Home shopping is no longer confined to desktops or laptops and real estate agents who don't get the mobile movement will be thumb-typed right out of business.
Instead, today's unwired home shoppers are using mobile devices to do everything from browsing for housing via GPS to streaming videos of homes for sale.
Virtually all (98 percent) of home buyers who used a mobile device (smart phone or tablet) in their home search considered the device a valuable tool, with 46 percent asserting the device was "essential" and 52 percent stating it was "helpful," according to a "Mobile Home Shoppers" study from The Real Estate Book, published by Network Communications, Inc. (NCI) a media company providing lead generation, advertising and Internet marketing services to the housing industry.
And, real estate agents? Get this. Home shoppers are not only searching for information on their mobile devices, but also taking action afterwards. Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) of those who used a mobile device in the home search said they contacted a real estate professional to view a home based on their mobile search.
"Our research supports that homebuyers are turning to their smart phones and tablets in their search and taking action to reach real estate professionals," says Scott Dixon, president of NCI’s Real Estate Division.
But it's not just home buyers.
A study of apartment renters from NCI's Apartment Finder division yielded virtually the same results.
Mobile App Action
Mobile device users can go home seeking via the Internet, but they also use mobile "apps."
Mobile apps (applications) are programs designed for smart phones and tablets or other handheld devices.
Typically net-connectable, apps are often dedicated to a specific task or group of related tasks, say, home shopping or mortgage shopping, neighborhood, crime and school reviews, as well as game playing, retail price comparing, GPS mapping, news and book reading, social networking, watching television shows and movies, making notes-to-self, pretty much anything you can do on a desktop or laptop computer.
Some real estate agent professionals in the know already have their own dedicated apps designed specifically for their operation - to highlight their listings, promote connectivity with clients and offer home shopping tools like mortgage calculators, price comparisons, neighborhood and school information, news and advice and other services.
Most national, regional and local real estate operations also offer apps.
"The time is now for agents and brokers to add mobile tools in their marketing mix to increase traffic and reach home shoppers right when they are actively engaged in their search process," Dixon added.
Among buyers who used mobile apps:
Among renters who used mobile apps:
"What's even more compelling about these survey findings, particularly for property managers and apartment communities, is that mobile users are not only browsing on their devices, but taking action to contact someone to view the listing," said
Marcia Bollinger, president of Apartment Finder.
NCI's research also indicates significant mobile use is yet to come - 85 percent of non-users said they’d consider using a mobile device in their next home search.