Want to shop for a home from the comforts of home? That’s
what house-hunters seem to be doing, according to measurements
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,|
2003 (U.S., Home and Work)
|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.
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
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,
|Source: comScore Media Metrix|