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SMS Text Messaging for Real Estate

It’s a pretty sure bet that you have a cell phone. What about text messaging, do you use it? If you don’t, consider yourself in a very small minority. Nielsen Mobile surveys shows that by the second quarter of 2008, text messages had exceeded the number of cell phone calls by an impressive margin.

And, if you think it’s all just teenagers who don’t buy or sell real estate, think again. The facts show that every age group up through 44 years old sent more text messages than they made cell phone voice calls. And it was close on the 45 to 54 group. The plain truth is that text messaging is becoming a wildly popular way to exchange information. And, huge marketers and retailers are now doing text message marketing to bring in consumers. You can actually get a coupon text message and show it in a restaurant for a discount.

That’s nice, but we’re not selling burgers you say. True, but we are in a service business that is very dependent on making contact with our prospects and clients. And, we market high dollar products. If a burger sale justifies expenditures on SMS text message advertising, then why wouldn’t a home listing? The good news is that there are uses in our business for this medium, and they can cost as little as nothing, zero, free.

How many people do you think drive by your listings every weekend? Do you use a brochure box? Is it empty every time you check it? Who took them, and what was their level of interest? Can you contact them again? How many wanted a brochure but didn’t find one in the empty box? What if:

  • Every person who drove by and had an interest could have text messaged a code to get price and other information?
  • You never have to fill a brochure box again, AND you get the information out when they want it?
  • You never print brochures but you end up with the phone number of the person who asked for more information?
  • You could text that person again if the price is reduced?

All of this is currently available technology. You can get the basics for free with an account at 4info.net. There you can set up to text out your listing details from a sign rider code. And, you can even send out text alerts to subscribers of market news from your website or blog. Or, let them know when you list a new home. Now, 4info is free, so you don’t get the phone number of the person who asked for the information, or a color website for the listing. Or, for another free solution for getting out sales data, new listings, or market alerts, you can use Twitter.com. It will issue text message alerts for you.

If you want to take it to the next level, another service at UGotItFirst.com will set you up to send text alerts from the yard sign, but there is more. You can also get their phone number, and they can subscribe to receive your alerts in the future. They also get a link to a color presentation on a website for the listing. Those who are web-enabled will be able to look at the home in all its glory.

The point is that SMS text messaging is wildly popular, and it’s just getting more so. If you do not have a plan to implement it in your marketing, you’re falling behind already. And, it’s not just about texting out your listing data when they’re in front of the home. It’s about alerting your interested prospects of important market news or real estate statistics. You can place a box on your site where they can subscribe to get text alerts of price drops or other market news.

One Realtor in a vacation home market has a popular alert service to let interested investors or buyers know of values on the market. This broker realized that he was reading the Hotsheet every day, seeing some great price reductions on properties that weren’t his listings. By subscribing for these alerts, the broker is free to send them out, though not his listings. These are bargain hunters who want to know about deals as soon as they hit the market. He reinforces his knowledge and value by choosing real deals, sending few alerts. But, they generate business precisely because they point out true value.

Start looking at how you might use SMS text messaging to bring your message to the new consumer. It is for all ages, and they appreciate the ability to tell you what they want and when they want it. And, if a buyer prospect is sitting in front of your listing and wants to know more, get the information to them in seconds as a text message and/or a link to full rich web content.

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About Peyman Aleagha

Peyman Aleagha is the founder and President of RealtySoft.com. RealtySoft provides Realtors with Real Estate Websites, IDX and Print Marketing Solutions. Find out more about RealtySoft by visiting RealtySoft.com

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  • http://www.mostlygeek.com Ben Wong

    Can you cite where you got your SMS age group facts and statistics from?

  • http://www.realtysoft.com Peyman Aleagha
  • Richard Lipps

    Don’t even think about using Ugotitfirst. They are run by a rip-off artist from New York (now in Florida) and the company hides behind several different names.

  • http://www.adrhi.com Hawaii Realtor

    Do you think that SMS texting can be over done? Another way that people may start spamming consumers.

    You are suggesting that if one is not using it that they are behind. In what way?

  • http://www.mlstesseract.com Brian Larson

    You might want to check out Goomzee, which has a text application for the real estate biz. I have not used it, but I have an MLS client that is signing a deal to make it available to its brokers at a discounted price.

