One of the challenges Realtors face in differentiating ourselves from other Realtors falls into what I call the “evidence of success” category of marketing. That is to say, I know Sylvia and I are good at selling homes, but how does a prospective client know? On the surface, Realtors all seem the same to most people, unless time is invested to research Realtor websites, interview several agents and know the right questions to ask.
Among the questions you should always ask an agent is “how active are you in my area? How many homes have you sold recently in my area? Do you know my market and will you be able to help me price the home correctly? Have you seen the homes mine will be competing against?” A busy agent actively selling a lot of homes will be able to answer favorably to these questions, but it’s still just talk isn’t it? Where is the evidence?
I just figured out a really quick and easy way to show the answer instead of talking about it. That is, with a nice map of sold homes. Check out the map below that I just created using Google Maps, which shows some of the homes Sylvia and I have sold in Austin over the past 30 months. Mostly since the the end of 2005 when we un-retired after a year off, through March 2008.
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Thanks to Google Maps technology, we now have a simple way to provide a quick snapshot of sales activity. You can drag the map around, click on pins for more info, zoom in and out. It’s pretty cool. The blue pins are listings sold. The red pins are buyer sales. How did I create this map?
I simply exported our sales data from the MLS, ran a tab delimited file through a geocoder, which created the file that Google Maps requires to import, then made some adjustments to the pin locations that didn’t map correctly (newer subdivisions).
I’m still learning the depth of capabilities available with Google Maps. I can import photos of the homes if I want to, along with any other listing data I choose. What I did for this test run was simply import the address and the “comments” that were included on the original listing.
I can’t think of a better way to, at a glance, show a prospective buyer or seller “this is what we do and where we do it”.
Our revamped website, which I’m working on at present, will feature this and other maps outlining Austin neighborhoods. Google Maps allows boundaries to be drawn, with shaded areas and descriptions, and the overlaying of existing map points such as schools, restaurants, parks, and other data. A complete map can be created 100% from scratch that will present whatever locations and data one wishes to include. I look forward to creating more of these maps to help prospective buyer get a better sence of neighborhoods, amenities, nearby schools, etc.
The possibilities seem endless. As a Realtor, I’m excited about this technology because it allows us to better serve those we help by assembling geographic information into an easy to understand visual format. It’s not exactly easy work, but it’s free, except for the time invested in creating the map.