When it comes to buying a home, the Internet truly is the information superhighway, and it has changed the way people shop for a new home, according to Dewey Mitchell, co-owner of Prudential Tropical Realty.
"Statistics from the National Association of Realtors and other trade organizations indicate that 84 percent of buyers start their search for a home on the Internet," Mitchell says.
To keep pace with the changing market trends and to better serve the needs of its clients, Prudential Tropical Realty has developed a number of online initiatives "that will lead people to the homes our sales executives have listed in the Tampa Bay area," Mitchell explains.
A major presence on Realtor.com, one of the largest Web sites in the world for real estate, is essential for marketing homes in the digital age, Mitchell says.
"We have a showcase feature on Realtor.com, which means that our listings appear at the top of search results, which has been very successful for us, and we are excited about that," Mitchell says. "In addition, Prudential has created several strategic Web alliances with online media such as Google, Oodle, Cyberhomes, Yahoo, HGTVFrontDoor, PropSmart, Zillow, Trulia, EDR (Environmental Data Resources) and RealtyTrac. Our inventory gets picked up by all of those different search engines. We are tying to get our listing inventory exposed to the widest audience, and I believe we have accomplished that."
The Prudential Tropical Realty Web site is part of the Reliance Network, which services more than 40,000 Realtors nationwide. Mitchell says it's another important element of the company's commitment to Internet marketing.
"Our Web site is very functional and user-friendly," Mitchell says. "It provides for each individual sales executive within the company to have his or her own personal Web site. For the consumer, it is very easy to use and to navigate, and it includes Google mapping with satellite views, neighborhood demographics and school information as well as photos, virtual tours and videos of the listings."
Although Prudential Tropical Realty has not abandoned traditional ways of marketing real estate and providing information to consumers about properties and communities, Mitchell says the change in how consumers shop for a home is significant.
The company's Web presence is a way to make it easier for consumers to be able to peruse inventory and to contact the appropriate Prudential Tropical Realty sales executive, he says.
"It used to be that part of the sales executive's job was to educate the consumer about the neighborhoods they are interested in," Mitchell explains. "Now consumers generally get most of that information on their own, both online as well as through traditional sources, before they even talk to a sales executive. Consumers are looking for a home as much as a year to a year and a half in advance of the actual purchase. They are studying the demographics and the community in which they want to live."
Mitchell considers the shift in the way consumers gather information about the housing market and communities of interest to be a good thing, which is a key reason for Prudential Tropical Realty's efforts to provide as much pertinent information online as possible.
"The more informed that consumers are, the more comprehensive the sales executive can be," Mitchell explains. "Sales executives can spend more time looking for a specific house that meets the consumers needs rather than first having to spend time determining what those needs are."
As for the recent concerns over the economy and the housing market, Mitchell says that buying a home still makes good financial sense.
"I think the market is very healthy for those who are looking to buy a home as a dwelling, as well as for those who are looking to sell a home," he adds. "Prices are no longer what I would call over inflated. Plus our mortgage partner, Capstone Mortgage, is part of Wells Fargo, which was recently named one of the 10 safest banks in the world."
For information, call 1-888-778-8258 or visit www.prudentialtropical.com.