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Embracing real estate technology for the modern agent

House for Sale

The Internet is a vital aspect of the home-buying experience for both the real estate agent and the potential homeowner. Real estate technology continues to parallel the advancements seen in the overall e-commerce world. State-of-the-art realty websites deliver a wide range of rich media content: external and internal images of for-sale houses, video walk-throughs of properties currently on the market, and quick access to relevant real estate metadata, like neighborhood and school information.

Additionally, searching for a house on the Internet in the first place requires fast access to geographic data, providing the home buyer a seamless experience as they zoom into a specific region or navigate from city to city. Real estate firms who don’t invest in the technology behind their website run the risk of home shoppers leaving for a competitor’s site when presented with a substandard website experience.

Home buyers increasingly turn to the Internet

Ninety percent of home buyers search for homes online, with 52 percent making the Internet their first step when beginning their search, according statistics from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), as reported by real estate marketing company Properties Online. Forty-two percent of buyers found their new home through an online source. The web plays a vital role when searching for a real estate agent as well: 70 percent of home buyers used the Internet to research a potential agent.

The NAR also released a study with Google that showed a 253 percent increase in real estate queries on the Web search giant in the four years prior to January 2013. There remains little doubt: The days of perusing the newspaper for home listings are gradually waning. Any real estate agency that wants to stay in business needs to embrace the best in Internet technology.

Videos and images an important part of real estate technology

According to Properties Online, videos are one of the leading trends in real estate technology helping to enhance home marketing. Potential home buyers expect to be able to embark on a virtual walk-through of any property that interests them. This rich media content is easily shared on social media websites, helping properties gain momentum on the Internet. Additionally, videos can also include testimonials from the agent as well as their previous clients.

Property images also play a large role in attracting the potential home buyer. These photos need to be as large as possible, with at least HD-quality resolution, portraying the house and surrounding yard in the best possible light. The interface for navigating the images must be easy to use and work equally well on desktop and mobile devices; HTML5 compatibility helps provide a state-of-the-art experience.

An easy-to-use website on both mobile and desktop platforms is a must

Home buyers are also increasingly using their mobile devices when shopping for a home. This fact was noted in the NAR’s study with Google, which showed that 45 percent of home buyers used a mobile device at some point in the process. With the number of smartphone and tablet computer users growing, expect this percentage to trend upwards over time.

Real estate websites need to render properly in both a desktop browser window and on a mobile device. Since many mobile shoppers are using either a 3G or 4G connection with less bandwidth than a typical home Internet connection, realtors must ensure that their rich media content — property images, video walk-throughs, etc. — downloads quickly for mobile device users. Once again, there is a real risk of a potential home buyer leaving for a competitor’s website when presented with substandard real estate technology.

Choosing a technology partner to help provide a superior Web experience

Finding technology partners to facilitate a top-notch real estate website is a must for the smart realtor. A technical team experienced in Web design can architect an intuitive website that works seamlessly on both desktop and mobile platforms. More important, however, is finding a partner that can ensure the website and its rich media content download quickly no matter the home buyer’s location — enter the content delivery network (CDN).

CDNs are able to accelerate Web page downloads and deliver rich media content faster than normal Web hosting. The best content delivery networks use TCP-anycast routing to offload traffic from the real estate website servers to the CDN’s networks, which improves latency and reliability and results in a website experience 10 times faster than typical web hosting. Property video walk-throughs and other related media gain access to the Internet’s most important peering points, ensuring fast access and download speeds no matter the home buyer’s location.

A CDN’s support for a wide array of media formats means the content is compatible with laptops, desktops, and mobile devices on all major platforms. A 100 percent service level agreement (SLA) gives potential home buyers access to real estate listings whenever they decide to go house hunting.

With advancements in real estate technology following the overall trend towards providing high-quality video and images over broadband Internet networks, realtors can’t afford to be left behind with an outdated website. Research a partnership with a content delivery network today.

Photo credit: Flickr

The role of CDNs in marketing strategies for real estate companies

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As real estate marketing strategies evolve, CDNs become vital for solid customer engagement.

Technology plays a major role in marketing strategies for real estate companies. The number of older individuals selling their properties to become permanent renters is on the rise, according to The Guardian. Although the number of first-time home buyers is reaching the highest level since 2007, one-third of renters are now over 41 years old.

These trends indicate a fundamental shift in the industry, and as it shifts, real estate companies are changing their marketing strategies accordingly. Video marketing for real estate agents is important, but with renting on the rise, agents are getting more creative with how they use this technology to engage their customers.

