Searching for a Realtor on the Internet

Curious about how people use the Internet to find realtors? We conducted a small marketing survey (Enerica, 2014). We sent out the following instructions to two men and two women aged 29 to 43—some homeowners, others not—to see how they would find a realtor. We posed the following question:

You are looking for a real estate agent. You do not have any local area contacts that can give you a personal recommendation, so you must take to the Internet to find an agent to help you find and buy a home. After you do some research and have settled on 1-3 agents, answer the following:

Though the sample size was small, some of the findings were remarkable. Out of all the possible paths these four people could have taken, they all chose the same one: Google to Zillow.

What we found:

Take home:

House Hunting Online—The Buyer

The Digital House Hunt, a joint report by the National Association of REALTORS and Google, highlights the fact that consumers typically do online research for three weeks before contacting a realtor and 90% of home buyers use the Internet during the home buying process (“The Digital House Hunt,” 2012). What tools are they using?

Mobile Devices

Mobile devices were heavily used with real estate related searches on tablets growing 300% year over year. Buyers used their mobile devices to query search engines, use maps and real estate applications. (Searching general real estate websites was more frequently done on home computers than mobile devices.) More specifically, on mobile:

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The value of video in real estate cannot be underscored enough. Video is also a crucial ZMOT identified in the study with many participants saying that YouTube was their top research destination when it came to researching a home. According to new home buyers, they used video to:

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Search Time and Action

Most shoppers (78%) visit more than three sites prior to taking action on a real estate site. Yet, one-quarter of online shoppers complete an action on a real estate website the same day they begin research. Those most likely to register on a major real estate brand site were between the ages of 25-34 (first time buyers), making up 31% of all registered users on a brand site. Those aged 35-44 came in second (21%).

Take Home:

Popular Search Terms for First Time Buyers

The most popular search terms for first-time buyers were:

Women and Home Buying

Though men and women are equally represented in home-buying process online (47% male, 53% female), according to The Digital House Hunt, the actual decision of which house to buy falls on the women. According to The Marketing to Women Report, “women control the purchasing decision fro 90% of all home sales”. Yet, the report states that 91% of women surveyed felt that advertisers didn’t understand them.

Bridget Brennan of Female Factor wrote an article for Forbes that outlines strategies for marketing to Millennial women (aged 24-33):

When it comes to social issues, Millennials are, generally speaking, tolerant, optimistic and looking to be inspired. They’re thinking big…. Communicating what you stand for is a powerful way to reach Millennial women. Good design has become an expectation for Millennials.  We already know they’re drawn to sharing pictures of the things they buy, they things they want to buy, and the things they find interesting or inspiring.  (Exhibit B:  Pinterest.)… Millennial women are the burgeoning epicenter of brand influence.  They tend to remain close to their parents even after they leave the house, often sharing brand preferences in everything from apparel to electronics and food. (Brennan, 2013)

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