Why the Internet Buyer is the Best Client

Posted by: Joseph Ferrara on April 24th, 2008

Since internet buyers (IB) do most of their home searching and researching BEFORE calling an agent, they are more efficient buyers who won’t take up a lot of your time and resources.

Realtor studies show they are also more satisfied with their agents and overwhelmingly say they would use the same agent in the future.

The Efficient Buyer Saves Resources

Here are some interesting comparisons:

  • IB spend 2.2 weeks, on average, with their agent before buying, while the non-internet buyer (so called traditional buyer) spent 7.1 weeks with their agents.
  • IB previewed 6.7 homes while the traditional buyer previewed a whopping 15.4
  • 81% of IB stay with the first agent they choose to contact

In addition:

  • Traditional buyers interview about 3 agents, IB only 1
  • Distance between old and new home: 25 miles for traditional, 242 for IB
  • IB have higher satisfaction rates with their agents: 4.3 v 3.3, on a scale where 5 is “surpassed expectations”
  • Most IB are first time home buyers and Gen-X vs. Boomers and repeat buyers

The Internet Buyer Will Come Back

We all know the story. You work your butt off for a client and never hear from them again.

Well, according to the report, internet buyers WILL come back: 97% of internet buyers would use the same agent on their next transaction versus only 50% of traditional buyers.

So, it seems the internet homebuyer is the more resourceful, more efficient client, who likes working with their agent, holds that agent in high regard and will use them again. In short, the perfect client. But they are not pushovers. They expect you to be as efficient as they are.

Time response to inquiries is critical to the internet home buyer.

So, make contact through a personal email or phone call ASAP, as most internet buyers expect a response the same day, provide information EARLIER than promised, and schedule contacts to build a rapport. Client rapport is built on understanding the buyer’s needs and then clearly communicating your expertise and ability to meet those needs.

Where Internet Buyers Look For Agents

It comes as no surprise that a whopping 92% of internet buyers find their agents on the web, 63% via search engines. Therefore, you must be where the buyers are looking: online.

You MUST market and promote YOURSELF and YOUR BRAND on the internet.

Having your own blog will bring the search engine traffic, which includes those valuable internet buyers, directly to YOU. Putting your profile on your blog, as well as in internet directories, will also help buyers choose you.

Other Findings

  • Late closure of their escrow is a common complaint of traditional and internet buyers (so prepare your clients for this possibility)
  • First time home buyers have the highest expectations of their agents
  • Internet is valued as a source of information about the home buying process & not a substitute for using an agent. 9 out of 10 buyers hire an agent to buy a home.
  • No group found internet information more useful than that obtained from agents.

Sources:

C.A.R. Highlights from 2006 Internet v. Traditional Buyers Survey; Michael E. Parker, Online Marketing: Internet Buyers v. Traditional Home Buyer Study, Broker Agent News.

*The 2006 C.A.R. homebuyer study was done by Leslie Appleton-Young, Chief Economist & VP of the California Association of Realtors.

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Comments

9 Comments on “Why the Internet Buyer is the Best Client”

Glenn in Naples

Joe – excellent post. I have found that internet potential buyers that were priced out of the market a year or 2 ago are slowly starting to request additional information on listings now. I have found it important to keep in touch with prospects over the long haul and it is now paying dividends.

Joe are seeing this situation or anyone else?

Joseph Ferrara

Thanks Glenn. Absolutely. The internet buyer is, first, an information gatherer. If you can provide useful information quickly, you vastly improve your chances of conversion. Keeping in touch builds rapport which is the foundation of any relationship.

Mike Taylor

IBs are great. They are usually quite self sufficient and really want to do some of the “heavy lifting” on their own. Most will search for the homes and drive the neighborhoods before requesting a showing. I think that is why you see a shorter time and less homes viewed for the IBs.

Jayson

Great post. The statistics are pretty impressive – definitely something to consider and be aware of.

They probably only interview 1 agent b/c the search engines have already helped establish credibility. In addition, they’re online searching for information so they’re probably already in tune with the market, pricing etc..

Louis Cammarosano

While internet customers may transact faster once they have selected a realtor, they do spend a fair amount of time before selecting one doing their own research on line.

Many realtors are disappointed that the leads or internet contacts that they make don’t transact right away. They have the false notion that everything happens fast on the internet.

Internet buyers are sizing up the landscape- housing prices, neighborhoods and realtors.

Because a internet buyer doesn’t respond right away doesn’t mean that realtors should not respond to their inquiries right away;they expect you to.

They are biding their time doing their research and will work with a Realtor when they are ready.

Louis Cammarosano

Glenn
The importance of following up can’t be overestimated.
Here are a few examples of how it pays off from other articles on the HomeGain blog.
http://blog.homegain.com/extreme-on-patience-followup
http://blog.homegain.com/homegain-lasting-impression
http://blog.homegain.com/Relationship-Building-Real-Estate-Max-Says-Do-Not-Be-Pushy

Here is sage advise from Jay Thompson
“That site visitor or blog reader you get today may not really need you for two years. I suspect you’ll need a commission check two years from now too, so roll with the flow.”
http://blog.homegain.com/leads-are-people-too

REBlogGirl

Excellent post. Internet buyers are simply more savvy – they want to do the research themselves and are not afraid to get their hands dirty. Thye just are more qualified and educated on the market. Well said.

Glenn in Naples

Joe – thanks for your feedback.

Louis – thanks for the references, I will have to read them over.

Mitch Argon

I have found all of the above information to be generally true in my practice. As an agent, you need to be totally committed to providing service (it’s kind of like running a local real estate information center) to the online site visitors.

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