Americans Love To Home Shop: Real Estate Sites Generate 86 Million Leads

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DENVER: Real estate is in the midst of a consumer and technology-driven revolution, said industry leaders gathered at “The Tightrope” event, sponsored by home lender Eave for brokers and agents early this month.

Nick Bailey, CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, offered numbers to illustrate how rapidly the landscape for the profession is changing.

In 2011, there were 5.8 million residential real estate leads nationally, which generated 4.5 million transactions, according to Bailey.

Last year, transactions had increased to 5.5 million. However, leads were up exponentially: There were 86 million, generated by technology that makes home shopping a leisure-time activity. Only a quarter are ever contacted by an agent or broker.

The Tightrope was hosted by Eave, a home lender specializing in jumbo mortgages, to offer brokerages insights from top industry leaders on how to face the challenges of today’s technology-enabled market.

Eave operates in Colorado and also specializes in helping entrepreneurs and other complex borrowers.

Opportunities are more abundant than ever across all sizes of firms, despite the changes, panelists agreed.

The three industry leaders were Nick Bailey, CEO of Century 21 Real Estate, with 119,000 sales professionals in 8,300 broker offices in 81 countries; Heather Heuer, president and employing broker of Denver-based PorchLight, which has 173 agents; and Lindsey Benton, owner of Live.Laugh.Denver, which has six agents.

They spoke to about 50 real estate professionals on how to modernize agencies. Denver is one of the nation’s hottest markets, with home prices up nearly 10% in the last year.

To help affiliated agents manage the number of leads and appeal more to the experiences of all segments of homebuyers, Bailey said, CENTURY 21® recently rebranded and is investing heavily in new app technology to allow for a smooth, more timely and efficient ‘contract to close.’

Rather than focusing on large databases of customer prospects, PorchLight helps agents establish and focus on a referral base of about 50 people that leads to an active pipeline of about 100.

PorchLight agents attend more than 40 hours of accredited educational classes and are part of a collaborative and supportive workplace.

“At PorchLight a collaborative and supportive environment is the norm, and our agents focus on their clients’ real estate needs first versus everything else in their business,” said Heuer.

Live.Laugh.Denver takes an intensely personal approach, treating customers like family. “The business is abundant,” said Benton. “The key is to be in front of someone buying or selling a home and establishing a lasting relationship.”

All three agencies are seeing success with their approaches. PorchLight’s Heuer was named managing broker of the year by Denver Metro Association of Realtors; PorchLight was also named #3 Top Workplace in Denver. Live.Laugh.Denver agent Christina Ray was named rookie of the year. And Century 21’s rebranding has been widely heralded.

Those changes have helped recruit millennial agents who want to serve customers with high-touch and high-technology, said Mercie Curbow, one of the owners of Colorado Springs-based Curbow Realty, a CENTURY 21 franchise.

“We went from colors that looked like a yellow jack to a sophisticated gold,” Curbow said. “The brand now fits what we always were.”

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