The internet and retail websites have become a fundamental part of many consumers’ lives in today’s market. Although the retail industry is currently the online leader in terms of volume and the number of consumers, as they prefer to buy products online due to its convenience, the real estate industry is catching up quickly.
A majority of consumers have turned to the internet as a main means of researching for property and home buyers appreciate how simple the internet has made the process.
Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, says few would have believed that the internet would be the first place potential buyers would look to find their dream home and yet, today more than 90 percent of consumers use property search portals as the first step towards homeownership.
Consumers have confidence in the internet and the information found on it. Goslett says the majority of consumers have turned to the internet as a main means of researching for property and that home buyers appreciate how simple the internet has made the process. “Many of the best leads in real estate have been generated through online search portals.”
So what impact does this have on the real estate industry and the traditional marketing methods? It simply means that the conventional sources of real estate information are no longer as important to home buyers. Before the introduction of property search portals, home buyers would scrutinise newspapers and real estate property magazines to find property. Today the number of prospective home buyers in the US who still consult newspaper ads and magazines has fallen to 9 percent and 6 percent, and SA has seen a similar trend.
Goslett says that although there has been a shift in the industry, traditional marketing tools are not dead, they have merely adapted. He says that although online searches have boosted the options for potential buyers and eliminated their reliance on older methods of research, they still have their place in the market.
“Although home buyers are looking for information regarding property and searching for homes online, they will still consult with a real estate agent to supplement and refine their search,” says Goslett.
He adds that the outlook of buying property online has increased but estate agents are still essential to the process. “Online real estate search tools have not taken business away from agents, but has instead offered them another perform in which to better their service to their clients,” he says.
He notes that due to the vast growth and prospective opportunities presented by online portals, most estate agents have responded well to the change in consumer behaviour and have become involved in increasing their online presence. “Real estate agencies have spent time on developing their web technologies to accommodate their clients and the majority of real estate agents have invested in tools such as Smartphones and iPads in order to stay in touch and connected with their growing online network,” says Goslett.
According to www.remax.co.za, the top ten suburbs, based on the highest number of area searches over the last three months are as follows:
Real estate companies that do not have an online strategy will be left behind due to the incredible speed at which technology changes and develops. “The internet is a remarkable tool that has made the world a significantly smaller place. It is incredible to be a part of this era and be at the technological forefront of the modern day real estate industry,” Goslett says.