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Hire Me, I Spent 50K to Dominate Irrelevant Keyword Searches!

“List with me because I dominate page 1 of Google for Scottsdale Real Estate, as well as Neighborhoods X, Y and Z!”

A familiar refrain.

Firmly entrenched in the Internet Age of Real Estate marketing, it would be reasonable for a consumer to expect his chosen agent to propagate every nook and cranny of the online world with the homes he has listed for sale. Actually, it should be a pre-requisite. If your home is not readily found by web surfing consumers, you might as well pull the sign from the yard and go stew in the cone of silence for the next six months. You may eventually find a suitor the old fashioned way, but demand falls off the map if your home does not frequent the same haunts as the consuming public. In other words, best case scenario is to expect a lower sales price and longer stint on the market if you are invisible to the online home shopper.

Your listing should appear on the major power player sites, such as Realtor.com, Trulia, Zillow, etc.  Your home should be visible on every competitor’s site via IDX listing (brokers have the ability to opt in or out of the IDX agreement, thus can choose whether to keep company listings close to the vest or allow their properties to be displayed in the search results on competing home search sites).  Your home should be marketed with scores of high quality digital pictures and/or virtual tours to stand out from the din.

What is not necessarily a “must” however is that your chosen listing agent dominate the first ten spots of Google for major home search terms.  Sacrilege, I know.

As one who partakes in the daily struggle for online supremacy, why would I acknowledge such a thing?  Because it simply doesn’t hold water to argue that I am all of that and a bag of Real Estate chips by my positioning at the top of the search engines for select key words.  It certainly helps me cultivate leads, but whether your ultimate buyer finds your home on my site or a competitor’s is of little consequence to you.  As long as the buyer finds you, who cares if your agent stands to double dip the commission or has to co-broke with a buyer’s agent?

Though I aspire to gain keyword dominance for a few juicy sequences that I covet, and guard those I have already conquered with a zeal seldom seen this side of the Spanish Inquisition, do not misinterpret search engine dominance for the be all and end all of internet marketing.  It is merely one arm of the octopus.  The one that gloms onto wayward buyers for the agent’s new business generation at that.

To a certain extent, a well-ranked website is the modern incarnation of the open house.  The odds of the buyer walking into my domain on a broad Scottsdale Real Estate keyword search and fitting your property are just as long as with its old school predecessor.  It’s great when it happens, but if website placement comprises the entirety of an online marketing campaign … good luck, Chuck.  Google placement is a valuable assistant to a productive agent, but it is not a home selling panacea.

While I may rank higher than some of my competitors, and lower than a few others, they all benefit my clients.  As each listing I take is displayed on all major search engine across the web, my properties are splashed across virtually every website that pertain to Scottsdale Real Estate.

In that regard, I guess you could say that my listings dominate the first 50 pages of Google. And really, my lead generation aspirations aside, what else matters?

How are you supposed to differentiate between prospective agents if website ranking is less important than you were led to believe? Assuming your candidates are equally adept at proliferating their listings across the web (a big assumption), you separate the wheat from the chaff the old fashioned way: knowledge, ability and experience. There are no shortcuts to the head of that line, whiz bang website or no.

And now, to reap the SEO benefits that will vault me to the top of the rankings, but do little to improve my ability to sell your home, I repeat today’s keyword phrase: Scottsdale Real Estate.

Page 1, here we come!

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No, That Is Not My Listing. Yes, You’ve Come to the Right Place.

A disconnect that will sometimes occur when a Scottsdale Real Estate consumer lands here on the Scottsdale Property Shop site, not all of the properties you see listed for sale here fly under the banner of Realty Executives.  Matter of fact, of the forty some thousand home listings that you can trawl in our home search engine on a given day, only a handful are likely to boast a Ray and Paul Slaybaugh sign in the front yard.

So what gives?

When you land on an individual Realtor’s website, the home search results display the feed from what is referred to as an “IDX” solution.  Technical aspects aside, this is essentially a streamlined version of the local MLS for public consumption.  Brokers have the option of opting out of the IDX agreement, thus not allowing their listed properties to be displayed on the sites of competitors and aggregators (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc).  As such posturing would be tantamount to internet marketing suicide for a brokerage on behalf of its seller clients, however, few and far between are the active brokers who do not participate in the open proliferation of their listing feed.  There are rules and prohibitions in regards to what information can be displayed, etc, but by and large, this allows the consumer to visit most any Real Estate site with a capable IDX solution to view inventory.

