Hmmm. Not being a real estate agent I can't dispute feedback from Doug, who is. I still think however that sooner rather than later, a blog could be a great money making tool for a real estate agent. Perhaps I am dreaming or perhaps nobody has done it right yet (the right mixture of good blog postings over time). I do know as a buyer that all of the real estate agents sites that I have seen s*ck. I don't care about having your listings on your site (anybody can do that and MLS s*cks and it's not about the listings it's about finding the right places for me to check out). What I do care about is knowing who the agent is and what she/he specializes in and whether can I trust that agent. I don't trust the agents with the slick sites that have no soul and personality and sell 8 million dollars a year. Big deal! I want somebody who understands what I am looking for and is knowledgeable, personable, friendly. I think blogging and podcasting could go a long way to help but perhaps that is naive.
Update: Roland Tanglao asks about Google rank and if that has an impact on a Realtor's money making ability - in 2005, not a very significant one, at least not in the Indianapolis market. One of the great eye-openers for me in coming from a tech background into real estate is that the general public really doesn't use tools like Google to the extent that we technologists do. The most common means for people to meet an agent is through a word-of-mouth referral, or because of wide-spread local name recognition (signs, direct mail, other local advertising). For example, I have a far superior Page Rank than one particular agent that lives in my neighborhood, and am certainly more well-known online than he is, or probably ever will be. He commonly lists 80% plus of the properties for sale here, while I've so far listed none. Everyone knows him because of his local marketing and reputation.
Beyond that, buyers are more likely to meet agents in Open Houses or just by calling in to the office and asking for an agent. It's far more cost-effective for me to do an Open House, and far more likely for me to pick up a buyer client by doing so, than it is for me to blog about real estate. I did in excess of $1 million in business from Open Houses last year, while I have never had even a single lead from any of my online efforts.
That isn't to say that things won't change at some point, or that the situation might not be different in different markets, or that the public isn't using online tools to shop for real estate (by and large, they are). Blogging just doesn't yet seem to be a particularly effective means for me, in the Indianapolis market, to gain customers when compared to other marketing strategies. At best, I suspect it's good for one or two deals a year - and those would have to be pretty significant deals to justify the time spent on blogging and the time lost on other pursuits.