There is a tremendous opportunity today for brokers and agents to differentiate themselves and, as a result, grow their market share through better use of virttual tour technology. According to the NAR 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report 41% of the people that bought homes in 2008 were first time buyers. Their average age was 30 versus 47 for repeat buyers. This growing base of home buyers and sellers, with less wrinkles, look for visual information first in their Internet searches. Unfortunately our sources tell us 75% to 90% of listings on MLS systems today do not have virtual tours. This means, listings on syndicated sites like Zillow and Realtor.com will not have tours on the vast majority of listings either.
According to the same NAR study 84% of sellers used a real estate agent to sell their home. But, only 55% of sellers were very satisfied with the process. Now look at the fact that only 26% of consumers use the same real estate agent they used previously and you see something very important. This means a significant number of buyers and sellers are available to those agents and brokers that know how to differentiate themselves.
There is probably no other industry anywhere that has this rate of customer churn. What are the reasons for these signficant numbers and how can agents and brokers turn this to their advantage? DOWNLOAD HERE What follows below is an Executive Summary.Executive Summary
There is tremendous competition today for the eyeballs of consumers looking for properties on the Internet. Consumers are faced with numerous options in terms of websites to search and the lists of properties these searches produce are often reduced down to single lines of data. While most properties will include still photos it is an amazing fact that the majority of properties displayed on the Internet do not take full advantage of the exciting and very affordable media tools available today.
According to NAR’s 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers one-third of buyers turn to the Internet first when beginning a property search and over 87% of all buyers use the Internet at some point in the process!
This same reports show how the importance of virtual tours to home buyers is increasing. 68% of the respondents say that virtual tours are “very useful” in their search for homes on the Internet.
Value of Website Features (Virtual Tours)
Source: NAR 2006, 2007, 2008 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Report
Statistics from Realtor.com also state that listings with virtual tours get clicked on 40% more than listings without. This is clear evidence that listings without virtual tours are not on equal footing with those that have them!
This paper explores the opportunity virtual tours and videos represent to home sellers and agents as well as some of the virtual tour product options on the market today.
- There is a major opportunity for brokers and agents to differentiate themselves using readily available virtual tour technology. Only 10% to 25% of listings have virtual tours today.
- A number of progressive Multiple Listing Services and Association of REALTORS are stepping up and licensing virtual tour technology for their entire membership. There is a significant opportunity at the MLS and/or association on two levels (1) to provide virtual tour services to their members at substantially discounted rates, (2) to raise the bar on MLS based services for members and the consumers they work with.
- Brokers and agents need to incorporate virtual expertise as part of their value proposition to gain market share. 74% of second home buyers do not use the same agent, which means there is a huge opportunity for capturing new clients. Differentiation using video tours can help capture the listing.
- Research confirms that images and video are highly desirable features for the Internet property shopper.
- While real estate agents average over 50 years of age the majority of new home buyers are in their 30’s. Agents need to understand and meet this demographic group’s technology expectations to be successful.
- Multiple Virtual Tour products are available to brokers and agents today at a reasonable cost; however, the differences are considerable. Quality, combined with speed to create and upload the tour is likely to be the key criteria for adoption and broad use.