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Two-thirds of Buyers Are 'Addicted' to Online Property Listings

November 26 2014

edutizing mirrorOnline property listings are the new crack. At least, that's what a new pollnew poll commissioned by Discover Home Loans suggests. According to the poll, 67 percent of home buyers report feeling addicted to looking at online listings, and 78 percent admit to looking at listings while at work.

The revelation of this fairly benign addiction was just one part of the poll that looked more broadly at consumers' use of online technology during the home buying process. Overall, 76 percent of buyers said technology made them smarter home buyers and 69 percent said it made them more confident.

Here are a few more interesting results from the poll:

  • 72% of buyers explore a neighborhood using online maps or map apps
  • 55% research a neighborhood using local websites
  • Social media wasn't a big player in the buying process, with only 25% using it to "collect ideas" and just 29% soliciting opinions from friends and family on social networks
  • The Internet played a large role in submitting paperwork, however. 71% of buyers submitted docs to their lenders online, while 68% used the Web to submit documents to their agents
  • Online calculators are an important tool: 70% used them to estimate their monthly mortgage payments, 61% to discover how much home they could afford, and 52% to see if they were financially ready to buy a home
  • A whopping 92% of buyers said technology saved them time, with 93% stating that technology allowed them to do things remotely that they would otherwise have to do in person

With the vast majority of buyers using technology in their home search, it's no surprise that 74 percent of poll respondents said that it's important for their agent to be tech savvy. Fortunately, 82 percent of respondents said that their agent is tech savvy.

Since it appears that good customer service is linked to being technologically capable, here are a few tips for making the most of apps and online tools:

1. Be where the listings are - As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, consumers LOVE looking at online property listings. Be sure you've claimed your profile on realtor.com (it's free to all NAR members) and consider beefing up your presence on other portals. See 5 Tips for a Better Online Profile for ideas. If you're a listing agent, be sure your property descriptions are engaging. Remember that consumers are, yes, looking for a home but also a bit of eye candy. Provide an ample amount of attractive, well-lit photos in your listings.

2. Bring the listings to buyers - Eventually, you'll want to bring buyers looking at listings from the portals into an environment you control. An attractive IDX website is one way to do this. Another way is to provide buyers with a branded mobile app or client servicing tool. Technology like this lets you be a partner in your clients' search by enabling communication and giving you insight into what types of properties buyers are searching for.

3. Keep your phone handy - Yes, buyers love technology, but the good old-fashioned phone ranks as the method that the vast majority of buyers (98 percent!) use to communicate with their agents. 66 percent text their agents. Bonus if you can field emails from your phone--93 percent of buyers use email to communicate with their agent.

4. Eliminate as much paperwork as possible - Being 100 percent paperless is not always possible, but being able to submit and sign documents electronically--and saving the time wasted on unnecessary in-person meetings--is important to buyers. Fortunately, there are several transaction management, electronic signature, and contract/forms solutions available to help you do just that. Be aware that lenders often have stringent guidelines for accepting electronically signed documents, however. See our 8-Point Checklist for Evaluating eSignature Security to learn more about what lenders are looking for.

Your turn! Which types of real estate technology help you serve your clients better? Tell us in the comments below.

Other articles of interest: Birdview IDX | MLSFinder.com