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  Industry News

Reprinted courtesy of Nielsen//NetRatings.


Lower-Income Households Capture Fastest Growing Group at Online Real Estate Sites

NEW YORK– May 16, 2005 – Nielsen//NetRatings, the global standard for Internet audience measurement and analysis, reported today that the continued interest in home and rental properties compelled 21.6 million Web surfers, or 15 percent of the active Internet population, to visit a real estate or apartment site during April 2005, spiking 26 percent from 17.1 million visitors six months ago.

The top 10 real estate and apartment sites collectively grew 54 percent from 8.2 million during November 2004 to 12.6 million visitors during April 2005, driven by today’s hot real estate market.

Realtor.com, which boasted more than two million listings, attracted the largest audience with close to six million unique visitors, compared to second-place Home Gain, which drew more than three million unique visitors in April 2005 (see Table 1). AOL Real Estate, rounding out the top three sites, enticed nearly three million prospective home buyers and renters to browse online listings and read articles; as a result, the site skyrocketed 212 percent.

ForSaleByOwner.com drew nearly a million unique visitors, jumping 142 percent from six months prior, suggesting consumers are taking home selling into their own hands.

“Savvy Internet users are leveraging online resources for real estate purchasing and selling,” said Iris Cumberbatch, senior financial services analyst, Nielsen//NetRatings. “Because of the widespread net cast by the Internet, home sellers are using local online classifieds, such as Craigslist, to sell their homes, and home buyers are accessing sites such as Realtor.com to conduct their own property research.”

“While most homes are still bought or sold via real estate agencies, consumers surfing the Web have more direct and better access to real estate property information than they had previously, arming them with information with which they can make more informed buying or selling decisions,” continued Cumberbatch.

Table 1. Six-Month Growth of Top 10 Real Estate/Apartments Sites (U.S., Home & Work)

Site April 2005
Audience (000)
November 2004
Audience (000)
Six-month Growth
Realtor.com 5,753 4,270 35%
Home Gain 3,133 2,356 33%
AOL Real Estate 2,670 855 212%
RealtyTrac 1,515 782 94%
Rent.com 1,366 733 86%
Yahoo! Real Estate 1,320 806 64%
Century 21 1,132 604 87%
forsalebyowner.com 990 409 142%
RealEstate.com 893 628 42%
RentNet 890 603 48%
Source:Nielsen//NetRatings, May2005

Making the Money Work

Nielsen//NetRatings reported an overall jump in visitors from all income brackets to real estate and apartment sites during April 2005. Lower-income households earning up to $25K showed the most significant growth with a million potential home buyers and renters viewing a real estate or apartment site last month, marking a 47 percent leap during the past six months (see Table 2).

More than six million visitors, or the bulk of real estate surfers, earned a household income between $50-$75K jumping 32 percent from November 2004. Households with income of more than $150K rounded out the top three fastest growing income groups.

Table 2. Household Income of Real Estate/Apartments Site Visitors (U.S., Home & Work)

Household Income
April 2005 Unique Audience (000)

Six-month Growth
$0-24,999 1,000 47%
$50,000-74,999 6,179 32%
$150,000+ 2,254 29%

3,983 24%
$100,000-149,999 3,919 22%
$25,000-49,999 3,966 20%
Source:Nielsen//NetRatings, May2005

Cumberbatch added, “Given the less-than-stellar returns from the stock market, property sales increased as an alternative investment to capitalize on the near historical low interest rates. Tenured surfers were more comfortable searching online, especially in major metropolitan cities where demand still exceeds the supply of available homes.”


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