Those of us who have worked in the online real estate industry are pretty familiar with the seasonality of the traffic patterns. Generally, consumer traffic starts tapering off after school starts in September and then drops dramatically in November and December. But for some reason, right after Christmas and New Year’s Day, traffic starts accelerating.
Consumers start searching for homes online about three to six months before they get serious about buying or selling and contacting an agent. Consumers get back to work on January 2nd and are still shaking off the holiday blues by casually surfing and visiting real estate sites. The first quarter of the year really determines what web site is going to be the most useful to both consumers and real estate professionals.
Though we are in the worst real estate downturn since the 80’s, consumers came back to real estate in a big way. Take a look at the below graphs from Alexa (we need to make the assumption that trends in Alexa are accurate). Nearly every real estate web site experienced a ncie uptick in traffic in the last week. Realtor.com (owned by Move, Inc. and partnered with the National Association of Realtors – NAR) saw the most dramatic gains. VERY SURPRISING. I am not sure why Realtor.com moved so much more than anyone else. I will need to do some research. Anyone have an idea?
The below graph is the tier 1 of online real estate: Realtor.com, Zillow, Remax, Trulia, Homes.com
The below graph is my Tier 2 of online real estate – generally made of companies focused on marketing services, web sites or lead generation for agents. Though it doesn’t show up on the above graph, Homes.com seems to be doing a very nice job in growing their online traffic. Dominion, formerly known as Trader Publications, bought Homes.com in 2002. Homes.com was a survivor of the dotcom boom and bust and was in difficult shape when they were acquired. Since then, traffic has grown nicely. I give Jamie Clymer a lot of credit for his work with Homes.com and Dominion’s real estate businesses.
We’ll keep watching the trends over the first quarter of 2008 to see how the online real estate industry plays out in 2008.