Home movers swear by the internet

The Internet has become firmly established as a prime tool for moving house, with almost six house-hunters out of ten using the web to find properties, according to new research by the property portal Rightmove.co.uk.

Four out of five people view at least one house that they have seen online and a quarter of all buyers first see their future home on an online property site. Home shoppers aged between 25 and 40 are most likely to buy a property they have seen on the Internet.

A massive 58% of respondents thought that the Internet was a more effective way of marketing a property than advertising in local newspapers, while 31% thought the two methods were comparable. Only 11% of people found newspapers more effective.

Respondents preferred the Internet because of its immediacy (“there’s no need to wait for the paper to come out” and “I can see new properties daily”), because of its accessibility (“the Internet is much easier to search”) and because of the higher quality presentation and content (“the properties look more alive on the computer” and “there is just more detail”).

Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove.co.uk, says: “The survey shows that the Internet has become an essential means by which house-hunters look for properties to buy, whether it’s web sites run by estate agents or property portals such as Rightmove and its competitors. Over 90% of estate agents market properties on the web either directly or indirectly, and the Internet is rapidly becoming the prime tool for people looking for a property to buy. For the under 40s, the web tends to be the first port of call for many house-hunters.”

“The Internet comes into its own for people who are moving out of their local area to places they do not know very well – we found that 10% of people move between 5 and 10 miles but more than a quarter (26%) move more than 10 miles”, continues Miles Shipside. “That may mean that they are no longer within the coverage area of their local paper. Being able to search online for properties, review the pictures and read full property details means that people get a good idea of what the property is like from the comfort of their home or office – without using any shoe leather! It’s quick and efficient, and saves everyone time and hassle – the purchaser, vendor and estate agent.”

Serious home buyers who see a property they like online prefer to telephone the estate agent marketing the property in order to arrange a viewing or get more information – with two-thirds of them picking up the phone rather than emailing the agent or visiting their office.

The survey found that 77% of house-hunters find the property they wish to buy in less than 3 months, 16% take between 3 and 6 months and 4% take between 6 and 9 months. “The vast majority of us – more than three-quarters – find the right home to buy in less than 3 months, but for a tiny minority – 3% – finding a property takes as long as having a baby,” says Miles Shipside.