Everyone’s doing it. Using the internet to search for a home, that is. Fully 92 percent of home buyers look for homes online, and 87 percent use the web to find a real estate professional, according to The 2014 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers.
Also interesting is that exactly half of home buyers used apps on their phone or tablet in their home search, 48 percent used mobile or tablet search engines, 48 percent called yard signs, and 44 percent went to open houses.
Despite tech startups hoping to disrupt the industry and cut agents out of the process, nearly all transactions are done through an agent, in fact, those who searched for homes online were actually more likely to purchase through an agent.
How shoppers do their research
As previously mentioned, and as you already knew, home buyers do their research, and they rely on a bevy of sources. Let’s face it – dreaming of a future home and shopping for months in advance is part of the fun. The challenge for the industry is to offer legitimate information and meet them where they shop.
But do buyers actually buy that home they found online? The NAR report indicates that 43 percent did buy a home they found online, but 33 percent found their home through a real estate professional, nine percent from a yard sign or open house, six percent from someone they knew personally, five percent from a home builder, three percent directly from the seller, and one percent from a print or newspaper ad.
In 2009, only 36 percent of shoppers located their future home online, so we should be fair and chalk this up to the improvements made in the real estate syndication space and data accuracy – it’s difficult to buy something that was sold months ago or didn’t exist in the first place.
What tight inventory has done to buyers
In most markets, inventory levels were extremely tight earlier this year and remain fairly tight, so buyers visited 10 homes and picked the winner two weeks faster than in 2013. With fewer homes for sale, the pressure is on to make a choice quickly, and getting it right is important, as first time buyers plan to stay in their home for 10 years, while repeat buyers plan to stay put for 15.
NAR indicates that 89 percent were satisfied with the buying process. What has the remaining 11 percent dissatisfied? Was it the agent, the lending process, the difficult sellers, the circumstances behind moving? That remains unclear, but this level of satisfaction has hovered around this point for years.
What buyers are looking for in 2014
The top consideration of all buyers is the quality of a neighborhood (69 percent), followed by convenience to their jobs (52 percent), affordability of homes (47 percent), and convenience to friends and family.
Less relevant to pulling the trigger, but still important is a home’s convenience to shopping (31 percent), the quality of the school district (30 percent), neighborhood design (28 percent), and convenience to entertainment (25 percent). Buyers’ median distance from their previous residence was 12 miles.
NAR points out that transportation costs and “green” features are more relevant, with 70 percent of buyers indicating that transportation costs are important, and 86 percent stating that heating and cooling costs are important. Two in three said energy efficient appliances and lighting were important.
Fully 79 percent of buyers purchased a detached single-family home, 8.0 percent a townhouse, 8.0 percent a condo, and 6.0 percent some other kind of housing. The typical home has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Half of all buyers purchased a home in a subdivision or suburb, 20 percent bought in a small town, 16 percent in an urban area, 11 percent in a rural area, and 3.0 percent in a resort/recreation area.
[notification type=”success” title=”READ ALSO: “]2014 stats: home SELLERS’ equity gains, tenure in homes, how they found their agent[/notification]