How is a real estate salesperson supposed to stand out from her competition online? It’s a question that webmasters and marketing assistants hear often and struggle to answer. They do their best to write cheerful website copy, but the problem is that everyone says the same thing and the result is noise.

TRES Labs did a survey a few years ago that showed the median budget for online marketing, including a website, was about $2,500 per year. That’s expensive considering that a lot of outstanding graphic design is wrapped around the same generic statements about dedication, commitment and the joy of selling homes. These things make a client feel good but if everyone is saying the same thing, how is it outstanding?

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Millions in sales rep dues have been spent on the regulation of a sound methodology for trading real property. This investment is intended to create a transaction experience by trained real estate professionals. It’s ironic that some of the most remarkable features and benefits of this transaction experience are not advertised as a reason to engage a Realtor.

Realtors typically don’t bridge the gap between their online marketing and the extraordinary value that the brand offers. If you ask a new agent what she brings to the table, she will probably talk about market knowledge and “professionalism”. Intangibles won’t differentiate your services online. Instead, try talking about the reasons why Realtors are licensed and why they have a government-sanctioned monopoly to trade real property. Here are a few topics to explore in your marketing materials and website content if you’re looking for some ideas:

Fiduciary duty

Fiduciary duty is a term that should be defined on every real estate website. It’s the core of the Code of Ethics, yet most ordinary people don’t know what this phrase means or have any idea of how it relates to their transaction. It’s also the basis for almost every conversation and has far-reaching implications, so clients should read about it as part of your introduction. Try searching for a real estate website that has the term “fiduciary duty” and you’ll find zero results. Add it to your site and you’ll take the first step toward real differentiation.

Full disclosure

Full disclosure is a concept that some wary clients will assume is only offered to friends and family of the agent. Nobody has ever told them that a Realtor cannot conceal information, lie, exaggerate, make a secret profit and a multitude of other failings. There are people who believe that when they hire a Realtor, it’s caveat emptor. Trust grows from disclosure. Talking about professional standards on your website in a confident voice gives clients a reason to believe in you.


Privacy is regulated by the government, real estate associations and councils across Canada but few people expect it in real life. Clients assume that you will disclose their information to other agents and the general public as part of the sale process. They will assume that you share personal details like reasons for buying or selling and anecdotes of your conversations with them or mention relationships they might have with people in the community. It can be helpful in the trust-building phase of the relationship to explain in writing how a client’s privacy is safeguarded in a policy statement.

Errors and omissions insurance

Errors and omissions insurance is a foreign term to most people. The public doesn’t know that Realtors must carry E&O, what the policy limits are and when it is called into force. Visitors to your website want to know they have some security beyond the warm hug that everyone else is selling, so let them know you have excess coverage. Confidence builds respect and mutual respect is critical to the fiduciary relationship.

By discussing the foundations of the Realtor brand in your marketing, and making it a feature of your business plan, you’re making a promise to the public that this is how you do business. Website copy about fiduciary duty and insurance isn’t boring to the people who are trusting you with their nest egg. It’s exciting to know that someone is taking your transaction seriously and using their professional resources to ensure your success.

If you want to continue the Realtor brand theme throughout your website and social media, ask clients to use specific keywords that promote it. Suggest they comment on privacy or try to use the phrase “The Golden Rule” in their testimonial, if they feel it’s appropriate. It will elevate your business to a new level and give potential clients another reason to have high expectations.

The reality of the real estate business is that there are never enough customers to satisfy the sales force, so differentiation is important. All sales reps have a strong desire to be fun, responsive to clients and give good service, but those intentions don’t go far enough. Be different. Tell people what it really means to be a professional Realtor and they will respond by giving you their business.


  1. Google Search: (brampton real estate fiduciary duty; and this is what Google chose to present):

    Brampton Real estate | Homes for Sale | MLS Listings > bramptonhomes

    (Google chose this leader copy in a fiduciary duty search):

    A Brampton Real Estate Company. … “ fiduciary duty” (she will honour your requests); she knows real estate contract …

    It would be prudent in your Google search to preface any such search line by an identified domicile for your agent/client. It isn’t a surprise you found nothing representative using such a generic search.

    Due to a family cancer situation, I elected to put my licence on hold. Family first. At 76 I can say I had a most unusual second career opportunity from the age of 38. I moved to a new city. Had no friends or relatives, knew absolutely no one, and began a new full-time career that became my life. It wasn’t until late 1997 that I bought my own name domain and engaged in getting a website operational.

    I knew from nothing where to start. I had belonged to US NAR-based forums and a Canadian one and learned a lot. Learning about the web world was fascinating. But learning HTML was of no interest. I wanted to learn all I could without doing the actual web work.

