Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253 percent over the past four years, according to a joint study from the National Association of REALTORS® and Google.
“Increasingly, online technologies are driving offline behaviors, and home buying is no exception,” said Google Head of Real Estate Patrick Grandinetti. “With 90 percent of home buyers searching online during their home buying process, the real estate industry is smart to target these people where they look for and consume information—for example through paid search, relevant websites, video environments, and mobile applications.”
The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate leverages NAR’s custom research and Google’s proprietary and third-party research. Google’s research focused on consumers who had completed an online “conversion”– taking the next step of contacting an agent or requesting additional information from a real estate company’s website.
The study uncovered these trends in buyers who search for homes online:
- In the beginning of their search, buyers rely on search engines, moving toward maps in the middle of the process, and engaging mobile applications most toward the end of their search.
- First-time buyers frequently searched terms such as “FHA loan,” “FHA,” “home grants,” “home loan,” and “home buyer assistance.” Last year, more than four out of 10 first-time buyers purchased their homes with a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage.
- The five states with the highest number of online queries from people presumed to be first-time buyers were Delaware, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
- Queries related to retirement homes were highest in Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.
- For vacation home searches, the top five states were Florida, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, and South Dakota.
- Searches on numbers of bedrooms/bathrooms, square footage, garages, HVAC systems, and swimming pools accounted for 70 percent of all searched features on REALTOR.com.
- Of those who used a mobile device in their home search, 48 percent did so to get directions tohomes for sale, and 45 percent used the device to request more information about home features or real estate services.
According to NAR’s most recent Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, multiple listing service websites and REALTOR.com were the top two websites used in online home searches. NAR reports that search activity on REALTOR.com has increased 31 percent nationwide between March and October 2012.
“These results parallel the trends shown in NAR’s economic research reports,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif. “As home sales and pricescontinue to trend up, more people are regaining confidence to invest in their future through home ownership.”