The Digital House Hunt Increasing in Popularity
This week we are reflecting back on one of our most popular columns. The digital house hunt is growing bigger than ever. Learning about consumer behavior is critical for growth for Realtors, MLOs and home sellers.
As consumers scan the Internet for best deals on products, informative how-to videos and advice columns, it should come as no surprise that they also use the Internet as a tool when making a significant financial decision like buying a home.
Reports in 2012 showed an increase in homebuyers beginning their home search on the Internet. Noticing the trend and eager to look further, the National Association of Realtors teamed up with Google to better understand this shift. Looking further into this consumer behavior trend is valuable to the industry in how we can best serve our clients.
The NAR cites the goal of their recent study titled, “Digital House Hunt,” as “uncovering trends and insights around digital media usage among home shoppers, whether they were looking for an existing home, a newly constructed home, or an apartment.”
The report found that 90 percent of homebuyers searched online during their home buying process. It then looked at which demographics were doing the most searches, what they were searching for, and where they were doing it.
Who is searching online?
- 31 percent of home shoppers who take action on a real estate site are 25-34
- 52 percent of first-time buyers started their search online
- 79 percent of senior home buyers go online to search for a home
What are they searching for online?
- 51 percent of new home shoppers searched their mobile devices to read general home information
- Searches related to finding an agent on YouTube grew 46 percent year-over-year
- Rising searches in “buying a house” category include “renting vs. buying,” and “house buying process”
Where are they searching online?
- 52 percent of actions on real estate brand sites come directly from a local search on a search engine
- 77 percent of home shoppers searched online from their home computer
- 51 percent of home shoppers using video are searching on YouTube
One of the most interesting facets of the study is the research done on video use. The study found 21,800 videos on YouTube about how to get a mortgage loan, 118,000 videos about how to buy a home, and agent-related searches grew 46 percent year-over-year. As more and more information is available, video will become a useful tool in capturing audience attention and providing homebuyers with valuable information.
Homebuyers are already actively beginning the searches online and as our world becomes increasingly more digitally focused, we will need our business models to reflect that.
Recognizing this, Southeast Mortgage recently underwent a website redesign that is tailored to what customers are looking for. We have incorporated our social media channels and blogs on our website as well as provided videos. But home buyers aren’t just looking for a mortgage professional – many of them are looking for a Realtor too. On our website, you will also find flyers and information on our real estate partners as we strive to become an all-inclusive web resource for home buyers in our area.
“Going digital” hasn’t been much of a choice in our day-to-day lives for some time, so it should not delay being integrated into our professional careers any longer either.
You can see the full report on NAR’s study here.
– Kathy Gyselinck, Executive Vice President of Southeast Mortgage