Nielsen Online recently released its second edition of its Australian Property Search Report showing the impact of online accessibility on the real estate industry in Australia. The report explores the way in which Australians search for and research real estate and what resources are vital for this search process.

The findings reveal a strengthening in the importance of online media for all three property consumer segments – buyers, sellers and renters. Just under nine in ten (87%) property buyers head to the internet to support their research and search process, and a similar proportion of renters (85%) do the same. And while Australian property sellers continue to list ‘contact with agents’ as a key resource (79%), they are now far more likely to make use of online resources than they were in 2006.

Despite a notable financial market slow-down since the last such Nielsen Online survey, property buyers’ perceptions of online media’s usefulness have increased over the last two years. In that time, has also further cemented its position as the leading resource for property buyers and is listed as their most likely first port of call when it comes to property research and search.
Sellers are also far more likely to complement direct contact with agents with online research – a shift since 2006.

Report findings show that and Fairfax Digital’s are the most prominent online property brands, with a significant gap to the next most-cited websites – LJ Hooker and Ray White. It is interesting to note that sellers are far more likely to have their property listed on over, despite the two sites being on par as a research resource among sellers. Google is sellers’ third most popular online research resource, and the importance of search engines as a source of awareness of property websites has further strengthened in the last two years. 

The importance of word-of-mouth referral has also grown over the past two years, notably among renters. The report concludes that this bodes well for an expansion of property classifieds into social media, taking advantage of the large social networking sites that can be tapped into online.

Overall results from Nielsen Online Market Intelligence service show a 14% increase in web traffic to real estate websites since September last year and a 2% increase in the time spent on those sites.
In addition, Nielsen Online’s BuzzMetrics analysis of consumer discussion on message boards, blogs and forums indicates that there has been a significant spike in Australians’ chatter about the property market over the past few weeks, most likely driven by the increase to the first home owner’s grant and reductions to interest rates.

Melanie Ingrey, executive research director for Nielsen Online, said:

“The ability to research and search for homes and investment properties online continues to fundamentally affect the way the real estate industry does business with home buyers, sellers and renters in Australia. Online media has gone from strength to strength in this space over the past two years and it looks nowhere near slowing. And there are clearly still further opportunities for the online players – the aggregator sites, the agents, search engines and the relative newcomers, online social networks.”