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One Route to Build a Differentiated Community Offering

  • Wouldn’t it be awesome if you had something that you could talk about with every single home owner (and renter) in your community? Something that wasn’t a real estate conversation per say, but entirely relevant to your line of work.
  • Wouldn’t it be awesome if that something was something home owners shared and discussed with each other, on their own?
  • Wouldn’t it be awesome if your name was brought up every single time that “something” was talked about?
  • Wouldn’t it be awesome if you owned a resource with community information NO ONE else had?

Here’s an idea for making that happen..

  1. Build a single site focused on a community you specialize in and want to be branded for. Tackle a small development, HOA, or neighborhood first; don’t tackle a large city like “San Diego”.
  2. Whether it be from you county assessor’s office, a data provider, or manually doing it (for a tiny community) — obtain a full list of every single address in the community.
  3. Create indexable pages on your site for every single property targeted at address searches.
  4. Compile the “history of a home” for as many homes as possible in the community. Gather old photos from neighbors, interview them, organize the information, and upload to your site’s individual property pages. There is a lot involved here – make sure to read this in detail.
  5. Talk to your neighbors and tell them about your project.
  6. Go door knocking with a short survey (or something else short and painless you want from home owners to help build the site).
  7. Notify home owners when information has been uploaded to their home’s history.
  8. Keep track of which households you have and have not spoken to.
  9. After 6 months, send a post card to every single address you have not spoken to in person that includes a short URL to the community site, and make it password protected so that home owners feel they are getting access to something special.

For example, I know the likes Kris and Steve Berg (along with their team) know a very large percentage of home owners in Scripps Ranch. A history of the home for even 20% of homes within Scripps Ranch would be an amazing differentiated marketing tool for San Diego Castles Realty over the next decade. An offering like this would be a great reason for them to reach out to every single resident of Scripps Ranch they know, which I guarantee will lead to conversations with local residents they don’t already know.

If you build this right, and invest in the data collection – I believe this type of hyper local resource with photos and stories not available anywhere else is something that could become a topic of conversation at BBQs and dinner conversations throughout your community.

Don’t get me wrong. Executing on this properly is a boatload of work that’ll take months and months, maybe years to complete. You’re going to need to hire a programmer to build the system. You SHOULD hire a graphic designer to make the site look amazing. You might even have to pay a high school or college student to help with the data collection, cleansing, and uploading. It’s not going to be easy.

But for the agent or brokerage that is in real estate for the long run and runs their business accordingly? It’s a no brainer in my book.

Now, get out there and build community in your local community.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Your timing could not have been more perfet as this coinides with what has been running through my head.  You make some great points and have some great ideas and it could tie in perfectly for At Home In Encinitas……  There are many many failed attempts at this type of thing that fell short in vision and execution.  Feels like a perfect intern project…

    • A massive massive intern project. I think you are the one that needs to talk to local residents and get info from them. There’s not much value in an intern building a relationship since they’ll be gone in a couple months probably.

  • krisberg

    Thanks for the mention, Drew. I like the spirit of what you are suggesting; I just question the reality of pulling it off. As Jason says, password-protected neighborhood sites have been attempted repeatedly, and I haven’t seen one take off. A couple of things to consider. Not everyone would be absolutely giddy to see a “history” of their home online, so there is the privacy thing to consider. And I guarantee you that the ‘hood wouldn’t generally be thrilled to find me banging on their doors at dinnertime asking for old photos and personal info. For every guy that might think this is cool, I fear there would be another that feels violated. 

    In short, I think there are better ways to make a name for yourself in a market.

    • Doing this right really is a massive massive project which ultimately comes down to data collection (and relationship building). The platform needs to be the exact right approach…and the owner needs to have control of the information if you want to get any info from them. You would just be the organizer helping them build the resource for themselves. Maybe you give them all their own website for their home (that is somehow hooked to the community) to customize.

      I don’t know – maybe this approach would only work in older, smaller communities such as the 15 home lane I grew up on where every single home owner knows each other and half of the homes have been in the family since the 1950’s.

      Just thinking out loud 🙂

  • An interesting thought and definitely one worth considering, but I’m sort of with Krisberg here. You already KNOW that it’s going to be a pain collecting the data, and there is no guarantee the community will take to it. I believe this project could only be pulled off by a large company (or maybe someone like Jason, who has an intern)… What about the agent  / group of agents that’s new without the $ or time to even consider something like this? When I say $, I’m thinking opportunity cost. Over time, this investment (successfully pulled off) would be sound, but you gotta eat, right? One thing we’ve been doing, which has increased conversion that ties into the password idea, where people are “getting access to something special” is when a buyer starts to taper off, and begins loosing interest, I’ll make them their own password protected page on the website that displays homes they’ve seen, potential homes, other client specific info, and the call to action: “WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN NEXT” … I’ll keep your project idea in the back of my mind — The WAY FAR back for now, unfortunately. 

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