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Mobile property searching – the way of the future

Posted on: August 24th, 2011 | Filed in Featured, mobile, Online marketing

Homebuyers who search for property online are also turning to their mobile devices to locate properties for sale. This fact has been presented in the latest survey undertaken by Nielsen in the annual Nielsen Real Estate Market report.

As would be expected, the survey continues to show the trend of online being the most preferred and useful source of real estate information – over 95% of those surveyed stated that online was “useful or very useful”- this as compared to newspapers which dropping down from 42% to just 38% (compare this to earlier reports when more than half of respondents stated that newspapers were a useful or very useful source of property information).

The key insight though came when the survey respondents who had an internet enabled phone were asked if they had ever accessed a real estate website on the device? – 32% stated they had. This is significant as whilst there are dedicated real estate apps for the iPhone (the app) there are no mobile website versions of any NZ real estate website. People are clearly showing that they are keen to use their phone to access property information when they are out and about.

The report also discovered that real estate researchers online were much more likely than the national population to own an internet-enabled phone or device, with 48% compared to 34% of the population overall (Nielsen Consumer and Media Insights, Q2 2010 – Q1 2011).

What is significant is understanding the behaviour of accessing real estate information on a mobile device as compared to a laptop or desktop. Computers on your desk or on your lap are excellent for the “lean back” character of browsing property listings via ever more extensive galleries of high quality images. This is why real estate websites collectively attract a daily audience of over 134,000 unique browsers per day when only around 180 homes are sold each day in NZ.

Compare this with the behaviour of mobile users – they want and need information that is contextual to their location right now – what’s for sale around me? / what’s for rent here now? / When is the open home for that property 2 blocks down? / I need to contact the agent selling that home! / I want to look at the aerial image for this street to see what the backgarden looks like… and so on. People on mobiles accessing property information are not casually browsing, they are committed, active, passionate property searchers.

Back to the survey, other illuminating information provides some great insight into these mobile users.

Globally the Android platform for smartphones is now the #1 market leader with a 48% market share according to Canalys report of August 1st, additionally the platform dominates in 35 of the 56 countries surveyed. In NZ however whilst no published data is available industry opinion (web search analysis) would have the iPhone with a leadership of installed users with a ratio of close to 3 to 1 – far different to the US.

It is therefore very interesting to see from the Nielsen survey that 40% of those surveyed whilst searching for property online who had a smartphone claimed to have an Android device compared to 35% with an iPhone or iPad. This result surprised us and provided the impetus we needed to get an Android version of the app (please be patient it is in development!).

Given the scale of adoption of the iPhone app (over 35,000 downloads since launch in Nov last year) we were keen in the survey to see firstly how many mobile device owners had downloaded and used an app and also which app they had chosen to use.

The survey showed that of the 586 respondents that had a mobile internet enabled device 7% had downloaded an app and used that application to search for property / discover property. In terms of popularity – the clear winner is the iPhone app – 49% people spontaneously identified that as their tools for property search.

The Nielsen Real Estate Market Report is based on a site-intercept survey on New Zealand real estate web sites conducted during May to June 2011 with a sample size of 1,219 respondents and a margin of error of 2.86 percent.

Article Discussion

  1. This is definately the future, not many people are using the traditional PC anymore outside of work

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