NAR: Use of Internet for Home Search by Buyers Hits All-Time High at 92%

According to an Inman News article posted on November 4th,2013, “Use of the Internet among consumers in the homebuying process continues to grow, but those buyers are more, not less, likely to use a real estate agent, according to an annual survey from the National Association of Realtors.”  NAR’s study, which  was based on 8767 people who purchased a home between June



Picture 3 2012 and June 2013 , reported that  92% of the buyers used the Internet to search for homes, up from 90% last year  and 71% in 2003.  The report also indicated that 88% of the buyers used an agent.  Interestingly, 42% said searching online was their first step in the buying process, while 17% said their first step was contacting an agent.  In summary, buyers are using the Internet to search and agents to help with the purchase transaction.  As various local markets lead the recovery in the real estate industry, realtors need to match the consumers’ requirements for technology and services.  Consumers understand that purchasing a home is a complex transaction, one  that requires expertise to protect against the risk of mistakes and to guide the process to a smooth and successful completion.  Most homebuyers are tech-savvy enough to use property search applications  to find potential homes to buy.  Successful  realtors  include both requirements in their marketing strategies, and they provide home search (IDX) programs on their websites, so  prospective homebuyers can search MLS listings and generate buyer transaction leads directly to the realtor. Successful realtors also  provide a full set of services for buyers, both to achieve client satisfaction with the purchase, but also to generate future business (81% of the sellers used a full-services broker, and 63% chose the broker via a referral).   Agents who used to think that representing buyers consisted of finding and showing them listings from the MLS  now understand that they can rely on a good IDX system for some of the finding process, and they focus instead on responding to leads generated by the IDX, showing homes, and  managing the purchase process for the buyer.

Blazing Systems helps hundreds of Delaware Valley realtors with marketing strategies, websites,  and an industry-leading

IDX home search.  Please contact us to arrange a free initial consultation.

     Bill Patch








Housing Headlines

Within the last two weeks we’ve heard from a variety of sources on the ongoing real estate/housing market saga.  The Federal Reserve, Harvard University, and Long & Foster, the largest privately-owned real estate company in the U.S., all weighed in on the current state of the market.

The Federal Reserve Beige Book, June 8th, for the Philadelphia District, says:

“Looking ahead, residential real estate agents expect sales for this year as a whole to be level with last year. An agent who remarked that “we are off the bottom, but it’s going to be a slow comeback” expressed a common opinion.”

On June 10th, the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies released their annual “State of the Nation’s Housing 2011” report.  The headings in the executive summary tell the story:  “The Rocky Road To Recovery,” “Uncertainty in the Homeowner Market,” “Rental Rebound,” and “Affordability Problems Creeping Up the Income Scale.”

The Harvard studies includes lots of demographics–all of which are negative indicators for the homeowner market, which has declined 2% in the last seven years.  Immigration is lower, family formation is lower, utility costs are eliminating some potential home buyers, income is lagging.  Cheerful stuff.

And then there’s the news from Long & Foster.  The Philadelphia Region, headed by Vice President Art Herling, a Blazing Systems client, reported a 12% increase in unit sales in May compared to last year.

“Quite a few of our offices have experienced not only an increase in units this May, but also their sales volume jumped as compared to May 2010.” Herling went on to cite rises in prices in April and May, as a positive sign of recovery.

“Since the year 2000, the median price of a home in the Philadelphia metropolitan area has risen 70%, and has dropped only 7% from the peak year of 2007,” added Art.

Long & Foster attributed some of their success to the use of technology.  (Long & Foster news release, 06/10/11).  Art Herling’s website,, designed, developed, and hosted by Blazing Systems, features the company’s leading map search IDX system for lead generation, and a quick search and rotating featured properties on the Home Page.

****What can we learn from all this?

Effective use of technology can provide competitive advantage, even in the most extreme of market conditions.


