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money_in_mobile_phoneI have made the point over the past couple months that our mobile devices have taken over as the primary consumer search tool for most of us and will take over for the rest of us in the near future. Yes, many of us still have a desktop computer that we use for work, to create documents, presentations and do research. However, when the work day is done, we immediately switch to our mobile devices—smartphones and tablets—for all our consumer-searching needs.

Why wouldn’t we? It’s far more convenient and comfortable to sit on our couch, recliner or at our dining room table with our smartphone or tablet than it is to sit at those same places with our laptop. According to Nielsen, a recent study found that 85 percent of smartphone/tablet owners use their device while watching TV at least once a month and 40 percent of them do it daily; that’s over the average of 34 hours per week Americans spent in front of the TV in early 2012.

This means from the new pair of shoes to the iPad mini to the new car and even the new home you want to buy, the primary consumer search tools are quickly becoming our mobile devices. This past holiday season, about 20 percent of the U.S. adult population used their smartphones to compare prices and research products while shopping in stores, a practice known as “showrooming,” according to IDC Retail Insights. This represents a 134 percent increase from 2011 alone, when 20.5 million shoppers engaged in showrooming. By 2015, the number of people using their smartphones for this practice will grow to 78 million.

The study goes on to find that big ticket items will be those influenced most by showrooming. Interesting, since a house is typically the biggest purchase a consumer will make. In addition, there is no physical ‘showroom’ for real estate, just the community and the local market in which homebuyers are looking. Knowing what we know about showrooming, it seems like it would be relatively safe to assume that consumers armed with smartphones and tablets will be actively using those devices during their home search; whether it’s the holiday season or after, this practice is not going away, just growing.

Be prepared for real estate consumers’ increased showrooming. Make sure your website formats for all mobile-enabled devices, look into integrating QR codes and text message lead generation to help steer consumers on their mobile devices in your direction and perhaps even look into building your own app. This is not a wave you want to miss, as it will ultimately influence billions of dollars in transactions…home purchases included.

Seth Kaplan is president of Mobile Real Estate. For more information, visit