VirtualTourCafe - Virtual Tours, e-Flyers and YouTube-Style Video

Real Estate Marketing and Software: The Price is Right 2012

Virtual Tours used by real estate agents?  Only 37%

Buyers who value virtual tours?  86%

Activerain continues to be a great source of information for anyone involved in the real estate industry.

This is a great survey done by ActiveRain and the National Association of Realtors of 2000 real estate agents and brokers.  It is interesting to note that the more successful the real estate agent is, the more they spend on their marketing.  Having read the full National Association of Realtors Buyers Report 2012, I also found it very interesting that 86% of Buyers find virtual tours useful or very useful and yet only 37% of real estate agents are using them, according to this survey!

I hope you find this information as helpful as I did!

Real Estate Marketing and Software: The Price is Right 2012


There are SO many real estate products and services that every day a real estate agent is confronted with numerous choices about where to spend money in their business.

Given the challenging real estate market of the past five years, the team here at ActiveRain wanted to understand where real estate agents should be spending their money AND how much per month.

In January 2012, ActiveRain & Market Leader surveyed more than 2,000 real estate agents and brokers to understand what software and marketing support real estate agents are using in their business and how much they are spending on these necessary tools of the trade.  We have combined our survey data with the National Association of REALTOR's® (2012 Member survey to get a rich view on real estate agent income and expenses.


Real Estate Marketing Infographic

Please Embed This Infographic in Your Own Blog

Tweetable Highlights

#ActiveRain survey says REALTORS spend more on their cars than on their marketing!  More at [Tweet this]

ActiveRain reports that most REALTORS® Only generated 4 leads from their website in 2011. More at [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain: REALTORS® earning over $100K/year spend 5-10x more on marketing than their peers. More at [Tweet this]

Only 21% of REALTORS® use paperless transactions or e-signature software per #ActiveRain. #Green More at [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain says direct mail is the largest offline real estate marketing expense. Go @USPS! More at
[Tweet this]

"Averages" in Real Estate:

We highly encourage every real estate agent, broker or company to get your hands on the NAR 2012 Member Profile and look closely at page 51. The average REALTOR® earns $35k per year and works 40 hours per week.  BUT 57% of REALTORS® generate some income from outside real estate and a large percentage of REALTORS® are part-time or hobbyists.  REALTORS® working more than 40 hours per week earn more than $55k per year and REALTORS® working less than 40 hours a week earn less than $20k per year!

The “average” REALTOR® spends $4,520 in expenses per year or 13% of personal income on expenses. Of those expenses, the average REALTOR® spends $1,770 on their vehicle, $1,070 on marketing/promotion, and $630 on technology.  REALTORS® earning more than $100k per year work more than 50 hours per week and spend more than $15k per year on expenses (roughly 12-15% of income).

Takeaway: Treat real estate like a business, not a job or a hobby and you will be successful.

Vehicle Expenses:

Shockingly, vehicle expenses continue to be the largest single expense for REALTORS®.  Gas prices are up 286% over the last 12 years, according to  REALTORS® do spend an inordinate amount of time in their cars and have often been criticized for driving vehicles "above their pay grade."   It does surprise me that vehicle expenses account for 39% of the average agent's TOTAL expense budget and is 65% more than they spend on marketing each year.

Real Estate Software & Technology Expenses:

Similar to our previous survey Rich Real Estate Agent, Poor Real Estate Agent, agents were very consistent in real estate software use.  Agent use five primary kinds of software for their business: IDX websites with home listings, CMA (comparative market analysis) tools, contact or lead management, email marketing and listing syndication software.

IDX web sites, CRM or contact management, virtual tours, and team management software are categories where agents feel there is significant additional value to paying a premium for the best software. This is consistent with the Rich Real Estate Agent, Poor Real Estate Agent study where successful agents invest in systems – lead generation web sites and strong prospect management.  The most successful agents who earn more than $100k per year want the best, highly customizable web sites, contact management, and virtual tours to highlight their listings.

