I think we can all agree that the Internet has changed the way we do business. In fact it has changed the way everything works world-wide. This didn’t happen overnight. The migratory process in development of the Internet, as we know it today, has been over thirty years in the making. Today we see Internet use change almost daily. That is more advanced programs are offered daily to improve the way various programs work. There are no limits to the advancements that will come in the near future.
Many of us have procrastinated in learning how to successfully use the Internet to grow and sustain our business. The basic knowledge of so many people is limited to sending and receiving e-mails. Some people know far more about using social networks (Facebook, Twitter,Linkedin) than they have in using Internet based programs that will make their lives much better. The longer we wait to learn how to use the computer and the Internet, the harder it is to learn, because of the magnitude of things they offer.
I have been in real estate since 1969. During most of that time we were dependent upon the Newspaper, TV, Radio, and U.S. Mail to market properties we had for sale. A few years ago the birth of real estate magazines made our marketing easier by pinpointing specific properties; which made us less dependent on other Medias. With the prominence of the Internet in today’s market, most other media have become almost obsolete.
The National Association of Realtors® (the largest business association in the United States) does regular studies on the methods the general public uses when buying and selling real estate. They also survey how many use Realtors® to make their purchase; what they look for in a Realtor®; how they grade the performance of the Realtor® they used; and etc.
There are many ways to find a home to purchase. The Internet, yard signs, open houses and newspapers are frequently cited as information sources. The Internet, in particular, continues to increase in popularity among home buyers as a search tool. A recent study by NAR indicated that more than three quarters of buyers, 77%, used the Internet as an information source. It also indicated that almost one fourth, 24%, of buyers first found the home they eventually purchased on the Internet. The study also showed that first-time buyers used the Internet more frequently than did repeat buyers to search for homes.
In spite of the burgeoning use of the Internet as a home search tool, real estate professionals are still the number one source of information about homes for sale. 93% of Internet searchers also used a real estate agent as a source of information. Both Internet searchers and non-Internet searchers were equally likely to first learn about the home they purchased through a real estate agent.
Use of the Internet has not diminished the role of real estate professionals in the home purchase process. It has enhanced the buying process for the consumer. Interestingly, even those home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home were more likely to use a real estate agent in the home purchase transaction.
Home buyers rely on the experience and professionalism of their real estate agents. The study showed the two most important factors in choosing an agent are reputation and knowledge of the neighborhood. More than half of first-time buyers found their real estate agent through a referral from a friend, neighbor or relative, or they personally knew the agent. What buyers most wanted from their agent was help in finding the right home to purchase.
The Internet offers the ease of searching many properties in a very short period of time. It even allows a buyer to see pictures of outside views as well as views of the inside; how many bedrooms and baths; approximate square footage; a listing of all amenities. It provides much helpful information. However, the Internet is limited to providing printed material. Only a professional Realtor® can help the buyer analyze the investment advantages or disadvantages. Only the Realtor® can fully explain state laws, required inspections, negotiate between the buyer and seller, and intricate things of importance to the buyer’s best financial interest. Regardless of how someone finds a property to buy in Alabama, it is in their best interest to engage in an agency relationship with a brokerage firm in Alabama.
To make Internet searching more helpful, developing a relationship with real estate agents is a great benefit. The agent can set up campaigns and search criteria that will allow prospective buyer to receive notification of the most recent listings to come into the market that fits the criteria described by the buyer as things of interest. With this type situation the Internet is working for the buyer while the buyer is doing other things.
The Internet has greatly improved the way real estate agents communicate with buyers and sellers and vise verse. However, it is of most importance that a buyer is totally honest with their agent, and that the agent be totally honest with the buyer at all times.
Real estate agents are professionals that have been educated in all aspects of buying and selling real estate. They aren’t tourist guides. Before the agent shows a buyer a home or property, they need to determine that the property meets the buyer’s requirements. If all criteria are not met, a showing is a waste of time for both the agent and the buyer. If a relationship between the buyer and agent is established, the Internet can be the most valuable tool for communication and searches.
Should you have specific questions concerning various issues, please let me know and I’ll research the answer for you. I also want to encourage you to subscribe to our “News & Updates” weekly report so you can stay abreast of issues that might affect you when buying or selling real estate. If you haven’t visited my website, please go to www.AlabamaRealEstateInstitute.com and view previous articles.