As consumers increasingly use the internet as their main home search tool, real estate professionals know it’s essential to meet them there.
According to a new survey by the National Association of Realtors, agents say the top technology tools they use to obtain leads include social media (used by 47 percent of agents), MLS suites (32 percent), their brokerage’s website (29 percent) and listing aggregator websites (29 percent).
The survey also found that real estate professionals are well aware of the need to stay up to date with advancing technology, but said it remains one of the toughest challenges they face.
As for buyers, the vast majority used a mobile device to search for homes for sale online. They used those devices to look at sites with home listings, photos and others with information about buying a home. Following this initial search, most contacted a real estate agent and viewed an average of 10 homes in 10 weeks before deciding on which one to buy.
“Consumers have the ability to do more homebuying research online than ever before,” NAR President John Smaby said in a statement. “Still, realtors present tremendous value to buyers from every generation and every background. While consumers have more technological tools at their fingertips, realtors continue to be a large part of the home buying and selling equation.”
Survey respondents said the most difficult step in the homebuying process was finding the right property. Of these, 44 percent began looking online as a first step. However, a whopping 87 percent used the help of a real estate agent when buying their home.
That number grows to 90 percent in the case of millennials, who also rank online listing information and photos as the most important features on home search websites. The most important features for baby boomers meanwhile include virtual tours and direct contact with a real estate agent. Those
As for agents, most say they are increasingly embracing technology in order to better serve their clients. Some 93 percent said they prefer using email to communicate with their clients first and foremost, followed by text messages (92 percent), and instant messaging services (37 percent).
Not surprisingly, real estate professionals also find themselves being highly active on social media in order to connect with clients. The most used platforms are Facebook and LinkedIn, with 97 percent and 59 percent of respondents using them. Instagram is also popular, used by 39 percent of agents.
As for real estate companies, these are increasingly providing all manner of specialized software tools to assist their agents, including MLS platforms, comparative market analysis tools, electronic contracts, e-signatures and more.