Hitchin’ your wagon to the right horse

Last week Yahoo announced a partnership with Prudential Real Estate to market homes on their website.

From the press release sent to me last week by Haley Boruszak, a PR gal from Fleishman Hillard, an international public relations firm:

“Yahoo! Real Estate provides a complete set of tools and access to comprehensive listings including MLS properties in partnership with Prudential Real Estate, classifieds, apartment rentals, for sale by owner, foreclosures, and new home listings. Yahoo! users can easily access this information by visiting http://realestate.yahoo.com or by utilizing Yahoo! Search or other Yahoo! properties such as Finance, HotJobs, and the Yahoo! home page.”

So, I went to the site to see what all the fuss was about and played with it a bit, but was less than impressed. One can find property relatively easy, but when one wants to view extra photos or get more info, a buyer must enter all their contact information to be contacted by a Prudential agent.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Why would Prudential waste so much money on a (what I am sure will prove to be) useless lead generator? One can go to Coldwell Banker Bain, Windermere, John L. Scott or dozens of other websites and look at all the information and photos, without sacrificing any privacy. Yet on both this Yahoo site and on the local Prudential site, one must first “register” before viewing.

And when one wants to use the site to find a Realtor, when clicking on the tabs, one isn’t lead to a Prudential site but to Homegain, where one is then asked to enter their personal information to then be contacted by dozens of Realtors, all from different companies, not just Prudential.

I can’t believe that this is a partnership that will last, as I just can’t imagine it will result in enough leads to pay for itself. Why align yourself with another company, pay them a franchise or referral fee, and be at the mercy of them and whatever referral fees they want to charge now and in the future? Better to spend that money on a good advertising campaign, public relations and excellent SEO advice instead. Built a better website, add some good sticky content, perhaps embark on a paid placement campaign, those things would make a lot more sense and pay off better in the long run that tying themselves to a real estate portal whose prices can only go up. It’s short-sighted for Prudential and other real estate firms to affiliate themselves with portals, as it builds the portal’s brand and importance, rather than their own. Prudential should strive to make their local or national sites the “go-to” site for real estate information and spend their money on that goal for the future.

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