  • http://www.zillow.com Drew Meyers

    I’m torn on this issue. I don’t quite think SMS is mainstream yet with anybody other than generation x/y, but I do think there are smart ways for re pros to use it — or at least make it an option for those who want it. But as far as pro-active marketing, I don’t think SMS will work (too likely to be considered spam).

  • http://www.goomzee.com Austin Smith – Goomzee “Connecting Buyers and Sellers”

    Great post Peyman! And thank you Brian for the shout-out! It IS an undeniable fact: text message usage is skyrocketing across the nation, and in more age groups than one might think. In fact, first-time home buyers (unarguably a key demographic for real estate agents) are the ones most likely to be reached by any type of text message marketing.

    A concern among agents is that their implementation of such a technology will be viewed by the buyer as spam, nothing more than a nuisance. This assumption could not be further from the truth. Prospective buyers are requesting the property information at the point-of-interest (in front of the house) and no doubt will in fact appreciate the convenient, timely message being saved instantly on their phone.

    Once again I would like to thank Brian Larson for referencing Goomzee. If you are interested in more information, check us out online at Goomzee.com, or call me (Austin) at 866-472-6062.

  • http://www.goomzee.com Mike Sparr

    Austin told me about this post.

    Drew, in response to your “most likely considered spam” the key is in how SMS is implemented, not whether it’s a viable channel. You must enforce standardized data that is returned to the consumer so they find value in using the service (which we do) and thus want to re-use the service. You must also have contstraints in place that prevent agents from abusing the leads which is why our system allows only 3 subsequent follow-ups (update alerts on price changes, etc) and only within 30 days of the original inquiry, thus honoring do-not-call rules and protecting agents and consumers alike.

    I could go on and on but the bottom line is there are right and wrong ways to implement mobile technology and if done right, it will help agents long term and deliver real value to consumers. We hope agents understand the difference among other systems so they don’t choose the wrong solution and hurt their future ability to use the technology. We haven’t released this yet, but here’s a sneak peek at a pending white paper we’re publishing (DRAFT) exclusively for Geek Estate Blog subscribers:

    http://www.goomzee.com/downloads/RealEstateMobileMarketing-DRAFT5.pdf

    Regarding market stats, we post findings from sources like M:Metrics and Neilsen on our site at:

    http://www.goomzee.com/products-mobile-market.htm

    If anyone has any specific questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to contact me personally. Thanks again for the mention and have a great weekend all.

    – Mike Sparr, CEO (Goomzee.com)

  • http://www.mobileaustinnotary.com Austin Notary

    Great post gets people’s motors running.

  • Pingback: Realty Thoughts » Post Topic » The Carnival of Real Estate #120

  • http://www.PostcardsFromTheLake.com Melody Anderson

    Although I consider myself as someone who stays out ahead of the curve, I had yet to be convinced about the efficacy of SMS in real estate. You’ve given me much to consider….and I will. Thank you for the effort.

  • http://www.goomzee.com Mike Sparr

    Melody. Thanks and let us know if you need anything. One cool thing a recent client told me was that he placed his normal newspaper ad but added his gcodes instead of prices. Also had phone number. Ran on a sunday only and had 5 text inquiries and no calls.

    He would have never known whether his paper ads were worth it and now can measure effectiveness of every ad. Everyone despises the expense of course but if you have tools to quantify your marketing, it could actually save you a lot more as you refine your mix. Food for thought. ;-)

  • http://www.southernlinc.com/ princess

    oh great.. another innovation on mobile phones.. I just wonder whats next…

  • http://www.rtextusa.com Bradley

    The truth is, you will be left behind. Although all good services, Goomzee is very expensive, and only offers a text messaging application. RTextUSA offers text, call text, and virtual tours all inclusive. They also have MLS integration in all markets.

  • http://www.goomzee.com Mike Sparr – Goomzee.com

    Bradley, Thanks for the comments!

    Brian Larson above noted some of our strategic partners are offering great value-based solutions (implies even better than retail). I’d instead focus on value delivered and understanding of the needs of the customer because that’s more important anyway.

    Buyers report if they call, they want to speak to someone. I would instead recommend call solutions like Touchbase Communicator or similar that attempt to reach the sales professional so they have the opportunity to sell. See: http://www.touchbasecommunicator.com/

    No technology (even ours) will replace the value of personal selling. Driving a wedge between agent and buyer is not the goal when implementing technology (like toll free and IVR) so I would actually de-value that feature. Sales professionals should instead seek solutions that attempt to connect them to buyers, not eliminate their value which is personal selling.

