I recently attended a Trulia Webinar and even with my web savvy ways, I found that there was one other lead generation avenue that I had yet to take advantage of called Trulia Voices, which is the advice and opinion section of the Trulia.com site often referred to as the Q&A section or simply Trulia Voices.

So, I am into exploring new ways of earning business. Immediately after the Trulia Webinar, I signed up to be a member of Trulia.com and I created my agent profile. I claimed my listings and set up my email alerts for different topics/questions to be emailed to me as they post to the Trulia.com site.

If you are a Realtor and you are reading this, you know as well as I do that your response time is everything in the real estate business. Your ability to capture new clients, unfortunately or fortunately for some, comes from your ability to follow-up fast. 70% of buyers and sellers choose to work with the first agent they meet.

In August 2005, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) sent an 8 page consumer survey to 145,000 buyers and sellers who either brought or sold a home between August 2004-July 2005, which provided a profile of home buyers and sellers. (I’ll explain why I am referencing this old report in a second).

In 2005, (NAR) found that:

  • Buyers searched for a median of two weeks on their own before contacting a real estate professional.
  • Over three quarters of home-buyers used only one agent in their home search.
  • Buyers ranked reputation as the most important factor when choosing a real estate professional to assist with a home purchase.

For home sellers, NAR found that when selecting a real estate professional, 47% of home sellers that sold that year asked for a referral from a friend, relative or neighbor.

When thinking about the profile of buyers and sellers of 2004-2005, one can conclude that you have a greater chance of capturing a buyer lead rather than a seller lead from your online presence albeit from your personal real estate website, a listing with your contact information on it or your participation in social networks or even real estate forums like Trulia Voices.

That was 2004-2005 when buyers and sellers were naturally motivated to buy and sell. That was a time when the market was “good” and homes were on the market for an average of 4 weeks. Now that we are in a normal market or strong buyer’s market in some areas, the same two weeks that it took for a buyer to contact an agent could very well turn into 6 weeks. It is now easier for clients to be a fly on the wall and only seek you out when she or she is ready to buy or sell.  The internet, forums and social networks have empowered consumers. If you want to capture new business you must be willing to generate the content (in this case responses to questions) that people, buyers and sellers, are looking for.

Being found and being called or emailed is obviously one reason to participate in online real estate forums like Trulia Voices. When I first started answering questions on Trulia Voices, I answered 16 questions, maybe 2-3 hours of my time over a period of three weeks, and it amounted to not one phone call, not one lead.  So, I couldn’t help but wonder if participating in Trulia Voices was worth the time and effort it took me to generate the well thought out responses? I rationalized my time like this: I can sit at the phones at the front desk of my office for 2-3 hours and get zero leads. I can sit an open house and get zero leads. I can make 50 neighborhood phone calls and still get zero real estate leads. So why should Trulia Voices be any different?

Here’s the difference. It’s what they don’t tell you in the webinar that makes Trulia Voices a powerful real estate marketing tool.

1. Each time you respond, you have the option of ending or concluding your reponses with a web reference for more information (backlinks). I end my responses with a link to my website or a related blog post or even my twitter account to encourage people to learn more about me. These links help to reaffirm my personal online presence based on topics and other revelent information buyers and sellers are searching for. I have a game plan and I respond to topics about foreclosure, short sales, agent to agent help, first time home buyer questions among other categories.  I did a search for my name on Google and I looked for key search terms both buyers and sellers might use to search for topics and I found that I can be found within the first four page results of Google, specifically with my Trulia activity. This same traffic is spilling over to people looking at my website and my housing inventory. Check out the following summary statistics for the ForSaleByAngiePerez.com at the bottom of the post.

2. Offering free samples is an element of getting new business in any business. In the beginning, when I first started to respond to Q&As on Trulia, I was feeling like, “I’m I giving away my expertise for free or am I selling myself short by providing answers before meeting prospective clients face to face?” Then, I realized that I give things away for free all the time as in an email, CMA or neighborhood report just to get face to face with prospective clients. But clients throw away those reports away and other people don’t get the benefit of knowing my level of expertise. When you respond to a question in Trulia Voices, you are leaving a digital marketing piece that can last forever and show the benefits of doing business with you. On the other hand, make sure you present yourself in a good light. A negative image of you can last just as long as a well thought out response.

3. The education is priceless. As I stated above, I am following certain topics and well, you can monitor how other Realtors respond. Some of the same questions of these online buyers and sellers might present itself in your day to day ativities, which lends itself an opportunity to present more than one perspective to current or future clients.

Here are some ways to avoid the common pitfalls of participating in Trulia Voices. I’ve encountered some as you might have inferred above:

1. Simply responding doesn’t guarantee you a phone call or email from potential clients. Gracefully encourage people to call or email you and explain why and what the benefit it will be to the potential client. Make sure your profile page on Trulia has your call to action and accurately demonstrates your value position.

2. You should be careful with what you say. I asked a stupid question in my follow-up response to a buyer and another agent gracefully called me out on it. Sometimes it happens. My advice: move past it and keep at it.

3. Some questions are difficult to answer since you do not want to steer; you are not an attorney or mortgage/financial professional. In some cases, where you feel you need to put a disclaimer before you answer. DO PUT A DISCLAIMER. Even if you are offering your opinion, you should qualify your statements.  

4. Type up your responses in Microsoft Word for the Trulia response box does not allow you to run a spell or grammar check. I have never entered html, but I suspect it would show up as code and not formatted text. Not sure about this one.

5. Set up your alerts immediately after creating your profile so that you can respond in timely manner.

The 2005 National Association of Realtors  (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.

