It is estimated that Mexico will reach 65 million Internet users this year. This is having a significant effect on the local real estate market. According to Lamudi’s own research, 82 percent of consumers now use the Internet in their real estate search process, as they move away from traditional methods and turn to desktops and laptops, as well as mobile devices, to search for properties.
In the last quarter of 2014, the number of online real estate queries in Mexico grew by 25 percent from 2013, according to Google Analytics. Although the desktop is still the preferred method for accessing the Internet, mobile is getting stronger.
In fact, 24 percent of real estate searches were carried out via mobile devices in the last quarter of 2013, increasing to 38 in the same period of 2014. As a result of the growing Internet penetration, people have more access to information, through websites and social media.
From my experience of the Mexican real estate market, this access is causing house hunters to become more specific and analytical in their search for property. The ability to reduce time and optimize each search through the filtration of location, property type and price, is encouraging consumers to move online.
Over half (55 percent) of the country’s population is 30 years old or younger, and it is this age bracket that presents the greatest opportunity for the local buying and rental markets.
Our research showed that Mexicans between 18 and 35 years old represent 52 percent of online real estate searches on the Lamudi website. Young Mexicans without the capacity to purchase property, but who want to move out of their childhood home, are driving the rental market, while those recently married or looking to settle down are taking the steps to buy their first property.
This young age group is embracing new technology as it becomes increasingly accessible, and they are encouraging the shift online for the ease and speed of finding a suitable property.
This shift does bring some challenges for the real estate industry. For agents, the difficulty is keeping up with the speed of the Internet. With an increasing number of people turning to classified sites, there is more pressure to provide real-time answers to the leads delivered by online service suppliers, such as websites and CRMs, via telephone and email.
According to the Asociación Mexicana de Internet, nearly half (46 percent) of Mexican Internet users have bought a product after seeing online advertising. This statistic highlights how imperative it now is for local real estate agents to have an online presence and to make use of digital media and mobile marketing to promote their services.
In my opinion, the future of the real estate industry in Mexico will be positively affected by this move online. However, the different players in the local real estate game — namely, agents, agencies, developers and portals — need to adjust quickly.
By ignoring the opportunities for online real estate, we’re immediately allowing our competitors to get ahead of the curve. Although the nature of Mexican real estate is changing, it is an exciting time to develop strategies to ensure a positive user experience online and educate the industry — both businesses and consumers — on the benefits of the combination of technology and real estate.
Vera is a tech and investment management expert with a keen interest in both emerging and developed markets. She is a Harvard Business School alumnus and also studied art history at Cambridge University, where she was a recipient of the prestigious Gates Scholarship. Prior to becoming general director for Lamudi LATAM, she worked for nearly three years as an investment manager for private equity fund Bamboo Finance, which specializes in low-income markets. Currently based in Mexico City, Vera leads the Latin American team, bringing her expertise in investing in developing markets to Lamudi Mexico. Visit Lamudi Mexico on Facebook.