Buying or Remodeling: Advice is Just a Click Away

North Americans love their toys, and we’re turning to our devices for advice on everything from remodelling projects to home searches. According to a recent study by Google and a real estate association, real estate searches on Google.com have increased by 253 percent in the past four years.

“Increasingly, online technologies are driving offline behaviours,” noted Patrick Grandinetti, head of real estate for Google, “and homebuying is no exception.”

Buyers screen homes on the Internet

The study indicated that nine out of ten home buyers turned to the Internet during their home search. Although half launched their search online, they quickly moved offline; 76 percent viewed or drove by a home they’d first seen on the Internet.

The real estate industry is very much on side. For players, it’s all about providing buyers with new tools to access property and neighbourhood information, and rather than discouraging personal interface between buyer and real estate agent, most purchasers still seek out agents for their experience and expertise; interestingly, almost one-third found their agent online.

“See” your planned renovation online

It doesn’t stop there. Recently, there’s been a boom in remodelling projects, and, of course, there’s an app for that. Homeowners contemplating a renovation have turned to the Internet for advice for several years. But new approaches by sites such as Digs and Houzz are changing the dynamics. Both offer platforms for consumers, design professionals, product manufacturers, and architects to interact as part of a visually-focused online community. You can share photos of products or designs with your architect or contractor or “meet” with the designer online and book your re-build right then and there. As one consumer, whose remodelled kitchen was designed by an architect she met on Houzz, notes: “It’s positively addictive.”

Google’s Grandinetti would likely agree. For him and other experts, it’s just another example of online technology driving offline behaviour.