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Laurel Abbott: House Hunting on the Web Proving Effective

The National Association of Realtors and Google teamed up for a study of how people search for homes on the Internet. In “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate,” the results reveal the incredible impact digital media is having on real estate. Click here for the report on the National Association of Realtors website.

We all know how prevalent the Internet has become in all of our lives, but these stats really bring home how important and effective this tool is for home searches:

» 90 percent (90 percent!) of home buyers searched online during their home-buying process.

» 52 percent of home buyers use the web as their first step in the process.

» Real estate-related searches on Google.com grew 253 percent over the past four years.

» 36 percent of new home shoppers utilize a mobile device while they are watching television.

Everyone benefits from a digital home search. Buyers have the opportunity to “pre-view” homes, research areas to live and identify a Realtor to represent them. Home sellers benefit from a more educated buyer pool and more effective showings. Realtors are getting buyers who have “done their homework” and are able to focus the search when the client-to-agent contact is made.

Realtors are still the best resource for local information and a dedicated search for property.

A word of warning to home buyers in Santa Barbara: Listing aggregator websites such as Trulia and Zillow are not reliable sources of information for our area. Zillow has inflated our market inventory, publishing “listings” of homes that are not actually being offered for sale. As Realtors, we all get calls from our buyers desperate for inventory, trolling these sites only to be disappointed that the property is no longer for sale, was sold years ago, is actually offered for rent or came up as a foreclosure when there is not any action of the sort on the property.

The best way to search for homes in Santa Barbara is to go to a local Realtor website. This is not just an opinion. My statements are backed up by a study performed by Redfin, an online brokerage:

“Websites operated by real estate brokerages have more accurate information on for-sale listings in 11 major markets than third-party listing portals Zillow and Trulia, according to a study sponsored by online brokerage Redfin. The study — performed by the consulting firm WAV Group — concluded that listing data displayed by Zillow and Trulia was not as complete, timely or accurate as information provided by three brokerage sites. ... Websites operated by real estate brokers and agents receive listings directly from multiple listing services, the study noted.”

This article is available on Inman News published Oct. 3, 2012.

The web trends illustrated in “The Digital House Hunt” follow what is happening in our local market. Real estate related searches on Google.com grew 22 percent year-over-year.

“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. “As home sales and prices continue to trend up, more people are gaining confidence to invest in their future through homeownership.”

Laurel Abbott is a real estate agent with Prudential California Realty and president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 805.879.8050. The opinions expressed are her own.

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