Property research turns digital

Do you research for properties online? If 'Yes', then chances are that you're female and you are looking between 1-5pm Monday to Friday from a desktop computer or on Saturdays from your mobile device.

How has the internet changed the way people do their property research?

Property buyers and sellers have changed dramatically in the last 10 years – no longer is a shop-front real estate agency essential or even necessary for more and more agents. This depends on their market and region but for areas such as the major cities' CBDs shop-fronts are definitely a thing of the past and appear to generate little to no more visitor traffic than a good online presence.

86% of property buyers and 73% of sellers now take to the internet to do their initial property research. In fact in February 2013 alone, 18.9 million website visits were made to Australia's most popular property website,, by 3 million people.

Once they've informed themselves they start following up on properties of their interest – either by phone or email.

The huge advantage of online research is that "the whole world is your oyster" – people can now compare a property in downtown NY with a premium apartment in Brisbane CBD at the click of just a few keys. For local, regional, intrastate, interstate and overseas people time zones and distance are no longer a barrier for finding the right property, or finding what agents are active in the area to sell their property.

Who is researching property online?

Interestingly, females are the more active online property researchers, 58% of all real estate web-visitors via desktop being women. For mobile devices the trend is far stronger, with a 74% female audience.

By far the most popular time for property research on desktops is during afternoon workday hours. So yes, it's most likely that some of your employees/colleagues (or you) are checking out the property market after lunch at work sometime this week.

The ever-increasing popularity of mobile devices, such as smartphones and ipads, has also increased the importance and the popularity of real estate apps and real estate website mobile viewing. I anticipate that the 'grey' area between desktop and mobile device applications will increase and both platforms will strongly assimilate over the next few years. Property research on mobile devices is primarily on Saturdays (9am-4pm) and Sundays 'after the kids are in bed' from 8pm onwards.

What do people look at?

When viewing a real-estate website, such as, people look at three main aspects automatically when scrolling down a page of properties:

1. Photo. The main property photo is where the eye travels first. So, forget a quick iphone photo - having a professional photographer is more important than ever to capture the property optimally, as this is what grabs people's attention first

2. Price. After the photo people automatically look at the price. If there is no price, POA or similar, then the fact is that people will move on to view the next property – especially if they are simply 'flicking through' a web-page.

3. Address. Which street and building number is it? This is the next most important piece of information. Just as for Price, the lack of a proper address is a 'turn off' for many web visitors.

4. Other information. Whether catchy title, informative text, no. bedrooms/bathrooms/carspaces or further photos, these are all secondary to the above three points.

Time is of the essence in our digital world and people will only look at a property for more than a split second if it provides the basis information (photo, price, address), and then catches their interest further.

Is the print media 'dead'?

No, despite strong online trends and growth. 47% of people still look at local newspapers once it comes to researching properties. This is the most popular form of buyer research after 'online'. From our experience the major cities' Saturday newspapers – The Courier Mail (Brisbane), Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney) and The Age (Melbourne) – remain popular with real estate hunters. It's often easier to open their 'Open for Inspection' section and scan quickly through who's got what properties open this Saturday than looking through the various websites. Similarly, the 'Saturday newspaper' ritual is still entrenched within many people's lives.

Why is there still a place for paper-based media?

It's quite fundamental really ... enjoy this humorous take on why paper will always have its place in our increasingly digital world at

* 'Digital World'-Masterclass presentation

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