How to Fill Out an Online Form

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For years my real estate team has closed a lot of transactions from home buyers and sellers we met through our websites. And now, also owning a company that builds websites for real estate brokerages and now hosting over 13,000 real estate websites I’ve noticed that a lot of home buyers seem to have a real challenge filling out forms when they want an agent to contact them.

Many online forms have pre-populated comments to give the home buyer an example of what to ask/say to the agent. These is very generic text that basically just says something like, “I am interested in the property located at…” or “I would like to know more about the property located at…”

ImageThis text is not meant to be the completed text that a home buyer sends in to the agent. When a home buyer sends in this generic text the agent that receives that contact form has absolutely no idea what information the buyer wants or how to help them. Almost all of the information you could want about a property is online now, so the agents don’t know how to respond. Usually, the agent will respond with a questions like, “Thank you for visiting my website. I received your request for more information about the property at 468 Vine Street. Would you like to take a tour of this property or do you have any specific questions I can help with?”

And you would think that would be the best response an online home buyer can get. It’s letting them choose whether they want to see the property or if they have anything they want to know about the property this is the perfect opportunity to say so. But the interesting thing is that usually the home buyers don’t respond when they receive this email reply, even when the reply is sent within seconds of the home buyer sending in the initial request.

I try to put myself in the position of the online home buyer. I’m searching for properties on a website. I’m looking at dozens and dozens of homes, comparing the homes and locations and browsing the photos and reading the remarks. Then, I find one that I’m really interested in and I see the form on the side that lets me asks a question about the property or schedule a showing. I see there is pre-populated text saying, “I would like more information regarding this property” and I enter my name and my email address (which is always required) and click SEND without entering my phone number or any specific information. The agent responds to me within a minute or so asking if I would like to see this property that I’m so interested in or if I have any specific questions and…. and I just ignore it?

What’s the point of that? I’ve just wasted everyone’s time and accomplished nothing. The agent wants to help and the buyer is clearly interested in the property so what is the problem here?  Perhaps the forms should not have pre-populated text and instead require the buyer to enter some text? We all hate being forced to fill out anything so requiring another field doesn’t seem like a good idea. Maybe the forms should say something like, “If you are going to send in this form, please tell us when you want to see this property or let us know what information you want” or something similar?

It’s an interesting challenge… any thoughts?

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