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As the real estate market in the U.S. continues steadily gaining a slow momentum, it’s becoming increasingly clear potential homebuyers have moved online to look for their dream homes. Gone are the days of contacting a real estate agent first, and letting them do the leg work required to find the right houses to look into. With sites like Trulia and Zillow, consumers have everything they need right on their smart phones to know exactly which homes they want to look at before they ever need to call an agent. Taking a look at traffic data from Compete PRO, clearly, real estate aggregators are doing a better job capturing traffic than traditional agencies like Century 21 & Remax.
Many homebuyers even take the extra step to look at homes in person, and get a feel for curb appeal before they dial up an agent to take a walk through. One has to think this creates a double edged sword for real estate agents. Presumably, homebuyers are further along in the buying process when they finally contact an agent, making for an easier, quicker sale. They know what they want, and have a firmer grasp of what they can afford. However, competition for share of mind is tougher than ever, as consumers become more focused on the houses they want, over the reputation of the agent.
If we dig a little deeper into the Real Estate Category, we see consumers are searching for the aggregators first.
Aggregators Trulia, Zillow & Realtor.com are capturing more than 10% of the search traffic into the category with branded terms, evidence consumers search for the aggregators first, before looking more specifically for non-branded, longer-tail keywords. But are those searches landing homebuyers on aggregators, or traditional sites like Remax? Using “Real Estate” as an example, we can see the answer.
Clearly, the aggregators win again. While traditional sites are spending more search dollars for non-branded keywords, Realtor.com is blowing the competition away on the keyword “Real Estate”, with minimal bidding on the term. This is probably largely due to the fact aggregators have listings from so many different agencies, which drive tons of SEO juice. The traditional agencies must rely on SEM, because they don’t have the number of listings with only their own properties.
It will be interesting to watch these trends, as the real estate market continues to heat up in the coming years. What do you think? Where is your first stop when you’re looking for a new home? Let me know at email@example.com, or hit me on twitter @tkeene6.