Real Estate Web Searches Climb 253% in Four Years as 90% of Homebuyers Use Internet as Primary Research
consumers are not only exponentially increasing their reliance on the Internet
but are also developing distinct patterns for using it in their housing
searches. Google and the National
Association of Realtors® recently completed a joint study on how and how much
prospective buyers use the various digital options, publishing the results in The
Digital House Hunt: 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 the Zero Moment of Truth or
ZMOT. Google says "the sales funnel
isn't really a funnel anymore," instead there is a generation that does its
homework ahead of time. They shop 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.
They watch "how-to" videos on You Tube, read product and service
reviews, look up specific brands on search engines, and even research on the go
with smart phones and tablets.
The study found the real
estate-related searches on Google have grown 253 percent 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. They also found that home
buyers used specific online tools at different points during their home search
When they start the process
buyers tend to rely on search engines and general websites. They frequently search terms like FHA loan,"
"FHA," "home grants," and "home buyer assistance. They tend to use maps more in the middle of
the process, and engage mobile applications most toward the end of their
first-time and repeat buyers rely on Realtors® in their home
search. 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. Fifty-three percent
of users who actually register on a major real estate site are female.
to data from Realtor.com, today's buyers search most frequently on numbers of
bedrooms and bathrooms; square footage; garages; heating, ventilation and air
conditioning (HVAC) systems; and swimming pools.
devices are significantly changing the way people search for homes, as
well. About 20 percent of real estate
searchers are done from mobile devices.
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. 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
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."
has transformed the way Realtors® 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 actually helping connect them with home buyers.
And Realtors® are responding by leveraging resources like
Realtor.com, Facebook and YouTube to engage buyers and sellers in ever-evolving
You can read the full report here.