Now if this image were a billboard in the sky, perhaps more Realtors® would stop and pay more attention to where real estate buyers are online and what they are doing there. Today, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), more than nine out of ten home buyers use the internet as the search tool of choice at the start of their home buying process. In 1995, it was only 5 percent or 5 out of 100!
Today, some Realtors® get it and have jumped into the online pond with websites, blogs and email. Others are still looking at the stop sign with some form of denial or anger and choosing not answer their phone, respond to email in the now timely expected fashion of quickly or sadly criticize their peers for talking about a customer they met online.
Fortunately, more and more are learning how to swim differently in the stream of conversations by using social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube to name a few. The 2010 NAR member profile showed half of all Realtor members now use social networking sites. This means the industry is finally shifting to catch up with the customers. And in real estate, this means buyers can go "social" to get more information on what they need before they contact anyone, including a Realtor®!
In our culture of instant gratification, home buyers today expect to find answers online before having an offline conversation with a Realtor®. They do not want to wait for a real estate agent to get back to them to answer a question or tell them the price of the home. They expect to search for a home online by address and find out everything from price to 15 photographs to a virtual tour or video. They will search online from their computer, smartphone or iphone/ipad until they find a blog or website or someone on Twitter for an answer.
The real estate industry did not create the internet or social media. Yet, the internet and social media have revolutionized how people communicate and make buying decisions in the marketplace. Hopefully, the next time you see a stop sign, you might go forward on a road to something new.