Where misunderstandings can crop up is at the intersection of convenience and marketing.  You go to Google.  Type in the street address of a property you saw (forgot the name or number on the sign) or some specific criteria such as “3 Bedroom Homes For Sale in McCormick Ranch.”  If an agent has a search engine friendly IDX solution (such as yours truly), you land on his/her site.  Plastered next to all of the property information you seek is the agent’s smiling mug and contact information.

This is not necessarily, and most likely not, the listing agent.

If you scroll way down to the bottom, you will find the slightest nod to the brokerage that has the home listed for sale, but all of the contact information will be directed to get you to pick up the phone and call the agent that owns the site upon which you just landed.

For some of you, this is neither here nor there.  You just want the property information and don’t give a fig who provides it.  If the property looks interesting, Bigfoot himself could show it to you for all you care.

Where it can become an issue is when the consumer has specific reason to approach the listing agent directly.  There is typically an awkward silence, followed by a mild rebuke at a perceived misrepresentation.  To this house hunter, I say you found me just in time.  Why?  Because if left to your own devices, you would have unwittingly blundered right into the lion’s den with no representation.

Perhaps you think the listing agent will be a more direct conduit to the seller.  Perhaps you think the listing agent will have more information to provide regarding the property.  Or perhaps you think the listing agent will willingly cede a portion of his commission with no other agent involved in the transaction, ultimately saving you money on the purchase.

Were I better at HTML coding, neon lights would illuminate this next sentence.

THE LISTING AGENT REPRESENTS THE SELLER.

I repeat.

THE LISTING AGENT REPRESENTS THE SELLER.

Whatever seemingly helpful information the agent provides, make no mistake that it is his fiduciary obligation to separate you from as much of your money as possible on the seller’s behalf.  And he does this for a living.

When shopping for a new home in Scottsdale, it is not possible to overstate the value of the internet.  In addition to the tools and resources that are more available to the consumer than ever before, it could just be the chance encounter with a local agent’s IDX search that proves most fortuitous.  Contacting the floating head next to the listing that interests you might be the thing that saves you from overpaying or getting embroiled in transactional hell on your purchase.

No, the listing you are looking at is most likely not mine.  For that you can thank your lucky stars.  I’m quite adept at squeezing money out of buyers for my sellers.  Since the shoe is on the other foot, let’s go get you that house for a price that will make the seller limp for a month.

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Selling a Home in Scottsdale? Keep the Agent Bonus in Your Shorts.

Thanks, but no thanks.  Therein lie my in-depth feelings regarding buyer agent bonus compensation.

It’s a tricky business, this whole trust-building endeavor.  From the initial consultation with a prospective client, to the signing of the closing documents and all stops in between, a certain rapport and mutual belief in the positive intentions of each party must be developed to produce the desired outcome: namely, the purchase of the most appropriate property at the most advantageous terms.  With ample opportunity for an agent to unintentionally spit the bit along the way, warding off the encroachment of countless variables that would undermine the health of the relationship is an undisclosed facet of the job.  And what, pray tell, is the swiftest and surest endangerment of one’s relationship with the client?  Money.  More specifically, the belief, whether founded or not, that the agent is twisting his fiduciary obligation by putting his financial interests before those of the client.  That’s a relationship killer.  Once any doubt creeps into the mind of the client as to the motivation of his representative, you might as well go ahead and split the sheets.

I don’t want a bonus to sell your listing.

If your listing fits my client’s criteria, and you are offering me fair compensation for services rendered, I will show the property.  If you are offering compensation that does not meet my minimum standards, I will show the property if my client agrees to make me whole. Mind you, that’s a terrible disincentive to buyers and buyer’s agents alike, but run your business however you see fit.  What I do not require is any kind of additional spiff over and above suitable compensation.  An extra percent if the transaction closes in the next 30 days, a co-broke that is double the normal range of compensation, a week aboard the listing agent’s yacht after the close of escrow … all such supposed motivators are liable to call my judgment into question.

