Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Vendors Gain Market Share - Ignore FSBO

I've visited a few Virtual Tour sites on the web recently and they do not make their products and services available to For Sale By Owner home sellers to purchase. This trend of only offering marketing tools to licensed Realtors is nothing new but not much has been said about this market-share/safe business practice of having a strong customer focus towards Realtors while turning away business from FSBO home sellers. I call these companies Non-For-Sale-By-Owner (NFSBO) sites.

For example I visited a company website that has been in business since 1996 called TourFactory. The site states: “(Listing) Agents have been using the TourFactory Internet Marketing System for 10 years - as a cornerstone in their marketing program."

I agree, TourFactory sells products that would make a house stand out online from the overcrowded inventories of properties For Sale. Also check out TourFactory's HomeDebut that allows homebuyers to search virtual tours ordered by participating Real Estate Agents.

Moreover I also visited Obeo that states "(our) solutions help the Real Estate professional thrive." I saw great products here also with 100+ tons of online marketing tools available that would capture the attention of home-buyers searching for Real Estate online. Yet, these companies still decide to stay market-share/safe and only offer services to licensed Real Estate Agents.

Just to double check that I wasn’t making a mistake with my comments - I called TourFactory at (888) 458-3943 and made a request. "I'd like to order a Virtual Tour." The operator on the phone started to set up an account for me and took my first and last name. Then she asked if I was a licensed Real Estate Agent. I said “no” that I was selling my property For Sale By Owner. Her response was "I'm sorry we only sell tours to Real Estate Agents." Of course, I asked why and was told that "We're exclusive to licensed Real Estate Agents it's the company policy." I then contacted Obeo through its LivePerson chat and received the same answer.

My feeling is that the Internet hasn't created a new real estate consumer; it just formed a more educated one. We should all know this – it’s old news. But, still some vendors/transaction service partners in the Real Estate Industry will take the route of the slow box turtle towards adopting the Internet in full. While the traditional real estate consumers continue to hop onto the Internet taking full advantage of the many online resources available with the speed of a European Brown Hare.


Anonymous said...

Not sure what the point of your article is -- are you saying it is bad that they've not taken on FSBO?

Open House said...

The point of this article post and this Blog has always been to bring into “discussion” the current options available to real estate consumers that want to find, buy, and/or sell real estate. I feel that the companies not offering such advanced and professional online marketing services to the FSBO market (ie: home sellers looking for ways to market their property online) are missing out on a opportunity to grow their company’s market share.

I’m unclear about why TourFactory, Obeo, and other vendors don’t open the doors to home sellers who choose to work without a licensed real estate agent. Other companies offer their products to both the FSBO market and licensed real estate agents such as CellSigns.

The real estate consumer in my opinion should have access to these services. After all there is a misconception that advertising sells real estate. “The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS studies show that 82% of real estate sales are the result of agent contacts through previous clients, referrals, friends, family and personal contacts.”

Hypothetically, it can also be possible that TourFactory, Obeo, and other vendors practice this business model of turning away FSBO business because it creates a competitive advantage for their clients.

Red Pony said...

Another major tour company called CirclePix.com offers tours to FSBOs. FSBO pricing is a little higher than agent pricing, but I assume that has something to do with volume and repeat business.