The internet, the most powerful way to buy and sell property

The impact that technology is having on the estate agency sector is changing the property buying and selling landscape. With the explosion in popularity of buyers and sellers using portals such as Zoopla and Rightmove and the wealth of historic pricing data available, the internet has become the essential tool for the modern day house hunter.

Research carried out by Britain’s largest online estate agent has found that the majority of buyers are well armed with information before they step through the door when viewing a property. eMoov surveyed over a thousand homeowners and asked them ‘when looking to buy a new property, how much research would you do prior to attending a viewing?’

98% of those asked would take it upon themselves to do some research before attending a viewing, in anticipation of finding the right property. The first step in the process is usually to visit the property details page and read the full property description, the starting point for 67% of those surveyed. For some this was as far as the research process went, however 41% would also like to view a floor plan.

36% would also compare a property to others listed in the area and 21% of buyers would research previous property sold prices. Consumers showed less priority to researching the surrounding area with 14% investigating changes to their commute and 11% taking school catchment areas in to account when digging for further information.

Local authorities provide a wealth of information on school catchment areas and make it readily available online for prospective and existing parents looking to relocate. Zoopla also keeps potential buyers well informed showing the nearest schools as well as information on transport links and crime rates amongst others.

Broadly speaking women would conduct more research than men when preparing to view, taking more time to consider the look, layout and practicality of a house. However their male counter parts did pip them to the post where value for money was concerned, with 40% of men looking at other listed properties in the area and 24% researching historic property prices in comparison to 33% and 18% of women respectively.

With the internet only coming to full fruition over the past two decades those over the age of 50 fall under the label of technological novices. Using technology as relative beginners and adapting in comparison to their younger counterparts, or technological natives, for whom it has become second nature. However the rise of the silver surfer has very much risen with the elderly becoming a core demographic for surfing the net, they account for a large percentage of people using the internet to help them buy.

A whopping three quarters of those surveyed over the age of 50 would log on to read a full property description before viewing, a far greater number than those in the younger age brackets. This was also the case when checking floor plans, researching properties in the surrounding area and checking historic property values and potential new neighbours. However younger buyers are more interested in Google Street View, with 36% of those in the youngest age bracket using the mapping tool to snoop around the neighbourhood.

It comes as little surprise that Londoners were most concerned about changes to commuting routes with 19% undertaking research prior to a viewing, the joint highest in Britain rivalled only by Cardiff. Of those surveyed it was buyers in Southampton that placed the greatest importance on education, accounting for over a fifth of those researching school catchment areas before viewing a property. Those looking to buy in Norwich placed local amenities and infrastructure as a primary concern with 41% of them researching this before viewing a property and Sheffield led the way when it came to using Google Street View (49%).

Property Expert Russell Quirk, CEO of online estate agent commented:

“Thanks to the internet we now record as much information on a daily basis as we did from the beginning of time up until 2003. That’s an enormous amount of data instantly available to both property buyers and sellers.”

“Although there are those that still avoid technology, for the majority of people the internet is now the vital tool for both property buyers and sellers.”