Hunting for a new home in Ohio? You may want to put a tour of the Internet at the top of your research list.
Simply pull up a search engine, type in real estate agencies and Ohio, then click, scroll and point your way to the offices and offerings of a majority of the states real estate firms.
Most of the states real estate companies have some sort of presence on the Web, says Waleed A. Muhanna, associate professor of management information systems at the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. Another 13 percent are planning to do so within the next two years.
Muhanna, who also serves as interim director of the center for Information Technologies in Management at Fisher College, late last year released results of a telephone survey of real estate firms, conducted in collaboration with the colleges Center for Real Estate Education and Research.
He noted that the number of Ohio real estate firms with a presence on the Internet exploded in the middle of 1999. A study conducted earlier in the year showed only 50 percent had a presence on the Web, and the average age of the Ohio sites is 14 months.
The Internet is quickly becoming the place where customers first look to shop for products and services, Muhanna says. The activity of buying a home is no exception.
He cites statistics from the National Association of Realtors showing that the number of U.S. customers using the Internet to shop for homes rose from only 2 percent in 1995 to 23 percent in 1999. A recent study of home buyers in Ohio showed 73.5 percent had access to the Internet and 38.7 percent used it in some aspect of their home search.
Those Internet searches are turning into profits for real estate firms, he says.
Eighty-eight percent of those we surveyed characterized their presence on the Web as a success, Muhanna says. They found that, on average, they could attribute up to 5.2 percent of gross sales to the Web marketing channel. But when we asked what they expected that percentage to be in the year 2002, their average was 20 percent.
Ohios real estate industry, he says, clearly sees an Internet presence as a competitive necessity.
Muhannas study sought to examine how residential real estate firms in Ohio are attempting to adapt to the new medium and satisfy the growing number of Internet-savvy home buyers. The study is based on telephone interviews of 150 firms randomly selected from a database of 3,200 principal brokers in Ohio, supplied by the Ohio Association of Realtors.