Over the past 24 months, particularly in large metropolitan markets like Atlanta, real estate print media has all but disappeared in favor of promoting online listings and services. Web advertising continues to evolve; Agents’ ability to provide enhanced listing details has captivated consumers who want easy access to all the information that can be provided online before getting in a car to begin their search. In the saturated Atlanta market of 2009 with huge and stagnant inventories, differentiation is crucial. With approximately 45,000 single-family homes and 10,000 condominiums available for purchase, there is significant motivation for sellers and listing agents to understand and implement high-impact web marketing.

Customizable search criteria, bird’s-eye views, street views, backyards, parking, amenities, questionable structures, bodies of water, and topography are information used by informed Atlanta-area buyers to remove properties in an oversupplied inventory. The Atlanta metro area has two MLS systems with significant overlap, so many agents list properties on both. In practice, a multiple listing system creates a level playing field, so to take advantage of their listings, proactive agents are likely to advertise beyond the content of these systems. Powerful area-specific websites like The Atlanta Journal Homefinder, Craigslist, Backpage, and Creative Loafing have quickly evolved to include extras like mapping tools and photo tours. However, these opportunities continue to be underutilized by listing agents, even when advertising is free.

Specialized internet marketing is not included in the skill set of most agents. Tech-savvy agents who really get internet marketing and property promotion are one of a kind. An example of the typical disconnect is the property listing website, indexed by home address URL. What buyer knows your address before searching for your dream home? How many web routes does your listing agent provide to move the buyer to a site that shows the most attractive features of your home?

More importantly, how does your agent rank on the top page of Google for your home? Occasionally I see listings that have placed an informational link in the private comments section of the MLS listing, so only agents can view it. If that’s the only online visibility of the path to a virtual home tour, then everyone loses. The consumer browsing a publicly accessible listing website misses out on some of the most compelling information. When I see this error, I know that the agent has limited Internet marketing knowledge; the chances of this house ranking high on Google are slim.

Descriptive property pages that rank high on Google are not the result of large brokerage firms “stuffing” listings on national real estate websites. In Atlanta’s large inventory of urban, suburban and rural housing, the search for a home can quickly confuse and frustrate buyers. The most successful web advertising for your home is a carefully crafted product managed by an agent who knows what really matters when consumers begin the search process. If Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield National Park, The Avenue of East Cobb, or Roswell Square are popular destinations near your home, then the agent will incorporate this information into the web page title to capture additional traffic.

Relevant interview questions to help you identify a web-savvy listing agent capable of creating a high-impact marketing campaign to sell your home are:

* What local and national real estate websites will my home be listed on?
* How often do you update my home listing information on these sites?
* What keyword searches can consumers use to find my home on the Google home page?
* Explain how you incorporate SEO techniques into your overall marketing plan.
* What domain names specific to the Atlanta area do you own that help potential customers find my home?
* Do you hire a professional photographer to show the interior and exterior of my home?
* How many images will appear on my home tour and which websites will show the tour?
* Will you add information to the images to create additional interest?
* How many seconds does it take for a shopper to load and view my tour?
* Can my home photo tour be emailed?
* Can you show me an example of your high impact listings?
* Will you walk me through the process that demonstrates how a buyer will find my home online?
* Will I be shown all the details of my home’s listing profile as it will be seen by the public?
* Will I receive weekly emails showing the number of virtual tour visits to my home?

In the busy Atlanta real estate market of 2009, the answers to these questions and the benefits derived from them are important differentiators between those who make the best sales and those who don’t make it to the closing table.

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