RealTime IT News

House-Hunters and Brokers Benefit From "Home" Pages

Want to shop for a home from the comforts of home? That's what house-hunters seem to be doing, according to measurements from Nielsen//NetRatings indicating that more than 12 million surfers — nearly 10 percent of the active Internet population — accessed online real estate catalogs and listings in March 2003.

Real estate sites enable surfers to comparison shop online for homes prior to committing to a single real estate agent or a single property," said Patrick Thomas, senior Internet analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. "Real-time listings, virtual home tours and finance calculators make these sites content rich sources and help homebuyers become better informed throughout the search and purchase process."

Top Real Estate and Rental Sites,
March 2003 (U.S., Home and Work)
Brand or Channel Unique Audience Time Spent
Realtor.com 4,583,000 0:32:26
HomeStore 3,611,000 0:07:20
HomeGain 1,175,000 0:05:34
Yahoo! Real Estate 1,091,000 0:08:29
Century 21 979,000 0:22:50
RE/MAX 767,000 0:04:57
Coldwell Banker* 730,000 0:14:52
Apartments.com 688,000 0:09:21
Rent.com* 567,000 0:13:54
ZipRealty 469,000 0:09:40
Note: *Home and Work audience duplication projections did not meet minimum sample size standards. Combined home and work audience estimates for these sites may exhibit increased variability month-to-month as a result.
Source: Nielsen//NetRatings

The online listings are paying off for realtors. Nielsen//NetRaings' research indicated that 22.4 percent of the visitors to the real estate sites were "definitely" or "probably" planning to purchase a new residence in the next 12 months; nearly 32 percent were "definitely" or "probably" going to move in the next year; and 27 percent of the audience stated they'd be moving to a different home in the next year.

"Rather than cannibalizing business from real estate agents, the Web complements the efforts of both online and offline agencies by matching serious buyers with brokers that can help take the process to the next step," added Thomas.

A survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 64 percent of the realtors who responded believe having a Web site and using the Internet has changed the way they do business — up from 50 percent in 2002.

Mark Lesswing, NAR vice president and director of the CRT, said, "The changes in technology usage from 2002 to 2003 suggest an increased reliance on the Internet and new consolidated technologies in the conduct of Realtor business over time."

The survey showed that realtors use a wide range of technologies in their business, with mobile phones or pagers now being used by 98 percent or more, up 1 percent from 2002. Use of computers by the survey group now approaches 100 percent, with members using a combination of home and office desktop and laptop computers. E-mail has become more common, with 94 percent of respondents using e-mail for business, especially to stay in touch with clients. Use of digital cameras has reached the 85 percent level.

Lesswing said, "Not all areas are growing, however. The use of pagers declined significantly, with 9 percent fewer respondents using a pager in 2003 than in 2002. The finding may be attributed to the proliferation of mobile phones, as well as the convergence of devices such as mobile phones, pagers and personal data assistants (PDAs). As pager-like functions become part of devices such as mobile phones and PDAs, it is likely that pager use will continue to fall."

Newspapers could capitalize on the house-hunters too by bolstering their online editions with comprehensive search and navigation features. Jupiter Research (a unit of this site's corporate parent) expects online real estate classified advertising spending to reach $274 million by the end of 2003, and grow to $424 million by 2007.

Mortgage sites are also benefiting from the inclusion of the Web as a real estate tool, as measurements from comScore Media Metrix find that Internet users conducted nearly 5 million mortgage-related searches in March 2003.

The data revealed that variations of "mortgage calculator" were the most popular searches, conducted by 322,000 users, and the plural and singular forms of "mortgage" accounted for 247,000. "Mortgage rates" were sought by 112,000 users, "liberal mortgage" accounted for 38,000, and "mortgage companies" claimed 20,000 searches.

The searches led 15 percent of the Internet users to bankrate.com, while realtor.com and mortgageexpo.com each claimed 14 percent. Another 13 percent surfed to lendingtree.com, and wellsfargo.com saw 10 percent of Internet search traffic.

Traffic to Mortgage-Related Sites,
March 2003
  Unique Visitors
bankrate.com 275,323
realtor.com 265,878
mortgageexpo.com 251,430
lendingtree.com 234,706
wellsfargo.com 179,075
homestead.com 142,892
homestore.com 133,431
ameriquestmortgage.com 125,840
bankofamerica.com 125,309
citibank.com 124,717
Source: comScore Media Metrix