Online Real Estate Traffic Off to the Races

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

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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.

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We’ll keep watching the trends over the first quarter of 2008 to see how the online real estate industry plays out in 2008.

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Are You Managing Yourself Online?

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Facebook created the social newsfeed and has revolutionized how consumers ingest information.  I check my Facebook profile a couple times a day (if not more) to see what others are doing on the whole.   The news feed model has spread like wildfire through the fabric of the social networking world and now there are probably at least one hundred various social networks doing something similar, integrating with Facebook or betting on Google Open Social.  Though I have not been a big fan of Plaxo in the past, I think the Plaxo Pulse has done the best job of integrating lots of different social networks and social information sharing resources while challenging LinkedIn’s dominance (allowing me to integrate my LinkedIn profile with Plaxo – brilliant.)

Managing all these identities with different people involved in different networks with different information is challenging.  Google my full name “Nikesh Parekh” and you get:

  • Nikesh Parekh’s LinkedIn Profile
  • Nikesh Parekh’s Blogger Profile (which I started in 2005 and never really developed)
  • Nikesh Parekh’s ActiveRain profile
  • Nikesh Parekh’s Naymz profile (signed up for but never really finished)
  • Nikesh’s Zoominfo profile
  • Nikesh Parekh’s Amazon profile
  • Nikesh Parekh’s Spoke profile
  • Nikesh’s Facebook profile
  • Finally on Page 3 – Nikesh Parekh’s Blog

Anyways, my point being, more and more people are using the Internet and Google as their primary source for information.  Management of your personal search results and consistency of information across social networks seems like a core problem that more and more people are going to run into.  In the process of trying to “share” my blog with others, I had to log into at least four different social outlets (just to start): Facebook, Plaxo, LinkedIn, and Digg. 

I know there are lots of companies going after either 1) being the dominant social network or 2) creating an integrated social network platform to make it easier for people to manage their information.   Brad Feld wrote a good blog here on “Friend Integration” which is not exactly my pain point, but it is interesting nonetheless.

My gut tells me there has got to be a better way, there are lots of opportunities here and a big need beyond the two opportunities above.  Any other thoughts?