Like Lady and the Tramp finding themselves on the same noodle, a husband and wife searching separately online in late 2014 for a Burlingame, California, real estate agent ran into Raziel Ungar.
The rich, useful content on Ungar's website, burlingameproperties.com, drew them in. Multimedia client profiles, in-depth community information, neighborhood videos, data and custom maps fuels its appeal and propels Ungar's compelling digital presence. The couple did two deals with Ungar within a year.
Their pull toward Ungar illustrates the power of his content strategy, which, in 2015, helped make him the top selling agent in his home market of Burlingame (by units, 11), a Silicon Valley hamlet of roughly 30,000 residents located between San Jose and San Francisco.
In a December 2015 revamp, Ungar published a slew of multimedia client profiles, which he features prominently on his website's homepage.
Although Ungar’s site ranks high in Google search results for valuable key terms such as "Burlingame real estate" and "Burlingame Realtor," this is not an SEO story. It’s about content so rich that real estate buyers and sellers can’t help but run across it when they do their deep dive on a place before moving or choosing an agent to list their home.
“It’s important to be a storyteller,” said the 10-year agent vet. Ungar spent over $100,000 to polish the site and its content in the last three years, with the latest revamp coming in December.
“The cost of not having a great website is so much greater than having a good one,” Ungar said.
The site doesn’t feature search or include forced lead capture, home value estimates or link to a fancy customer relationship management platform.
Its custom, mobile-optimized design, its “flat-file CMS” construction, which makes it lightning fast, and the Swiftype tech that supports within-site advanced search are not what make it stand out, either.
(Though the above would put many agent sites and more than a few broker sites to shame).
Instead, content provides the shine.
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“The website transformed my business,” Ungar said. Thanks to his site, over 90 percent of leads who reach out to him become clients, he added. “The website does the selling for me.”
Ungar’s experience suggests that agents should think twice before relinquishing a sleek online presence to Zillow, Trulia, and realtor.com, who have built data-rich agent profiles featuring ratings, reviews and transaction histories.
Ungar has part-time employees: admin, transaction coordinator and a field coordinator.
2014: $46.7 million sales volume; 35 units
2015: $39.4 million; 26 units (Ungar first child was born in 2015 and he worked less that year)
It’s worth noting that Ungar works in the heart of Silicon Valley where median home prices hover near $2 million, which affords him a bigger budget for polishing his site and content. A successful content strategy will look different in other markets, but the principals remain the same: create valuable, useful content, win trust, close deals.
Other than limited Facebook advertising of Just Listed and Just Solds, Ungar doesn’t advertise his site.
In 2015, 63 percent of the nearly 70,000 visits to his site came from organic search, according to Google Analytics Ungar provided me.
His site ranks high on Google for several key search terms, including “Burlingame real estate” and “Burlingame Realtor,” and typically shows up as the top result in searches for Burlingame neighborhoods.
Client profiles are the first thing visitors see on Ungar’s homepage. They feature professional photography, embedded SoundCloud audio of the client (or clients) talking about their experience working with Raziel and an in-depth Q&A featured front and center on the site.
Check out a client profile of Steve and Cathy Smythe, one of 31 client profiles featured on Ungar's site.
“My business is built on relationships, and I wanted prospective clients to see the types of people I work with -- from all backgrounds, professionals, family types,” Ungar said of the profiles. “I wanted to capture life," he added about their wild nature.
The 2014 “Live Who You Are” ad campaign by New York City-based brokerage The Corcoran Group, which featured photos at the homes of celebrities like NBA star Tyson Chandler and ballerina Misty Copeland, gave him the idea.
How did he get get his clients to open up?
It was surprisingly easy, according to Ungar. Of the 32 clients he called and asked to profile, 30 agreed. (He’s added one more profile since December).
As a thank you, he gave participants copies of the photographs in metal-backed frames and gave them digital copies to use as they saw fit.
Ungar’s site also features in-depth neighborhood profiles, which give homebuyer prospects an on-the-ground perspective of his North Peninsula market, which includes Burlingame and a handful of other adjacent communities.
The site features profiles for individual communities and their neighborhoods. Burlingame has the richest content; each of its 12 neighborhood pages includes a high-quality video featuring Ungar, professional photography and real estate stats. (See the Burlingables neighborhood page as an example).
Ungar's Burlingables video
In addition, Ungar offers leads and clients a custom map of his market. He hired a cartographer to produce the map, which includes area amenities and features clients have asked about over the years.
Experiences that sizzle, offline content
Ungar’s website is the just tip of the quality iceberg and the story he wants to communicate about his brand.
For example, he commissioned a writer to produce an 82-page booklet, “The Sunshine Suburbs: A Journey Through Burlingame, Hillsborough and San Mateo,” on the history of the area, that he gives to clients.
This polish matches his audience, which, given his Silicon Valley market, tends to be successful execs at prominent, cutting-edge firms.
“For me, quality is so important, and the people who choose to work with me I believe appreciate quality,” Ungar said.