Am I really pushing property “x” because it represents that best value proposition for the client, or am I mentally slathering SPF 15 over my epidermis in preparation of the promised week in the Bahamas?

I’m not real keen on trying to explain to my client why I am grossing 20k on a $200,000 transaction while we are sitting around the closing table.

So while I appreciate the extra incentive a listing agent and/or seller may try to stoke via a buyer’s agent bonus, it calls my credibility into question.  Matter of fact, I will typically apply any such bonus (if monetary value can be readily affixed) to my client’s closing costs.  I maintain my reputation and my client gets an unexpected perk.  In fact, I would be in breach of my personal ethics, if not my fiduciary obligation, if I didn’t carve out such extraneous allotments for my client’s benefit.  If I am being compensated fairly for my role in the transaction, it is my duty to corral any additional nickels that fall out of the seller’s pockets for the buyer.

Want to expedite your Scottsdale home sale?  Put the agent bonus back in your shorts. Repackage the offering as a reduced price or concession towards the buyer’s closing costs. Make the terms more appealing to my client and you will produce the desired result. The seller gets his fast sale, the buyer gets more attractive terms and both agents get happy, referral-prone clients. Everybody wins.

If I want to go play Dread Pirate Roberts in the Caymans, I’ll do it on my own dime.

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Why Aren’t Agents Showing My Scottsdale Rental Property?

Why Aren’t Agents Showing My Scottsdale Rental Property?

Wonder why your lonely Scottsdale rental property is suffering from a lack of showings?

Because your agent is offering the sales force a half-eaten ham sandwich as compensation, that’s why.

In an open, competitive market, I hope it goes without saying that all commission rates are negotiable. There is no such thing as a “set” fee or a “going rate.” Sure, there are market directed norms to which some adhere, but the payment arrangement is always uniquely established between a seller/landlord and the chosen representative. That bit of anti-trust housekeeping out of the way, I will unabashedly state that your rental property is not getting any traffic from cooperating agents because the profit margin has largely been excised from the leasing spectrum.

Altruistic tendencies aside (yes, it’s true, our REALTOR hearts do beat, even if two sizes too small), most professionals I know have already abandoned the rental arena completely. The downward pressure on cooperative compensation for a leasing agent (the guy who actually produces the tenant) has essentially rendered the Scottsdale rental market nonviable as a money maker for agents at present. As if to flaunt that truth, some enterprising souls adept in the art of self-sabotage have driven stinginess into a new ravine. Schlepping around prospective renters for several days, if not weeks, does not compute when the incredible potential bounty waiting at the other end of the rainbow is a mind-blowing $75 and an expired gift certificate to Arby’s.

Why not just mug me for my clients in the driveway? It will save everyone time.

Some of us diehards still believe in working the rental market as a means of servicing clients, even though it is often tantamount to Real Estate pro bono work. I’ll generally trade the meager paycheck for a chance to solidify a relationship with a future homeowner and referral source, but it can be difficult to justify the time expenditure when business is brisk, compensatory coupons to the dollar store notwithstanding.

When you consider the liability that comes with a role in the transaction, the portion of the fee that goes to the agent’s brokerage (you didn’t think he got to keep the entire $10, did you?), taxes, gas, etc, it is not unusual for the lucky leasing agent to be well out of pocket by the time the dust settles.

But don’t cry for me, Argentina. REALTORS are not a sympathetic bunch, of this I am all too aware. I simply advise you not to cut off your nose to spite your sales force’s face. When you select an agent to list your Scottsdale home for rent, make sure to ask what portion of the total compensation is being offered to a tenant-procuring colleague. If it doesn’t sound like a livable wage to you, it will sound like gulag pay to those who are intended to be incentivized by it. Perhaps the listing agent has to short-change the co-broke to keep the total fee you are quoted down, or perhaps the intention is to actively discourage showings from other agents via the miserly offering. Either way, you are more likely to witness a Doors reunion with the original lineup than a cooperating agent with a credit-worthy tenant in tow until you address the shortcoming.

It’s a free country and a free market. Structure a fee schedule with your choice in Real Estate representation in any manner you see fit. Just remember to leave a glass of milk and cookies out for Santa if you expect a tenant in your stocking.

The crumbs ain’t cutting it.

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“If you don’t eat your meat, you can’t have any pudding!  How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?!!”

– Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)

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