BUYERS TURN TO TECHNOLOGY TO GAIN COMPETITIVE EDGE
The ways in which home shoppers are searching for and buying homes is changing – in part due to the resurgence of a competitive marketplace, and in part because of the technology and tools that have changed our lifestyle.
In the Oahu real estate market, competition is stiff as a result of increasing home sales, near-record low inventory rates and rising interest rates.
Interest rates are currently running around 4.5 percent, which while still lower than 2011, are over a point higher than the record-lows of less than a year ago. The rise in mortgage rates that began in February of this year is expected by many to continue.
While interest rates rise, the number of properties for sale has shrunk to historical lows, resulting in multiple-offer scenarios and sales that are higher than listing prices.
It’s not surprising, then, that homebuyers are turning to technology to gain a competitive edge in this high-demand marketplace.
According to a recent study by Google and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), nine in 10 buyers today rely on the
Internet as a primary source for researching homes, and more than half of all buyers turn to the web as their first step in house hunting. Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 22 percent year-over-year.
Perhaps the biggest impact technology has had for homebuyers, however, is mobile. As smart phones and tablets have become ubiquitous, people are increasingly turning to them as their preferred tool for information gathering. Their mobility, by definition, is altering where, when and how people research.
The Google/NAR study found that around one-fifth of real estate-related searches take place on mobile devices. In addition, 68 percent of new home shoppers used mobile apps throughout their searching and buying process.
“In today’s competitive landscape where homes may literally be selling overnight, buyers have a need for speed. Our mobile application helps buyers to be the first to know,” says Linh DePledge, VP of Marketing at Prudential Locations.
“For example, with the app buyers can find homes for sale in a neighborhood, search for specific listings or price ranges, get complete property details, view photos, find open house times and locations, and connect directly with their agent – all while they are on the go.”
DePledge says that the competitive benefit of the mobile app is demonstrated by the success of their clients. Her firm’s data shows that clients who have used their mobile app during the homebuying process have been two times more likely to go into escrow than other clients.
Off-shore buyers and local buyers for whom English is a second language have been delighted to find that the PrudentialLocations.com website has a translation tool, which allows users to search and receive full property details translated into Japanese, Chinese, Korean or Spanish.
“This can make a huge difference for these buyers,” says DePledge. “It levels the playing field for them, increasing the accessibility of property information.”
The translation tool is available for registered users of PrudentialLocations.com. The Prudential Locations mobile app is free and can be downloaded from the app store or from www.Prudential Locations.com/mobile