    I can’t begin to compute how agents manage to have a successful real estate career and build websites simultaneously. But that should never mean giving up control of the website to strangers who have never worked in the marketplace per se. The agent simply must personalize copy.

    If they don’t, the public will see right through the facade when they meet up with consumers who without doubt can read you like a book, and if in person you aren’t the same person they connected with on line, no agency commitment will be had, (at any bargain basement price structure).

    So my site is desperately out of date. Nonetheless, I personally penned every word on my site over a thirty-five year period, but my site was only built in 1997/98, one of the first in the industry, and includes all my personally written consumer education articles.

    Prior to having a website, I relied almost exclusively on print materials and direct mail marketing; but again I never used an advertising agency. I didn’t do any web-work but I designed it all using pencil and paper)… Typed into Word docs.

    I recognize, acknowledge and respect that others feel the need to pay someone else to write some kind of (generically pleasing) copy for their websites.

    They might surprise themselves if they just started to type in a Word doc, referring to what a buyer or seller needs to know about their specific location and how the agent will go about fulfilling the reader’s requirements and needs (each could stand on its own two legs): even if it is just providing circumspect links to copy written by a professional industry provided raconteur (as in narrator). The world of the web is full of acceptable for use materials. No plagiarism allowed. Credits must be provided.

    I don’t think it is appropriate to generalize as in your statement: “Try searching for a real estate website that has the term “fiduciary duty” and you’ll find zero results.” (Oh, my!) of course you are correct. NADA.

    At website you will read about agents and insurance at:

    (Google chose to present this copy):

    All REALTORS “must carry insurance.” Brampton MLS homes for sale is a system of sharing listing information within in the real estate industry, and this means we sell other agents’ listings …

    On the site page, in part:
    CAUTION: Not all real estate companies are REALTORS and not all companies who list houses are licenced). You might want to check out their credentials before you pay upfront money to put your house on MLS, thinking perhaps that you are doing business with a full-service company who must follow the CODE of ETHICS and the rules and regulations that tightly govern the real estate industry. Not so always, and when things go wrong as they sometimes do, you will have no recourse or avenue of compliance to rely upon. One example question you might ask for is proof of insurance. All REALTORS “must carry insurance.”

    Privacy: addressed at

    (Google chose to present these words):

    Articles you must read about Brampton Real Estate. … Rest assured: Your Privacy is safe with us. None of your …


    Full disclosure: at
    (Google chose to present these words):

    When you are selling, even privately, and you are a non-resident, you will be required to make such disclosure at the … [And it’s your agent’s job to explain it to you as to why…]

    (Google chose to present these words in a search regarding disclosure): but full disclosure is discussed …
    And then there’s:

    (Google chose to present these words):

    Items to Check at Offer Time – from top producing agent with years of experience for Brampton, Bramalea, Heart Lake, …

    Please don’t be offended; your REM advertising article offers to many what they either cannot or choose to not do themselves.

    The caution alert would be not to generalize where agents are concerned vis a vis their interacting with the public, since each domicile is fraught with various rules and regulations that pertain only to their business location. We are definitely not “one nation under … In relation to nationwide equal rules and regs…”

    And to engage with their own specific trading area, specificity kept within such boundaries would always serve your client/agents well as being the chosen “go-to person/agent” in their geo-related website marketing, noting their hometown base of operation. The first and dominant word in any website material needs to state the agent dominant service area.

    All the topics you chose to address are paramount, and agents need to understand the importance of these topics, often not fully addressed in the education realm of the industry.

    Back to you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. It needs to be emphasized the import of the subjects you chose to highlight and for agents to understand how important such is to their website visitors where this could be an opportunity for the agent to take control from the first entree point of contact; that’s presuming the visitor does in fact, read (noting Ross Wilson’s assertion about menu level reading capacity). That being said, it points to the importance of an agent’s being capable of addressing the key subjects you note.

    Prime example: do agents ever visit their affiliate corp website? I had a typical experience recently. I went to a corporate website because I wanted to see who had made a particular comment at REM. The site appeared to be very graphically professional. There was as is often the case, a dedicated page called ‘the team,” with an alphabetical list to choose from. Guess what… Not one letter belonged to any agent. I have no idea how long that corp site has been operational or who got paid how much to create it. But it is a perfect example of what typically is out there. Sad but true. And how come none of their agents has visited that issue that perhaps blatantly affects their own bottom line. If no one can find you, then no one can connect with you.

    I’m no genius and know what I don’t know how to do, so I surrounded myself with experts in other fields. It is apparent that whoever built that particular site never checked it and neither did the hundreds of agents who work there. Or whoever signed the invoice to pay for it.

    Not unlike: did you ever call yourself, at your office, and check how your office connects with the outside world? Do they put you on hold before they know even who’s calling? Might be the owner, but perhaps he or she simply doesn’t get it, either.

    Carolyne L ?


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