Can Realtors Still SUCCESSFULLY Advertise on Facebook in 2019?

So we’ve gotten some recent bad news for realtors… especially those who advertise on Facebook or are looking into doing it.

For a long time, Facebook Ads have been a great place for Real Estate Agents to find quality leads and sell their listings. But Facebook has recently removed some of the features that made advertising so great.

The fact of the matter is, this is actually good. It forces advertisers to be more creative and to use more advanced advertising methods.

In an article written by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, and published on March 19th, she goes into detail about the ‘epidemic’.

Sheryl States:

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“We’re proud that our services help businesses reach people all over the world who are interested in their products and services. Small businesses now have access to marketing tools that previously only big companies could afford. This levels the playing field so that they can reach audiences they care about. As a result, more than half of small businesses on Facebook say they’ve hired more employees due to growth since joining our platform.

Our job is to make sure these benefits continue while also making sure that our ads tools aren’t misused. There is a long history of discrimination in the areas of housing, employment and credit, and this harmful behavior should not happen through Facebook ads.

Last year, one of the US’s top housing civil rights organizations, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), as well as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Communication Workers of America (CWA) and other private parties, filed litigation against us, saying that we need to build stronger protections against abuse.”

I’ve included the link here, so you can check it out, but it basically says Facebook found that some of the targeting advertisers were using for housing, employment and credit ads were discriminatory against certain peoples, so they changed the way advertisers can target users in those three categories.

What targeting did they remove?

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So you can no longer target users through age, gender, or zip code. That’s a big blow to realtors. They even add salt to the wound by saying that you’ll have a much smaller set of targeting categories to use in your campaigns. But don’t freak out quite yet.

These changes do make sense, and anyone who’s been paying attention to Facebook recently would know that this was bound to happen.

Before we move on, you need to understand that this is more of a blessing than it is a curse.

Lookalike Audiences

First, detailed targeting like they are mentioning here is not the best way to reach users who want to buy from you. Most casual Facebook Advertisers don’t know this, but the pros all use something call Lookalike Audiences.

A lookalike audience is where you upload a customer file, of more than one hundred users (so Facebook has enough data) and analyze each and every person in that file. They then take that data and find other users on Facebook that have similar behaviors and demographics to your existing list.

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It’s a fantastic resource that will allow you to enjoy overall cheaper Cost Per Clicks and Cost Per Leads. Your ROAS (return on ad spend) will be significantly higher as well.

That’s why this is a blessing. It’s forcing all the users not taking advantage of this already to be more creative, switch to lookalike audiences or quit altogether. If you stick with it, you’ll have less competition AND hopefully higher returns! That seems like a no brainer to me.

“What if I don’t have an extensive list of customers already?”

There are two answers to this, and both involve using ads to build a list. The first is to start with very broad targeting and build a list over time with people who are interested in your offer. This can be a general awareness campaign that just gets users familiar with your brand and gives them an offer that’s related to housing, such as a “free guide” to real estate.

The second option is still to use detailed targeting, which won’t be as effective but can be just as useful. You can target users based on interests, with no demographics. To do this, you need to start with a customer avatar sheet. This is where you brainstorm all the things your idea customer might be interested in, tv shows or networks they watch, podcasts they listen to, books they read, and so on.

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This is a powerful tool you should be using already, as with the Lookalikes. It helps you truly understand who you’re trying to advertise to and lets you approach many different angles.

For example, when I do advertising for housing, I target things like home improvement and HGTV, because I know middle-aged users would be interested in both of those, especially the ones that might be interested in moving.

The Customer Avatar

When working with my clients, before I launch any campaigns or even write any copy, I create a customer avatar. All it is is a sheet that you create defining all the characteristics of the type of customer you’re trying to target. You would start by creating a certain character, with a name and age and gender and even if he’s married, has children, their age, and so forth. For real estate, this should be fairly simple. Everyone has motivation to buy or sell a house, and there’s always an extreme emotional attachment to the process. They have a lot of money hanging over their heads, and they don’t want to miss out. You’ll also want to include things like, occupation, job title, annual income, level of education, anything you can add to this avatar to make it come to life.

Next you’ll define his goals and values. This can be tricky, but will give you so much depth for your targeting that you’ll be glad you did it. You move from blindly firing in the dark with your ads, to being confident and advertising based on actual data. After goals, you’ll make note of challenges and pain points. This is where you really narrow in on a customer’s motivations and what can trigger him to act. What challenges is he trying to overcome by looking into real estate? What are the pain points of someone in the home buying or selling process?

Almost there. Now you’ll input the fun stuff. What books and magazines does he read? What blogs and websites does he visit? Does he look for real estate things, or are there other ways to get to him? I’ve found it best when you don’t directly target someone interested in “real estate” because that’s too generic and is what everyone else is doing. If you do your homework, you should be able to create many different targeting audiences based on many different angles of attack, and all you need is one or two to work well. Also enter things like conferences they might attend, gurus they might follow, and anything else that they may be interested in. For example, if you’re trying to see a lake home, you’d want to find someone interested in fishing or water sports, boating, swimming, and things of that sort.

Lastly, you’ll want to enter the kinda boring stuff. What is his role in the buying decision? Are you targeting the person with the money? Or is it someone who’s husband or spouse has the buying power? What are their objections to your product or service? Really think on this one. What are all the things that they could say bad about a home, and what are things that they might object to on a bigger picture? This will give you a ton of value by making sure you’re prepared for any question that may come your way, along with making your copy and advertising fool-proof!

So that’s the solution to advertising real estate in 2019! I hope this was helpful, and maybe your ads will improve because of this.

If you’re a realtor and you’d like some help with creating a Lookalike Audience or help with Facebook Advertising in general, feel free to contact me at! We give free consultations, where we could narrow in on what you’re doing right, what you’re doing wrong, and what’s the best method for moving forward in your career. You want to be the best, and we want to help you get there!