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Consumer Web sites: Alternative Sites

September 1, 2007

By Carolyn Schwaar

As long as Realtor® associations have had Web sites, many have provided information on homebuying and homeselling. Recently, though, more associations are launching informational Web sites, for a variety of reasons, specifically targeting consumers.

Whether it’s to position the organization as a reliable source of homebuying and homeselling information, to rally communities to political action, or to boost the public image of Realtors®, associations are using the Web to reach a new audience.
Featured here are just a few examples of successful independent consumer-focused Web sites associations have launched.

WhyREALTORSWork.com
Launched by the Oklahoma Association of Realtors® in April 2007 as part of the organization’s public awareness campaign, WhyREALTORS
Work.com is a vehicle to convey to the consumer the value, need, and benefits of using a Realtor®. Visits per month: Average 4,368 visits. Most popular page: After the home page, the second most popular page contains the homeselling information.
Site promotion: The site is promoted in newspaper ads, television commercials, and on billboards. Every county in the state promotes the site in some manner.

TodaysHomeownership.com
The mission of TodaysHomeownership.com, launched in January 2007, is to counteract negative national media reports on bubbles, price declines, and overall market weakening. The Realtors® Association of South Central Wisconsin— along with the Madison Area Builders Association and the Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association—accomplish this by providing the public with accurate information about the local market in south central Wisconsin. Visits per month: Average 1,000 visits. Site promotion: The site is promoted via the organization’s television ads, newspaper ads, radio spots, and links on member Web sites.

YourPieceofCalifornia.com
The California Association of Realtors®’ “micro site” for consumers, which launched in April 2007, is part of the organization’s new consumer advertising campaign that conveys the value of working with a Realtor®. The site also offers California-specific homebuying and homeselling tips. Site promotion: The site is featured on radio advertisements and banner ads on Yahoo, as well as other housing and real estate sites, such as the DIY Network and HGTV.

NCHomePrograms.com
With assistance from other community-based organizations, three northern Colorado associations—the Fort Collins Board of Realtors®, the Loveland/Berthoud Area Association of Realtors®, and the Greeley Area Realtors® Association—developed NCHomePrograms.com in May 2004.
A companion piece to the organizations’ Sensible Housing Opportunity Professionals (SHOP) certification program, the site gives low-income consumers a one-stop source for information on homeownership assistance programs. Site promotion: The site is promoted by Fannie Mae and other housing organizations in print and on the Web, as well as through links on member Web sites.

TexasRealEstate.com
The Texas Association of Realtors® launched TexasRealEstate.com in May 2001, to provide consumers with solid information about homebuying, homeselling, and real estate investing. The site also intends to position Texas Realtors® in consumers’ minds as the real estate experts of choice and true advocates for homeowners in the public policy arena. Visits per month: Average 43,000 visits. Most popular page: The weekly “Ask George & Chuck” column, which answers consumer questions about real estate transactions. Site promotion: Radio spots that are broadcast on 130 stations statewide either promote TexasReal Estate.com or feature taglines encouraging consumers to visit the site. Association news releases invite consumers to visit the site. Members are encouraged to use TexasRealEstate.com in their consumer outreach and marketing efforts and to place live links to current TexasRealEstate.com headlines on their agent or company Web sites via an RSS feed.

LivingNH.com
Looking much like a tourism site, LivingNH.com is the new consumer site from the New Hampshire Association of Realtors® that launched in June 2007 to showcase the state while providing links to members. Site visits: 41,000 in August. Most popular page: Find a Realtor®. Site promotion: A major promotional push upon its launch in
June, with both statewide media and eNews to membership.