by Jann Swanson
Home-shopping consumers are not only exponentially increasing theirÂ reliance on the InternetÂ but are also developing distinct patterns for using it in their housing searches.Â Â GoogleÂ and theÂ National Association of RealtorsÂ®Â recently
completed a joint study on how and how much prospective buyers use the
various digital options, publishing the results inÂ The Digital House Hunt:Â Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate.
shopping is no longer about showing up in a store or a broker's office
or open house to get information is something Google calls theÂ Zero Moment of TruthÂ or
ZMOT.Â Google says "the sales funnel isn't really a funnel anymore,"
instead there is a generation that does its homework ahead of time. They
in traditional ways; watching or reading ads, walk into stores to look
at products, talks to friends, check styles and prices but alternate
these with digital sources.Â They watch "how-to" videos on You Tube, read product and service reviews, look up specific brands onÂ search engines, and even research on the go with smart phones and tablets.
The study found theÂ real estate-related searches on GoogleÂ have grownÂ 253 percentÂ over the last four years and that Nine out of 10 homebuyers
rely on the internet as one of their primary research sources, and 52
percent as their first step in buying a home.Â They also found that home
buyers used specific online tools at different points during their home search process.
they start the process buyers tend to rely on search engines and
general websites.Â They frequently search terms like FHA loan," "FHA,"
"home grants," and "home buyer assistance.Â They tend to use maps more
in the middle of the process, and engage mobile applications most toward
the end of their search.
Both first-time and repeat buyers rely on RealtorsÂ®Â in their home search.Â
Multiple listing services and Realtor.com are popular destinations with
the latter attracting more than 20 million unique visitors in an
average month and traffic to that site increased 31 percent between
March and October of 2012.Â Fifty-three percent of users who actually register on a major real estate site are female.
According to data from Realtor.com, today's buyersÂ search most frequentlyÂ on numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms; square footage; garages; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems; and swimming pools.
Mobile devices are significantly changingÂ the way people search for homes, as well.Â About 20 percent of real estate
searches are done from mobile devices.Â A Google/Complete home shopper
study found that 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 the device to request more information about specific home
features or real estate services.
still bridge the gap between internet research and viewing and buying a
home.Â Eighty-eight percent of buyers us an agent and 67 percent do so
frequently. Real estate consumers who use the internet while researching
a home are more likely to use multiple sources such as newspapers, yard
signs, and open houses but these play a minimal role in decision
making, so Realtors would be wise to incorporate digital marketing into
their offline efforts.
online technologies are driving offline behaviors, and home buying is
no exception," said Google Head of Real Estate Patrick Grandinetti.
"With 90 percent of home buyers searching online during their home
buying process, the real estate industry is smart to target these people
where they look for and consume information - for example through paid
search, relevant websites, video environments, and mobile applications."
"Technology has transformed the way RealtorsÂ®Â do
business, but in real estate, high tech doesn't come at the expense of
high touch," said Steven Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc., which operates
Realtor.com. "Rather than displacing real estate agents, the Internet is
actuallyÂ helping connect them with home buyers. And RealtorsÂ®are responding by leveraging resources like www.iListAZ.com, Facebook and YouTube to engage buyers and sellers in ever-evolving ways."
You can read theÂ full reportÂ here.