Are Buyers really finding their new homes online?
According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, internet penetration has now reached 73% for all American adults. Internet users note big improvements in their ability to shop and the way they pursue hobbies and personal interests online. While the percentage of Americans who say they use the internet has continued to fluctuate slightly, the latest survey, fielded February 15 â€“ April 6, 2006 shows that 73% of respondents (about 147 million adults) are internet users, up from 66% (about 133 million adults) in Pew’s January 2005 survey. And the share of Americans who have broadband connections at home has now reached 42% (about 84 million), up from 29% (about 59 million) in January 2005.
Though the NAR reports 79% of all Americans report starting their home search online, a Pew survey dated 12/13/06 indicated that only 39% of internet users have looked online for a place to live.
So, 73% of adults are online and, of that number, only 39% of those have looked online for housing.
Many creditable sources urge us to take our marketing online, blog and podcast. Some 12% of internet users say they have downloaded a podcast so they can listen to it or view it at a later time. However, few internet users are downloading podcasts with great frequency; just 1% report downloading a podcast on a typical day.
Denying these are all important trends would be foolish. However, the current penetration in most markets is still minimal. The question “did you look?” does not indicate if they actually found their home that way. Most Buyers still purchase their homes with the assistance of real estate agents.
My advice is to figure out how many years you have left in the business. If it’s less than 5, it’s probably not important to learn all these new tricks, develop a website, blog, podcast. You’ll be retired before it will affect your business.
But if you’re younger and/or just starting out, take this time to start developing your brand, designing a killer website and learning about the new technologies in real estate. If you’re not able or willing to do these things, then align yourself with a company that is.
Nevertheless, it’s my belief that your sphere of influence (i.e. your friends) will still continue to be your largest source of business.