A Realtors web marketing budget what should it be?...


How much can each unique visitor cost me? And a bunch of other questions I might want to know if I was a Realtor

Ok guys, this is a bit of a long one and it jumps around a lot (because I am writing as I work through my thoughts, but hey that's why we have blogs right?

I really found it interesting once I got into writing it and I hope that you will as well. Check it out and give me comments, as I have really been thinking about this a lot lately and I think a lot of others have been as well given the current economic scare contrasting against the "new year I need to get motivated" mentality.

Ok I started with some numbers (I am pretending I am a Realtor here)

Average commission (based on 3% commission and $300,000 average sale price) = $9000 USD (You will need to factor in your own spit with broker and any other costs associated with processing a transaction) - To make this easier though, I am just going to call it a flat $3000 per 100k.

Minimum website conversion rate goal (Unique visitor to lead) for me this needs to be 5%. This means I need 5 leads every 100 absolute unique visitors as an average over time. If yours isn't you have some work to do on your website or perhaps you need a new one. (And yes you should enable registration)

Minimum lead to sale conversion rate: Again for me, I think that this needs to be a minimum 1% average over time. This means that for every 100 valid web leads that you receive (they give a real name, and either email address or phone number) you should be able to convert them into a closed transaction.

Ok so in my mind (for this excercise) I am not exceptional, and I am not terrible either - I am IMHO, an "average" Realtor with a good website and proper IDX. If you are an exceptional Realtor (in terms of the processing of web leads) I think you could get a lot higher in terms of lead to sale conversion % which will basically add 100% to your earned commissions for each % increase you can acheive.

But anyways I digress - this blog post is to try to help Realtors figure out what they can afford (or what they should be spending) on their website marketing / lead generation.

An important first consideration - you don't work for free!

Obviously if any process carries a lot of financial risk, takes quality time away from your life and family and adds significant stress, you should be compensated (A break even proposition is never attractive).

So what do you need to pay yourself per transaction? What is the "minimum" earned income (after expenses) that I would love to be able to brag to my friends about - "There isn't a single customer at Real Estate Webmasters that didn't earn at least "X" after expenses (before taxes though) :-)

For me (in a perfect world) this minimum would be $75,000 USD - naturally this number is influenced (and would change) depending on many factors probably most of all "cost of living / housing" which varies so widely from region to region - but it is what it is, feel free to replace it with your own minimum pre-tax paycheck for the year if you care to go through this excercise.

Alright so can we get to some math already! (That's always fun right?)

So I need to make $75,000 USD and in a perfect world all my leads would be free, so I can just divide that by $3000 to figure out how many $100,000 multiples (in terms of closed dollar volume I need) right? Sure why not - some simple math says that I need to sell 2.5 million dollars in real estate in order to earn my 75k right? But we all know that it costs $ in real estate to sell property (either side) - so how much does it cost? This is where I am really looking for some comments from Realtors after my post. How much of your commission check are you willing to give up (all in) in order to close a transaction? 30% 40% 50% 60%? (This includes split with broker and all other associated costs inluding web marketing and lead generation AND my website / IDX itself) for me the magic number is 50% - (I am assuming I am in a market with $300,000 here for my little demo).

Ermm ok, even I am starting to get a bit lost here - I think I need a recap -

I am an agent with an 80/20 split (I forgot to mention that) - I sell homes every time for $300,000 (because it makes my math easy) I have a per transaction fee of $200 and I "need" at least 50% of my $9000 commission check if I am going to be able to justify this hardass life I live as a commission based self employed person. That means I need $4500 per transaction (Each one starts at $9000)

My broker took $1800 (split) and $200 (fee) and left me with $7000 (note to self, negotiate a better split or find a new broker heh)

My chunk is $4500 of the $7000 that is left (if I play my cards right) which basically tells me that for each "closed transaction" I achieve it can have burdened me no more than $2500 USD - sweet, this is my "cost per transaction" (sometimes called cost per acquisition).

Alright - if you remember WAYYYYY back at the top of this post, I posed the question how much can each unique visitor cost me. Well, now that we have our cost per acquisition figure ($2500 USD) and we have the dollar figure that we want to "earn" (pre-tax) of $75,000 and we have the rest of our costs factored in (which left us with $4500 USD in our jeans) I think we have all we need.

First - let's figure out the transactions and get those out of the way. To earn $75,000 USD after costs and before tax if you are able to keep an average of $4500 per commission check you need to close on 17 deals at 3% average sale of $300k - This sounds totally do-able does it not? (Assuming you have the leads of course)

And based on the numbers I started with above you are going to need 20 unique visitors for 1 lead (5% conversion) and 100 leads for one deal to close (1% lead to sale) so you need 2000 unique visitors to close one deal. (I also think this sounds MORE than reasonable. And now you need to close 17 deals to reach your $75,000 so you need 34,000 unique visitors over the course of the year to acheive the right amount of closings AND (because you only have $2500 USD per transaction and it takes 2000 visitors per transaction your average per visitor cost can only be $.80 per visitor.

Sweet we are done! I will do all the final math for you so you don't have to.

