The pool of buyers is changing as are their habits
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. We recently reported that this year, home buyers spend an average of 12 weeks searching and tour an average of 12 homes, and that home buyers use the web as a starting point less this year (88 percent) than last year (91 percent).
As indicated in the report, most buyers begin their search online, and a popular belief is that web surfers are more likely to try to transact without a Realtor, but the opposite is true- the NAR report shows that buyers that search for a home online are actually more likely to use an agent – 91 percent of house hunters using the web use a Realtor.
How do buyers find their homes now?
Of buyers who used the web as a starting point for their search, 45 percent found the home they ultimately purchased online, up nine percent from 2009. Out of the buyers that used the web, 34 percent found their home through their agent, while 45 percent of buyers that did not use the web found their home through their agent, otherwise, they were more likely to find their home through a yard sign, friend, relative, neighbor or directly from the seller.
The NAR report focuses in on the critical nature of photography, with 85 percent of home buyers finding property photos to be “very useful” on websites and 81 percent of buyers finding detailed information about a property “very useful” when searching for a home. Virtual tours were found to be useful by 58 percent of buyers and interactive maps by 44 percent. The major search sites know this and are developing tools to use full page photos that take up the entire screen, especially on tablets.
Where did consumers find their home when they shopped online? It wasn’t the latest startup you’re thinking about, no, 56 percent of buyers used the Multiple Listing Service Website in their area, with Realtor.com, Realtors’ independent websites and brokerage sites used by at least 40 percent of all buyers. The major search engines would likely argue otherwise, given that their web traffic is higher than most other sources, but we haven’t seen the actual question asked to ascertain this answer, so we will leave it up to you to decide where consumers find their homes as it varies regionally regardless.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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