(The same NAR survey also seems to suggest that most potential home buyers,regardless of whether they themselves used the Internet to conduct their search, wanttheir real estate agent to be Internet savvy; only about 25% of the respondents felt thatthis characteristic was not important.) In Ohio, the picture appears to be even morecompelling. A survey (Reichert and Lange, 1999) of individuals who bought homes inOhio during a two month period (September and August) in 1998 showed that 73.5% ofthose buyers had access to the Internet and 38.7% used it in some facet of the homebuying process. This study aims, in part, to examine how real estate firms areattempting to adapt to the new medium and satisfy the growing number of Internet-savvy homebuyers. The objective is two-fold: (1) to examine real estate firms’ use of theInternet; and (2) assess their perceptions regarding the new medium.MethodologyData for this study were collected through a telephone survey using a questionnaire. Thetarget interviewees were randomly selected from a database of 3,200 principal brokersin Ohio, supplied by the Ohio Association of Realtors. Although the target populationconsists of firms in Ohio, some of the results suggest that Ohio firms might berepresentative of real estate firms throughout the country. The Center for SurveyResearch (CSR), an independent surveying facility at Ohio State University, wascommissioned to administer the questionnaire by phone. This was done to ensurequality; personnel at the Center are trained in interviewing techniques, and they haveextensive experience in conducting telephone surveys.Survey DevelopmentThe survey instrument was developed based on a review of published materials inacademic and practitioner journals and periodicals pertaining to the Internet andinnovation adoption in the real estate industry. A couple of questions were adapted fromthe Bond, Seiler, Seiler and Blake (2000) survey to facilitate comparisons, but the restare original. The development of the questionnaire involved a series of tests with twostudents and two faculty members over a period of two months. Then, in consultationwith the staff at the CSR, the instrument was programmed into CSR’s computer-aidedtelephone interviewing system and pilot tested with principal brokers of ten real estatefirms. Based on feedback, the wording of a couple of items was changed to improveclarity. The final instrument appears in the Appendix.SamplingProspective interviewees were randomly picked from the list from the Ohio Associationof Realtors. Each prospective interviewee received up to five calls to schedule orreschedule (if needed) an interview appointment. A total of 197 principalVOLUME 3, NUMBER 1, 2000
E-COMMERCE IN THE REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE INDUSTRY3brokers were contacted, and 150 interviews were completed. The high response rate(76%) is quite good, especially in view of the length of the survey. Moreover, there doesnot appear to be any reason to believe that the 150 respondents differ in any systematicway from non-respondents.
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