How Homebuyers Find Real Estate Today

March 8, 2017 Rebekah Polancich

How to find a home to buy

A while back, here at HomePocket we decided to poll our registered users and anonymous web and mobile app visitors to find out how they started their search for a new home. 

We placed a widget on our site and mobile web app using a service called Ramen (awesome stuff, btw..great work over there folks!). The way it works is simple:

A user visits our web or mobile web app and a little widget pops up in the bottom left to ask a simple question...

The best way to find a new home

In this case, we asked:

How do you start a home search?

The possible answers?

  • Search Google
  • Call local agent
  • Go to Zillow
  • Other Option (with response)

Here at HomePocket, we think the US is on the cusp of big strides in the real estate industry over the next 5 years due mainly to technology and its effects.

Yet, on the other hand, real estate - at present - remains a highly traditional and highly "technologically inconsistent" from top to bottom and sideways of the industry on both the consumer and business provider side.

Let's just say, there are challenges and problems. 

In particular. we wanted to find out if the way people start a home search is changing. Traditionally, people called a local agent and that's how it all started. Is it still that way? If so, what does that mean for consumers? For Realtors? Mortgage lenders and more?

Some of us here at HomePocket had former (very low-paying) jobs in college and professionally as political pollsters and analysts. As such, we looked at this survey, if you will, as as simple "straw poll" using a healthy sample size of around just under 50,000 people. 

Here's what we found:

How do people find real estate for sale

  • 33% of home seekers search Google as their first step
  • 40% chose "other" then we asked them to say what "other meant" and 99% of the time they entered "Google" (not sure why they didn't just pick it, but...hey, whatever)
  • 20% Chose Zillow
  • 7% Said they contact a local agent

Pretty interesting numbers that, to us, allow for some conclusions. 

Interestingly, the single most popular way people start a home search is, well, Google. Around a whopping 73% start there. It seems most people Google things like "real estate in Atlanta" and make a choice from those results (usually of a Realtor's site on one of the first two pages of results). 

As well, the data allowed us to make some pretty (I'd say) decent assumptions.

Despite more than two decades of terms like "SEO" and "SEM" becoming more and more haggard around marketing circles, perhaps our current day mobile, social and media web habits are making search "hip" and important again? I'd argue it never left. Not for a second.

Some other hints?

HINT TO FSBO SELLERS:

Get digital exposure or don't get sold. Period. 

HINT TO SELLERS USING AGENTS:

Does your agent's site have good search visibility? It matters. A lot. Check it out before signing up. 

HINT TO REALTORS:

If you don't have good search visibility, well, I'll leave the conclusion to you....

 

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About the Author

Rebekah Polancich

After having spent my career in Information Technology and government service for the US Intelligence Community, I'm helping build a better, more direct way to connect home buyers and sellers. We think real estate can be a better, more convenient experience for everyone involved and we're out to make it happen! Our solutions will change the way buyers, sellers and realtors market themselves and connect with one another. We're just getting started! In fact, it's our goal to make the home buying and selling experience as much as possible like what we've all become accustomed to with the likes of Amazon, Zappos, LetGo and other powerful, simple, easy and convenient solutions that have transformed our lives as consumers.

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