A growing number of consumers use the cell phone as their primary internet access tool and that means buying and selling homes is more and more often about real estate apps that deliver.
African Americans, young adults, and Latinos, in that order are big target markets.
“Cell Internet Use’” the latest Pew Internet and American Life Project research conducted by the Pew Research Center found that, as of April 2012, 88 percent of U.S. adults own a cell phone.
More than half of these cell phone owners, 55 percent, use their phone to go online, a notable increase from April 2009 when only 31 percent of Pew-labeled “cell internet users (CIUs)” used their cell phone to go online.
Among CIUs, 31 percent of them are “cell mostly internet users (CMIU)” who go online using their cell phone, rather than a desktop or laptop computer.
That works out to about 17 percent of all adult cell owners who are CMIUs – those who use their phone for most of their online browsing.
“Because things can and do move so quickly, it’s important to have an agent who uses cutting-edge technology to stay on top of things. A good agent will know how to set up automated searches that will email you the moment a hot property becomes available,” said Julie Holden a real estate agent with JB Goodwin Realtors in Austin, TX.
There is such a wide variety of high tech tools to help agents, it’s smart to choose someone who will use these tools to your advantage,” Holden also said.
Certain demographic groups are even more likely to be CMIUers.
• More than half (51 percent) of African-American CIUs do most of their online browsing on their phone, as CMIUS double the proportion for whites (24 percent).
• Nearly half of all 18-29 year old CIUs (45 percent) are CMIUs who do most of their online browsing on their mobile device.
• Two in five Latino CIUs (42 percent) likewise are CMIUs who favor their cell phone over laptops and desktops for online browsing.
Additionally, those with an annual household income of less than $50,000 per year and those who have not graduated college are more likely than those with higher levels of income and education to use their phones for most of their online browsing.
Why do CIUs become CMIUers?
• Convenience – “It’s an appendage. At any given time, I’m going to have cell phone on me. I may leave my tablet and my laptop in my car or at home, but I’m going to have my smart phone with me,” said David Contreras, a real estate consultant with Keller Williams – Silicon Valley Team.
“You get out there with a buyer and you are showing a home and the buyer asks what else is available in the area. Even if I was only prepared to show this one property, I simply push a button and it shows me what’s available in different areas. It makes all the difference in the world,” Contrearas added.
• Lifestyle – CIUs aren’t creating graphics, generating spreadsheets or writing dissertations, tasks better suited for more advanced devices. They are primarily searching and connecting. You don’t need a laptop, desktop or even a tablet for these tasks
• Access Cost – CIUs with tight budgets say it’s a lot cheaper to access the internet with a cell phone than buying a computer or laptop and an internet access subscription. Cell phones level the playing field of online access.
Mary Hutchison, an agent with Prudential Honor Society in Kansas City, KS says technology is key, provided the users is up on the basics.
“Although being up to date on technology is important in any industry, there is no substitute for experience regarding a real estate agent for a buyer. You want an agent who knows (and preferably lives) in the area you are interested in; someone who has toured and sold several homes in the neighborhood and can tell you about the ‘bones’ of the home what were the characteristics of these homes when they were built? have these homes retained value? are there many rentals nearby? etc.,” Hutchison said.