How to use sold data to make your website awesome

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sold dataWe're moving in a direction where big data is not only a big advantage but also a requirement to stay competitive. The companies that find smart ways to apply and intermingle data are going to be the most successful moving forward, because one of the best ways to improve user experience is to take complex information from numerous sources and present it in a way that's quick and easy to understand.

You've already seen countless examples of this in action. Zillow is one obvious example, where the site has managed to source data from third-party companies, listing agents and property owners to create tools--like Zestimates--that consumers want to use. But that's only just the beginning. Sites like Trivago and Kanetix mine numerous sources of data to become a single hub for hotel prices and insurance options, while your credit card company uses big data patterns to detect fraud. Google is even using big data to predict flight delays before the actual airlines do.

Big data is everywhere, but it's not just big companies that can benefit. Real estate sites can also collect, use, and share data from numerous sources in a meaningful way to produce experiences that will keep buyers and sellers coming back for more.

In today's post, I'm going to share several ideas that show you how agents can take their first step into "big data", and use sold listings to create a better consumer experience.

Let users search the feed

The simplest way to use sold data on your site is to let people search the feed at their leisure. This will be particularly meaningful if you put it into context, as sellers might not naturally understand that this is how homes are priced. You could link to the sold feed on pages that discuss pricing strategies, or you could put it straight into the navigation with an intro paragraph that tells users how to make the most of the feature.

While creating a searchable sold data feed is the most common and straightforward way to put sold information on your site, it's only the tip of the iceberg. With a bit of creativity (and custom work), Realtors can use their sold data feed to really stand out from the crowd.

Show off your sales success

A common use of sold data is on the agents' bio page, which demonstrates local expertise and shows potential clients you're a great agent. Humans love social proof―the reassurance that their peers made the same decision―and showing off sold properties is a simple yet effective way to provide it. Add your recently sold listings to your agent profile page and show them off!

We've even seen Realtors take their sold listings and map them out, giving a visual representation of how many homes they've sold and where they are located.

Similarly, a "Homes We Sold" page can be added to the selling section of any website to put real estate successes front and center. This type of page works for any team size, from a single agent to a large brokerage.

Create blog posts & infographs

Another way to take large amounts of data and translate it into info that's easily consumed is to do that quite literally. Take the information that's readily available in your sold data feed and start compiling it, then share the results through blog posts and infographics.

There are lots of informational gems within sold data, including:

  • Average & median prices
  • Days on market
  • Number of properties sold

You can further break down these stats by property type, location, price categories and more, to provide additional details. For example, a "first time buyer's market report" could focus on condos, townhomes, and single-family properties under $350,000, while a luxury market report could report only on homes that sold for over $1 Million.

Show comparable properties

You already know that comps are an incredibly popular way to determine what a home is worth, but guess what? Buyers do too. At least, they know that other homes in a neighborhood will influence the price of a single property. Putting that information front and center will help attract buyers and sellers to your site, and make it easier for them to choose you over portals (where similar concepts already exist).

When you put this data on your site, let people know that they're estimates based on existing data, and that you're happy to provide them with an accurate analysis using your expertise. This will help build trust and gives people a reason to reach out to you.

Improve community knowledge

Remember that data is power. If you can find creative ways to incorporate your sold data into your general community information, you'll be able to provide more insight into a community and help buyers make smarter decisions.

Consider live market stats that tell buyers whether property values are going up or down, share the average price of the past 5 homes sold within a small neighborhood, or even help predict whether a house is likely to sell below, at, or above listings price. These are just a few of the ideas I had off the top of my head, so imagine what you can come up with during a serious brainstorming session.

One last thing: know when to purge it

One of the challenges we've seen with sold data is that it accumulates. The goal with regular MLS data is to show active properties, so it makes sense that the data is purged shortly after the home is sold. This means there's a fairly steady amount of data as homes are added and removed on a regular basis.

With sold data, this isn't the case. A sold home never becomes "unsold", which means the data sticks around for years at a time. That creates a drain on your database and can also add hundreds of thousands of pages to your site, impacting speed and ultimately the user experience.

There's no magic number for how many sold listings to keep on your site but if it's impacting performance, it's too much. Consider purging sold data every year or two to keep your site running in tip top shape.

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