INDUSTRY Real Estate Technology

HOW MOBILE INTERNET IS CHANGING THE FACE OF REAL ESTATE

Online marketing is gaining traction in Ghana. The days of brick and mortar transactions have been reduced considerably thanks in large part to the Internet. As more companies are adopting Internet marketing practices, this has led to a drive towards developing websites for the purpose of visibility. The growing trend these days is to optimize websites for smartphones. Property expert, Lamudi Ghana, explored some of the reasons and implications for Ghana’s real estate and economy.

Why the focus on mobile?

Mobile Internet use has grown in popularity not only in Ghana but the entire world. According to search engine giant Google, 10 countries including Japan and the United States recorded more searches on mobile devices than on desktop computers in 2015. In Ghana, the National Communication Authority released its latest report, indicating mobile data subscription figures in the region of 18 million. Per the Ghana Statistical Service’s estimated population of 27 million, that would mean penetration rate of about 66 percent.

This rise in mobile subscription figures coincides with the competitive rates charged by mobile network providers. The trend these days among these networks involves the provision of data bundles for their subscribers. This has led to an increased number of individuals prioritizing their Web time on mobile devices.

Collaborative efforts made by the likes of Facebook and Whatsapp with network providers in the country is equally a contributing factor. These collaborations have led to free browsing on their mobile apps, creating a growing opportunity for individuals to choose mobile platforms over desktop platforms.

Implication for real estate

Many real estate developers and agents have turned to the Internet to enhance their business. A website creates an added advantage of obtaining leads for properties. The challenge for stakeholders in the industry is the shift to mobile. House hunters looking for properties using their smartphones may encounter difficulty with the user experience. This has the propensity to turn away prospective clients.

Managing Director of Lamudi Ghana, Akua Nyame-Mensah, spoke of the need for real estate agents and developers to optimize their websites as mobile-friendly to enhance their business.

“Technology has become fast-paced over the last 15 years. In the 1980s, it could take as long as ten years for a product to evolve. These days, most technological products don’t last longer than 3 years,” she said.

“Digital marketing, on the other hand, evolves almost every day. It is a marketer’s task to always stay abreast with changing times. Mobile Internet is gaining momentum and it is up to developers and agents to ensure that their websites are mobile-friendly to ensure customer satisfaction,” she said.

Aside user experience reasons, Google last year announced that mobile-friendly design will be factored into their search ranking analysis. This means that mobile-friendly websites would be ranked favorably while websites not optimized with mobile design will be downgraded.

Website design is not the only changing trend. The growing popularity of Snapchat and Instagram have given real estate developers and agents new channels for marketing. These applications are mobile-based, emphasizing the need for stakeholders in real estate to embrace this growing technology to reach their target audience.

What it means for Ghana’s economy

The growth in digital marketing has not only created more employment but has also increased revenue to the state. The Ghana Statistical Service has indicated that the service sector is the biggest contributor to the country’s gross domestic product. With real estate developers and agents adopting mobile Internet practices, it could yield further revenue by way of advertising. The challenge for revenue collectors is in targeting Internet marketing related companies, especially those operating in the country but without offices. Policy makers would have to critically look at this to ensure the state profits from such ventures.

Source: Fidel Amoah, Content Manager, Lamudi Ghana

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