Homing in on Prime Real Estate
Homes.com and ForRent.com are keeping an eye on America’s most promising cities, and turning consumer attention towards them.
The real estate market is still recovering from the Great Recession, with certain parts of the country bouncing back more swiftly than others. While Homes.com is a national brand that caters to prospective and existing renters and buyers all over the U.S, part of its marketing strategy is to create buzz around cities that are thriving; then, it targets consumers living – or curious about living – in those vicinities.
“We look at areas where we want to make an impact,” says Wendy Froehlich, VP of Marketing for Homes.com and ForRent.com (the sister site of Homes.com). “We do things like local search with Google and Yahoo, display and content campaigns, and tie that in with some geo-targeted Facebook ads as well as the content that we build on our site like infographics, wrap-ups on a city, and top ten lists.”
A Vision of Texas
Certain cities belonging to the Lone Star State boast the attributes of a burgeoning metropolis including, perhaps most alluringly, ample employment opportunities. And so Homes.com is loving on Texas.
“Texas has a lot of great markets to it because of all the energy producing jobs it’s creating,” says Froehlich. “It has a good economy and its real estate section has rebounded so well.”
On its blog, Homes.com featured an infographic centered around six reasons to live in Austin, TX. The infographic referenced the city’s music scene, live events, foodie community, small business culture, booming job market, and low crime rate. Fleshing out each point were numerous supporting facts relayed in splashy, easy-to-digest visuals.
“Anything really visual on our blog creates a lot of buzz and people tend to drive to it a little bit more,” says Froehlich.
The infographic wasn’t a real estate listing, nor was it an ad in the traditional sense, and so little restrictions applied to who discovered it and how. Browsers may have come across it via a Google or Bing search, Froehlich notes, just as they may have seen it on a Pinterest board or in a Facebook post.
Reaching consumers “in more ways than one” is key tp Froehlich’s marketing approach. The Homes.com marketing team embraces not only digital media, but local broadcasting. “We may do some promotions on local radio stations in the [Austin] market, or broadcast segments on local morning shows,” Froehlich says.
Homes.com looks to provide prospective home buyers and renters with the facts and the data pertaining to select regions. The company regularly issues its “Local Market Index,” a report that breaks down and analyzes various trends and processes within regional markets. Though the company initially prepped these studies for the usage of its B2B customers, Froehlich says that the papers have proven useful materials for its consumer base, too.
“[The reports] are a great vehicle for the consumer who wants know ‘Is it a good time to rent, to sell, to buy?’ It’s also a great vehicle for our agents and consumers who can use the data [in the reports] to educate their customers,” says Froehlich.
From Zip Codes to Mobile Exactitude
Users can hone their searches on Homes.com by checking off various filters including zip code, price range, and size. Once their search has begun, users may be targeted by an ad pertaining to a real estate professional operating within their chosen criteria.
“We sell ads to agents and brokers just based on zip code,” Froehlich explains, “So, if you’re a consumer looking to move to say, L.A, the ads that pop up on our site will be for agents and brokers just in that area.”
Geo-targeting really comes into play on Homes.com’s mobile app, which, engineered in-house, pin-points the exact location of a user to enable a hyperlocal search.
“If I turn my app on and I happen to be in North Virginia, it will pull up listings for sale and forrent right around me,” Froehlich explains. Or, if a user is in North Virginia but wants to do a search for listings in another part of the country, they can simply change the settings.
There was a time when prospective renters and buyers used to drive around seeking “For Sale” or “For Rent” signs on front lawns. Homes.com, particularly with its mobile app could be considered its own, highly abbreviated and focused version of such a hunt.