Summary Statistics of ForSaleByAngiePerez.com Website August 2009

Summary Statistics of ForSaleByAngiePerez.com Website August 2009

Search from over 1,000,000 condos on Condo.com, the world’s largest condo marketplace.

Written By Audeliz Angie Perez a Sales Associate of Weichert, Realtors. The above article does not reflect the opinion of Weichert, Realtors. Ms. Perez is a staff writer for NJRETODAYand enjoys writing content for other agents and providing tech or internet marketing tip. She can be contact via email at a.perez@comcast.net

Post By Audeliz Angie Perez (160 Posts)

Angie Perez is a NJ Circle of Excellence award winning real estate agent for Weichert, Realtors in Edison. She sells anywhere from 12-25 houses per year on a consistent basis since 2005. Ms. Perez is primarily a buyer's agent on 60% of her real estate sales where she represents rental income investors, first time home buyers & trade up home buyers of 1-4 family homes within specific towns encompassing 4 NJ counties: Union, Essex, Middlesex and Somerset County. Many of Ms. Perez's clients appreciate her ability to negotiate favorable real estate deals for them. Many of her clients commented that her research abilities, her honesty, her knowledge of local market trends and her proficiency to manage multiple real estate transactions from start to close are some of the reasons why she was hired as their agent of choice. Please call, text or email Angie Perez to ask if she lists or sell in your town. If she can not help you, Ms. Perez would be more than happy to help or refer you to someone who can.

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8 Responses to Participating in Trulia Voices: Is it worth your time?

  1. In my search for success stories, I asked for agents in the Trulia group on LinkedIn to give me feedback, and I had one respondent, but I believe that the discussion was deleted by the Truila LinkedIn group admin. That Sucks!

    In any case, here's one that I found from a local agent in her blog section of Trulia
    http://www.trulia.com/blog/jeanne_feenick_-_new

  2. Hi Angie!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to deep dive into what Trulia offers and for doing a really great screencast. I find your many of your observations to be right on point and great advice for others but also want to clarify a couple things.

    As a best practice, I would not leave a call to action of all your contact info at the end of each question you answer or at the end of each blog post. If the consumer values your advice and opinion, they can easily click over to your profile and learn more about as well as reach out to you via phone or email or click on any of the 5 links you are able to list – including links to your facebook, twitter or other website or blog. It's feedback that both agents and consumers have shared with us.

    Trulia gets upwards of 5.5 million uniques per month vs. the 3 million you mentioned.

    Agents should answer the questions that they have the best knowledge or experience in. You shouldn't answer a question online that you would not answer to someone face to face – the same rules apply as far as fair housing and code of ethics is concerned. So your point on steering is a very valid one and something agents have to ask themselves before they answer in public forum.

    Also, I manage our Trulia Linkedin account and thank you for being a member of our group and do not recall deleting any answer. If that happened it does suck and I apologize. Let me check w/ some of our other admins on this.

    Thanks for sharing Jeanne's testimonial story – I love it!

    Have an awesome weekend Angie!

    Best,

    Rudy
    Social Media Guru for Trulia

  3. I absolutely agree with your with comments, especially the part on links in signatures. I've been mixing and matching my responses with links and some without as I am testing to see what gets the best response.

    But then I have to think about if the consumer will click on my profile to find out more about me. Do they know to do this? As I said, I'm giving it a shot, but I'm still on the fences about whether or not it's a good lead generation tool. Only time will tell!

  4. In my search for success stories, I asked for agents in the Trulia group on LinkedIn to give me feedback, and I had one respondent, but I believe that the discussion was deleted by the Truila LinkedIn group admin. That Sucks!

    In any case, here's one that I found from a local agent in her blog section of Trulia
    http://www.trulia.com/blog/jeanne_feenick_-_new

  5. Hi Angie!

    Thanks so much for taking the time to deep dive into what Trulia offers and for doing a really great screencast. I find your many of your observations to be right on point and great advice for others but also want to clarify a couple things.

    As a best practice, I would not leave a call to action of all your contact info at the end of each question you answer or at the end of each blog post. If the consumer values your advice and opinion, they can easily click over to your profile and learn more about as well as reach out to you via phone or email or click on any of the 5 links you are able to list – including links to your facebook, twitter or other website or blog. It's feedback that both agents and consumers have shared with us.

    Trulia gets upwards of 5.5 million uniques per month vs. the 3 million you mentioned.

    Agents should answer the questions that they have the best knowledge or experience in. You shouldn't answer a question online that you would not answer to someone face to face – the same rules apply as far as fair housing and code of ethics is concerned. So your point on steering is a very valid one and something agents have to ask themselves before they answer in public forum.

    Also, I manage our Trulia Linkedin account and thank you for being a member of our group and do not recall deleting any answer. If that happened it does suck and I apologize. Let me check w/ some of our other admins on this.

    Thanks for sharing Jeanne's testimonial story – I love it!

    Have an awesome weekend Angie!

    Best,

    Rudy
    Social Media Guru for Trulia

  6. I absolutely agree with your with comments, especially the part on links in signatures. I've been mixing and matching my responses with links and some without as I am testing to see what gets the best response.

    But then I have to think about if the consumer will click on my profile to find out more about me. Do they know to do this? As I said, I'm giving it a shot, but I'm still on the fences about whether or not it's a good lead generation tool. Only time will tell!

  7. Testing what works and what does not work for you is the key. I'm happy to hear you're doing that. Here's a post I wrote that might interest you and others.:

    http://www.truliablog.com/2009/06/23/how-to-bes

    All the best,

    Rudy

  8. […] Participating in Trulia Voices: Is it worth your time […]

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