Realtors are jumping on the technology bandwagon, building more Web sites, investing more money and generating more leads online, according to a study released Thursday by the National Association of Realtors.

In the 2006 Realtor Technology Study, which surveyed 719 brokers, agents and agent assistants in February, the number of Realtors with Web sites jumped 129 percent over the past five years.

This year, 56 percent of agents spent more than $1,000 apiece on technology and 30 percent spent $2,000 or more, according to the study. In addition, 16 percent of agents and 28 percent of brokers are now spending more than $1,000 annually on their Web sites, the study said.

The number of Realtorswith personal business Web sites jumped 129 percent in 2006, zooming to 71 percent of the respondents, compared with 31 percent of those responding to a 2002 survey.

The study suggests a connection between technology spending and Internet-generated leads.

“We noticed when we crossed the questions with each other that those who invested in Web technologies were the ones who had a large number of leads coming from the Internet,” said Todd Costigan of the Center for Realtor Technology. Costigan is a co-author of the report.

The survey did not ask which Web technologies were employed, though some examples would be lead generation sites and search optimization.

“By making information available to the consumer and making efforts to engage the consumer, they (Realtors) are finding ways to attract the buyers and sellers,” Costigan said.

According to the survey, 40 percent of those who spent more than $5,000 on their Web site showed that more than 60 percent of their leads come from the Internet – suggesting that the amount of investment in Web sites has a direct relationship to the number of leads coming from the Internet.

“The fastest-growing technology in real estate appears to be online transaction management,” the study reported. “Twenty-six percent of respondents use a Transaction Management System today – representing a 100 percent growth rate over the previous year. Of those not currently participating in a TMS, 72 percent are ‘Very Interested’ or ‘Interested’ in doing so – clearly indicating this is a category with continued growth potential.”

Costigan said another significant finding was that Realtors are starting to pay attention to the need to respond to online leads in a quick manner.

“Half the respondents indicate it takes them less than two hours to respond to a lead, and only 2 percent indicated that it took them more than one day to respond,” the study said. “This finding differs significantly from many earlier surveys and studies. Broker sites, agent sites, Realtor.com, and public MLS sites are the top four sources for Internet leads.”

According to the study, 86 percent of agents and 78 percent of brokers want their MLS to expand the information and technology tools provided.

Costigan, who started his career as an accountant, then became a CPA and then moved into technology, pointed out that most people, if asked whether or not they would like better tools, are apt to say yes.

“Everything has to be weighed in context. But if you ask the general question, ‘Do you want something better delivered?’ sure they are going to say yes. The next step is to figure out what needs to be delivered and what you are willing to pay for that delivery,” Costigan said.

According to the study, “One of the key drivers for this response could be that 44 percent of agents reported they had consumers come to them with some form of property information the real estate professionals themselves were not receiving via their MLS or brokerage,” the survey said.

Costigan said agents responding to the study hadn’t specified what type of information this was, and the subject would bear further inquiry.

The survey was based on data from field research. The Center for Realtor Technology e-mailed the survey to 20,000 NAR members, including agents and brokers, and generated 719 usable responses.

“This is a vote for continuing involvement and adoption of technology for Realtors,” Costigan said.

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