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The Importance Of Internet For Real Estate Professionals

Written By: Amanda Smith

The Internet has become a fixture of our day to day lives. Gone are the times when a computer and a broadband connection were luxury items. More and more people are relying on the web to learn information about the real estate process, as well as the market conditions, and to look at listings. Keeping this in mind, it is important for any real estate professional to understand why the internet is so vital to today’s business climate, and why choosing not to get involved would diminish their profits and reduce their competitive edge.

The National Association of Realtors (http://nar.realtor.com/) and California Association of REALTORS (http://www.car.org/) surveys clearly show a considerable increase in internet usage as opposed to traditional advertising/media. People browse for listings as well as for realtors. Let’s take a closer look at the results and their significance for real estate brokers and agents.

Nowadays, people don’t accumulate information as much as they used to. Instead they rely on the internet to help them. What is easier than punching in keywords in a search engine only to get what they were looking for faster and more accurately than before. It’s only natural to take advantage of the web when looking for a new home.

According to the CAR’s “2005 Internet Versus Traditional Buyer Study”, internet homebuyers increased from 56 percent in 2004 to 62 percent in 2005. Clearly, the web has become an integral element in house hunting for more than a half of homebuyers.

What would be the reasons for this?

It saves time according to 63 percent of homebuyers.

People search for listings in the privacies of their own home, getting results from practically anywhere. It’s obvious they are using the internet to preview homes. That way, they can make an initial selection from a larger pool than from traditional means.

According to the 2004 CAR report, internet buyers use an average of 4.8 weeks to look for information on homes and neighborhoods, before contacting a real estate professional, as opposed to 1.6 weeks for traditional buyers. However, once they finished their preliminary information gathering, they spent significantly less time with their agent and preview far fewer homes, spending 1.9 weeks, compared to 7.1 weeks for their traditional counter-parts.

Internet searches are especially important to people looking to move in different parts of the country. According to the same reports, internet buyers searched for a house within a median distance of 100 miles from their residence, as opposed to the traditional buyer only 12 miles.

Considering all these facts, it’s no wonder that traditional buyers’ numbers have decreased from 72 percent in 2000 to 44 percent in 2004.

Internet offers a wealth of information at a touch of a button, anytime, anywhere.

The Internet has grown so big, one can find detailed information about anything.

Brokers, agents and third-parties are able to distribute and display a wealth of information about listings, mortgages, loans, neighborhoods. Because these resources are available 24 hours a day, buyers are able to do searches in their own time, using the same tool: the computer. This saves enormous amounts of time.

People will normally want to get as much information as possible from as many sources as possible. Therefore, realtors who will develop their websites including specialized, insider information and detailed listings complete with pictures, will be more likely to capture internet homebuyers.

According to the 2003 NAR survey, buyers want two features in an real estate website: detailed property information (77 percent found it useful) and photos of the house (78 percent found them useful). Virtual tours were appreciated by 47 percent. The impact of these features was so great, that it spurred buyers to action. 72 percent drove to see the house they found online, and 46 percent visited the house.

As stated before, internet shopping does not stop only to listings. According to the same report, 18 percent found their agent online as well. It’s a good bet that detailed property presentations had a great impact in their decision.

NAR President Cathy Whatley, owner of Buck & Buck Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., said warnings that online information would reduce reliance on real estate professionals have proved to be false. “Almost every home placed on the market today can be found on the Internet, and more buyers than ever are using the Web to search for a home,” she said.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the internet homebuyer profile.

- Buyers who like to be in control

The internet has proven to be empowering to consumers. The web has bred a news species, which is in control of the inquiry process, all the while maintaining anonymity. This anonymity is very important, as people generally don’t like to be rushed in making a decision, especially if it is an important, as well as costly, one.

- According to CAR’s “2005 Internet Versus Traditional Buyer Study”, internet buyers are more likely first-time buyers, younger, wealthier and better educated.

They are also more likely to be married.

- According to 2003 American Home Guide’s survey, the majority of online shoppers are women, more than 60 percent, and 73 percent of them were younger than 45.

- Buyers like to be as informed as possible.

Knowledge is not restricted to listings and prices. It extends to real estate transaction details, mortgage and loan information. It is another plus for internet-savvy realtors who can rush and fill in these blanks.

It is important for real estate professionals to speak the language of the buyers. Keep in mind, that the younger generation has been raised while using a computer, therefore it’s natural to them to rely on the internet when searching for information.

“While the Web is great in providing information, the survey tells us that consumers rely on real estate professionals to provide context to their research, and to provide services that guide them through the negotiation and transaction process,” says NAR President Martin Edwards, Jr.

In 2001, the CAR report highlighted the fact that 78 percent of Internet homebuyers found their agents on the Internet, not as a result of traditional methods such as farming, referrals, advertising, or sign calls. This percentage has surely increased.

Furthermore, having a website and conducting communications through email has become a mark of professionalism for any business venture in today’s world. Having a website can only help.

“The Internet has complemented rather than diminished Realtors’ role in the homebuying transaction,” said C.A.R. President Ann Pettijohn. “While Internet buyers considered online information to be valuable, they ultimately turned to Realtors both for their interpretation of that information, and for their expertise and judgment throughout the homebuying process. The expertise and professional advice provided by Realtors creates value over and above the market and property information itself, even when the buyers obtain that information on their own.”

Resources:

CAR Report Shows Increased Use Of Internet By Homebuyers by Blanche Evans http://realtytimes.com/rtapages/20040630_carreport.htm

New Report Shows Gulf Between Internet and Traditional Homebuyers by Blanche Evans http://realtytimes.com/rtapages/20010126_report.htm

CAR’s Internet Versus Traditional Buyer Study Shows New Trends by Blanche Evans http://realtytimes.com/rtapages/20050330_buyertrends.htm

CAR Report Shows Increased Use Of Internet By Homebuyers by Blanche Evans http://realtytimes.com/rtapages/20040630_carreport.htm

Women Browse For New Housing More Than Men by Broderick Perkins http://realtytimes.com/rtcpages/20030904_browse.htm

New NAR Survey Shows Growing Web Use in a Dynamic Housing Market http://realtytimes.com/rtcpages/20030716_survey.htm

About The Author

Amanda Smith is the content editor of the NetReal.net website. NetReal.net is a complex marketing platform that offers, among other things, the NetRealinTouch.net newsletter system http://www.netrealintouch.net. This complete email marketing system offers real estate professionals quality prospecting and farming newsletters at an affordable price. You are invited to try NetRealinTouch.net, by taking the 30-day FREE trial. You can also find other articles about online and offline promotion, and other real estate marketing related subjects on NetReal.net http://www.netreal.net/part.php.

articles@netreal.net

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