Most modern real estate listing websites host a web map that allow visitors to search for a potential property in the context of its location. If you’ve ever searched for a new home yourself, it is undeniably an overwhelming task. Which is why it’s important to provide an intuitive search experience for visitors.
Most people will utilize websites such as Zillow or Realtor.ca in their search for a new home, as well as with the help of an agent. Websites such as these are competing for the home buyers business and attention. All of them provide a map and allow to filter by price range, location, and other important features such as number of bedrooms or property type. When considering all the needs for their new home, how much does the use of the map affect the buyers decision to take the first step of viewing the home?
In the quest to making it as easy as possible for visitors to find the right property on a webpage, there are quite a few questions to be answered, to help inform us on the user experience.
If a young family needs 5 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and requires a yard for their 7 dogs, and their total budget is $475,000, does the use of a map really assist in finding a home? Do they look where they want to live first, and look at homes for sale in that area, or do they look at what is for sale and then choose where to live? How important are commute times? Or are pictures of the property what hook a buyer to make that first click? When building a real estate website to compete for home owners attention, is it more important to focus on filters and having the most listings or is the map truly an important part of the value proposition?
How long do users spend on the map? Where do they view properties, which properties are actually clicked on and investigated? Are these properties selected through the map or from the pictures streaming down the side?
These unknowns cause a gap in understanding the user experience on the website. If the goal is to disrupt a market leader like Realtor.com then this information might be key in doing so. Or if a market leader is looking to maintain their position as the primary search tool for home buyers, the answers to these questions is even more important.
Everyone’s search for real estate is as unique as their own personal needs. Vital details such as proximity to shopping, or schools can be viewed easily on a map. For others they need to act quickly, have little time for the decision making process due to other stressors, such as relocation for a job. In these scenarios the map becomes less relevant then which properties you see with your realtor, their listings most likely.
However, there are many applications for a robust analytics tool to help track how users interact with a real estate listing web map. For example, viewing and understanding which areas a purchaser is looking, one could optimize the listings they show their potential client.
If you can see your client has looked extensively in a particular subdivision then you can discern information about the client they might not disclose. More importantly, as a real estate the goal is to show a client their dream home, and as few other homes as necessary. By understanding their journey through their listing searches, an agent can suggest the right home sooner.