Feature: The Digital House Hunt

Oct. 3, 2017, 6:18 a.m.

IN the digital age, booking a classified ad no longer has the same degree of crazed necessity for property buyers and sellers.

There’s no need for a manic Friday afternoon dash to meet deadlines for the weekend newspaper circulation, nor is ultimate and unwavering reliance cast upon real estate agents. And there’s certainly no banking on the trusty coconut wireless to let everyone know that you’re selling up, or looking for a new place.

And why should there be? About half its population are active Internet users and this rate only continues to grow, thus tuning thousands into the now-limitless platforms that exist for real estate listings and contact addresses.
As data collected by the Fiji Real Estate Survey 2016 clearly shows, the internet continues to surpass other mediums as the leading source of information for home hunters and vendors.

Fijian property buyers now overwhelmingly look online first in their house hunting endeavours, and the majority (43 percent) of respondents polled in the survey stated that they relied primarily on the internet during their most recent search for a home.
In addition to home buyers’ shifting reliance from newspapers to the internet, the transition to digital property listings has also necessitated a degree of IT savviness for vendors and agents who want to stay in the loop, and ensure that their properties are noticed.
No longer is the online platform an optional medium for agents and vendors, but instead a vital tool for reaching a broader spectrum of potential buyers, both around the country and overseas. Even more importantly, this connection can be made from the comfort of their own homes or offices, without the hassle of booking appointments and making phone calls.
Only 27 percent of survey respondents stated that they relied on newspapers for house hunting, and 19 percent opted to contract the services of real estate agents, clearly reflecting the diminishing importance of these traditionally dominant forms of property research.
Open homes and inspections were the chosen means of only 9 percent of respondents, while the minimum (2 percent) turned primarily to property magazines during their most recent search for a home.
Though the majority of survey respondents resided in Fiji, residents of Australia, New Zealand and the United States, amongst others, were also polled. Overseas respondents likely account for any reliance on real estate magazines, which were basically non-existent in Fiji prior to this publication.

Not only do the survey findings clearly indicate that the future of the real estate industry is digital, but they also oblige homeowners to ensure that their real estate agents are listing their properties online, so as to be seen by digital house hunters.
“Digital marketing is not only a rapidly growing force in the current real estate marketing field, it is set to be the future of marketing, and it seems likely that digital media will soon replace more traditional forms altogether,” noted LJ Hooker sales executive, Shama Hasbi Haseen.
As she highlighted, online marketing’s expediency is more cost-friendly than traditional, offline marketing methods, transforming a marketing message to consumers for the merest fraction of the cost of a television ad or print campaign and potentially reach a wider audience.
And with over a billion active monthly users, Facebook is a trump on this front.
“Personally, Facebook has been my major marketing platform over my 5- year career. It greatly helps me to connect with prospective home buyers, rental seekers and foster business relationships. With daily updates on Facebook, I have been able to attract a huge number of clients and the number has been increasing constantly.

“Similarly, investment into websites is equally important. Currently property.com has made it to the top websites for advertising property listings in Fiji Islands and hence, investing in such websites yields great business for us here at LJ Hooker,” Haseen emphasised.

Online listings for various types of properties are also a cheaper alternative to print media and distribution, providing even more incentive for a shift to the digital property market.

Similar conclusions are reflected by the correlating poll of which source of information was found to be most helpful to buyers when searching for properties. which also ranked the Internet at the top.

A leading 38 percent of respondents found the Internet to be their most helpful resource when searching for property, followed by the 22 percent who indicated other means. Newspapers drew only 11 percent, while family and friends accounted for nine percent of results. In stark contrast to traditional conceptions of the real estate market, a minority of eight percent stated that real estate agents were their most helpful resource in their property search.

Importantly, Facebook and other social media platforms were indicated as the most useful resource by 10 percent of survey respondents.

As a key means of modern-day communication, Facebook in particular has generated a plethora of property pages that are regularly used and relied upon by countless home hunters looking to buy or rent. This is a quest only further compounded by Fiji’s perennial housing shortage.


The range of effective digital marketing strategies available to vendors today encompasses paid searches, videos, mobile apps and social channels, all of which can be used to grab the attention of home hunters. This variety of platforms, coupled with the internet’s takeover of traditional research mediums, provides even more reason for vendors and agents to ensure that their listings are marketed online, for maximum viewing.
The easy navigation and expediency of online platforms continue to revolutionize the property business, commanding agents to invest in sophisticated websites, and, at the very least, have social media accounts to show for.
Like other agents, Haseen knows too well the value of digital marketing as a thriving tool over other marketing mediums.
“The facts are that digital methods of communication and marketing are faster, more versatile, practical and streamlined, so it is perhaps unsurprising that once the technology became available we began quickly moving into the digital age.”

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