Mobile technology, the Internet, and social media tools have transformed the home buying process and the way REALTORS® and their clients do business, but these tools still can’t discount the value REALTORS® bring to a transaction.

Findings from the California Association of REALTORS®’ “2014 Survey of California Home Buyers” show 91 percent of those surveyed said they used a mobile device to access the Internet during the course of their home purchase. Buyers used their mobile devices to look for comparable home prices (78 percent), search for homes (45 percent), and take photos of neighborhoods, homes, and amenities (43 percent).

David Tonna, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, says due to advances in mobile technology, most buyers and sellers expect instant response from their agent, preferring to communicate by email and even text messaging. “No other form of communication puts us in constant contact with each other,” says Tonna.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, 94 percent of REALTORS® nationwide now use mobile devices to communicate with clients. REALTORS® spend a median 44 percent of their time corresponding with, or doing work for their clients via their mobile devices.

Additionally, more than three-fourths of home buyers used social media in their home search, up from 52 percent who used it in 2011. Buyers said they primarily used social media to obtain buying tips and suggestions from friends (44 percent), neighborhood information (44 percent), and to view their agents’ Facebook pages (42 percent). The survey indicates with the increased use of social media, fewer buyers “Googled” their agent (50 percent in 2014, down from 68 percent in 2013), turning to agents’ Facebook pages instead.

REALTORS® see the importance of maintaining an Internet presence and using the new technologies to meet their clients’ needs, but also place focus on forging a personal relationship with their clients. “While using mobile technology to respond to clients, it should never take the place of being personally accessible to your client. A strong, personal relationship is still at the heart of every business,” says Tonna.

Tonna adds, “REALTORS® know their market and are experienced in handling the particular needs of home buyers. A REALTOR® can provide you with invaluable help in identifying homes and neighborhoods, negotiating for the best deal, coordinating the multitude of steps between contract acceptance and close of the transaction.”

Buyers, too, need to be aware that all real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate than other real estate licensees.

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