Real estate brokers have been selling and buying properties for clients for more than 100 years. Traditionally, properties were listed for sale in newspaper ads and the industry relied on them for decades. Reports by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) show that in 1981, 22 percent of home buyers read newspaper ads to find a home; today, over 90% of home buyers searched online during their home buying process. With Covid forcing a need for social distancing, the real estate industry was pushed to move even more toward digital technology as part of the selling and buying process. Apps that help buyers to search for properties and online listings with virtual tours are likely to remain the norm going forward. Buyers have realized that it is faster to narrow down their search by comparing properties online – often before they contact a real estate agent for help. The advantage to all this information is that buyers often know more about what they want before hiring an agent.

We know that real estate firms can greatly benefit from real estate technology in 2021 but many brokerages struggle with which areas to invest in to grow their business or may question its importance altogether. To answer these questions, we are going to take a look at 2016 research by the NAR about how buyers find their homes.

Selling Real Estate in the Digital Age

Here is a breakdown of how buyers find their homes today:

  1. Internet/App

Fifty-one percent of prospective buyers used the internet to choose their property. It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the Internet and apps such as Zillow and Redfin are the number one way that buyers find their homes today. It is vital for brokerages to enter a seller’s home into the MLS and to invest in digital marketing strategies, including a website, Google My Business, and social media. Clients have an easier time selling their homes if they list with a brokerage with a strong online presence, which means more sales and the ability to take on more clients.

  1. Real estate agent

Thirty-four percent of buyers - especially those in older age brackets – rely on their real estate agent to help them find their house. In a hot seller’s market, real estate agents are a must-have for buyers who need all the help they can get. Sometimes agents have access to new listings that haven’t been entered into the MLS yet and they have the skills required for writing a timely and competitive offer.

  1. Yard sign / open-house sign

Outside of our constant draw to the online world, most of us still drive our cars every day – often past properties that may be for sale. It doesn’t come as a surprise that eight percent of homes are found after a buyer sees a yard sign or open house sign.

  1. Word of mouth

Four percent of people found their homes through recommendations from friends, relatives, or neighbors. This is why it can be so important to tell your personal network that you are buying or selling a home – you never know who they may know! Real estate agents sometimes contact neighbors of their listings to let them know about their neighbor’s house being for sale and when the open house will be.

The remaining categories were very small:

  • 2% of buyers found their property through a home builder or the builder’s agent
  • 1% of buyers found their property directly from the seller
  • 1% of buyers found their property through a print newspaper advertisement (wow, is that a change from a generation ago).

Because of the intensity of the seller’s market right now, sellers are less motivated than buyers to work with a real estate agent. On the other hand, buyers need help navigating the seller’s market; 88% of buyers in the last few years used an agent compared to 69% in 2001. Real estate brokers can make themselves more desirable to sellers by investing in their digital marketing strategy and embracing the ways that technology has improved real estate sales:

  • High quality pictures
  • Video tours
  • Website with integrated MLS listings
  • Social media presence
  • Robust Google My Business profile
  • Online ads – particularly video ads

Digital Marketing Services for Real Estate Brokers

Since 2012, Softwired has been helping clients navigate the ever-changing online landscape with modern web design, SEO, and other digital marketing services. Over the last few years, we have developed a niche for commercial real estate brokers after creating a proprietary system that allows us to integrate real estate search engines right into our clients’ websites. We are here to support our real estate broker clients’ digital marketing needs from branding exercise through web design, digital sales, and SEO. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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