‘CLICKS’ + MORTAR: Has the internet really made home buying easier?

If you ask today’s over-50s about shopping for their first property, you’ll likely encounter stories of flicking through local papers, scanning for sale signs around town and entering the weekend ritual of open homes.

Of course times have since changed, and so too have methods of finding and purchasing property in Australia. From millennials to boomers, the average home seeker will today start their search through one or two of the major players – Domain.com.au and Realestate.com.au – and form their opinion about a property from photo galleries, online descriptions, virtual walk-throughs and Google Maps data.  

There’s no question that the internet has transformed how we buy, but is it a clever strategy to ‘go digital’ for the process – and can you really tell a book by its cover?

Regardless of what you’re browsing for, the one commonality that online shopping has in many industries is its capacity to bypass the strongest source of information – the experts at the forefront. This could be a shopkeeper with details of the next sale; a local grocer who can help to identify where a product is from; or in real estate, a highly specialised local agent who can point out features of a property that aren’t visible to the eye. 

In almost every case, what you’re really bypassing is an opportunity for personalised service, and to have a meaningful conversation with an experienced associate who can provide solutions and walk you through the transaction (as opposed to relying on a chat box, Google search or having to juggle the options on your own).

Sure, online marketplaces are convenient, valuable tools in a time-poor era… but let’s face it, did that automated phone assistant really provide the answer you were looking for? 

And while flexibility can be a benefit of shopping online, the reality is that in real estate, it can be at the cost of significant off-market opportunities. 

Although it’s typically assumed that every property will be listed online, this isn’t the case at all. In fact, off-market listings can account for up to 50% of all deals today, according to the Australian Financial Review. So while the tendency may be to believe that there isn’t any stock available, if you’ve limited your search to Domain or realestate.com, you could be missing out on a pretty significant slice of the pie.

What’s more, if you’ve ever attended an open only to be surprised by how different the property feels, you’ll already know that photos tell just half of the story – and that the best way to gain a true sense of space and character is to physically visit the property yourself.

In the end, finding and securing the right home can come down to casting a wider net. If you’re serious about buying a property and weeding out competition, by all means do your research and start your browsing online – but don’t end your search there. Even in a digital age, there’s still much more to be said about attending opens in-person, speaking to agents with a specialised knowledge of the area, and signing up to be first in line for pre-market or off-market listings. 

If your goal is to make the best choice possible, consulting your local agent and having them support you through the buying process is the only way forward – if you never ask, you’ll never know!

Want more on buying?

Get in touch with your local Prudential Real Estate office below:

Prudential Real Estate Campbelltown | (02) 4628 0033 | campbelltown@prudential.com.au

Prudential Real Estate Liverpool | (02) 9822 5999 | liverpool@prudential.com.au

Prudential Real Estate Macquarie Fields |  (02) 9605 5333 | macquariefields@prudential.com.au

Prudential Real Estate Narellan | (02) 4624 4400 | narellan@prudential.com.au