Alternatively, some categories of real estate agent spend do not increase with greater income. The pricing of paperless transaction / esignature software, CMA tools, and email marketing software is consistent, independent of agent income. CraigsList and listing syndication tools are widely used, but largely bundled into other software services now. Postlets was acquired by Zillow, ListHub was acquired by®, and Market Leader also has a CraigsList Listing Sydication tool built into their software platform.

 Software    Average Usage   Average Price   Agents Earning <$35k   Agents Earning >$100k 
IDX Website with home listings from MLS 63% $75 $54 $97
Contact management / CRM 51% $73 $64 $78
Virtual Tour software 37% $49 $42 $59
Single Property Website software 29% $41 $38 $40
Marketing design software 31% $53 $50 $59
Email marketing software 47% $40 $38 $38
CMA (comparative market analysis) tools 62% $46 $50 $41
Listing Syndication tool 41% $48 $45 $57
Team Management tool 11% $60 $36 $69
Paperless transaction software / esignatures 21% $37 $32 $38

Monthly Real Estate Marketing & Advertising Expenses

Real estate agents spend time and money on many different real estate marketing strategies. SEO / Social Media / Blogging took the top prize as the most used advertising or marketing source. SEO, social media and blogging are relatively low cost advertising outlets and social media is becoming pervasive with the growth of FaceBook, Google Plus, LinkedIn and Twitter. The consistent surprise with every survey of marketing tactics continues to be direct mail with 40% of real estate agents using direct mail to support their business. After social media and direct mail are paid advertising and marketing on the Internet. Home buyer and seller lead generation ranked as the third most popular form of advertising with 35% of respondents using Internet lead generation.

This is higher than previous surveys we have conducted which could be a positive sign for the real estate market. Advertising on national real estate web sites like Zillow, Trulia and and using Pay per Click marketing on search engines were fourth and fifth most used forms of advertising.  This is not suprisingl since agents buy advertising on national real estate web sites like Zillow, Trulia and to drive home buyer and seller leads. 

Top producing real estate agents earning more than $100k per year have the ability to spend more and do spend more on marketing across the board. Top producing, rich real estate agents are spending in areas both online and offline.   Top agents spend more on online lead generation, search engine marketing, national real estate web sites, and direct mail.  20% of agents earning more than $100k actually support the community through local sponsorships like Little League, high school sports, and their local church.

 Real Estate Marketing   Average Usage   Average Price   Agents Earning <$35k   Agents Earning >$100k 
Pay-per-Click (PPC), search engine marketing 16% $140 $88 $197
Home buyer or seller lead generation 32% $155 $113 $191
Paid advertising on national real estate web sites 26% $128 $91 $161
Sponsorship / ads on local website 10% $77 $56 $107
Sponsorship / ads on newspaper website 9% $86 $61 $122
Direct mail 40% $108 $68 $158
Rack Publications 11% $145 $79 $206
City newspaper 10% $98 $48 $149
Local newspaper 14% $99 $57 $145
Town bulletin, church, etc. 8% $56 $46 $73
Local sponsorships (little league, plays, high school, etc.) 13% $78 $66 $102
Marketing personnel costs 17% $183 $107 $222
Television 3% $139 $93 $173
Radio 5% $191 $123 $216
SEO, blogging and social media 45% $78 $47 $106
Paid training or coaching 16% $175 $97 $228

Real Estate Marketing Personnel & Real Estate Training

Though not software or advertising, it is worth noting that 17% of real estate professionals continue to use a marketing assistant to support their advertising and marketing efforts AND 16% of agents are using some sort of premium training or coaching to supplement their education and skills.  These are relatively expensive services for the average agent with an average price per month of $183 and $175 per month for real estate marketing support and real estate coaching & training respectively.


As is often the case, averages hide the truth. But in real estate, real estate agents and brokers that treat real estate as a business tend to be successful. This requires working more hours than a "job", investing in systems like strong web sites and contact management, spending money on marketing, outsourcing less mission critical aspects of the job like marketing support, and investing in yourself through continuous coaching & training.

