Real Estate Search in Digital Age
NAR recently released the Real Estate in a Digital Age report that sheds light on just how important mobile search is today. The opening summary reveals the digital home buyers search journey.
“The typical buyer used a mobile device to search for properties online.
S/he looked at websites with photos, home listings, and information about the home buying process.
S/he then contacted an agent and visited a median of 10 homes over 10 weeks again in 2016 before purchasing a home”
Mobile search is now the primary way people search and find the homes they purchase.
Over 80% of the US population has a 24/7 internet enabled mobile smartphone which is why 99% of all millennials use the internet to search for homes.
58% of home buyers actually found the home they eventually purchased on a mobile device.
The move from the desktop search to mobile real estate search over the last 10 years has changed consumer behavior and their expectations of real estate professionals.
It’s now critical for agents and brokerages to adapt to these new expectations for continued success in the future.
Below you will find three critical takeaways about future of real estate in a mobile-first world.
1. Responding to Real Estate Leads Instantly is Now a Requirement
Review the California Association of Realtors research on consumers expectations on agent response and data on smartphone shipments both starting in 2007.
There is a direct correlation in smartphones usage and the expectations of an instant response to inquiries.
Today, the mobile phone is the primary means of internet access for consumers. The majority of consumers now use mobile or tablets for most internet access while desktop usage typically reserved for work.
This move to mobile also changes search behavior. Let’s compare how the difference in search behavior varies based on the device used.
Dramatically Improve Lead Conversion by Responding in
5 Mins 2 Mins or Less
Responding instantly to inquiries can increase lead conversion rates by up to 391% as indicated by a recent Zillow study and the original 2007 MIT study on lead response.
At the last Zillow Premier Agent forum, Zillow shared this insightful chart. As you can see there is nearly a 400% difference in lead response rates by responding to inquiries within the first 2 mins.
As indicated by Zillow, systems play a critical rule to allow agents and teams to respond quickly.
Yet, recent studies from both CAR and Keller Williams indicate that average agent response times and consumer expectations do not align.
This misalignment is the opportunity for an agent, real estate team or brokerage to uses systems to respond and create a competitive advantage.
Gap In Expectations and Actual Response Times is Massive Opportunity
CAR report on response time shows that over 94% of consumers expect an answer in 1 hour of less yet the same report indicates that only about 36% of agents actually respond within 1 hour. By simply having a system to respond within 1 hour an agent can outperform 64% of their peers.
A joint Keller Williams / Baylor University study found that agents average response times to an inbound phone call is 1hr 45 mins. Since 49% of consumers expect an instant response this is totally unacceptable which is why consumers will inquire with multiple real estate agents.
Data also shows that many agents are wasting lead opportunities. Review the KW slide above and notice the following:
- 49% of Email leads NEVER receive a response. When they did it took an avg. of 5hrs 35mins.
- 51% of Text inquiries NEVER responded to.
- 29% of Phone call inquiries NEVER get a callback. Calls were returned in avg. of 1hr 45mins after the initial call.
In competitive markets, agents will often need to invest over $100 for each lead inquiry. The above data highlights the wasted opportunities and dollars while reinforcing the importance of having systems to respond to leads.
2. You Must Have Click to Call / Call Capture Phone Numbers
The NAR study indicated that 72% of consumers are using mobile websites or apps. Other top information sources like yard signs and open houses all typically generate inquiries via inbound calls or text messages.
Generally, people will always take the path of least resistance or minimum friction to accomplish their goal. On mobile, the path of least resistance is to call versus fill out a form.
Forms = Friction
BIA/Kelsey research data shows dramatic growth in “click to call” phone calls. This is because consumers want to avoid friction and get instant answers. In real estate, the instant answer consumers are looking for is to schedule property showings.
According to the most recent National Association of REALTORS Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers; 67% of consumers who find a home online will set up a property showing and do walk through. These are the primary type of online real estate leads being sold to real estate professionals from the major portals and real estate lead gen companies.
Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer.
Imagine searching for homes for the last 18 months and finally finding a home you are interested in on your mobile app. You need to contact an agent to set up a showing as soon as possible since homes are selling quickly.
How are you going to contact the agent? We have included images of the most popular apps used by consumers.
Fill a form or hit the click to call button?
If you were the consumer on a mobile device who is really interested in seeing a home, what would you do? What action seems easier to perform if you are on a mobile device?
You most likely thought to press the call button to contact the agent as that looks like the least amount of friction and the fastest path to an answer.
What happens when you don’t answer the inbound call?
Most consumers no longer leave voicemails. A 2015 Marchex study showed that 31% of calls to real estate companies and agents are abandoned if caller gets a voicemail or call takes too long to answer.
That study was two years ago that call abandon rate is surely higher than 31% today. Again, the path of least resistance is to simply call the next real estate agent or company which is typically just a button click away.
This is the reason why call capture system is for the 31% of calls that hang up.
3. Offline Real Estate Lead Capture is Critical
In a digital mobile-first world home buyers are still inquiring offline by responding to open houses and yard signs. Following are the most recent real estate stats from the NAR report.
- 50% visited open houses (63% of Gen X)
- 49% referenced yard signs
As noted above 72% of home buyers are using mobile apps to find homes and open houses while 44% drive around neighborhoods. If they see a home they like, they will attempt to call or text the listing agent and then fall back to contact agents listed on the mobile apps.
Newly listed homes won’t appear on the MLS or portals for a day or two so it’s important to frictionless ways to distribute information about the listing or be available to respond to the inbound call and text inquiries. This is why yard signs are still referenced by nearly 49% of buyers.
If you have purchased online leads from Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com or other lead sources you know first-hand that consumers are often looking to contact the actual listing agents.
The Most Motivated Leads Are Yard Sign Calls to Setup Showings
Calls to yard signage are the most valuable leads to real estate professionals. Yet most real estate agents use their mobile phone on the yard sign versus a call capture/tracking number.
We already referenced a study above showing that over 31% of these calls will be abandoned proving that agents are losing opportunities and thousands in revenue. Since no-one can answer 100% of inbound phone calls agents must use call capture and tracking phone numbers on yards signs.
Remember the opening summary?
“Buyers contacted an agent and visited a median of 10 homes over 10 weeks again in 2016 before purchasing a home”
Calls for showing are the types of leads closest to converting into sales.
Real Estate Agents Future Will Depend on Systems to Respond to Inquires
We have used current data to tell the story of the digital home buyers journey. Mobile phone usage continues to grow as will consumers expectations for instant responses and answers to their inquiries.
Today’s most successful agents, real estate teams, and brokerages must use solutions to guarantee that they meet these consumer expectations. There is a need to respond quickly to both online and offline inquiries from both inbound calls and email.
How Will You Respond Instantly to Real Estate Leads?
Current solutions include expensive in-house ISA’s or outsourced lead follow-up services. You can build a real estate team with lead distribution but they still depend on agents to respond.
Companies like Zillow, KW and ventured backed real estate startups are spending millions to build fully automated AI solutions that could replace agents.
Most importantly is what will you do to exceed consumer expectations and ensure your future success in real estate?
If you’d like to learn how CallAction.co can help you grow your business, book a free consultation with us.