Where will my buyer come from?

Where will my buyer come from? We were again asked this question during a recent listing appointment. It’s a question we can always answer intuitively with confidence. In our experience, the vast majority of buyers are local. They are inter-county movers. The reasons for the moves are as varied as my iTunes library. They are moving up or down, closer to work or farther from the in-laws; they are making their first purchase or their last. But, they are generally local, and that you can take to the bank.

The better question is, “Where is my ‘potential’ buyer coming from?” It’s a better question because in order to most effectively expose your home, your agent needs to be targeting your marketing thoughtfully.

This morning I have a better answer to the better question. The graph above is from a report we now get from ListHub. ListHub is the service we use to syndicate our listings to twelve of the (in some cases, more random) Internet home search sites. I think of ListHub as our clean-up batter. We feed our listings directly to Trulia, Realtor.com is automatically fed listings from our Multiple Listing Service with the presentation subsequently buffed out by us, Craigslist is a hands-on weekly effort, and then, of course, there is our own web site. ListHub fills in the gaps.

The reports come with a price, but they are worth every penny. And they give us more than a peak into the sites that home buyers favor; they also tell us things like where the buyers are geographically located, the time of day they are window shopping, and how many times someone was inspired to take action (fetch our phone number or our email address, or call for a showing).

It is the “where” part of the analytics that I find so useful. For the past thirty days, here is the genesis of the traffic on our own listings, and I have summarized — ListHub gives me this information by city:

58%: San Diego County
69%: Southern California
77%: California

The numbers themselves are not surprising, but what it reminds us is that while real estate is still “local.” The potential buyers who are your neighbors aren’t necessarily shopping flyer boxes or their mail boxes. They are searching and researching from across town or next door at their computer, from the comfort of their bathrobe and fuzzy bunny slippers.

My most recent reports included a curiosity or two. Our highest priced listing generated the most views — by a boatload. That one is counter-intuitive, and I will have to chew on it a bit. And all of the “leads” (I hate this term, but that is what they call the instances of someone requesting more information) came from San Diego. I’ll buy that. The serious shoppers are still from the ‘hood.

Traditional print marketing continues to have a place — people still love the touch, feel and smell of a full-bleed, hi-gloss brochure — but that place is a much smaller piece of the whole in our new marketing world. We still do it, but print marketing, like the open house, is fast becoming a low-percentage play. As time goes on, agents and sellers are finding that it is increasingly important to have more and more of their eggs in the online basket.

Note: Zillow traffic shown in the graph is misleading, as we were manually loading our listings on the Zillow site until a few days ago. This tells me that, if your listings aren’t included on Zillow, you are missing a significant audience.

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