Making the most of digital marketing

More people than ever before are house-hunting on the web. This means that good online marketing is key if you want your home to get noticed.

Research released in January by Google and the American National Association of Realtors found that real estate-related searches on have grown by 253% over the past four years.
In South Africa, research from bond originator ooba shows that more than half of first-time home buyers are in their early 30s, meaning they have likely used the internet for all of their adult lives. And, when looking for a home, they are going to go to use a search engine like Google to do so.

'Many people, even agents, think that marketing a home on the web is as easy as posting an image and a description of the home on an agency's website or even a classifieds site. It's actually quite an in-depth process and, to do it effectively, you need to understand online marketing,' says Brendan Miller of Lew Geffen Sotheby's International Realty.

The effective online marketing of property relies on an integrated approach. This includes using search engine optimisation (SEO) to drive a website up in Google's search rankings so that the consumer sees it listed first, websites that are adapted to mobile platforms for ease of use on mobile phones, and high quality, professionally taken images of homes.

'There's no point posting an image of a recently refurbished kitchen on a website if the image has a kettle or something else that's not relevant to the image in the foreground, for example. A professional photographer will be able to take appropriate images, which should be edited to show off a property at its best.'
Websites must also be easy to use and easy on the eye. Too much text can put people off, so make sure that you find the website easy to read and use. If you do, it's likely that others will too. Make sure that the website works on your mobile phone, too. The majority of South Africans access the web on their cell phones, but not all websites work well on a mobile platform. If your home is listed on a website that doesn't work on mobile, you could be missing out on thousands of prospective buyers.

'Home sellers need to empower themselves and know the kinds of details to expect - even demand - from agencies that are marketing their homes online. This is the only way, in a changing world, they can best guarantee a quick sale as close to their asking price as possible,' says Miller.

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