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Use of the web as a starting point for home buying declined in 2011

The home buying process

It has become common knowledge that almost all real estate searches begin online, but it isn’t always the same paths consumers take when they start hunting. According to the 2011 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers which surveyed 5,708 home buyers and sellers, the use of Internet as the starting point for the home buying process declined slightly to 88 percent from 90 percent in the last two years, attributed in part to the rise of repeat buyers and the changing buyer demographic comprised of more stable, older buyers.

Where do consumers start? The study notes that the first step 35 percent of buyers is to start looking for properties online while ten percent begin their search by looking for information about the home buying process and 21 percent started their search by talking to an agent.

Repeat buyers were more likely than first-time buyers to look online for properties for sale and drive by homes and neighborhoods as the first step in the home buying process. First time home buyers were more likely to look online for information about the home buying process and talk with friends about the process. The study reveals that repeat buyers look for validation from peers less than first time buyers and that repeat buyers are more likely to get in the car and survey the neighborhood and properties themselves.

Younger buyers aged 25 to 44 were most likely to look online for properties for sale while buyers over 65 and older were most likely to contact a real estate agent as their first step.

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The drop in web use, albeit slightly, may come as a shock to the social media gurus, but it makes perfect sense as not only are most of these trends are in line with past years, but lean toward a less tech savvy buyer as it was revealed that in the last year, a dramatic shift in buyer demographics has taken place with first time buyers accounting for half of all buyers last year, now only accounting for a third as Realtors continue to cite difficulties in getting loans closed, leaving stable, higher income, typically older and married couples as the average, (less tech proficient) buyer.

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