While real estate has always been a relationship-driven industry, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® understands the internet's increasing importance in forging those relationships. "Most consumers - buyers and sellers - come to us through a direct connection to one of our agents. They can be relatives, friends, neighbors, or previous customers," explains Storti. "But people are also finding us initially through the internet now. The search experience is drastically changing. Mobile is quite important, and mobile's use in real estate seems to be accelerating quickly. A person can go out into the marketplace with a smartphone and find out a great deal about a house that's for sale while looking at it, right from that mobile device," Storti points out.
Buying a home is a significant and typically infrequent purchase, which by definition makes every sale meaningful for the brokerage firm. Storti continues, "Unlike e-commerce where people do repeat business, our industry is more akin to the auto marketplace. People decide they want to do something and dive into the market, get intensely involved for some period of time, complete a transaction, and then back out for a number of years." In today's digital world, that intensive research phase tends to start with online local search - and for the housing industry, one customer finding inaccurate data online means potentially thousands of dollars in sales immediately lost.
Michelle Todisco, Communications Specialist, explains, "People go to Google and search for 'homes in [an area],' and we need for that areas office to pop up. We have run into trouble in the past when agents create Google My Business Pages that overpower the office pages. If you searched an area you might find one particular agent instead of the office page coming up! When you have 4,500 agents, most of them in competition, that becomes an issue."