The residential real estate industry is one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy with an estimated tangible value of $23 trillion according to data published in 2014 by the Federal Reserve. According to publicly available information, there are approximately 3 million real estate agents in the U.S. of which 1.25 million are members of the largest association in the industry, the National Association of Realtors (NAR). In 2013, sales of existing homes reached approximately 5.1 million transactions according to the data published in 2014 by the National Association of Realtors. There are about 500,000 home builder professionals and sales of approximately 429,000 new homes in the United States according to industry data. Aggregate sales of existing and new homes in the U.S. have an estimated value of $1.39 trillion.
The real estate industry is highly regulated and has historically been late to adopt the technology. Today, however, the industry is undergoing a profound transformation creating new opportunities for innovation and tech. The internet has changed the way consumers search for homes and the way real estate professionals advertise their services. As a result, RE professionals have to excel in digital advertising in order to actively promote their brand and listings and are seeking more effective ways to market properties and themselves.
The internet and social media have also opened up new possibilities to promote a house for sale by owner (FSBO). Several web sites are offering FSBOs some very effective tools to avoid doing business with a real estate agent and therefore, saving their commission on the transaction. As a result, professionals need to add value to their services and are seeking new technology that will help them achieve their goals.
The popularity of mobile computing is shaping new trends in real estate transformation. Always on the go visiting properties, real estate professionals are seeking more effective ways to collaborate with their peers and vendors. More than ever, the real estate industry is a very competitive market. Pressured on commissions and competition with new business models generated from new services, real estate agents and brokers are seeking to achieve greater productivity and return on investment.
These trends present significant new opportunities to capitalize on shifts in behavior and replace the less efficient relationship-driven model that still persists today, for example, the relationship between real estate professionals and content providers which is the basis of each new listing marketing effort in our case.
The market of potential customers for technologies serving the real estate industry is global. Outside the U.S., India and China are the most active markets for real estate investment. According to industry sources, total online and offline real estate industry advertising spending is reaching more than $17 billion annually. Our addressable market opportunity for our content marketing platform includes portions of many existing advertising segments, including real estate ads from agents and brokers which would account for $7.2 billion annually, mortgage lenders for $6.6 billion, property managers for $2.7 billion and real estate developers for $1.1 billion according to industry sources in the US. Thanks to our Discovery Content Solution for advertisers, our addressable market opportunity for our platform also includes local businesses looking to promote themselves to home buyers as well as real estate consumer products and services manufacturers.
Visual marketing content (photography) is the core component of every single real estate listing on the internet. Without visual content, the real estate industry on the web would not be functional or impactful.
The constant and repeat business for real estate visual content attracts multiple providers and technology developers. As a result, real estate professionals are dealing with an increasingly fragmented, evolutive, and unregulated market. With the exception of aerial photography, which is regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. and Transport Canada in Canada, there are no regulations placed upon real estate visual content providers. Anyone can become a real estate photographer, therefore, the landscape is mostly occupied by freelancers. New immersive and 3D technology providers are entering the picture on a regular basis, often using their own sales force. Each content creator offers different services and options making it difficult for real estate professionals to compare and negotiate the price. As is typical of a highly fragmented industry, there is no ordering and booking standardization among the suppliers. Every vendor has their own system if they have one at all. As a result, for most real estate professionals, phone and email still remain the only way to connect with their vendors to order marketing content, making it challenging to manage production and payment workflows.
Real estate agent's competitive market landscape coupled with advanced visual content technology is driving more and more agents to use professional real estate photographers. As a result, based on our 10-year industry history, the business of real estate photography is organically increasing year after year. Some 1-staff visual content providers have grown to multi-million dollar operations in a few short years.
Our real estate content marketing platform provides agents and photographers the industry's most complete solution to ease the business relationship. From our marketplace of independent photographers to help agents find, book, and pay their visual content providers, to a state of the art Customer Relationship Management solution to help photographer manage their growing business, we are changing the way that these relationships function.
The objectives of real estate agents range from building long-term brand awareness to stimulating an immediate home purchase. Our content marketing platform solution offers agents to purchase blog content marketing (sponsored content) from a provider. Real estate branded content marketing differs from traditional display advertising by the fact that it enables advertisers to use branded blog articles to generate brand awareness for their products and services.
The advertising industry is undergoing an important transformation. Consumers are increasingly savvy about opting out of display advertising. Some industry sources are estimating that by August 2015, approximately 200 million people worldwide had installed some type of ad-blocking software. While it is great news for consumers as it relates to improved user experience, it is very problematic for real estate marketers who rely heavily on paid advertisements to increase brand awareness. RE marketers who are finding it difficult to reach their audience through traditional display advertising are looking for alternative strategies such as content marketing (or blog content). As a result, advertising budgets in every industry are shifting year after year from display advertising to native content (which can often take the form of blog content), thus creating new opportunities for content marketing solutions such as Urbanimmersive.
Branded content marketing advertising is a significant market opportunity that is still emerging and evolving. We believe that most real estate agents and home builders are still learning and experimenting with the best ways to leverage real estate content marketing and that Urbanimmersive could become a strategic destination to reach home buyers and narrow down their marketing efforts.
These conditions create challenges for real estate professionals that can find it difficult to conduct business with and retain content creators who fit their needs. Our content marketing platform solution is organizing this highly fragmented segment. We are not aware of any other all-inclusive dedicated content platforms commercially developed to enable real estate professionals to better collaborate with content providers. We believe we are well-positioned to service this expansive market with a platform that caters to helping real estate professionals connect with visual and written providers.
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