Real Estate Businesses and the Internet – How the Balance Between Realtors and Buyers is Affected

Technology has changed many aspects of the way people now buy homes, usually by allowing them to access and process large amount of information about homes for sale. Only by monitoring these changes and aligning their business plans accordingly can real estate agents become and remain successful.In order to efficiently help home buyers, real estate agents need to understand how their clients’ concerns and expectations have changed. How long do home buyers now look at information? How do they process the information they looked at? How long does it take them to make a decision?Although technology is changing consumers’ behavior, it hasn’t revolutionized it. No matter how useful mortgage calculators or real estate search engines are, real estate agents still play a decisive role in the closings of home transactions. For example, according to the NAR, 77 percent of home buyers used the Internet to search for a home in 2005. Of these people, 81 percent still used a real estate agent to purchase their home. By comparison, only 63 percent of people who didn’t search on the Internet ended up using the services of a real estate agent to purchase their home. It seems, however, that people searching for a home on the Internet also take longer to make a decision – sometimes up to 6 months, according to Realty Times.These two examples show that technology has changed what is known in the marketing field as consumer involvement. More specifically, by empowering home buyers with information, the Internet has radically changed the information search process. Thanks to Zillow and the like, home buyers can now access data such as square footage, construction year, type of heating, and other data that was only available to real estate professionals before. The home buyers’ eagerness for information can be an opportunity or a threat to real estate agents, depending on how well they adapt to changes.The majority of agents understand the importance of having an online presence, hence the increasing number of real estate agents’ Web sites. However, many of them do not know how to use the Web to generate valuable leads. For example, Realty Times reported that home buyers’ main complaint about Realtors online is that they don’t respond to e-mail inquiries fast enough. Unless they learn how to benefit from the Web tools at their disposition, agents will continue to loose many potential customers.Using new technologies – the Internet in this case – can be tricky sometimes. However, real estate agents do not have to be Web-savvy to use the Internet as an efficient way to market themselves among home buyers. A lot of marketing companies offer targeted Web tools that generate leads for the agents. These companies stay in charge of all the technical aspects, so that agents can concentrate on what they do best.The Internet is an instrument for change in real estate, and agents should know it is now essential for them to have an online presence. The key is to choose among the many online services agents could provide on their Web site and determine the ones that will truly bring success.