Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The National Association of REALTORS® reported that existing-home sales finished 2016 at 5.45 million, up from 2015 (5.25 million) and the highest since 2006 (6.48 million). This was certainly good news for the health of our industry, but creates a math problem for those keeping score on the leading real estate portals. How? Let’s run the numbers.

With about 5.5 million homes sold in a year, that means there are 11 million sides to a completed transaction. If we assume that there might be two partners on each side of the home-buying and -selling process, then we have a total of 22 million actual participants in a completed existing-home transaction—in a full year. That begs the question: What are 180 million unique users doing on the largest real estate portal brand’s websites—in a month? We can safely draw the conclusion that most of them aren’t buying and selling a home this month, or next month, or even this year. Trying to find an actual consumer with an intent to buy or sell a home in a sea of more than 100 million users per month can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack…and might yield diminishing returns for brokers and agents who advertise on these sites.

Which is why at Homes.com, we’re not focused on generating a bigger and bigger audience; we’re focused on delivering the right audience—a transaction-ready consumer for faster conversion to a closed transaction. Through the second quarter of 2017, we’ve averaged around 9 million unique visitors per month, a number that aligns well with the actual number of active homebuyers and sellers in a month. And these visitors are actively looking to buy, rent and sell homes, not browsing home value estimates or looking at home design styles. Over 90 percent of pageviews on Homes.com occur in our Homes for Sale or Rent sections.

One key to the high-quality traffic on Homes.com is how we source our users. We don’t spend money to advertise on broadcast and cable television, where the majority of viewers aren’t currently in the market to buy or sell a home. Nearly 90 percent of our traffic is organic—either users typing Homes.com directly into their browser or finding Homes.com via natural search results on Google or Bing, often searching “homes for sale” in a particular city, zip code or neighborhood.

Another key to quality traffic is providing an outstanding user experience. The most important component of the real estate search experience is the quality of the property data. Local MLSs are the best source of local listing data, which is why we work closely with local brokers and MLS executives to earn the right to display the content you work so hard to generate. We know we aren’t entitled to your data, and that we must earn your trust by doing what’s right. That’s why, for example, listing agents always receive all leads from their listings on Homes.com, whether they’re a paid advertiser with us or not. I encourage you to ask your other real estate portal partners if they do that.

Speaking of quality user experience, we’ll be unveiling some exciting changes to Homes.com in the coming weeks. We’ve been hard at work building the most engaging and user-friendly home search site available, and we’re just about ready to share it with the world—but you still won’t see us advertising it on TV. Instead, we’ll be targeting actual homebuyers and sellers, connecting them with the best brokers and agents in our industry.

We won’t be chasing the biggest audience—just the most transaction-ready.

David Mele is president of Homes.com.

For more information, please visit connect.homes.com.

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