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Real Estate Marketing and Software: The Price is Right 2012

If you're in Real Estate (or married to someone who is) you're going to want to read this.  Jump on the band wagon!

Mike in Tucson

Real Estate Marketing and Software: The Price is Right 2012


There are SO many real estate products and services that every day a real estate agent is confronted with numerous choices about where to spend money in their business.

Given the challenging real estate market of the past five years, the team here at ActiveRain wanted to understand where real estate agents should be spending their money AND how much per month.

In January 2012, ActiveRain & Market Leader surveyed more than 2,000 real estate agents and brokers to understand what software and marketing support real estate agents are using in their business and how much they are spending on these necessary tools of the trade.  We have combined our survey data with the National Association of REALTOR's® (2012 Member survey to get a rich view on real estate agent income and expenses.


Real Estate Marketing Infographic

Please Embed This Infographic in Your Own Blog

Tweetable Highlights

#ActiveRain survey says REALTORS spend more on their cars than on their marketing!  More at http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

ActiveRain reports that most REALTORS® Only generated 4 leads from their website in 2011. More at http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain: REALTORS® earning over $100K/year spend 5-10x more on marketing than their peers. More at http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

Only 21% of REALTORS® use paperless transactions or e-signature software per #ActiveRain. #Green More at http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain says direct mail is the largest offline real estate marketing expense. Go @USPS! More at http://goo.gl/1FUo9.
[Tweet this]

"Averages" in Real Estate:

We highly encourage every real estate agent, broker or company to get your hands on the NAR 2012 Member Profile and look closely at page 51. The average REALTOR® earns $35k per year and works 40 hours per week.  BUT 57% of REALTORS® generate some income from outside real estate and a large percentage of REALTORS® are part-time or hobbyists.  REALTORS® working more than 40 hours per week earn more than $55k per year and REALTORS® working less than 40 hours a week earn less than $20k per year!

The “average” REALTOR® spends $4,520 in expenses per year or 13% of personal income on expenses. Of those expenses, the average REALTOR® spends $1,770 on their vehicle, $1,070 on marketing/promotion, and $630 on technology.  REALTORS® earning more than $100k per year work more than 50 hours per week and spend more than $15k per year on expenses (roughly 12-15% of income).

Takeaway: Treat real estate like a business, not a job or a hobby and you will be successful.

Vehicle Expenses:

Shockingly, vehicle expenses continue to be the largest single expense for REALTORS®.  Gas prices are up 286% over the last 12 years, according to InflationData.com.  REALTORS® do spend an inordinate amount of time in their cars and have often been criticized for driving vehicles "above their pay grade."   It does surprise me that vehicle expenses account for 39% of the average agent's TOTAL expense budget and is 65% more than they spend on marketing each year.

Real Estate Software & Technology Expenses:

Similar to our previous survey Rich Real Estate Agent, Poor Real Estate Agent, agents were very consistent in real estate software use.  Agent use five primary kinds of software for their business: IDX websites with home listings, CMA (comparative market analysis) tools, contact or lead management, email marketing and listing syndication software.

IDX web sites, CRM or contact management, virtual tours, and team management software are categories where agents feel there is significant additional value to paying a premium for the best software. This is consistent with the Rich Real Estate Agent, Poor Real Estate Agent study where successful agents invest in systems – lead generation web sites and strong prospect management.  The most successful agents who earn more than $100k per year want the best, highly customizable web sites, contact management, and virtual tours to highlight their listings.

Alternatively, some categories of real estate agent spend do not increase with greater income. The pricing of paperless transaction / esignature software, CMA tools, and email marketing software is consistent, independent of agent income. CraigsList and listing syndication tools are widely used, but largely bundled into other software services now. Postlets was acquired by Zillow, ListHub was acquired by REALTOR.com®, and Market Leader also has a CraigsList Listing Sydication tool built into their software platform.

