Almost 90% of all home buyers search online to find homes and properties. They will also view real estate videos on YouTube, read local reviews, and do most of it from their smartphones and tablets. The home buying process is no longer initiated by a meeting with a real estate professional in a “brick and mortar” office. Most of the preliminary research is done online before meeting a real estate agent or broker. Today’s consumer is willing (even eager) to do their online homework before choosing a professional in the home buying process.
How real estate pros capture the attention of online homebuyers
The website of any real estate professional must contain flexible and in-depth home search tools that provide all of the details homebuyers crave. The real estate website must by fully compatible with smartphones and tablets. Also, it is essential that the real estate website be a local resource, with relevant neighborhood news and data that informs the homebuyer and showcases the expertise and local “know-how” of the real estate professional.
Understanding how home buyers search online helps us to do a better job of creating real estate websites that meet their needs.
According to a recent Google survey, there are two trends that are shaping the behavior of home buyers online:
• Half of people begin their formal home search 6–12 months in advance, with about three-quarters starting within a year of the purchase.
• Two in three researched prospective agents extensively online prior to working with them
This emphasizes the point that real estate websites must do more than offer an MLS home search feature. They must also provide content and resources that offer genuine value to home buyers. Since home buyers start a formal home search more than six months in advance, your real estate website must be seen as a resource worthy of multiple visits. If you offer fresh and up-to-date content home buyers consider useful, they will bookmark your website and return often. Plus, you will be the preferred real estate agent when they are ready to buy.
How do home buyers use search engines?
Potential home buyers typically begin their research with a local term, i.e. “Charlottesville homes for sale” on a search engine. Generally, close to 80% of home shoppers will visit at least three real estate websites before selecting one for further consultation.
Insider’s Tip: Your real estate website not only needs good home search tools, it also must do a good job of positioning you as the “go-to” expert in your real estate market.
Here is one critical issue to consider as well. More than 50% of home buyers will do a search on smartphones. For this reason, the full functionality and visual appeal of your real estate website needs to be preserved on smartphones and tablets.
Most home buyers usually initiate a search with a casual term like “house for sale Charlottesville” or “home for sale in Loudoun County.” Next, they choose the size and style of home. The home buyer will use terms like: “condo for sale,” “villas for sale,” “farms for sale,” etc. Finally, the price range is added to the search. The most popular search terms are “cheap houses for sale,” “foreclosure,” and homes under a certain price, such as “homes under $250,000.”
It is vital that real estate professionals optimize their websites not only for more formal search terms but also the casual terms discussed above, to cast the widest net. Also, website search tools should allow the home buyer to search properties by any type of home feature and price point.
How senior home buyers search online
One would assume that home buyers over 50 tend to use more traditional methods to buy a home, but not so! 75% of all senior home buyers will use online search for properties. Older home buyers place a high value on neighborhood information & interactive maps to get a feel for the local community.
I can help you to reach online homebuyers
I create real estate websites with an in-depth understanding of the habits and needs of home buyers. I advise my real estate clients on practical ways to market online effectively, including search engine optimization and social media strategies. Are you a real estate professional? Contact Freelance Web Designer Don Peterson for a no-obligation discussion of your web design needs.