Customized marketing strategies

Nest Realty provides their customers with video area guides in their “Live Where You Love” series. They have taken virtual content to the next level by incorporating interactive neighborhood reference material into their brand. Other companies have digital slide shows, streaming video, and even downloadable local food guides on their websites. The focus has shifted to delivering area information as well as home-buying data to customers, selling a living experience rather than just a property. These tactics ensure that they are engaging customers on opposite ends of the spectrum: both new homeowners and retirees looking to sell to become long-term renters.

The role CDNs play

Imagine that you are looking for a place to live. You’ve narrowed it down to a few different places and want to learn more about each community before you begin looking for a home. You hear about a great website that has interactive neighborhood video guides with lots of information on the areas you need to research, so you head over to their real estate site. Unfortunately, the videos freeze up, image galleries don’t load, and you aren’t able to download any files. Naturally, in frustration, you look elsewhere.

What happened?

Heavy website traffic can overload smaller infrastructures, causing lag and downtime for users. CDNs allow websites to handle larger amounts of traffic, providing extra support when their clients need it without the high cost of purchasing their own equipment. By accessing the nearest available data centers, CDNs complement existing servers and allow customers to only pay for the extra access they need. CDNs are the powerhouse for high-level marketing strategies like those used to provide customized virtual content to real estate customers.

As these technology trends continue to become more sophisticated, top-notch web acceleration solutions will be vital for customer engagement.

Photo credit: Stock.xchng

Improve virtual house tours with a CDN

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By using virtual house tours, you can increase sales with minimal legwork on your end.

One of real estate agents’ biggest challenges is providing enticing virtual house tours so that customers can view any of the homes in which they are interested without needing to travel from location to location. Although virtual tours are effective tools for most agents, they tend to be resource-intensive, causing slow image-load times, which makes it difficult for buyers to view property details. A content delivery network (CDN) is a must-have for any agent who wants to implement virtual home tours successfully.

What is a content delivery network?

A content delivery network can complement existing servers so real estate agents’ websites can better provide users with high-quality virtual house tours, which are vital for an agent’s website to stand out from the crowd. Because a successful property listing typically requires providing the customer with an easily accessible and thorough view of the home, the agent’s website will be filled with multimedia files which must be loaded rapidly to assist the customer in their purchasing decision.

High-performance servers tend to be expensive, but a CDN can achieve high speeds without breaking the bank. CDN systems allow users to purchase access to servers in specified regions so the site is optimized for visitors in a designated sales territory rather than the entire world. For example, an agent who primarily sells homes in New York City may want to purchase server access on the East Coast.

By using this geographic targeting approach, agents can ensure that they are paying only for services that enhance their business by increasing website speed for qualified customers. Additionally, because many CDN providers offer monthly retainers, agents can scale their services based on seasonal demand.

Choosing a content delivery network vendor

Although CDN systems sound intimidating, they are fairly simple to integrate. Many reputable content delivery network vendors will work with customers to ensure that the technology can be incorporated with ease with or without an IT team.

Photo credit: sxc.hu

Serving real estate images fast is a must for websites

A house in Altoona

The Internet definitely changed the landscape for real estate agents. Home buyers can now easily browse hundreds of listings in their area as they look for their dream home. With so much information available, buyers expect realty websites to display real estate images as quickly as possible. If they don’t, they risk the buyer moving on to a faster site to find their home.

And it’s not just images that need to load quickly. The online video revolution means many real estate sites now use videos to provide a more thorough view of homes for sale. Videos take up much more bandwidth than images, so Internet performance needs to be great in order to accommodate them.

A 2008 study by the Aberdeen Group showed that a one second delay in the loading time of a Web page meant 11 percent fewer page views, and a customer satisfaction decrease of 16 percent decrease. Overall, it led to a 7 percent loss in conversions. That study was five years ago; since that time, expectations of fast load times have only increased.

If a realty website depends on rich media to provide a superior shopping experience for home buyers, investing in the site’s performance is a must. Partnering with a content delivery network helps ensure a real estate website’s performance is top notch.

Leveraging a content delivery network (CDN) for the best Internet performance

Smart realty companies partner with a leading content delivery network (CDN) as part of their website architecture strategy to ensure their sites load quickly. They know that a potential home buyer’s eyes are fleeting, and they will quickly leave if presented with slow loading images or lagging video. A CDN providing state of the art Web acceleration technology is a must in the competitive world of realty. A top CDN provides a host of features, including superior TCP routing, optimized data transfer, and caching. This results in real estate images and other media loading at up to 10x faster speeds than without Web acceleration.

When developing a real estate site that features a host of rich media content, leveraging the technical horsepower of a content delivery network is a must for providing potential customers with a robust, interactive shopping experience.

Image source: Flickr.