Eight of 10 Prospective Homebuyers Opt to Shop Online
Technology plays a vital role in today’s society and is transforming the way Realtors do business. That’s according to Curt Beardsley, vice president of product marketing for realtor.com, who shared his perspective on the growing mobile technology environment at the “Industry, Technology and Vision” forum during the Realtors Midyear Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo. According to data from the 2012 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, more than eight out of 10 homebuyers who used the Internet in their search reported that online photos and detailed property information were very useful. Forty-five percent of buyers found virtual tours very useful, and 41 percent liked interactive maps and neighborhood information. Realtor.com offers potential home buyers all of these features on the site. “Realtor.com, NAR’s official property listing website, is one of the most visited real estate sites on the Internet, attracting an average of 44 million total visits every month from more than 10 million unique visitors. The online world is continuing to blossom; lead generation has gone up 60 percent on realtor.com and a lot of that is being driven by mobile,” said Beardsley. “Mobile is helping change consumer expectations; smartphones are the backbone of our daily media use and should be the starting point for designing consumer experiences with clients.” Beardsley highlighted some new technology trends on the rise, including smart watches, a wearable watch device with enhanced technology features; Facebook Home, software for your phone that offers a more seamless version of the social media site; and geo-fencing, a new technology that alerts consumers when they are in close proximity to something they may have researched online. “Given the Internet’s convenience and round-the-clock accessibility, it’s not surprising that many home buyers first look online for properties and information when beginning their search. Most buyers rely on Realtor-supported online resources like multiple listing service websites and realtor.com,” said National Association of Realtors President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty, in Villa Park, Calif. “After they’ve done their own real estate research, consumers can then turn to realtor.com for the Internet’s most comprehensive directory of Realtors who can help home buyers and sellers achieve their goals,” said Beardsley. As the adoption of mobile smart phone devices has exploded, Beardsley said realtor.com has positioned itself as the top-rated real estate app on all of the major platforms, including iPhone/iPad, Android and Windows 7. Mobile visits now account for 20 percent of realtor.com traffic. Beardsley urged the audience of Realtors to stay abreast of technology trends and the many mobile tools available now to help them build their business. “Netflix is a great example of a business effectively leveraging customer trends. The company researched consumer content preferences and commissioned an original TV series based on what that data revealed; the resulting series is now the most watched on Netflix,” he said. “What this means for real estate is that it’s become vital to ensure that consumers can access information how and when they want – and if they can’t, then their experience becomes frustrating. You must design the experience to match what consumers are trying to do,” said Beardsley.