By NAR 2013 President Gary Thomas
The Internet has changed everything, and home sales are certainly no exception. A recent joint study by the National Association of REALTORS® and Google finds that real estate searches on Google.com have grown 253 percent over the past four years.
The report, The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate, examines the connection between consumer Internet use and online home search and shopping patterns. Google wanted to work with us, using NAR’s custom research and leveraging it against Google’s proprietary and third-party research. The results reveal some interesting consumer trends.
While REALTORS® may not be surprised by these results, it’s important for us to be aware of any and all consumer trends. That way, we can reach home buyers where they are—online. We can do this through paid searches, relevant websites, video environments and mobile applications.
We’ve found that buyers use specific online tools at different points during their home search process. They tend to rely on search engines and general websites at the beginning of the search, then maps in the middle, and mobile applications toward the end.
Indeed, 48 percent of people who used a mobile device in their home search used the device to get directions to homes for sale, and 45 percent used it to request more information about specific home features or real estate services.
According to the 2012 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, multiple listing service websites and REALTOR.com were the top two websites used in recent home searches. Realtor.com, NAR’s official property listing website, attracts an average of more than 20 million unique visitors per month. Mirroring the Google/NAR study, search activity on REALTOR.com has picked up 31 percent between March and October of this year.
This trend bodes well for the year ahead. It shows that more people are regaining confidence to invest in their future though homeownership. And rather than replacing real estate agents, the Internet is actually helping connect home buyers and REALTORS® in new ways.
So come see me on Facebook, and check out the new NAR Leadership page. Try it, you’ll “like” it.