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Trends Influence Update of # 1 Real Estate Website

Global Trends Influence Update of # 1 Real Estate Website

New Zealand’s most visited real estate group website, this week launched its latest update in line with global trends observed by Harcourts International Ltd’s Chief Information Officer, Jason Wills.

On his return from an international internet real estate conference held in the US late last year, Mr Wills noted several global trends which Harcourts was integrating as part of its online strategy. He said a panel of leading CEOs predicted online advertising was due to exceed print spend by 2009, and also noted that 70 percent of buyers were now visiting websites first to search for properties, versus 30 percent using traditional mediums.

As well as a new ‘look’ to, new features such as expanded search options were a response to a survey of 10,000 Harcourts clients in late 2004 which found around 50 percent of visitors were searching for property to buy, around 25 percent were searching for comparative property value information, and around 25 percent for searching for offices/consultants to contact. Other issues of importance to website visitors were including as much information as possible on property listings, a full service real estate company, and an easy to use site.

With consistently now over 500,000 visitors a month to, and around 50 percent of those from overseas, the site also provided a ‘change language’ option on the front page with eight of the most common languages based on site visitor origins.

Mr Wills noted that the public’s well-known “love affair with property” also meant providing more industry information in order for them to confidently make well-informed property decisions. This was particularly important for overseas buyers who were keen to learn as much as possible about the local market. As a result Harcourts’ popular online ‘Newsroom’ which included news releases and specialist market and client newsletters was now accessible from the front page of the website.

Mr Wills said as well as considering the implication of coming trends, the focus was still on delivering an exceptional experience to website visitors in order to better meet increasingly sophisticated needs and wants of today’s time-poor consumers.

Global Trends Influence Update of # 1 Real Estate Website cont…

Harcourts' ongoing lead in the highly competitive 'e-real estate' revolution has seen it retain its number one spot as the most visited real estate group website in the country for a number of years. With a long-term commitment to leading edge industry technology, Harcourts was also the first major real estate group in the country to launch a property website in 1996.

Mr Wills said previous research visits to the United States and Australia found visitors wanted to complete most of their real estate research online before picking up the phone or inspecting property. Four years ago, Harcourts expanded its site to include additional information such as street address, rates, interior/exterior features, and up to six photos of the property, which then evolved to 12 photos.

Mr Wills said the latest innovations continued to be a win-win for both sellers and buyers, with sellers knowing their property was listed on a top website, and buyers enjoying extensive information on each listing.

"The days of driving around in a car viewing house after house are gone. When people are ready to actually go out and visit a property now, they already know it will suit their needs having researched a number of options online.”

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