THE rise of the digital age has brought many benefits to businesses and consumers alike. As the world moves at a faster technological pace, consumer behaviour is changing with regard to the steps a consumer would take prior to making a purchase.
In the case of real estate, technology has enabled real estate firms and individual agents to list their properties on the worldwide web using specific domains. Online portals such as the newly revamped Star Property portal have provided property buyers with comprehensive information to assist in the decision-making process.
Effective Measure country managing director for the Philippines Maria Java (pic) says the portal is an end-to-end solution site that comprises useful information for property buyers, sellers and agents alike.
StarProperty.my includes new features such as the “Easy Search” function, research function and optimised view. Java commends the site for its technology platform and comprehensive information, although she adds that it all comes down to the users, that is, if they have the skill to use the data that is provided.
“From the consumers' perspective, the formidable platform benefits consumers as it is both engaging and interactive,” she says after her talk at the launch of the portal.
Her talk focused on understanding the behaviour of next-generation buyers.
Effective Measure is a digital media planning solution provider to emerging markets such as Malaysia. Recent statistics from the company had shown that about 56% of the Malaysian population are “online” now.
This means that about 16 million Malaysians have access to the worldwide web. It is notable this represents a 3.32% increase month-on-month, with about 1.8 Internet devices per person.
About 65% of digital users are between the ages of 25 and 50. The statistics show that the digital reach extends further than audiences purely from Generation Y.
“This includes Generation X, who are now young parents. These are the people who are typically looking at the market for property.
“There is a need to address not only the decision-maker of each household. Malaysians make decisions as a family unit,” Java says.
Although up to 36% have access to the Internet on mobile devices, only 17% of those “online” access the web via smartphones or tablets.
As Malaysia strives towards becoming a high-income nation by the year 2020, its citizens' affluence is also on the rise. Effective Measure found that those who are “online” earn RM4,500 to RM15,000 per month. Those of certain affluence are typically well educated, hence have been more exposed to the digital world.
The average number of times Malaysians visit property sites per month is 2.8 times. “About 1.3 million Malaysians visited property-related sites in October 2012,” Java said in her talk at the launch of the revamped StarProperty.my portal at the end of November.
Real estate websites have the potential to garner more interest from netizens (Internet citizens).
Effective Measure conducted a survey on digital Malaysian consumer sentiment for the month of October. The sample size was capped at 250 responses for the survey while the demographic data is based on Effective Measure's Malaysian sample size of 87,207 for October.
The survey found that 55% owned either a residential or commercial property. Interestingly, of those who participated in the survey, only 19% were looking to buy a property in the next 12 months. Those that were not sure made up 37% of those surveyed.
“This could mean that they are still researching real estate. The StarProperty.my website provides them with the dream and aspiration,” Java says.
The remaining 44% surveyed said they were not in the market to buy any property within the next year.
Meanwhile, 42% of the participants indicated that the next property they purchase will be utilised as an investment. The other major portion making up for 46% said their next property would be to live in.
Another area Effective Measure highlighted in the survey was the type of property people were interested in purchasing. Of the total participants, 24% opted for terrace, link or townhouses.
Those who were interested in condominiums or serviced residences made up 21%, while those interested in apartments came up to 18% of those surveyed. A total of 17% showed interest in semi-detached houses or bungalows, while 12% indicated that commercial property is at the top of their list. Only 8% were interested in purchasing residential land.
With all this information, it has become easier to gauge consumer behaviour and interpret data, says Java.
“What is useful is that an ecosystem for content can be built using this data, to provide consumers with better access and value in information. This could increase the likelihood of closing a sale,” she adds.
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