 Software    Average Usage   Average Price   Agents Earning <$35k   Agents Earning >$100k 
IDX Website with home listings from MLS 63% $75 $54 $97
Contact management / CRM 51% $73 $64 $78
Virtual Tour software 37% $49 $42 $59
Single Property Website software 29% $41 $38 $40
Marketing design software 31% $53 $50 $59
Email marketing software 47% $40 $38 $38
CMA (comparative market analysis) tools 62% $46 $50 $41
Listing Syndication tool 41% $48 $45 $57
Team Management tool 11% $60 $36 $69
Paperless transaction software / esignatures 21% $37 $32 $38

Monthly Real Estate Marketing & Advertising Expenses

Real estate agents spend time and money on many different real estate marketing strategies. SEO / Social Media / Blogging took the top prize as the most used advertising or marketing source. SEO, social media and blogging are relatively low cost advertising outlets and social media is becoming pervasive with the growth of FaceBook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Twitter. The consistent surprise with every survey of marketing tactics continues to be direct mail with 40% of real estate agents using direct mail to support their business. After social media and direct mail are paid advertising and marketing on the Internet. Home buyer and seller lead generation ranked as the third most popular form of advertising with 35% of respondents using Internet lead generation.

This is higher than previous surveys we have conducted which could be a positive sign for the real estate market. Advertising on national real estate web sites like Zillow, Trulia and REALTOR.com and using Pay per Click marketing on search engines were fourth and fifth most used forms of advertising.  This is not suprisingl since agents buy advertising on national real estate web sites like Zillow, Trulia and REALTOR.com to drive home buyer and seller leads. 

Top producing real estate agents earning more than $100k per year have the ability to spend more and do spend more on marketing across the board. Top producing, rich real estate agents are spending in areas both online and offline.   Top agents spend more on online lead generation, search engine marketing, national real estate web sites, and direct mail.  20% of agents earning more than $100k actually support the community through local sponsorships like Little League, high school sports, and their local church.

 Real Estate Marketing   Average Usage   Average Price   Agents Earning <$35k   Agents Earning >$100k 
Pay-per-Click (PPC), search engine marketing 16% $140 $88 $197
Home buyer or seller lead generation 32% $155 $113 $191
Paid advertising on national real estate web sites 26% $128 $91 $161
Sponsorship / ads on local website 10% $77 $56 $107
Sponsorship / ads on newspaper website 9% $86 $61 $122
Direct mail 40% $108 $68 $158
Rack Publications 11% $145 $79 $206
City newspaper 10% $98 $48 $149
Local newspaper 14% $99 $57 $145
Town bulletin, church, etc. 8% $56 $46 $73
Local sponsorships (little league, plays, high school, etc.) 13% $78 $66 $102
Marketing personnel costs 17% $183 $107 $222
Television 3% $139 $93 $173
Radio 5% $191 $123 $216
SEO, blogging and social media 45% $78 $47 $106
Paid training or coaching 16% $175 $97 $228

Real Estate Marketing Personnel & Real Estate Training

Though not software or advertising, it is worth noting that 17% of real estate professionals continue to use a marketing assistant to support their advertising and marketing efforts AND 16% of agents are using some sort of premium training or coaching to supplement their education and skills.  These are relatively expensive services for the average agent with an average price per month of $183 and $175 per month for real estate marketing support and real estate coaching & training respectively.


As is often the case, averages hide the truth. But in real estate, real estate agents and brokers that treat real estate as a business tend to be successful. This requires working more hours than a "job", investing in systems like strong web sites and contact management, spending money on marketing, outsourcing less mission critical aspects of the job like marketing support, and investing in yourself through continuous coaching & training.

More Tweetable Highlights

IDX websites, CMA software, CRM & email are the top real estate tools in this #ActiveRain survey http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain says social media, blogs, and SEO are most used for online real estate marketing.  More at http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

REALTORS® earning over $100K work more than 50 hours/week. See #ActiveRain #Infographic  at http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain #Infographic at http://goo.gl/1FUo9 shows real estate agents are willing to spend top $ on lead generation. [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain: Top real estate agents spend top $ on offline marketing despite the high prices.  More at http://goo.gl/1FUo9. [Tweet this]

If you liked this infographic and blog post from ActiveRain, please share it with your friends, check out our GREAT SPONSORS and leave us a comment below!

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Comment balloon 5 commentsMike Jones • June 27 2012 12:01PM
Real Estate Marketing and Software: The Price is Right 2012
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