Rental interest drives real estate search traffic

Hitwise: Traffic from social media sites jumps 61% year-over-year

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Visits to real estate websites have jumped 27 percent in the past year, with much of that increase driven by consumer interest in rentals, according to a webinar by Web metrics firm Experian Hitwise.

"Folks are looking for rental properties quite a bit. (There is) not as much activity, unfortunately, around houses for sale," said Heather Dougherty, research director at Hitwise.

Hitwise reported a 27 percent rise in traffic to real estate-related websites in February, to a 0.48 percent market share among all websites tracked — the highest level since the first half of 2009.

Searches including the phrase "houses for rent" have been surpassing searches of "houses for sale" for about a year, Dougherty said. Visits to sites that specialize in home and apartment rentals climbed 33 percent last month compared to February 2010.