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How Buyers Search for Homes

According to the 2016 National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the data on how buyers found the homes they purchased fell into the following categories:

· 51% - Internet

· 34% - Real Estate Agent

· 8% - Yard Sign/Open House Sign

· 4% - Friend, relative, or neighbor

· 2% - Home builder or their agent

· 1% - Directly from the seller or knew the seller

· 1% - Print newspaper advertisement

The longer the house sits on the market, the more intense the pressure on the seller to make a deal because the price is likely to drop as time passes. Therefore, it is important to understand every possible avenue of getting your home in front of as many buyers as possible to decrease the time to sell.

Today’s real estate buyer is highly sophisticated and uses a variety of resources, both traditional and technical, to aid in their search for a new home.


Recent studies by NAR indicated that 89% of home buyers use an agent for their search for a new home. In addition, agents are ranked nearly equal with websites as sources of information and general usefulness.

THE INTERNET recently reported that 90% of home buyers use the internet to search for a house. In addition, online research provides buyers with virtually unlimited information about a property. They can preview a home, research its history, neighborhood, area schools, shopping, attractions, etc., and even view aerial pictures via apps such as Google Earth without leaving the comfort of their home or speaking to a real estate agent.

Realty Websites — The real estate industry thrives on the timely dissemination of information, which created the need for real estate websites to become increasingly sophisticated to meet their client’s need for “instant” and timely information. No longer is the real estate agent in charge of transactions. Instead, the internet has put the customer behind the wheel, and a savvy buyer can manage much of the transaction him/herself.

To remain competitive, you, or more realistically, your real estate agent, must build and maintain a highly interactive, informative, and persuasive website or page dedicated to your home. Gone are the exhausting days of trudging from car-to-house-to-another-house and then back again, dodging the elements in the heat, snow, or rain. A buyer can get all the information he/she needs to decide if they want to view a home in person by spending a couple of hours in front of their computer. Your website should be user-friendly and full of value. It should offer full video tours of a home’s interior, links to Google Earth for aerial photography of the area, detailed floor plans, and more.

Facebook — The importance of this social media site cannot be overstated in terms of getting your information in front of thousands of people and extending your reach far beyond your wildest imagination. You probably have hundreds of Facebook friends, and they all have hundreds of friends, too.

If you have a Realtor®, you should augment his Facebook marketing by sharing his posts advertising your house and asking your friends to share their posts to broaden the exposure. Facebook can target the demographic you want to know about your house by age, gender, and geographical location. Your Realtor® knows all about working these demographics to your benefit and will purchase advertising to target your demographic.

There is oh-so-much-more to it than creating a “status update” about your home and asking your friends to share, so if you’re going it alone as an FSBO seller without a Realtor’s® professional Facebook page and posts to drive traffic back to his/her website (and your home), asking your friends to help you advertise is only going to get you so far. How many of your Facebook friends live in your area? How many are looking for a new house? How many are going to share your posts? Yes, they may do a courtesy share for you once, and if you’re a really good friend, maybe twice, but it’s only peripheral marketing. While its nice and could even be termed helpful, your social media marketing must be scientifically targeted and precise, but most importantly, sponsored, meaning with paid advertising that has the ability to reach a large audience of home buyers outside of your own network.

Pinterest/Instagram — These social media sites will extend your reach, similar to Facebook. Both platforms are photo-friendly, so make sure that you post plenty of great, well-lit pictures of your staged home. This will allow buyers to “stumble” across your listing while browsing on the internet.

Craigslist — This is not your mother’s Craigslist! Many people search for all sorts of things on this site: jobs, second-hand goods, and homes to rent and purchase. While not as “popular” as the social media platforms, don’t discount Craigslist as a valuable tool in marketing your home. Be sure to include photos and a link back to the listing. As a caveat, however, it is important to note that Craigslist might expose you to people who are not genuinely looking to buy your home but to conduct criminal activities. Be sure to screen all “buyers” carefully before offering them a showing, and then be sure you are not alone and have taken every precaution against theft or injury to a person or property.

Individual Website — A great way to centralize all of your listing’s content is to create a separate, stand-alone site that serves as a hub for all content relating to the sale of your home. If you have a Realtor®, they should add a page to their website dedicated to your home. In addition to videos, photos, and links to your social media accounts, they can include additional information and links to neighborhood attractions and activities that will give your buyers a feel for the area. It’s important to note that setting up an extensive website requires technical knowledge and can be time-consuming! If you don’t have a Realtor®, you might consider hiring a professional to handle the site development. It’s an investment that is well worth the money. Again, if you hire a real estate agent, they will bear the responsibility and cost of setting up and maintaining the website.

Mobile — People are increasingly moving away from fixed internet access on a desktop and relying instead on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. That’s not to say that desktop visits are obsolete, as most website visits are still performed via desktop, but access via a mobile device is definitely on the rise. The clear implication of this trend for home marketing is to ensure that your listing is mobile-friendly and listed on sites with easy-to-navigate mobile applications.

Again, these listings will extensively use photos, floor plans, and videos that depict the home at its best. If you choose to set up a stand-alone website, ensure that it is either mobile-friendly by default or a hybrid that can easily switch between desktop and mobile versions.

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