More and more Americans are choosing to shop online. Economists say that e-commerce in the US has grown rapidly over the past few years and will continue to do so in the years to come. In fact, experts predict that American consumers will spend an estimated $327 billion on online purchases in 2016. That’s a huge projection, but very likely given that American consumers spent more than $200 billion on online purchases in 2012.
What about e-commerce in real estate? Do Americans still prefer buying homes the traditional way or are online alternatives giving Americans a better reason to depend on the internet for their dream home?
Online Home Shopping Trends in the US
According to research, traditional home shopping in the US – conducted through print (newspapers, catalogs) or broadcast media (TV) – is expected to decline by 21% in 2016. This is due to the growing popularity of internet retailing.
The internet has definitely changed the game for many real estate professionals. Gone are the days when home sales meant advertising in the local paper, handing out fliers and brochures, or putting up streamers and billboards. Today, real estate agents are turning to websites and social media as platforms for selling their homes.
Open House vs. Internet
As the internet has made shopping at home easier and more convenient, open houses have become less effective at generating or generating sales. Online listings and real estate advertising have become a better marketing strategy for real estate companies and professionals. This is mainly because the internet can reach more people and is almost free. As a result, more people rely on the web than open houses. Also, online alternatives to open houses such as virtual tours, video conferencing is possible through VoIP services, online bidding and other methods make property inspections and business transactions quicker and easier. In fact, because of the internet, home buyers abroad can still view properties and interact with sellers or real estate agents at any time.
According to National Association of Realtors or NAR, in 1995, 41% of buyers relied on open houses when shopping for a home, while only 2% relied on the internet. This percentage decreased in 2000 when only 28% of buyers depended on open houses. NAR also reports that in recent years, the number of people who rely on the internet when buying a home has jumped by 77%.
Because of this shift in market preferences, more and more real estate agents are resisting holding open houses. To them, the idea of having an open house is a waste of time, effort, and money. Personal interactions with random people also jeopardize their safety and property.
The Future of the Open House
While many now prefer going online when house hunting, there will be times when holding an open house proves to be a better alternative. For example, when selling a well-maintained property located in a densely populated area, holding an open house would look promising.
Additionally, if a property has been on the market for months but there are still no willing takers; the owner will use an unlikely alternative such as doing an open house. The idea of doing something is better than just sitting around. And if the open house somehow gets the phone ringing, then chances are they’ll try.