Google Real Estate Study Reveals How Agents Should Market Online

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) and Google recently teamed up to conduct a joint study on how prospective homebuyers search online and use various digital mediums before ultimately purchasing a home.  The study, The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate, revealed that online property searches increased by more than 250% over the past four years with over 90% of buyers primarily using the internet to research their home purchase options.  More importantly, the study shows that home shoppers are developing distinct patterns for how they search for homes online that Realtors would do well to incorporate into their online marketing strategies.

The Zero Moment Of Truth (ZMOT)

The Google/NAR Study illustrates how traditional home shopping by physcial location where a consumer visits an agent's office or maybe an open house to gather information about the home buying process and initiate the search for a new home are becoming increasingly rare.  Google refers to the Zero Moment of Truth (or the ZMOT) as homebuyers doing a significant amount of research and decision making online in advance of physical shopping.  Home purchasers now prefer to mix traditional shopping methods (print advertisements, open houses & word-of-mouth) with digital sources (Youtube "How To" videos, property searches, and online service reviews).  Consequently, the ZMOT is now stretched out over an extended period of time through mutiple sources and agents should quickly implement a substantial digital presence to accomodate this significant shift in consumer behavior.


Homebuyers are Increasingly Mobile

Real Estate agents should also employ various mobile marketing techniques to ensure they are discoverable by home shoppers brousing on mobile applications.  An astonishing 89% of new home shoppers used a mobile search engine at the onset and throughout their home search, and 68% used a specific mobile application to search for homes.  Consumers didn't just use mobile devices to search for homes either.  Homebuyers somewhat suprisingly utilized mobile devices to conduct a significant amount of research about the entire process of purchasing home.

Offline Research still Agent-Centric

The study also showed that real estate agents bridge the gap between internet research and viewing/buying a home as 88% of buyers used an agent to purchase a home.  So technology is by no means replacing Realtors, but it is instead assisting tech-savvy agents to better connect with homebuyers actively researching homes online.  Other traditional offline channels trail in significance as print media, television and billboards played a minimal role in the research and decision making process for home shoppers.

Homebuyers Watch More Videos

Home shoppers are increasingly watching more vidoes to find an agent, research a neighborhood, tour a home, or learn about an aspect of the the home buying process.  The study revealed that 51% of homebuyers watched a YouTube video as part of their research before buying.  Finding an agent and agent related searches on YouTube grew 46% year-over-year. The need for agents to utilize hyper-local video marketing was highlighted  by the fact that an amazing 86% of home shoppers watched video online to find out more about a specific community.