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mobile_homebuying_searchGoogle Says, ‘the Place to Reach Homebuyers Is on Mobile’ and What You Should Do about It

Buyers and sellers are told that a home is all about “location, location, location.” When it comes to the home search process, a recent Google consumer survey revealed that home seekers are all about using “mobile, mobile, mobile.” The survey findings suggest that house hunting may be on the rise due to the surge in mobile usage during the homebuying process, especially for Millennials, and this summer’s record number of online searches for real estate listings. Let’s explore these trends and how real estate professionals can beef up their marketing strategy to attract mobile buyers.

Spike in Mobile Usage. While the uptick in mobile search may not be surprising, the timing and amount of growth is pretty substantial. Homebuyers are using their mobile device 19 percent more than last year to look for listings, find directions to a house, call or email an agent directly, or watch a video of a home (Google Consumer Survey, April 2014).

Furthermore, the summer has always been a popular time to search for homes, but this past July was particularly hot, as online searches for real estate listings reached their highest point since 2008 (Google Data).  Further, mobile searches for open houses also grew by 36 percent since last year.

Millennials Lead the Home Search on Mobile.  This demographic is getting more serious about entering the housing market and leaving their parents’ nest. Trends from the Google survey show that 50 percent of Millennials (18-34 year-olds) visited real estate websites in July, a 30 percent increase from last summer, and 36 percent visited those sites or their apps on mobile devices, which grew a whopping 81 percent since last year (comScore Media-Metrix data).

Mortgage Searches Go Mobile.  Also interesting to note is that homebuyers are increasingly using mobile devices to calculate the affordability of a home. Twenty-five percent of mortgage-related searches on Google have been via mobile and half of those searches used terms like ‘mortgage calculator’ (Google Data). To meet this need, plug the mortgage calculator widget  into your website or blog so that visitors can get an idea of their monthly mortgage payment.

Buyers Like Videos. Video is still a crucial opportunity to capture buyers on mobile.  With YouTube being the second largest search engine (Social Media Today), it’s no surprise that one in five prospective homebuyers reported they watch videos from their mobile device. In fact, real estate videos on YouTube were viewed 13 percent more than last year (Google Consumer Survey, April 2014).  Also notable is that viewers are increasingly searching for home improvement videos from their smartphone or tablet, a 69 percent growth over last year (Google Data).

How should you apply these trends to your marketing plan? The overwhelming preference toward mobile real estate searches are staggering but mean little if you don’t have a mobile-friendly website.  With homebuyers researching and ultimately clicking through to view property listings or related pages of content, you must provide them with a positive search experience, as seventy-nine percent of consumers are more likely to leave a non-mobile-friendly site and visit your competitor’s site (Google). recently wrote about responsive design websites and how this technology is a win-win for you, as it provides a superior user experience and is favored by search engines. This technology seamlessly adapts your web content to a device’s screen size and orientation so that it looks and operates the same, regardless of which mobile device or desktop the buyer is using.  At this point, it’s imperative that agents and brokers have a solid mobile strategy that includes responsive design websites.  Choose a technology partner like that provides agents and brokers with responsive websites  that can capture these on-the-go buyers with easy mobile navigation, video capabilities and widgets like the mortgage calculator that will enhance their home search experience.

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