The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate
A Joint Study from The National Association of Realtors® and Google
From the Introduction
Over the past decade, our world, and particularly the world of house hunters has become increasingly digital. Consumers are going online at a rapid pace to look for information to support their buying decisions. They watch “how-to” videos on YouTube, they read review sites, they look up specific brands on search engines, and even research on the go with their smart phones and tablets.
Google calls this idea ZMOT, or the Zero Moment of Truth*; the idea that shopping is no longer about showing up in a store, or in this case at a brokers’ office or an open house, seeking advice or counsel on what to buy or how much they should pay. As Google’s ZMOT handbook for marketers explains, “the sales funnel isn’t really a funnel anymore.” Today there is a new, empowered consumer generation that does its homework ahead of time at this new and critically important Zero Moment of Truth.
Per the handbook, penned by Jim Lecinski, Google’s ZMOT expert, we know that “at the Zero Moment of Truth, today’s shoppers bounce back and forth at their own speed in a multichannel marketplace. They switch devices to suit their needs at any given moment. They search; go off to look at reviews, ratings, styles and prices; and then search again. They see ads on TV and in newspapers and online. They walk into local stores to look at products. They talk to friends, over the back fence and on social media. Then it’s back to ZMOT for more information.”
The story is no different for home shoppers. Real estate professionals know that their customers are uber-connected and informed. Nine in 10 home buyers today rely on the internet as one of their primary research sources, and 52 percent turn to the web as their first step.1
In fact, real estate related searches on Google.com grew 22% year-over-year. Additionally, approximately one-fifth of real estate related searches happen on mobile devices, and Google real estate related searches on mobile devices grew 120% percent in a one-year period.2
Some of the Report Highlights
• 90% of homebuyers searched online during their home buying process1
• Real estate related searches on Google.com have grown 253% over the past 4 years2
• Buyers use specific online tools during different phases of the home search process
• 36% of new home shoppers utilize a mobile device while they are watching TV
1. 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers
2. Google Internal Data, Q3 2012
*The Zero Moment of Truth e-book from Google