Internet FSBO Advertising - How Do You Choose a Website?
A good subtitle for this entry would be “You Get What You Pay For (Almost)”.
It s my job to understand the real estate market, and more specifically the For Sale By Owner real estate market. As a project for my company, we compiled an exhaustive list of all the FSBO advertising websites we could find - a list which ended up being over 400 names long.
That s 400+ different websites you could use to advertise your house. Those were all sites advertising multiple properties - it doesn t even count the people who started their OWN websites to sell just their own house.
With all those options, how do you choose what company to use to advertise your home for sale??
I had a few observations that could help you in answering that question.
Free websites are probably more trouble and effort than they re worth.
Our list includes both free and fee-based advertising websites (there are several free ones out there). As a rule, the free sites all looked just that - free. Additionally, they ALL had major “update issues” - they had lots of stale listings that were no longer for sale. Additionally, we started out with the easiest sites to find, and went from there - putting progressively more effort into actually searching for the websites. Nearly all of the free websites were found late in our search - meaning that if you just want exposure on the internet, a free advertising website is probably not going to get it for you. We also used tools, such as Alexa, to objectively measure the actual traffic received by websites. This measurement verified our theory.
Websites dedicated to a specific property are pretty much a bad idea.
We found very few websites dedicated to a specific property. This is more significant than it may seem at first: A glance through the classified pages of your newspaper will reveal a large number of people got smart and decided to create their own website. They ve missed the point of internet advertising. The amount of search engine optimization that goes into getting the good, professional advertising sites up in the top of results is impractical for an individual to do himself. So most of the traffic these dedicated websites receive is due to other marketing efforts by the seller - such as advertising in the newspaper. If these sellers are just getting the word out about their website in the local newspaper, they re totally missing the huge market of buyers who are moving into the city and searching online from their own home state.
You CAN overpay for internet advertising.
While there were a couple, the best representative example of a website/company that charges too much for their advertising is BuyOwner.com. This company showed up almost NOWHERE in search results, yet they charge nearly the most of any company on our list - starting at a whopping $1500.
The best mix between service, features and exposure seems to cost around $199-$399.
Generally speaking, the less a company charged, the harder it was to find them online. Their websites were generally worse and harder to use, as well. The more a company charged, the more valuable services they started including. Their websites were also nicer and easier to use.
If there s a site with a local presence and decent number of listings, use it.
Another factor to take into consideration when choosing an advertising company is local presence. We couldn t tell from our internet search what kind of “real” presence each company had in local markets, as far as brand recognition or marketing. But we could make guesses based on the numbers we saw. These companies seem to be better options than some of the large national companies with no local presence. Sure the national company showed up in search results, but so did the local company. And generally speaking, the national companies have far fewer listings in an area served by a local company, as well as far less traffic in that section of their website. The national internet-only companies are only good for you if you don t have a local company in your area.
Your BEST option is to use a national company with a local presence.
There are very few of these around, but right here I ve got to plug my company - FSBOzon Our company is one of the few who mix together the web traffic/exposure national companies can get and the local exposure and service provided by local companies. It s taking some time for companies to roll this model out because of the resources it takes. But it s well worth it for the consumer.
To go back to my intro, you ALMOST get what you pay for. The only exception to that seems to be BuyOwner.com, which charged $1500 for basically no exposure. Free is pretty much a bad option, and the more you pay, the more service and exposure you get. To find out if you have a local company in your area, search Google for “your city fsbo” or “your state fsbo.”