‘For Rent’ Queries Overtake ‘For Sale’ Queries

In the real estate space, rent search terms surpassed the market share than sale terms in 2009, according to Hitwise Real Estate Weekly Reports, a seeming online reflection of the housing crisis. Are there a few terms that are swinging the tally or is the long tail responsible? In either case, what does this mean for marketing your properties online?

hitwise Search Term Market Share ‘For Rent’ Queries Overtake ‘For Sale’ Queries

Last week, we took a look at two Hitwise’s Monthly Category Reports for the real estate industry, one from December 2009 and one from July 2008. In the interest of full disclosure, we were mostly interested in how MyNewPlace was ranking among the other real estate websites. MyNewPlace entered the top 20 in July 2008 at nineteen and by December 2009, we ranked number eleven.

Today, we wanted to take an in depth look at another section of the Hitwise report, the ‘Search Term’ section. We wanted to see what had changed over the course of 2009, so we pulled weekly reports from January 2009, July 2009 and January 2010.

As prologue let’s define an important term that we will use throughout this analysis, ‘market share’. By Market Share we mean the percentage of the 10 million internet users sampled by Hitwise whose search queries resulted in a click to one of the thousands of sites that Hitwise categorizes as in the Real Estate Category. We will also be looking at rank (of the top 1000 search terms) and number of terms that include a certain phrase (think broad match) as well as exact phrases. Here is what we found:

First, we wanted to get an overall feel for how real estate search terms are divided between internet users who are buying versus users looking to rent. We compared the market share of the sum of all terms that include ‘sale’ against the sum of the market share of search terms that include ‘rent’. We found that the sum of the market share of ‘sale’ terms declined slightly from 2.74 percent to 2.53 percent, while the sum of the market share of ‘for rent’ terms increased 46 percent, from 1.96 percent to 2.86 percent.

hitwise real estate search terms number ‘For Rent’ Queries Overtake ‘For Sale’ Queries

Second, we wanted to see the number of terms that included ‘sale’ and ‘rent.’ A few such terms were homes for sale, remax house for sale, for sale by owner, home for sale in Waterbury, furnished apartments for rent, rental home, Chicago apartments for rent, etc. As can be seen above, the number of ‘sale’ terms, which decreased by 12, is still higher than the number of ‘rent’ terms, which increased by 16. (NOTE- out of top 1000 search terms)

This means that market share per search term for ‘sale’ terms was .02 percent throughout the time period while ‘rent’ terms grew from .020 percent to .025 percent. So what the hell does this mean? Basically, that of the top 1000 search terms, ‘rent’ terms have more weight or more search volume than do ‘sale’ terms. This indicates that the for sale online vertical has a longer tail than the rental vertical. We are going to need to get more granular and check out some more graphs.

We’ll pick up the discussion tomorrow as we take a look at some head terms, specifically, homes for rent versus homes for sale. Also, we’ll look at the prodigious growth of ‘apartments for rent’ and take a look at permutations to see whether this report accounts for the long tail at all.

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