With every sale we do our best to establish the source of the buyer and the source of the seller. Such research is a vital part of running any successful and growing business and in the rapidly evolving world of real estate, we are no different and detecting trends is a critical part of both budget and strategic planning.
Having just concluded a survey of 2013 sales the biggest trend I have identified is the substantial increase in the use of property portals by buyers, over the use of Corporate websites. Of the portals, Property24 is for our areas clearly the outright preferred portal. Fewer buyers seem to be interested in what any individual company website has to offer with a clear preference to go to the shared portal sites. It seems that at least 50% of the value in the Corporate website is now for purposes of positioning on Google and other search engines, for those buyers who don't know about the property portals. *
Of the buyers surveyed on their buying process significantly all except 11% had used the internet as part of their search to find a property to buy. Of these 72% remember using the portal Property24. Only 33% mentioned any other property portal (this was mostly PrivateProperty followed by IOL and Tivvit) and even more interesting to me, only a 27% could recall using any individual company's website. I would very much like the Western Cape Institute of Estate Agents to undertake a regional survey to establish these trends, and have communicated such request to them as I don't believe that the portals themselves can really be expected to provide independent commentary on this.
Another interesting figure was the clear decline in the use of printed media for sourcing information on properties for sale. Only 52% mentioned using any printed property publication as a part of their property selection process. The printed publication when mentioned was always the Saturday Cape Property publication with not one reference to any other printed publication. The last time we did a survey like this it was some 80% had referred to printed media so a significant decline. I hasten to add that many people were maybe not surprisingly, rather vague with their recollections and I have little doubt that results will vary from area to area and of course market demographics. **
Chas Everitt Cape Town South is committed to invest our marketing budget where it works. In this regard our new media focus is aimed at enhancing the online experience. Virtual tours (360's) and "walk thru interactives" with floor plans, as well as video and of course professional photographs and integration with Google maps, are all aimed at creating a rich experience for buyers. We are also investing in community blogs (such as Bergvliet.co.za and Tokai.co.za ) that serve to drive targeted buyers to our listings for that area. We have even created "regional portals" such as CapeTownProperty.com where we share listings on an exclusive area basis with other real estate offices. We are leaders in our area with respect to such new media strategies and we are constantly evolving as the marketing realities change and adapt and to this end we are spearheading a social media campaign with SEOsocial.co.za a new business I founded in January to this end. I could argue that many real estate companies seem almost 'stuck' in an old media paradigm where they are heavily invested in marketing structures that no longer deliver the way they used to but it's an observation that I am not uncomfortable with.
Are our strategies working? The 'proof of the pudding' as they say is in the eating thereof, and last year we doubled our business and secured the Top Chas Everitt Office Award within our property group for the region, so this shows me that what we are doing is working well. Most importantly of all we are looking at our results and satisfaction from those sellers that have entrusted the management of the marketing process to our franchise. After all, if the seller is happy with the results we deliver and buyers are finding the value in the properties we are marketing, then that is all the evidence I really need!
As mentioned in the article above here are some urls (domains) for reference purposes:
* A property portal is an aggregate site where properties from all subscribing agencies are collectively displayed by search criteria
** This survey covered property sales in Cape Town's Southern Suburbs where our business is most focused, ie between "Main Road and Mountain" and from Muizenberg to Claremont. In False Bay this was from Muizenberg to Glencairn and across to Noordhoek