REALTOR Lead Generation

About 90% of the prospective home buyers are searching for homes on the Internet.  Looking for homes is by far the leading reason why buyers go to realtor websites.  To capture share in this competitive market requires a simple two-step approach.

STEP #1:  Provide an easy-to-use IDX search of the homes available in the local MLS.  This satisfies the vistor’s need to look for available properties, and it captures the lead for the website.  The website realtor is able to get leads on all the properties in the MLS, not just their own listings.

STEP #2:  Drive traffic to the site.  A common error is to build a site, and then wait for the world to beat a path to your door.  About 50% of the traffic to your site will come through direct channels.  Individuals will type in your URL to go to your site.  The other half will find you through search engines.  You can achieve long-term results with Organic SEO programs and immediate results with PPC (Pay Per Click) Commodity SEO programs.

REALTOR Internet Marketing

Each year we work directly with hundreds of realtors–both brokers and agents–concerning Internet Marketing and Lead Generation.

Each year NAR publishes a Technology Survey.  That’s where that 87% number came from a couple years ago–87% of the potential home buyers were searching for homes on the Internet.

Our skepticism of the NAR report’s numbers has always been based on the relatively small return they receive from surveys sent.  Also, the quality of the response is worth examination.  For example, in the last one, REALTOR® Technology Survey Report
2010, 16% of the respondents had not done ONE DEAL in the last 12 months!

So, one needs to use such global survey data with a degree of caution when it comes to serious decisions like how to spend marketing funds in a brutal market…like now, in other words.

Here’s what we do know, based on observation and anecdotal information gathered by interfacing with realtors daily for the last 10 years on the subjects of websites, IDX searches, SEO, and Internet Marketing in general:

During the last three-four years the top 12-18% of the realtors have continued to complete successful volumes of transactions and invest in marketing.  Dollars have moved rapidly from print advertising to Internet Marketing.

Brokers and agents who understand that Internet marketing is not a passive, do-a-website, post-my-listings, and they-will-come, kind of process, are generating outstanding lead flow and return on investment for their marketing expense.  These realtors actively engage with work that improves SEO.  They also know how to use IDX searches on their own websites to drive traffic and leads.

In a counter to the good returns being achieved by some realtors, most realtors have squandered time and money with website providers.  We rarely encounter a broker or agent who has not had an unfortunate past (or current) experience with a web provider.  Tales of over-priced, under-delivered websites; lost money on pay-per-click (PPC) programs; long-term contracts with penalties for early termination; SEO scams; abound–but, still the serious competitors have pushed forward.

The range of technology knowledge, experience, and patience, among individual realtors is extreme.  A significant portion–my best estimate is 20-30%–are still on and  In the next group up, agents who use the MLS to search for homes for buyers and then email them the property detail pages.  These realtors tend to have websites, and  are still surprised when one of their buyers finds a property on their own, searching on the Internet.  They should be thankful that the buyer called them back.  (Buyers today increasingly want to have control over their home search.  They enjoy home-hunting at odd hours of the day, when they can fit it in.)  This second group comprise another 30-40% of the industry.  The third group (so the market has three basic segments) use their web presence to attract buyers and market sellers.  They provide the buyers with an effective IDX program, to be able to search all the listings in the MLS, and so the realtor generates leads on all the listings, not just their own.


Lower Third:  Clueless.  Some of these folks have the good fortune to be working with an effective web provider, and may have nice sites.

Middle Third:  Have websites, but don’t actively push traffic, don’t refer buyers to their own IDX search on their own websites, don’t understand keywords, or how SEO works in general.

Top Third:  Actively drive traffic to website that features a leading customer-friendly IDX search.  Uses blogs, reciprocal links, and organic SEO programs.  Updates website regularly.  Features own listings as a benefit for sellers, achieves non-listing lead generation that provides a positive return.

Segment Size Possibility:  In an industry where some pundits say the 80/20 rule is really 90/10, with 10% of the players generating 90% of the revenue, the Top Third could be smaller–as much as 15%–and the other two categories could in turn be larger than a third.