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Online presence - key to concluding sales

He points to research released last year in the Internet Access in South Africa 2010 study by World Wide Worx, which stated that South African internet users passed the five million mark for the first time in 2010, finally breaking through the 10% mark in internet penetration for the country. The research also indicated that the country’s internet user base grew by 15% in 2009, and it is expected that internet users in South Africa would grow as much between 2009 and 2014 as it had in the 15 years since the internet became commercially available in the country, taking the internet user population to the nine million mark by 2014.

On a more local level, Gavin points to web statistics for property searches as pulled from the www.remax-panache.co.za website. The number of unique users visiting the site increased by 33% year-on-year with 3000 unique users per month recorded in 2010 compared to the 4005 unique users per month recorded in 2011.

“We re-branded our website with a new look and feel last year, and from the month we re-branded, we noticed a 30% increase in visitors. This goes to show that the look and feel of a website needs to be kept fresh to keep attracting people. Companies who have the same website for years and years are falling behind.  It’s not good enough anymore to simply just have an online presence – you need to keep the site fresh and the content up-to-date.”

The number of visits by each unique user per month has also nearly doubled from the 2010 figures, although the number of page visits has dropped by almost half. Gavin says the fact that people are viewing fewer pages per visit is indicative of the market change. “While we had an overload of stock on the market last year, stock levels are lower in 2011 on average than in 2010.”

Gavin notes that in 2010 and so far during 2011, the busiest viewing times were Mondays between 7am and 10am, with the week tailing off quite rapidly, meaning that Thursdays and Fridays are slow viewing days.  “Very little property surfing is done after hours,” he notes.

Majority of visitors were South Africans who accounted for around 80% of all pages viewed, with the UK providing the second largest audience with an average of 5% of all pages viewed. The USA and Germany are always in the top 5 and account for about 4% of monthly page views combined.

Lead generation and the use of integrated technology platforms are two of the 10 trends that will drive the next five years, according to US real estate expert, Steve Murray. Gavin believes that the internet is a key component of the technology platforms that will drive the market and assist in providing agents with buyer and seller leads

“The internet provides an excellent tool for sellers to showcase their property and buyers to search for their ideal home from the comfort of their own home or office. Harnessing the technology and using it effectively will mean the difference between success and failure for many estate agents,” he concludes.

A number of service providers in South Africa compete in the real estate technology space. This includes Entegral (who also run MyProperty), that uses advanced SEO (search engine optimization) techniques to generate more traffic to estate agency websites. For more information on real estate website development and hosting visit www.entegral.net



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