Tablet devices are the future when shopping for a home

New Apple iPad mini

New Apple iPad mini

The most important medium for property buyers looking for their next home will increasingly be the tablet device. Not exclusively, but more than likely the most importantly. That is my considered opinion after some useful reflection from the presentation by the Google team at the Digital real estate conference held in Melbourne last week hosted by the Real Estate Institute of Victoria and RealEstateView.com.au.

Data is always pivotal when it comes to Google – they are a data company. Their presenters Lucien Schneller and Pedro Queiroz shared some key qualitative and quantitative data on the move to mobile for real estate search.

Let’s start with the quantitative. The chart below shows real estate search as tracked by Google benchmarked against other key categorized for both general mobile usage and specifically tablet usage.

In Australia 12% of all real estate searches on Google are undertaken on a tablet device – higher as a proportion of searches than for these other main powerhouse search categories of cars, jobs and dating. Given the current installed base of 40% of households having a tablet device at present, this level of representation of searching on a tablet device will only continue to grow.

So to the qualitative research. The primary factor in device usage is context. Where a user is, and what a user is doing, drive the device of choice. This is why we don’t try and use a laptop in the car; and why a smartphone is a great device for checking messages whilst your partner goes to the bathroom whilst out for dinner!

The tablet is universally becoming the device for the couch and the conference room, and the airplane and the waiting room and the café etc etc.

Coupled with context the understanding put forward by Google into the type of usage undertaken on each device – the PC, the smartphone and the tablet speaks to how users define each device.

The smartphone

This device is seen as a fast, easy-access device. It allows for action-based activity here and now. It is always with me, and is my central communication device – communication in all its forms of email, voice, text and social.

The PC

This device in its near-ubiquitous form of the laptop is clearly now defined as a “work” device. I undertake work on it. I create work documents and I sit down in a work-like mentality to use it. It is a serious device.

The tablet

This device is actually defined as a happy device. It is an easy-to-use device which allows me to casually consume material. I use it when I am in a relaxed state of mind. It is less about defining and actioning a task and more about exploring and consuming.

This for me personally, is a critical reason why tablets are not incorporating mobile phone capability in the traditional sense. In the sense that phones are interruption devices. That is different to the role of a tablet when used for Skype chats or hangouts, those are actioned activities for which the tablet is well suited.

So when it comes to real estate and the task of browsing, searching, sorting, collecting, examining, exploring and investigating all about properties; the tablet is the device of choice. You have the gesture based experience which is akin to the time-honoured browsing of a magazine, you are more likely to undertake real estate searching on the couch. It is in the main a solitary event, punctuated by moments of sharing for which tablets are great.

So when it comes to crystal ball gazing the future of real estate search in a digital future the tablet is the device of choice for which real estate portals should focus. The smartphone will have a key role as the complementary tool to take all that collected information and shortlist of properties in your pocket, but the key engagement and loyalty building platform is going to be the tablet.