More Tweetable Highlights

IDX websites, CMA software, CRM & email are the top real estate tools in this #ActiveRain survey [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain says social media, blogs, and SEO are most used for online real estate marketing.  More at [Tweet this]

REALTORS® earning over $100K work more than 50 hours/week. See #ActiveRain #Infographic  at [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain #Infographic at shows real estate agents are willing to spend top $ on lead generation. [Tweet this]

#ActiveRain: Top real estate agents spend top $ on offline marketing despite the high prices.  More at [Tweet this]

If you liked this infographic and blog post from ActiveRain, please share it with your friends, check out our GREAT SPONSORS and leave us a comment below!

Save Money with Special Sponsor Deals:

Docusign LogoDocusignTired of the paper chase?  Stop chasing and take your business paperless with the DocuSign.  Start your 30-day Free Trial today and get  freedom to do business with anyone, anywhere in the world on any mobile device.

Happy Grasshopper LogoHappy Grasshopper:   Happy Grasshopper isn't your typical email marketing service.  Their professional writers create and fun, friendly emails for you that are guaranteed to get response.  Why are their messages so much more effective than typical real estate newsletters?  They engage your sphere without trying to sell.  The result - you stay top of mind and build the relationships that lead to referrals.  You can try it now for just $5 - visit and use the code ARinfo.

RealBirdRealBirdRealBird offers an all-in-one online marketing tool for real estate: property websites with syndication and smartphone support, social media marketing, private labeled property search, mobile website and more. RealBird currently has over 30,000 members from the US, Canada and the UK.  Register today for FREE to get started!

WIN Home InspectionWIN Home Inspection:   Professional Home Inspectors you can count on & Quality Home Inspections you can trust. To locate a local WIN home inspection office or to request home inspection services please visit WIN Home Inspection - WE SEE MORE. CLEARLY.


Comment balloon 0 commentsTim Denbo • June 26 2012 04:57PM
Real Estate Marketing and Software: The Price is Right 2012
Virtual Tours used by real estate agents? Only 37% Buyers who value virtual tours? 86% ActiveRain continues to be a great source of information for anyone involved in the real estate industry. This is a great survey done by… more
VirtualTourCafe Partners with MLSListings
Pleasanton, CA, January 12, 2012 – VirtualTourCafe, LLC was recently selected by MLSListings, Inc. (MLSListings), in Sunnyvale, CA as the latest offering to their PERKS suite of best-in-class products and services to… more
Donald Trump and Naked Cowboy - What do they Have in Common?
What exactly is branding and why should you care? If you have ever been to New Yorks Times Square, you have probably seen Naked Cowboy. If you have watched any television or read the paper, you have heard of Donald “The Don” Trump. Both of these… more
You Had Me At QR Code…
Do you want to impress your sellers with your marketing expertise? Are you going on a listing appointment and you know the competition is fierce? Do you work with buyers and want to demonstrate your technical know-how? QR Codes and Mobile Tours… more
Draw Huge Traffic with a Website Party!
As a real estate professional you know that you must have a website. There are many options for creating a website, such as a company sponsored site, a custom website, or a real estate website template with hosting. Regardless of where it… more
Buyers Without Boundaries
One in every thirteen people on this earth is a Facebook user. Google is the number one search site with YouTube immediately following in the number two position and Facebook not far behind at number three. But did you know that 70% of… more
Choosing the Right Social Media Partner - The Five Point Relationship…
h buyers and sellers are becoming increasingly more tech savvy and are demanding more time and energy from their agents for less. Meanwhile, agents are constantly looking for ways to stay on top of technology advances and the ever changing social… more
If Listings Could Talk - Five Tips To Help Your Listing Stand Out
You have worked hard to get the listing appointment, beaten out the competition and have secured the listing. During your listing presentation, you demonstrated your knowledge of the market and the neighborhood. You relied on your reputation and… more
Social Media and Social Networking Demystified
With the social networking craze continuing to capture headlines, and names like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Google now common topics of dinner conversation, one cannot ignore the impact this new medium has had on our lives. Did… more
What Makes a Virtual Tour a Virtual Tour?
It is well known that Virtual tours have been around a long time, as well as many virtual tour providers who offer everything from very basic tours with still images to full-service virtual tours including photography. Some services even offer 360… more