In part one of this topic it was easy to show that Australian’s are big Internet users, that’s a well-established fact. All aspects of digital media are also essential tools when it comes to marketing real estate, be that a single home or a big new development.

As such an important marketing tool I would like to further explore some online trends relating to real estate. A logical starting point is to have a brief look at Google, it’s the worlds big search engine. Published figures are that there are 40,000 Google searches every second, 3.5 billion a day and 1.2 trillion a year, and those figures are possibly out of date as I write this!

Much closer to home a quick look at some of the search activity on Google shows interesting trends. Thinking about project marketing leading search terms include, in this order, Melbourne apartments, Sydney apartments and Brisbane apartments. Then if we look a little closer at ‘apartments for sale’ the top four results are Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane Gold Coast – that alone is a mirror of market activity.

Beyond those results its possible to look at search terms that are ‘rising’ and we have Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane, Gold Coast and New York. Again an interesting reflection of the actual market, New York I suggest reflects our local obsession with property and so falls into the ‘lets have a look at what the neighbours are up to’ basket.

When looking at the Sydney search results the main terms are rent, Sydney, Sydney CBD and cheap-value for money, reflecting how potential buyers might be searching for value in the Sydney market. Google search terms also reflect the general level of market activity recently peaking in January 2014, and returning too much the same levels in January and February this year. In 2015 the peak months were April and May and were at low point in March 2012.

Being such a decisive reflection of the market using Google as a key marketing tool looks to be a good investment. It’s not my intention to exhaust this topic here, but when Google, in particular Google AdWords is used it’s worth knowing that advertisers only pay when an AdWords listing is actually clicked on, that’s pay per click and usually attracts a more qualified potential consumer.

How People Search

Having outlined that the search numbers a pretty staggering, and also that Google is a fairly accurate reflection of market activity, lets look at how people search the Internet in relation to property, in particular residential real estate.

Most published research suggests that buyers are active in their online searches for 6-12 months before they look at particular properties or buy. They also spend a lot of time, not looking at specific properties but instead they look to find out all they can about the services and facilities in their areas of interest. A key fact we should take into account when planning online advertising.

Videos are also very popular and there’s a lot of attention paid to gaining information about values and what people can afford, so they visit bank and loan comparison sites, there’s a strong mix of heart and head involved here.

Tied in with videos there’s a big predisposition to pay a lot of attention online to interiors, how a potential new home or apartment might look, or how an existing home is presented or could be up-graded, then there’s a lot of attention paid to location, this is as expected a key factor. Views are important, the style of property and the visual appeal of the local area and a lot of time is devoted to prices.

I accept that much of this might not come as a surprise, but I do think the fact that a lot of time is spent qualifying the appeal of an area, ahead of individual properties is noteworthy.

Project Web Sites

Now I would like to move to some comments about how web traffic and search activity is experienced on individual project web sites. The amount of information available is far less than the wider use of the Internet or Google, but still from the information I see the trends are interesting.

On a number of sites (and these are mainly Sydney based projects) there’s a lot of search time focused on prices and associated areas like the time it might take to finish a project. Which is naturally important when buyers have to secure finance or sell an existing property, clearly the financial side of a purchase is important and often the most searched part of a site.

Then site visitors, potential buyers then hopefully turn their attention to the projects finishes and downloading of the schedule of finishes and services is very common and frequent, and if they are available, and opinion varies lost of floor plan downloads. Then high up on the list is the registration part of the web site which is just as well because after all that’s the key information and only way we can stay in touch with the potential buyers.

The final trend I wanted to mention is the big movement towards the use of mobile devices, well documented (I covered some of the figures in my earlier post) this is where soon a majority of people will source the Internet and that in particular applies to listing.

There’s still some way for mobile sites and advertising to go in this media, content hasn’t caught up yet with where users are, and mobile-first needs to have a good content budget.

But there’s another catch and that is when people use a mobile site, they are also very keen to get a quick response. Mobile sites imply immediacy, they must be up to date and buyers are not going to hang around for days waiting for a response from the sales team.