What a fun question!!!
I have been running a FSBO online marketing service since 1996. As
far as I can tell, its the only one of its kind. We dont list
properties on our website...we post our clients properties to
everyone elses FSBO sites. We also make offline marketing
recommendations. Our clients have better than an 85% sales success
I use pay per click as part of our business advertising campaign and
definitely have seen a substantial increase in business (the lousy
economy hasnt hurt either).
As a result, I read your question with interest and gave it quite some
thought. I started with your question 193873 and moved to 193124,
where your clarification was I am wanting to learn if properly
designed cpc adwords could really boost my chances without sinking my
wallet because I think my answer is more appropriate to it.
I am always amused by the statistics and the conclusions drawn from
them bandied about by realtors and their associations.
My personal favorite is Homes sold by realtors sold for a higher
price - 27% higher! The median selling price of a home sold directly
by an owner was $137,400, while the median selling price of a home
sold by an agent was $175,000.
The implication is that a realtor can sell your home for more money
than you can. There is, of course, no mention of how much the median
APPRAISED price is for each category of homes. (FYI, the #1 problem
FSBO sellers face is OVERPRICING their homes.)
But here are some other current realtor association stats you might
find of interest:
** 62% of buyers with Web access surf the Net to shop for a home.
** 41% of all home buyers use the Internet as a search tool, up from
37 % in 1999
** Two-thirds of all homebuyers (and 95 % of the Internet users)
expect to use the internet in their next home purchase
** Internet homebuyers on average purchased a more expensive home than
** Agents usage of the internet to market homes increased 35 % (from
39% to 53%) and now ranks third (instead of fifth) in selling methods
used. (Hey, if the Internet is good enough for real estate agents,
shouldnt it be good enough for FSBO sellers?)
So...where does pay-per-click fit into this?
In your case? Well, it just might be worth it since you are selling a
property in Canada which reduces the competition and you would be
the only person doing it, but there are still definite downsides.
Heres my assessment in no particular order with both pros and cons
plus thoughts based on 7 years of experience in the business, followed
by my conclusion.
1) These are the Google Adwords ads results for the following search
Halifax condos (4-2)
Halifax condos for sale (7-4)
halifax condo for sale by owner (8 existing Google Ads on US version
- 7 on Google.ca)
upscale halifax condo for sale by owner (8 - 7)
upscale halifax condo FSBO (8 - 3)
halifax condo FSBO (8 - 2)
3 bedroom condo for sale by owner in Halifax (8 - 7)
upscale 3 bedroom condo for sale by owner in Halifax (8 - 8)
3 bedroom condo FSBO in Halifax (8 - 3)
upscale 3 bedroom condo FSBO in Halifax (8 - 8)
condo for sale in Halifax (8-4)
You will note that, except in 3 out of 4 cases of using FSBO instead
of for sale by owner, there was little if any difference in the
results shown by existing Adwords advertisers. In other words, you
would have significant competition in many areas. Eliminating any
mention of sale type actually lessens the competition for Ads
This means that you wont be able to buy your listing for 5 cents a
click for many keywords/phrases.
BUT...in the examples of upscale halifax condo FSBO (8 - 3);
halifax condo FSBO (8 - 2); and 3 bedroom condo FSBO in Halifax
(8 - 3) - you really dont have any competition. This means that you
could not only advertise inexpensively, but wouldnt have much
competition for eyeballs.
2) I chose these example search terms (making up the # of bedrooms,
but the results are quite similar for other #s) because the log files
for my clients show that often people will initially search by terms
like this. They generally dont find too much in individual
properties and will give up that search style, but it gets them to
sites where they can THEN find individual properties.
In the case of Canada, there arent a whole lot of results either in
Google Ads OR the search results themselves (1 or 2 pages at the
most). This means that searchers arent being overly distracted or
being drawn off into FSBO sites. This works to your benefit.
On the other hand, the use of the term for sale by owner is FAR more
common in buyer searches than is FSBO as a ton of buyers still
arent familiar with the jargon. But you dont need lots of hits,
just the right ones.
3) The default search on Google.ca is all the web, not pages from
A default search for the term FSBO on Google.ca = 653,000 results
while for sale by owner = 2,580,000. Changing the default to
pages from Canada changed the results drastically: FSBO = 8,360;
for sale by owner = 308,000.
Thats a huge difference, but dont expect searchers to be
sophisticated enough to know they need to change the default.
A significant number of our clients are selling homes in the $650,000+
price range. They...and the people looking to buy properties in that
range...are no more computer savvy than our other clients or buyers.
Trust me on that one :-)
4) People dont look at the ads as much as they do the search
results. Keep that in mind as it will reduce the number of potential
buyers seeing your ad.
5) You are very restricted in what you can put in your Google ad.
The headline is 25 characters (including spaces) while the 2 ad lines
are limited to 35 characters each. This means that you must not only
word your ad so as to attract true potential buyers, but eliminate
everyone else...and do so under significant restrictions. And you
cant offer photos.
6) The PPC cost/methodology may or may not be to your benefit.
If you are paying, say, 10 cents a click, thats $1 for every 10
visitors. Indeed, for 100 visitors youd only be paying $10. Thats
not bad at all. If you dont word your ad correctly, however, you
could be paying for an awful lot of clicks from curiosity seekers...or
people who simply dont read ads well.
Of course only you can decide what is too expensive. You may feel
that spending $500 on PPC that result in selling your home is a good
Keep in mind, however, that where you set your price and spending cap
as well as how many other people are competing for the same keyword
will affect how often you show up on a search as well as the position
your ad will appear. Having your ad appear first will get more
interest than having it appear 8th.
