Every week, we ask a Miami real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before. This week, we spoke with Riley Smith, president of EWM Realtors’ The Riley Smith Group.
Miami Agent (MA): You’ve authored a number of blogs pertaining to a number of areas in the Miami metro area. What is the value of writing a real estate blog, and what advice can you give agents trying to start their own?
Riley Smith (RS): The value of a blog in today’s real estate industry is that it’s likely to distinguish you from your peers. If you take the time and energy to learn the markets and then disseminate the information, when clients and potential clients stumble upon your website, they’ll see you as a true expert in your area. An added value is that when you’re writing a blog, it forces you to know what you’re talking about, so it keeps you informed just as much as your readers.
Financially, it’s been far and away the best vehicle we’ve used to reach clients and have clients find us. It’s probably responsible for 50 percent of our business over the last five years. We get several buyer leads a week from our blog – and it’s important to not these are quality leads, not like something you might be forwarded from Trulia or Zillow, where someone sees a random picture of a house, clicks on it and calls you. These leads are people who’ve done research, who know where they want to buy.
For agents wanting to start a blog, I highly recommend getting some training before you begin. About seven years ago we connected with a group called the Real Estate Tomato out of California, which was extremely helpful. We learned how to use search engines to our advantage, leveraging the importance of things like keywords and quality content to make our site more visible. After producing quality posts for so long, Google began recognizing us as a news source. We’ve never had to pay for prime placement in search results.
MA: You’ve been in Coconut Grove your whole life, and so it’s reasonable to assume you have a pretty decent knowledge of the area. How valuable has that knowledge proven to be, and what level of priority should other agents give to area knowledge?
RS: It’s the most important thing we have. We now have at the tips of our fingers, everything going on in our local industry. For real estate agents, I think that knowledge is invaluable, and it sets you apart. When you go to the doctor nowadays, it’s not as though you have just one doctor who does everything for you; you have a number of specialists. I see the same thing happening in real estate, where people will have multiple Realtors, each specializing in a different neighborhood or property type. If a buyer has done their research, which many have, and you haven’t, chances are they’re going to know more than you – and then you don’t have any value.
We have immersed ourselves in the grove. We know the streets, the trends, the listings, the culture, the atmosphere, the shops, restaurants, everything there is to know about the area, because that’s where we operate. One of the things we sell in real estate is our confidence, and building that knowledge builds confidence. There are some neighborhoods where we don’t have that confidence, which is why we don’t sell in them. We want to always be the experts, because that’s what gets us the repeat clients.
MA: A new survey from Fannie Mae showed that more and more Americans agree now is a good time to sell. Have you noticed more homeowners wanting to list their home, and if so, how do you expect it to affect Miami’s market?
RS: For the first time in years we’re seeing our inventory pick up. Our specific market, we’re not seeing that same increase; it’s pretty flat. But I do think homeowners are starting to recognize the strength of the market, and we’re starting to get more listing calls. In the county, we’ve had three months in a row of increases to inventory.
As far as the impact on buyers, more inventory means more options, and buyers can leverage those options to get a better deal.