From the True Gotham Archives (with an amendment at the end):
The House Media Network has a big article about the merits of searching for property online.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 74 percent of homebuyers used the Internet as an information source, up from 65 percent in 2003. By doing advanced homework on listings and locations, Internet buyers can expedite their results. NAR reports that Internet buyers visit 6.2 homes with a sales associate before making a purchase; the traditional buyer visits 14.5 homes….
The benefits of looking for real estate online are many and varied. First, says Shanahan, looking online provides an up-to-date overview of the market that is not necessarily available through individual real estate agents. "We could see the whole county, and we could watch the price trends—we had more information as buyers than we had ever had before," he says.
Using the Internet also saves time, says Manhattanite Katie Cusack, now a landowner in the town of Stanford. "Nobody wants to waste time anymore, so having all the data at your fingertips is essential." Like the Shanahans and the Smiths, it took her just three months to clinch her deal.
Although technology is often considered to be impersonal, using the Internet to search for real estate can actually provide a more personal approach than dealing directly with a realtor. "We went online to get to the right broker," says Shanahan, rather than walking into an office and having the broker choose him. "Our realtor took a very unique approach when she wrote to us. It was like going to the doctor and having an exam about what we really wanted. She paid very analytical attention to us, and searched for properties for us to look at online, and it proved to be a successful formula."
Although the statistics from this piece come from the NAR, based on my experience, they seem to be relatively accurate. It’s no big news that a huge percentage of people are shopping for homes online and more and more are making decisions based on how a property is represented online. The unfortunate part of this is that often times, a property online looks NOTHING like it does when a prospective buyer visits the home. With newer technology and more accurate representation of property will come a more efficient market. As it is now, most people who view my properties have a pretty good idea of what it looks like when they arrive. That said, I still have the occasional disgruntled buyer who suggests that the online representation is misleading. Although we make every effort to prevent this from happening, sometimes beauty is really in the eye of the beholder and not the professional photographer or videographer who shoot the property.
Update: Video Killed the Virtual Tour…at least it’s begun with more and more people discovering that real video tours provide a more accurate portrayal of property and allow certain aspects of properties to be highlighted that can only be done on video.