How Targeted is Your Marketing?

Because real estate is based on geography, Realtors often base their marketing on geography as well. That’s a fine place to start, but Realtors often stop there without considering all of the other aspects that go into creating a truly well-built target market. And that’s a big mistake. Especially today, when you need to produce big results with a smaller budget, you can’t afford to not have a solid plan.

You can use the search tool in REsearch to help shape your target market with both geographic and demographic characteristics. REsearch will generate a personalized list of the people who fit those parameters and their contact information. So instead of marketing to a whole neighborhood when only half of them are actually in your target market, be strategic, spend less and be more successful.

Here are a few of my favorite criteria to use when creating a target market.

• DOM: Find a group of listings in an area that have been on the market for over three months and market them to the investor/owners in the area as a good addition to their portfolio.

• Value of home: When you are marketing a certain home, make sure the group you are soliciting has the existing equity to purchase now.

• Beds & Baths: Find homes on the market that are a step up from apartments in the area, and market them to apartment owners as an opportunity to move up.

• Owner-occupant, Investor or Renter? You might want to consider marketing to these groups differently, as they each likely have a different mentality and financial situation.

The only things you won’t find in REsearch are the psychographics — the way people think and why they do what they do. That’s where your instincts come in. For instance, is your product or service generational? It’s highly unlikely that first time buyers will purchase a million dollar home, so why include them? Also, take the economy, the time of year, and other things into consideration and tweak your message appropriately.

When you are done, take a step back and make sure that the target market you’ve created is indeed who you want to reach. Once you launch your campaign, make sure you track the results to see what did and didn’t work for next time.

-Erin Shaw

Some Frequently Asked Questions About HIS

What is Hawaii Information Service?

The official name of the corporation is MLS Hawaii, Inc.. MLSHI is a for-profit corporation created by the Hawaii Island, Kauai, and Kona Boards of Realtors® in 1984. MLSHI filed to operate as Hawaii Information Service in 1987 when the directors acknowledged that half of the revenue of the company came from non-MLS sources.

Who owns HIS?

HIS is owned by two not-for-profit Boards of Realtors®. The Hawaii Island Board of Realtors (HIBR) owns one class of stock and the Kauai Board of Realtors owns one class of stock. The staff of HIS has ZERO ownership in HIS.

Who runs HIS?

A Board of Directors made up of 7 directors .. 3 appointed by Hawaii Island board of Realtors and 3 appointed by the Kauai Board of Realtors plus the CEO who is automatically a member of the board of Directors. Every member of the Board of Directors is a Realtor® (including the CEO), but there are on-going discussions about expanding the Board of Directors to include non-Realtor® members who will offer expertise in non-MLS areas, such as finance or telecommunications.

HIBR directors are Gary Davis, Al Inoue, and Buddy Norwood.Kauai directors are Roy Morimoto, Roberta Charles, and Clifton Kukino.

Who decides what the MLS fees will be?

The Board of Directors of Hawaii Information Service.

Have MLS fees paid for software development?

No. Historically, only half of the company’s revenue is generated from MLS fees. The other half comes from the sale of products, such as the public records, to non-MLS customers.

Why does HIS have mainland customers? Why are they not concentrating on us?

The goal of the Board of Directors for the past 20 years has been to build the non-MLS revenue in order to even out the peaks and valleys in MLS subscribers that result from ups and downs in the real estate market. MLS revenue has declined more than $200,000 since 2006, but non-MLS revenue has increased more than $500,000 which has allowed continued improvements in customer service with no further increases in MLS fees.

Why Do Consumers Prefer the MLS Site to the Broker Site?

Many real estate brokers feel that the MLS consumer-facing website is a threat to their broker site; that if the MLS site were not there, the broker site would somehow, miraculously, receive all of the visits online that would have formerly gone to the MLS site. One broker felt so strongly in the Chicago area that he convinced the MLS organization to take down their very successful website. The result? The broker has exactly the same market share now as he has when the MLS site was active.

Extensive research for and Cyberhomes disavow that claim. Some 83% of all consumers preferred visiting the MLS website because
the consumer feels

1) MLS data is more accurate
2) MLS site is non-threatening
3) The consumer can set up their own searches without fear of being contacted by an agent

All consumers who visit are redirected to the listing broker; so the listing broker is eventually going to get all of those contacts anyway. Let the inquiries pass through to build traffic!

The power of the broker cooperative effort is self evident in the success of the MLS where every listing is part of an inventory that is available to every agent to sell. The concept behind is the same …. combining the power of every broker behind to deliver as many visitors as possible builds AlohaLiving into the most dominant website in the State of Hawaii, attracting even more visitors than all of the broker websites combined. It’s called “nexus” .. where the total is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

How to Market Your Listings

Yes, sales volume is back to 2003 levels, but many agents are not doing their job, based upon a quick run through the MLS offerings recently.

Take photos! I find it hard to believe that agents in today’s internet world actually have listings in the database with NO photos. The figures are astounding when you compare the number of “clicks” a listing gets with photos compared with listings with no photos; so how can you properly represent the property with NO photos in the MLS database, especially when their MLS sends your listings to a variety of internet websites such as, Cyberhomes, AOL, Yahoo!, GoogleBase,, Trulia, Zillow, Frontdoor (Homes and Garden), and more to come.

Add captions to your photos! If the view is from the lanai, say so. The captions are an advertising opportunity that many agents are not taking advantage of. If your client sees that all other photos have great captions outlining the features of the property, and your photos have no captions, what will your response be when the client calls wondering why there are no captions on the photos of his or her property?

It all starts with good data entry. You should be completing as many fields as possible during the data entry process. If the property is not oceanfront but has an ocean view, check the box that says it has an ocean view — otherwise, your unit will not show up in a search asking for units with an ocean view. Garbage in, garbage out. It all starts with good data entry.

When is a listing “contingent”?

The HIS rules require a listing status to show “contingent” when there is a Purchase Agreement signed by both parties or the property is subject to an open escrow.

When you respond that leaving the listing in active status is in the best interest of the seller, you should ask yourself how you would like the property to be displayed if you were on the other side of the transaction. It’s extremely irritating to have a ready and willing buyer for a property only to find out that it’s already under contract after chasing the listing agent for several days.

Please be polite and treat your fellow REALTORS® the way you would like to be treated.

Public Records at the CMLS Conference

The Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS) hosted its annual conference in Minneapolis last week. HIS CEO Lin McIntosh was invited to participate on a panel entitled “Public Records: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t.” Her portion of the presentation addressed the question, “What do real estate agents need from public records?

Her answer: “The ability to make more money!

How can agents make more money with public records?

“The first, and most obvious, way is to find property that matches their buyers’ needs that is not listed in the MLS,” Lin said.

“Because the State of Hawaii did such a good job in computerizing their records in 1983, agents can search the database for a condo on a specific floor with a specific apartment number in a project that has tennis courts, recreation centers, child care, et cetera,” she said. “You can search for oceanfront properties by searching the street address.”

Do you know which side of the street has the odd numbers?

Later, more ways to make money with public records. Questions? Ask Lin!