Vancouver Realtor Les Twarog started his career in the real estate industry in 1988 and right from the start he embraced technology as a key to drive business. Today, Twarog’s passion for technology is on overdrive as he has built a system for lead generation that drives hot leads to his inbox.
Twarog, a sales rep with Re/Max Crest Realty, is looking for investors to expand his websites across British Columbia and Canada.
“The bottom line is I want to be the Zillow of Canada,” Twarog says. “Zillow is the No. 1 company in the United States for lead generation. They do $900 million in sales to Realtors a year.”
He says Zillow generates $1 billion a year in lead income. He has set up a similar platform in the lower mainland that currently only has condos, but he plans to expand it across B.C. by adding houses into the mix within 18 months.
“We are going to disrupt the real estate business in the next two to three years with this,” says Twarog, who currently operates six websites.
The lead generation business gets 8,000 unique visitors per day. Its two flagship products are www.bccondos.net and www.fisherly.com. During the last 10 years, Twarog says he and realtor Sonja Pedersen have invested $6 million in realty mega data.
He says 90 per cent of the unique website visitors and signups are buyers and approximately 10 per cent of them are sellers. “We convert about two per cent to three per cent of our daily sign-ups into leads – cold leads into hot leads,” he says.
“We have over one million plus web pages with a current inventory of 12,500+building websites and data for 1.5 million residential records,” he says. Twarog says the records in his database for B.C. include 900,000 houses and 600,000 condo units. They are not online yet but will be soon, he says. In addition, he says he has data for 500,000 properties in Alberta.
“I’m trying to raise $3 million because I’ve already spent $6 million of my own money to get to where I am to be the No. 1 player for condo buildings. So I’m looking to raise another $3 million.”
The investment would allow him to expand the number of condo buildings he has listed online. He currently has more than 12,000 buildings and plans to add another 13,000 buildings. He wants to create 350 pages with information about those communities. And he wants to create 33,000 videos for MLS listings that he would upload to YouTube.
“It’s a proven fact that 30 per cent of the Realtors that start in the real estate business, whether it’s the U.S. or Canada, quit within the first year and 87 per cent quit within five years because they can’t make it. They can’t get leads,” says Twarog. “Since November, we have 25,000 leads in our system – 400 people signing up every day.”
In his real estate practice, Twarog specializes in downtown condos, west side homes and commercial land assemblies. Asked to describe the current Vancouver market, he used one simple word: “Sizzling.”
He adds, “There was a lot of pent-up demand. In March, April and May, everybody was sitting on the sidelines and waiting for something to happen or not happen. Eventually people have to sell because they’re getting divorced or they’re moving from a one-bedroom condo to a two-bedroom condo or from a two-bedroom condo to a townhouse or from a townhouse to a house. Or they’re people who are downsizing,” he says.
Twarog said when he began in the industry, he realized from the beginning how important a role technology would play in his career.
“I’ve always been ahead of the curve from everybody else. Right now I have probably over a hundred different software programs. I even have to have a password manager to manage all the different platforms I’m using,” he says.