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Where Have The Eyeballs Gone

Real Estate Agent with Realty Executives Success

I was reading an article, 14 Scary Facts About The US Real Estate Nightmare, that is guaranteed to give most real estate agents heartburn. Dropped in at #6 was a blurb that real estate searches are down about 20% from last June till June 2010 (date of article).

Knowing that I had read something similar, but more in-depth, I went about searching Google to find some corroborating evidence of this decline. Google was no luck, but my bookmarks bailed me out with a saved link to an article by the Notorious R.O.B. titled Something Wicked, This Way Comes: Housing Market Signals in which he expresses his misgivings about the housing recovery.

Notorious, who runs a brilliant blog if I may say so, cited a blog post from Hitwise, the web traffic analysis company. The meat of the article relating to real estate searches was:

First, Hitwise reports that year-over-year visits to websites in the Real Estate category are down 22% for April of 2010, and that is 11 consecutive months of traffic decline:

YoY Monthly Change Real Estate.png

That there is a pretty steep curve...

However, Hitwise also reports that visits to "Home & Apt Rental" websites are up 45% in April 2010 year-over-year, and that represents the tenth consecutive month of increases.


I strongly recommend that you read the rest of Notorious' article as you will come away smarter for it, but as a real estate agent who is very dependent on Internet leads, the issue of declining Internet searches got me to thinking.

Here are some of the questions (and maybe answers) I came away with:

  • Why the drop-off in May 09? The industry has been in distress since early 2008 at a minimum. Were the 08 numbers OK because 07 was brutal (Hitwise doesn't provide 07) or is there some other hidden consumer online search characteristic in play?
  • Pouting is not going to make the eyeballs come back, so how am I going to tailor my SEO so I am doing a better job of attracting a dwindling pool of online real estate searchers?
  • Perception is reality and potentially many internet searchers BELIEVE that they cannot afford to buy a home and that they must rent. How can I change that perception?
  • And combining on the last 2 points, maybe I need to be optimizing for keywords targeted at renters and converting qualified renters to qualified buyers.

I would certainly welcome your opinions on this ominous phenomenon of disappearing eyeballs.

Cathy McAlister
Cathy Ashley McAlister, GRI CDPE - Broker / Sacramento - Sacramento, CA
Sacramento DRE#00648507


Great Information.  I followed the link of 14 scary facts and it led to several more links.  Most interesting was the comparison of mls price reductions from last year to this year.  Quite sobering.

It will continue to be a buyer's market, for many months to come.  The question for those buyer's will be just how good will it get - a senario that is equally unsettling for sellers.  If people are thinking of selling in order to rent -according to this article - do it sooner than later.

We continue to work in very unordinary times; and the need for good real estate guidance is more important than ever.

Jul 06, 2010 11:43 AM
Tim Soper

Thanks Cathy for the nice words. These are indeed "unordinary" times.

Jul 07, 2010 10:44 AM