Anyone knows everything is bigger in Texas, and real estate companies online there should be no different, right? Today RealtyBizNews shines a digital spotlight on Houston, Texas, one of America's most progressive cities, to find out about digital awareness Texas Style.
We have done several stories now about key cities and the manner in which Realtors engage the digital world compared to their "brick and mortar" business operations. For most that we have discovered, there is honestly not much real interest in using social media or even their own websites as conduits to reach clients. Let's take a look at the top companies in Houston for a simple search query like "real estate Houston."
At the top of the Google result and Houston's online realty effort, Houston Association of Realtors offers up a minimalist design tied to YouTube (as above from HAR Chairman Carlos Bujosa), Facebook, even an iPhone app. 6,000 plus FB pals, atop a "right side up" Twitter show as digitally aware a real estate company as any we have seen.
Okay, HAR is not technically a traditional real estate shop, but its positioning and end result (selling houses) represent a big digital interjection atop all other listings in Google. C. Robert Hale, III, CEO of Houston's largest trade organization, presides over an organization of Texas proportions with over 25,000 members. As for reach? HAR is one of the few online US eal estate players we have seen offering superb International listings.
The image below is from HAR's International listing directory which also affords site visitors an excellent combination of textual and historical information, but a rich media gallery as nice as any. If what I call "being there" means anything, the way HAR presents their agents and properties is top notch.
Sitting in the fourth position (second in terms of area Realtors), underneath the cookie cutters of homes.com and realtor.com, MyHomeHouston professes their passion for all things real estate, right up front. So let's see if they are?
First and foremost, there is no "face" of MHH. The about page does not even name the place where the proverbial buck stops. Passion cannot be weighed like so many horse feathers, but the folks who run this outfit seem to care less about Facebook, Twitter, even their own blog - the last post there was in August of 2010! To add insult to injury for Internet peeps, you cannot even see the listings without "opting in" and signing up to be spammed silly. I did manage to find someone tied to the site, Steve Castaneda a Houston agent with a Twitter account (he is passionate too). Steve must have been the principle agent at MHH at one point, all the testimonials point to him?
I signed up just for this report thinking something magical would happen if I did. To my dismay no faces of agents appeared, not Facebook engagement, and even the form fill contact remained in tact. The verdict on MyHomeHouston dot com? Guilty of digital treason - these guys need a world wide web marketing course. As you can see below, there appears to be no one home at MHH.
And, beneath the ever present Trulia and Yahoo Real Estate offerings on Google, Houston Properties dot com is another online real estate place holder basically. For a city with a metro area population of nearly 6 million, Houston's real estate companies are not near "tough enough" - in fact, only one so far could beat their way out of a wet paper marketing bag.
Houston Properties' effort is so ugly I won't waste yours or my time. Paige Martin may have been featured on Fox News, in Houston Magazine, Keller Williams may even offer PRWeb press releases about her success, but if I were her I would erase my name from the Houston Properties site. What's worse, Paige is no ignorant of social media, she has a personal Facebook contingent here. She graduated from Baylor for crying out loud!
Okay, Houston real estate offerings online has just become too painful to write about. I never would have suspected Realtors in this region could ever be so obtuse about using online tools. Rounding out the top 10 Google results are John Daugherty Realtors (not an ugly landing), and the Houston, Texas government's real estate pages!
The compete graphic below projects the pitiful state of Houston's digital awareness where selling homes is concerned. Houston Realtors appear to be content letting HAR run the show in Houston? Whatever happened to that old Texas competitive nature? The bottom line being, anyone who wants to take over completely the Houston area digital landscape, gimme a call. Astounding.