Residential Property Leads Online Real Estate Market

More than half of the Web surfers who say they are in the market for real estate have used the Internet to shop for property, according to a survey by NPD Online Research.

According to the survey, residential real estate is the most popular property searched for on the Web. Of the 64 percent of Web surfers who have shopped for real estate online, 88 percent reported looking for residential real estate, with 75 percent searching for houses, 11 percent looking for condominiums, and 2 percent searching for co-ops. Among those online prospective buyers, 42 percent were looking to buy their first home.

The online real estate market is still very much in its infancy, but the survey found the market is beginning to generate interest and sales leads. Among those polled by NPD, 19 percent confirmed that their online search resulted in an actual meeting with a realtor, and 7 percent reported purchasing a property shown on the Web.

“The Internet is the perfect sales tool for real estate,” said Pamela Smith, VP of NPD Online Research. “Looking at realty is the most time-consuming part of any property search. The Web makes it possible to view multiple places in a fraction of the time it would take to just drive to one property.”

As with online shopping, the Internet real estate market appears to be driven by convenience. Eighty-five percent of survey participants reported convenience as the reason for looking online. Sixty-one percent reported that real estate sites save them time, and 38 percent chose to search online because of the huge selection of properties available on the Web.

According to NPD’s survey, Realtor.com and century21.com were the two clear leaders in online real estate sites most frequently visited by potential property buyers. Forty percent of the participants said they go to realtor.com and 39 percent cited century21.com. The survey also reported remax.com (28 percent) and coldwellbanker.com (28 percent) as popular destinations.

NPD also found that properties priced below $200,000 received the most visits by potential online buyers. Forty-three percent looked at online realty listed between $50,000 and $100,000. Another 42 percent viewed online properties priced from $100,000 to $200,000. Only 15 percent of Internet property hunters looked at real estate over $200,000.

The NPD real estate buying survey was conducted 2,355 individuals from NPD’s Online Panel, a Web representative sample of individuals prerecruited to participate in surveys, which responded to the questionnaire in late June.

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