Leveraging digital property data to enhance the role of an agent

by Alistair Helm in ,


Photo by  Lukas  from  Pexels

Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Things have become busier over the last month or so in my role as a real estate agent. I’ve started to leverage the extensive property database I created 18 months ago which tracks all property activity in my target market of Devonport, providing me with unique insight and perspective on market trends and buyer behaviour online.

In addition, I’ve found real value in the data reports for the various listings I have worked on. This has been hugely satisfying both from a personal engagement perspective, working with buyers and sellers; but also allowing me to deep dive into the data to surface valuable insights that have given me the opportunity to demonstrate a new level of professional engagement with sellers and buyers. This I believe is the point of difference I want to establish and leverage.

When it comes to data reporting, there is really only one reliable and meaningful source, and that’s Trade Me. Realestate.co.nz does provide a weekly listing report on page views. However it’s not customisable and limited in data content and analysis. OneRoof has an excellent platform in their agent portal OneRoof Advantage, however as yet the data is not of value due to insufficient traffic to individual listings. Trade Me has OneHub; an excellent resource offering an agent facing portal for profile marketing and unique data analysis and reporting of listings.


This is where I feel I need to make an appropriate disclosure. I was an employee of Trade Me Property from 2014 to 2017, in that time as Head of Product I was responsible for the development and launch of OneHub, the agent portal provided by Trade Me. I ‘m proud of this product and the team that built it, however in the past few months I have become even more enamoured with it in a way I probably didn’t anticipate. I’ve started evangelising about it among my colleagues. So, this is in a small preamble to set the context in what I want to share. To be completely clear I am not in any way incentivised by Trade Me to write this article. I do though, maintain good alumni contact with people at Trade Me. That’s got the disclaimer out of the way.


OneHub provides at this time two primary products that are free to all agents. First, is an agent profile which allows any agent to build and manage their own profile with its unique page on Trade Me, as well as being featured in the search directory for agents. This is an invaluable profile opportunity for all agents. The Trade Me digital platform is massive and from a search optimisation perspective it’s gold. In my opinion all agents would be mad not to build a profile on Trade Me.

Second, is the ability to create customised marketing reports for all your listings. Sounds good, but the question I often get asked is “but so does Realestate.co.nz” and now OneRoof, or the page view stats get imported into my office system. Yes, but the key word here is ‘custom’ and the added fact that OneHub reports are insightful when you dig into them. Really insightful, and if presented in the right way in my view offer an excellent means to enhance the reputation of the presenter.


I think it is worthwhile to recap on the unique value of these reports.

1. Custom time period – OneHub reports can be created at any time based on any time period. The last 7 days / the last month / the first weekend / the full period of the listing. Any date range can be chosen. Each custom report is created as a downloadable pdf. The report details the daily activity of page views, as well as the number of Trade Me members who have added the property to their watchlist. Additionally, it shows the number of click-to-reveal telephone number reveals on the listing page and the number of email enquiries sent to the agent. Such insight is far more valuable than the competition, especially given the scale of the audience on Trade Me – by reference in my area of the country, Trade Me attracts around 3 times the page views of Realestate.co.nz and 7 times the traffic of OneRoof (the latter is based on a very small sample of monitored properties as the site does not publicly detail page views on listing pages).



2. Insight of watchlisters – OneHub reports track not just page views but also the number of members of Trade Me that save the property to their watchlist. This stat is a critical measure of engagement. Sure, the reason for people saving a property to a watchlist can be varied from the most logical – they want to see this house and may be buy it, to design junkies and also let’s not forget the smart agents who watchlist their own listings and competitive listings in their area. However, whilst the absolute scale may not completely reflect the true level of buyer interest, the relative scale will. If a property has 105 watchers after 3 weeks and another property has 40 then there is an inference of greater engagement as a surrogate for ‘interest’ with the first property.
The watchlist data is so important and unique as Trade Me users cannot use the watchlist feature unless they are logged in. The watchlist button is so intuitive for the Trade Me user; whereas for users of other websites saving property requires creating an account – a higher hurdle of engagement.



3. Regional insight – the Onehub reports drill down way deeper than just page views and watchlisters. They are able to detail the aggregated location of where those people live who view or save details on a property. This is invaluable in helping the vendor understand where interest in the property is coming from as a function of the marketing – local interest or out-of-town interest.


Now let me share a couple of examples of how I have used these reports and what I see as the real value.

Scenario 1 – Additional promotional products

The reality of online marketing on property portals is that there is a natural decay of viewing. This is something I have written about over the years. Thankfully all of the main portals offer a product to effectively ‘jump back up the search results’ – the Refresh product from Realestate.co.nz and Boost from Trade Me. Actioned whenever, and repeated as often as needed, this product is well priced to be included in most marketing campaigns.

The power of the product is best showcased when seen in the viewing stats. The product drives incremental traffic and engagement on the day it is actioned and in the subsequent days as the listing profile is enhanced being higher up the search results.

 


Scenario 2 – Event based activity

Recently, as much a function of the more challenging property market, asking prices have been placed on listings, if after the initial auction or tender campaign has failed to uncover that critical unconditional buyer. Such events are so easily judged through the daily traffic to a listing covering both views and watchlist activity. This is so valuable when providing feedback to vendors in regular reports to be able to show the impact of such activity.

As an added benefit Trade Me undertakes email alerts to people who have watchlisted a property which has a price reduction, this again as an event based activity is easily tracked on the custom reports on OneHub.

 


Scenario 3 – Comparative analysis

I’ve benefited recently in assisting with a number of properties on the local market at the same time, through this I’ve been able to provide real insight for vendors to help them appreciate the level of interest and engagement of their property compared to other properties on the market at the same time.

This data engages clients in some encouraging and challenging conversations. It’s great to be able to showcase the scale of audience and level of engagement for a vendor when their property is performing ahead of competition and the market. Equally it’s great to have meaningful conversations where the data is clearly showing that their property is simply not engaging buyers. This is often in my opinion the better conversation as it leads to the question – have we got the right message to the market? Is that message wrapped up in the right price expectation? Have we really demonstrated the best attributes of the property – should we re-promote it and change the headline and photos to shift the focus of the target audience?


This is where I feel most valuable in my role as an agent. Able to use data and insight to assist vendors to really feel a part of the process of marketing. Managing their expectation right through the process even if it means telling them the truth “your property is not attracting buyers.. certainly not at this price expectation!” I fear all too many vendors are sold a marketing campaign and then are left in a state of limbo ‘hoping’ the marketing is working such that on the deadline date the property will be sold. I am not disparaging the work of the thousands of real estate agents out there in the market,

I simply want to showcase how data can be such a valuable tool to really engage with the client in the selling process and ensure that you can show that you used every resource at your disposal to market the property to the best effect. At the end of the day the agent does not decide to sell, only the vendor makes that decision as to whether they are prepared with the offer presented on the day. The agent’s role is to bring these parties together. Bringing buyers and sellers together may be the outcome, but the hard work is targeting and communicating with the buyers and that’s where smart marketing and analysis are proving so powerful, and enhancing credibility.