This week has been big in the on-line Real Estate space. Something unexpected happened: Yahoo! Real Estate eclipsed Realtor.com as the most heavily trafficked Real Estate website in August.
Yahoo for YAHOO!
Yahoo’s Real Estate Portal edged ahead of Realtor.com last month, ending a 3-year reign atop the list for Move Inc’s NAR backed juggernaut. According to HitWise, Yahoo garnered 5.9% of Real Estate traffic while Realtor.com saw its traffic drop to 5.74% of overall visits. Yahoo’s Real Estate platform seems poised for even more success as they push forward with a partnership with HitWise’s #3 Real Estate site Zillow.com (4.26% market share in August). The Yahoo!/Zillow partnership calls for Zillow.com to provide the listings feed for both on-line portals, and combined, the two will command over 10% of on-line eyeballs for the Real Estate category. But while Move, Yahoo! and Zillow jockey for supremacy in National Real Estate search, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity here locally, on two fronts. On-line and Off-line.
This is where it starts to get interesting.
The Local Opportunity: On-Line
5.9%. That’s a number to keep in mind. That’s the percentage of traffic sent to the #1 Real Estate site in the month of August. That’s a large number of eyeballs. But 94.1% of the rest of us used some other site to search for Real Estate. And in most cases, more than one other site to search for Real Estate. The truth of the matter is that on-line Real Estate search is very fragmented; Real Estate consumers utilize anywhere between 5-7 websites during their home search. Unfortunately, a lot of that fragmented traffic goes to myriad of large national sites replete with data latency issues and inaccurate information. Therein lies our local opportunity.
Many of the national sites experience data latency issues due to the lack of direct feeds from local MLS’ into their sites, which gives an inherent advantage to local brokerage sites because of what we have – accurate and up to date listing information. But here’s the problem. Most local Brokerage sites are terrible. Most also fail to provide a rich, deep consumer experience.
That’s where the national sites make their mark. They deliver deep, rich user experiences that have the consumer coming back for more.
But that’s changing.
Smart brokerages are creating sites that deliver accurate, up-to-date data along with rich user experiences (AveryHess.com is one of these sites, more to come as the year progresses). As Real Estate Brokerages get their on-line act together, local eyeballs will follow. (Read a comprehensive analysis of the “Property Search Delta” by the Wav Group here).
To the Heart of the Matter: Off-Line
Here’s another number. 80%. That’s the percentage of business Realtors® acquired from their personal Spheres of Influence (SOI) in 2009. That percentage has remained relatively unchanged over the course of two decades. The Internet boom of the 2000′s and the ensuing emergence of on-line sites, on-line lead capture programs and third-party aggregators have had little to no impact on this number.
Consumers whet their appetite online; they still satiate their hunger through the 5 course Real Estate meal offered by local Real Estate professionals. And therein lies the off-line opportunity. Connect with consumers at a hyper-local level, and you offer something far more valuable than a fluffy user experience from an on-line aggregator or valuation model.
The jostling at the national level between Move, Yahoo! and Zillow will be interesting to watch, but for us here locally, it really shouldn’t have any bearing on how we conduct our business. Understanding each market at a hyper-local level, from pricing and market conditions to neighborhoods and local lifestyle is what the consumer craves, what the consumer expects from the professional they choose.
Couple that expertise with a local Real Estate broker who understands the importance of initial on-line engagement with the consumer, and WHAM! You have a recipe for not just local opportunity, but long-term local success.
Find Your Home, Plan Your Life: www.averyhess.com