    The work begins when the lead is captured and mobile technology reduces lost lead opportunities while delivering immediate value to buyers. I would argue the goal is not to “do less” but instead to “do more”, yet in less time.

    I would recommend professionals read our white paper on http://www.goomzee.com because many would not be able to differentiate solutions and they certainly are not all created equal as we see here.

    Also, we would be happy to vet our services amongst any but the blogs are likely not the best forum. We’d prefer to provide information that helps others grow their business. I hope the information I added does exactly that but if I get too “pitchy” – let me know.


    Mike Sparr, CEO
    Goomzee.com
    “Connecting buyers and sellers”
    http://www.goomzee.com

  • http://www.gibbons-realty.com Kim Gibbons

    Texting is a powerful but under utilized tool.
    The problem is, Generally real estate agents are much older than the customers they are serving.

    Over the next few years, the current recession will weed out the slow adopters and texting will become very common between agents and their clients.

    http://www.gibbons-realty.com

  • http://www.goomzee.com Mike Sparr – Goomzee.com

    Kim, can we quote you on that? Seriously.

    Some may kick and scream their way to adopt technology but in general, real estate professionals are usually ahead of the curve. Many have been burned too many times by adopting every “snake oil” product available so patience, wisdom and experience prevail.

    I’m confident the seasoned professionals will adopt and remain as they always have. It wasn’t long ago when printed books were used for listings. Now everyone is Surfin’, Emailin’, Postin’, Tweetin’, Bloggin’, Textin’ and hopefully Closin’. ;-)

    As technologists, we consider it our responsibility, regardless of demographic, to help them take advantage of what’s available.

  • http://www.VirtualBusinessConnections.com Christy Taylor

    Thanks for the great post Peyman. MIKE—-Hello. My name is Christy Taylor and I am the owner of Virtual Business Connections. We are an Internet Marketing/SEO firm offerring online marketing solutions to many real estate investors/agents. We are planning on expanding into mobile marketing and I would be very intersted in finding out more information from you in regards to this. Do you have some type of reseller program or affiliation program?
    Thanks
    Christy Taylor

  • http://www.goomzee.com Mike Sparr – Goomzee.com

    Hi Christy, feel free to reach out to our VP Biz Dev, Jordan Lind. Visit: http://www.goomzee.com and click “Contact Us” and choose Sales Department. Happy holidays. – Mike

  • http://www.VirtualBusinessConnections.com Christy Taylor

    Thanks Mike! :)

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  • http://commercial-real-estate.cc Commercial Real Estate Brokers

    An informed consumer is our best customer …

  • http://www.steverussellonline.com Pensacola Mortgage

    I think that in any business, your competition will determine the status quot, and real estate is now different. Those who grow with technology will grow their business. And, those who refuse to roll with it will suffer because of it.

    http://www.steverussellonline.com

  • http://prequence.com Timothy

    Another service that allows buyers to text a code from a rider sign is PreQuence. PreQuence provides a text description of the property and if the phone is web enabled the buyers are also able to select a link which takes them to photos of the listing. Agents are able to track the activity online in the PreQuence database 24/7 and you can use the technology to also tract leads from your print advertising whether its a home magazine, newspaper, etc. The website is PreQuence.com if you would like more information. If you would like to sample the product simply text PREVIEW to 98344 at anytime.

  • http://www.texttoknow.com Scott

    Just came across this post and thought it shared some great data and hit the nail on the head. More and more people are using text messaging no matter how old they are. I recently ran across a woman in her 70’s who told me she preferred to text her grandchildren because they responded to her faster and kept in touch better. The same is true for real estate. Many prospects want info, but don’t want the hard sell. By using text they get exactly that, just the info they want when they want it. E-mail didn’t replace snail mail, but is certainly changed the way we communicate and the same is to be said about text messaging compared to e-mail today.

  • http://electroniccigarettesusa.info e cigarette

    It’s how people communicate these days. I always thought texting was more impersonal because you’re not actually speaking to that other person, but it’s what’s popular right now. I love the idea of getting information through texting if I was in the market to buy a new house, but I would also like info on the house the old-fashioned way, too (via brochures, website, etc.).