In order to earn $75,000 USD per year selling $300k houses on an 80/20 split your website and web marketing budget must be exactly $27,200.00 USD.

Some alternate scenarios to consider:

Improve your website conversion: This example was based on 5% - if you were to be able to improve your website conversion to 10% you could earn the same amount of $ at only $13,600 or better yet with the same $27,200 investment earn $150,000 USD in commissions (AFTER) expenses.

Improve your lead to sale ratio: I honestly believe anyone who applies themselves HAS to be able to able close 1% of leads over time but I have had MANY members and clients report significantly higher numbers, especially from very targetted campaigns such as PPC campaigns - so keep in mind for every 1% increase in lead to sale you increase your yearly paycheck by $75,000 USD (If you could close em at 5% you would earn $375,000 AFTER your $27,200 cost is already covered.

Now I did base this on $300,000 USD average sale - if you are in a $100,000 USD per sale market you can basically cut the commission figures by a factor of three while keeping the costs the same and if you are in a $900,000 per sale market you can just as realistically tripple the income figures while keeping the costs the same.

You will need to change the numbers if your split is different, you have higher or lower per transaction fees etc, etc but hopefully this post gives Realtors some perspective about web marketing and what it takes (and costs) to earn a living from the web.

Btw - if you are lazy or not so good with numbers, by all means fee free to post your stats in the comments section of this blog post, and I would be happy to crunch the numbers for you. What I would need would be:

  • Average home sale price in your market
  • Commission rate (if different than 3%)
  • Agent / Broker Split
  • Per transaction fee (if any)

I think it would be really interesting to see how things might shake up when applying some real data.(PS It's really late, and I reserve the right to go in and edit this post to make more sense after reading it in the morning.)


Enjoy this post? Why not share with friends or add a comment of your own?

Justin Havre

Great post Morgan. I do think that you have a very good explanation of the numbers and the potential earnings from a website with a proper SEO campaign. You recommended a REW SEO campaign for my site a little over a year ago and I will admit at first I was a little nervous in making the commitment. After almost a year of your company's SEO program I am more than happy we did it and we will keep the ball rolling and I am ready to even step it up a notch.

Realtors have to realize that SEO is a huge part of having a website and even after speaking to many agents in my brokerage, many are scared to make the financial commitment it takes to get the leads rolling in. An agent also has to consider that if they are going to try to do the SEO themselves, it is going to take lots of time to learn and you may make some costly mistakes. Leave it to the pros and focus on what makes you money and that is selling real estate. Once the leads start pouring in, it is a matter of time before you learn how to convert them into deals and it can be as simple as just responding to an inquiry from your site in a timely manner.

I am not a numbers guy and I don't track my stats/conversion rates (nor do I feel like calculating them at this hour) but I do know that my REW site with REW SEO has paid itself for the year of SEO and more.



to make this easy for folks to visualize, you might want to actually create a calculator that calculates this for folks based on a handful of inputs. It would give people an opportunity to quickly and easily make calcuations and also play out a few 'what if' scenarios.

Morgan Carey

Well I "sort of" already have one - my commissions calculator http://www.realestatewebmasters.com/commission-calculator.php (Or did you know that already heh)

I will probably have to add a few more fields I think for it to be pertinent to this post, but should not take me long.


ive never seen this. good tool!

Morgan Carey

Yeah one of these days I have to build some more tools like this (and put this one in the newer REW mainsite skin) - they can be really interesting tools to play with in all sorts of scenarios.

Morgan Carey

The % for the tool "assume" several steps in between, they are just left out to make the tool "quick and dirty" so to speak - I saw the spreadsheet you posted in the forums, definitely a nice layer of detail added. I don't think to many people will get your BRA reference though as BRA's are called many different things in different regions.


Kind of sobering numbers when you look at what you "could" be making vs what you "actually" make. Or, even "should" be making if you just convert a basic 2% lead to sale conversion. Kind-of a sickening feeling to think aboout all all those leads you work so hard to generate and you don't convert.

Thanks for the easy to use calculator. It is a reality check of sorts.

Morgan Carey

You know what, I don't think there are a ton of positives for you folks down there in the US especially in real estate, however if there "might" be one positive it will be that some folks (some of my good friends even) will actually remind themselves to take their businesses seriously (after all in real estate you work for yourself, you are your own business)

It used to drive me nuts to have clients / friends with 25-50 leads per day barely closing a deal from their leads (because they could basically just decide to cherry pick when they wanted to work) or worse yet, they would dissable registration simply to not have to "deal with" those folks who need just a bit more work to close and who wants to come up with a "follow up" or "conversion" system right?

Folks - beleive me (Drew I think you know this already but for the benefit of others) - WRITING THE CHECK IS THE EASY PART!

Spend the money with the right firm(s) you WILL get the leads (closable leads) - but all they are is names, phone numbers and emails if you don't work them and you might as well not bother if you aren't going to pick up a phone, send a personalized email or assign that lead to a drip.

(Morgan gets off soapbox now)


"A man who stops advertising to save money is like a man who stops a clock to save time."

-Henry Ford

Morgan Carey

And a great point indeed mr ford :)

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