVG team members where giving tours of the neighborhood businesses, MY neighborhood. In about 10mins I was certain this was the agent for me and he was the helpful realtor that I’d heard people say he was. In video and in copy writing he came across as an authentically helpful person that was excited to be a part of making Grand Rapids a better place to live and work and was all about sharing GR with people and helping them with homes. I knew he knew Grand Rapids and real estate and would be fun person to work with and he is. In sum:

    Did my real estate agent they have a presence in the social networks?

    Big time. He was everywhere and it was all fresh, solid content.

    Who is your real estate agent focused on?

    I was easy to see from all the content online they were focused on helping their clients and community in a major way. The videos and other online content made this clear by showing all the cool things they were involved in and were sharing about and promoting online.

    Did they have a digital marketing plan?

    Without a doubt. I could see houses listed everywhere. On flickr, in facebook, on their website, on a special blog about downtown living, in several of the online listing services. What’s more the quality of the content was top notch often listings where full of gorgeous pictures, floor plans, multimedia click-throughs and video tours. It was clearly demonstrated online these guys knew a few things VERY well: Real estate, marketing and multimedia production.

    The choice to go with Steve as my real estate agent was so easy; it’s been great.

    Looking forward to more posts Pete.