  • http://www.keithkylehomes.com Keith Kyle

    As an active realtor in a very technology savvy market I think that texting is great but I don’t see it alleviating the need for flyers and brochure boxes. The very reason people grab the flyers is their comfort that they’re obtaining information rather anonomously. While texting and allowing potential buyers to get text information on a listing is certainly a good idea, I’d hate to lose those potential buyers that wouldn’t text due to the very reason you recommend it….that the realtor will be in touch with them moments later.

  • http://www.goomzee.com Mike Sparr – Goomzee.com

    Keith, professional sellers should use all communication channels so they have the best chance of creating opportunities to sell. I have not yet run across someone who doesn’t tell me that the flyer boxes are empty nearly every time they want to learn about a property – it’s important to have all options available or you miss opportunities.

    Texting is an interesting communication channel and has that feeling of anonymity like posting on Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. It’s quick and painless and less involved than other channels. We’ve noticed consumers are not apprehensive to text for the reasons you mention and the key is making sure you deliver information of value to justify their use, and re-use of the technology. User experiece is a major difference that many don’t realize when evaluating solutions.

    We’d be happy to share more if you like. Contact one of our team via our website any time you like. We also have useful articles and white papers available for free online.

  • Bob Stoneburner

    Brokers should be migrating to Communications Server 2007 with Office Communicator (the upgrade to Exchange Server) and allowing agents to field calls via text, mobile, IM, voice, or video call. Being responsive and using the customers preferred method of communication will be key. Email is about to change in a big way.

  • http://www.electroniccigarettesource.com/ Electronic Cigarette

    I think that texting and other new ways of communication are very important to making a more fluid marketplace, and going forward these methods are only going to take larger roles and make BIGGER deals. :)

  • danischo

    I agree with you on the subject of mobile marketing. It is very simple and convenient for potential buyers. The only thing I would like to add is…Every company offering text message marketing for Real Estate agents is so very expensive. Till NOW..http://www.Home2Cell.com has a service that offers a listing with syndication for that listing. Their text messaging plans are very well priced so any agent can afford the service. I know that they have a 100 listing package for 300.00 for six months…that comes out to $0.49 per listing per month. I dont think anyone will be able to neat their service or pricing.

    Thanks….

    P.S. great looking web site as well.

    • http://www.drewmeyersinsights.com drewmeyers

      danischo-
      And do you happen to work for home2cell?

      • danischo

        As a matter of fact, yes. I actually own the site. I am a Realtor as well, and I have, prior to putting together http://www.home2cell.com, used similar services and found them to be expensive. So that motivated us to build Home2Cell.com. Like I said in the first reply, I agree with you 100%, its a great way to capture leads and market listings. I hope I wasn't demeaning in any way to your article. I am just trying to assist fellow Realtors in their efforts. Have you checked out our site? If not, please do. You can contact me directly at sales@home2cell.com if you would like a FREE trial…it would be my pleasure.

        Dan Ischo

  • http://www.leadsopportunity.net/ leads_opportunity

    I'll post the same information to my blog, thanks for ideas and great article.

  • omantra

    we want sms text matter for real estate industry

  • http://WHAMmobile.com/ Keri Allred

    I think SMS marketing is breaking in every industry. There are too many benefits. As far as the SPAMing goes, that is not sms marketing. Those companies have clearly missed the boat here.

  • Heather Vantress

    When it comes to SMS in Real Estate there is nothing better then Mobile Agent- it not only give your home seekers the ability to view properties on the entire market through a text message you also have the ability to stay connected to them once they leave your website and go out looking at homes… You gotta check this out!

    email heather.vantress@cellsigns.com for more info and a short video to watch…

  • http://www.buy-electroniccigarettes.org/ E Cigarette

    I dont text message at all anymore, i used to when i was younger, but now i just say, why not call the person.

  • http://manhattanbeachmls.com Jay

    Very cool…! Man, so many opportunities.

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  • http://www.sufalamtech.com iPhone Application Developer

    I don’t use any text program for my listings and that is because my website has a mobile side that does that already. However I do see a lot of agents that use the texting for their listings, but most are realizing the same thing that I did. Buy a website and get that all included.

  • mr check

    hi, how are you doing? I am having issues setting up my first sms message for my real estate company. i need an appropriate message format to first introduce the company. can you plssssssssssssssssss assist with this?

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