The 2015 National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers has just been released, and we’ve learned that home sellers averaged $40k in equity this year, and that the average buyer is a 44 year old married white couple.
But the question all real estate agents want to know is – how do consumers find you? Let’s discuss the steps of the process and what trends shifted this year.
The first step that buyers take
For nearly half of all recent buyers (42 percent), the first step taken in the home buying process was, of course, to look online at homes for sale.
Interestingly, more than one in ten buyers (14 percent) contacted a real estate agent before even looking online at properties.
Although not all began their process online, most (92 percent) used the web at some point during the home search process. This is an important distinction, given that many misquote this statistic, claiming that everyone starts their hunt online before contacting an agent.
What role the web played
Now that you know how many people begin their search online, it is noteworthy that over half of this year’s home buyers used a mobile or tablet to search for a home, indicating the continued relevancy of mobile-ready sites and apps.
Of the home buyers who shopped online, roughly half found the home online that they ultimately purchased.
Enter the real estate agent
Good news for agents – 78 percent of home buyers said their agent was a “very useful information source.”
Bad news for agents – you came in second place, as 82 percent said online websites were a “very useful information source.” Womp womp.
One point that should be made is that the first step of contacting an agent increased as the age of the home buyer increased. Interesting.
That said, the NAR report notes, “It is evident that while a majority of home buyers are using the Internet during the home searching process, the Internet cannot replace the role of the real estate agent in the transaction.”
Challenges to the process
The majority (91 percent) said they were happy with the home buying process, which is up a bit from 2014’s 89 percent.
One in three home buyers that used an agent said that “finding the right property” remains one of the most difficult steps in the process.
Home buyers who didn’t use the web averaged five weeks searching and visited five homes, while web searchers spent 10 weeks hunting and visited 10 homes. First-time buyers average 12 weeks searching before buying.
Further, buyers who used an agent spent an average of two weeks searching before finally contacting an agent.
Home buyers said the other challenges during the process include paperwork (23 percent), followed by understanding the process (14 percent).
Of note, 17 percent said that they had “no difficult steps” during the home buying process, especially common among repeat buyers.
Converting web to in-person tours
NAR reports that “As a result of searching for a home on the Internet, 65 percent of buyers are walking through the homes that they viewed online, and 38 percent are looking at the exterior of these homes and driving through the neighborhoods.”
It’s no surprise that first-time buyers were the most likely to request more information as a result of searching online.
Buying up foreclosures
With fewer foreclosures on the market this year compared to say, 2009, who is buying foreclosure inventory?
Although 41 percent considered purchasing a home in foreclosure, the top reason for ultimately not purchasing a foreclosure property was not being able to find the right one.
NAR reports, “This year, first-time buyers made up the largest group who considered purchasing a home in foreclosure.”