What website listings tell you about a real estate agent

More buyers than ever before are using internet resources as their starting point in the search for their ideal home. This is according to Debbie Justus-Ferns, divisional manager of Renprop Residential Resales, who says that both buyers and sellers can determine exactly what kind of agent they are dealing with by looking at their website listings.

Online property listings are possibly the most important marketing tool an agent has to showcase the seller’s home and attract the right kind of buyers,” says Justus-Ferns. “This is where buyers will check out a home’s characteristics to see if they fit with their requirements, view photos, see the property’s history and obtain information about the area.”

Justus-Ferns points to information from the National Association of Realtors in the US, which shows that first-time homebuyers’ use of the internet grew 13% in the last five years. While the number for repeat buyers has grown at a slower pace, over the last five years it has increased by 9%. She says that locally up to 90% of all buyers are using online listings for their property research.

“Aside from showcasing properties and providing buyers with images and information on a property and the suburb in which it is situated, online listings also give both buyers and sellers insight into agents and the way in which they operate,” says Justus-Ferns.

For the most part, sellers are looking for an agent to sell their home as quickly as possible and for the best price possible. Agents have just 30 seconds or less to make an impression with buyers about the property for sale and about the service they can expect to receive from them.

So just how do buyers and sellers know if an agent is any good based on their online property listings? Justus-Ferns says that as a starting point, and considering that the industry has become more professional through its training and qualification requirements, it is a basic necessity for agents to have well-written blurbs and property descriptions on their online listings. Badly written listings with spelling mistakes do not make a great impression, she says.

“Buyers look at online listings to glean more information about a property. Many listings don’t include all the relevant and necessary information. In fact, 7 out of 10 listings online do not include the rates, levies or homeowner association fees that need to be accounted for in a buyer’s monthly budget. Many listings have the wrong selling price and don’t include the right suburb description for the area in which the property is situated. Sometimes the area is wrong all together. This speaks volumes about an agent’s attention to detail. Attention to detail is important – when you are buying or selling the most expensive asset you are likely to ever own, you want to know that all the details are correct. Expired listings that are no longer valid also show poor attention to detail and don’t reflect well on an agent’s ability to keep on top of things.”

The adage that a picture speaks more than 1000 words holds true when it comes to marketing a property. The image of the property is what creates the most impact, so bad quality photos – both in composition and clarity, too few images and images of the wrong property on an online listing negates the point of using photos in the first place. “Buyers cannot tell whether or not they would like to view a property in person if they are looking at one grainy picture of the wrong home,” says Justus-Ferns. “A number of high quality, well composed photos is an indication that the agent is presenting the best product to prospective buyers. This is a reflection of how they handle the marketing of properties.”

According to Justus-Ferns, real estate agents who don’t create accurate and appealing online listings add to the already negative perception that estate agents are not professional. “Buyers and sellers can research agents by looking at the quality and composition of their online listings to establish their level of professionalism, including attention to detail and marketing capabilities – two of the most important skills an agent requires to do the job properly and professionally,” Justus-Ferns concludes.

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