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In 2011, home buyers spend 12 weeks searching and tour 12 homes

Home buyer search trends, 2011 style

Although the housing market has changed considerably, the 2011 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers which surveyed 5,708 home buyers and sellers shows that home buyer search trends have only adjusted, but not nearly as dramatically as the shift in buyer demographics this year.

The typical home search has remained 12 weeks for home buyers since 2009 with repeat buyers averaging only ten weeks in the process. Home buyers on average look at 12 homes before deciding on their purchase.

The number of homes viewed varied regionally with Southern buyers only looking at an average of 11 homes while buyers in the West on average toured 15 homes prior to deciding on their final purchase.

First time buyers spent three weeks searching before contacting an agent, but on average nationally, buyers typically spent two weeks searching for real estate before contacting an agent.

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The biggest shift in recent years – the web

According to the NAR report, where buyers found the home they purchased has changed drastically since 2001. Ten years ago, even though the Internet existed, only 8 percent of buyers found the home they ultimately purchased online while today, 40 percent of buyers find their future home online. Interestingly, the majority (60 percent) do not find the actual home they buy through the internet but the bottom line is that the web “has edged out all other sources in the process.”

Second to the web is real estate agents which are the source of locating the home a buyer ultimately purchased at 35 percent, down from nearly half of all buyers’ locating their ultimate home through their agent ten years ago. Sources such as yard signs, word of mouth, home builders and print newspaper advertisements have all declined, says NAR.

Foreclosures and process difficulties

Fifty-five percent of buyers did consider a foreclosure when they made their home purchase but many did not ultimately purchase a foreclosure because  “they could not find the right home, the process was too difficult or the home was in poor condition,” the NAR reports. First time buyers were the most likely to consider a home in foreclosure.

In 2011, Realtors frequently cite difficulty in getting a loan closed as the top deterrent to completed closings. Consumers say the most difficult step in the home buying process was finding the right home to purchase (51 percent), the paperwork (22 percent), and understanding the process and steps involved (17 percent) with the remaining 17 percent saying they had no difficult steps. Predictably, first time buyers were more likely than repeat buyers to have difficulty in the home buying process.

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