7) The cost of other listing options must be taken into consideration
There are free and for fee Canadian and Halifax FSBO sites where you
could list your condo. (Of course there is no reason why you couldnt
advertise your condo on them in addition to your Google Ad. :-) There
are also many, many US/Canadian and international FSBO sites with free
listings and for-fee listings. Indeed, some of the top FSBO sites
dont charge anything to list on them. Free is good.
8) People looking to buy are looking for certain basic
characteristics. You are going to have to anticipate what those
characteristics are and word your ad accordingly. On well-designed
FSBO sites, this isnt an issue as you input this info and people can
search for it.
In other types of Internet ads it doesnt necessarily matter if you
get visitors who are not appropriate for your home as it costs you no
additional $$$ for their eyeballs.
In a PPC campaign, you have to determine what features will attract
and what will eliminate. Number of bedrooms, baths, price, location
are all essential, of course.
9) Not being able to offer a photo is, in my opinion, one of the
Curb appeal is vital. People want a place to be visually pleasing
to them. Sure, youll be able to direct them to a website with lots
of photos, but at what cost?
These non-photo ads cannot eliminate Looky Loos. There will be people
who click the ad who never would have bothered has they been able to
see a photo.
10) The other biggest drawback?
Just for kicks I created a Google Adwords campaign for Canada (results
to show in English and French).
3 BR Halifax Condo FSBO
2 BA, 1200 sq ft, fireplace
The original keywords:
nova scotia, halifax, real estate, FSBO, for sale by owner, condo,
Using Googles estimator - Estimates based on clickthrough rates for
current advertisers for these keywords - (and keep in mind that you
must view their estimates with a grain of salt), I got the the
following cost estimates for each keyword.
FSBO - # of clicks per day - 1.6 - Average cost per click $.05 -
Average cost per day $.08 - Ad position #1
Condo - 37 per day - $.97 each - $35.61 a day - 1.3
Condominium - 14/day - $.07 each - $0.92/day - 1
For sale by owner - 3.5 - $.78 - $2.70 - 1
Halifax - 140 - $.16 - $21.34 - 1.1
Nova Scotia - 150 - $.19 - $27.44 - 1.1
Real estate - 220 - $.58 - $125.71 - 1.2
Townhome 1 - $.5 - $.05 - 1
Townhouse - 5.8 - $.45 - $2.58 - 1
The total for my original ad with the original keywords were:
572.9 clicks at $.38 average for a total of $216.41 a day.
Now THAT is not worth doing IF it were true. Thats over $1400 for a
weeks worth of advertising.
So I revised the keywords based on cost and ended up with the
Re-running the estimator brought the estimated daily figures down to
179.6 clicks at an average of $.18 for a total of $31.84 a day.
Losing condo was a drag, but would have doubled this final estimate
This still (again assuming the estimator is close, and it must be
taken with a grain of salt) results in your spending over $200 in a
week but for 1260 visitors.
You could, of course, put a cap on both how much you are willing to
spend per click and how much you are willing to spend in a day. But
if you put a limit of $1.00 per click (to keep in the term condo)
and put a limit on of $30 a day, youd reduce your daily clicks down
from 180 to 40.
The question, of course, is how reasonable are these estimates since
you are selling one condo.
Id venture to say that they arent particularly realistic because you
are only selling one condo at one size and one price.
So I made the assumption youd be attracting 1/10th of those clicks.
At the much more reasonable daily price of $3.18. Of course that
reduces your site visitors to 18 a day.
Assuming, just for fun, that you follow the standard and get one sale
for every 100 visitors, youd sell your condo in 5.5 days for $17.49
in advertising. Not bad, eh?
Of course, if you kept the keyword condo, youd reduce your daily
clicks to 4 at a daily cost of $3...so it would take 25 days at a cost
of $75. Isnt make-believe fun???
11) It is possible to create phrases in Google Adwords and require
that the phrase must be matched for your ad to show up.
I did. Here they are:
Condo for sale by owner in Halifax
Halifax condo for sale
Condo for sale in Halifax
Halifax for sale by owner
Googles estimator says that no one would click through on these
searches. I do think they are wrong, but I'm sure that these searches
occur far less often than the previous ones I listed.
Looking at doing this yourself as the first one with the property type
that you have to offer in the location in which you have to offer it ,
I think its worth a try, as you get to control how much you are
willing to pay for clicks, how much you are willing to spend daily,
and can stop spending immediately.
In your case, the Looky Loos will very likely not be anywhere near as
bad as someone, say, selling a 3 BR, 2 BA in Boston area. $300,000.
That seller would spend a fortune in clicks...or have to put a cap
that may block the ad just before the person who would have bought
their home would have found it to click on.
As to whether it would more effective than listing your condo on
existing FSBO sites, who can say. Since there are so many good free
FSBO sites, it certainly would be more expensive. And since there are
so many good free FSBO sites, your traffic would likely be lower, too.
(FYI, I dont know if individuals can pay to list on the Canadian MLS
as they can on the US one)
At any rate, while it was fun doing the figuring for a Google Adword
campaign, theres no way to know either how effective or how costly -
or even time-effective - this campaign would be. But isnt that
usually the case when youre the first to try something?
Anyway, youve seen the type of ad Id create. Youve seen keywords
and keyword phrases you can use. I would probably start with the
phrases first and require a match. Thats because people using those
phrases are actually looking for something very close if not identical
to what you are selling.
If Googles estimator is right and you get no clicks, then Id try
Either way, if you dont get appropriate results within a week or
maybe two (i.e. emails, phone calls), Id drop the campaign
Ultimately, though, I say Go for it! And let us know if it works!
Thanks for using Google Answers.