More Buyers Turning to the Internet and to Realtors for Home Advice

NAR study found that buyers increasingly rely on the web for home search info, but more also eventually turn to a Realtor – 83% did in 2010; 88% in 2014.

WASHINGTON – Sept. 19, 2015 – More consumers use the Internet during their home search, but buyers also increasingly rely on the knowledge and expertise of a real estate agent, according to the National Association of Realtors®' (NAR) Real Estate in a Digital Age report.

"Research proves (that consumers) are still seeing the value a Realtor brings to the transaction, from the initial search to well after the closing," says NAR President Chris Polychron. "So while consumers have more technological tools available at their fingertips, Realtors are now more than ever a part of the home buying and selling equation."

The report found that "finding the right property" ranked as the most difficult step in the home buying process, and 40 percent buyers looked for properties online as their first step in the home buying process, up from 36 percent in 2010.

However, 88 percent of buyers in 2014 purchased their home with assistance from a real estate agent, up from 83 percent in 2010.

Buyer ages
While 94 percent of millennials and 84 percent of baby boomers used online websites during their home search, only 65 percent of adults age 69 to 89 years did the same. Older boomers, those aged 60 to 68 years, used a mobile device to search for properties at less than half the rate of millennials (30 percent versus 66 percent).

Online features
When it comes to website listing features, photos and online property information were more important to millennials, while virtual tours and direct contact with a real estate agent were more important to baby boomers. Despite visual content growing in popularity and importance, older homebuyers found virtual tours more useful than younger buyers (45 percent among older adults and baby boomers compared to 36 percent among millennials).

Length of the home search
Internet users tended to look at more homes and shop longer than non-Internet users. Millennials typically looked for about 11 weeks to find a home, while baby boomers and members of the Silent Generation (adults older than 69) searched for eight weeks. Those who used the Internet to search homes looked at 10 homes over a 10-week period versus four homes in four weeks for those not looking on the web.

Where buyers found their future home
Forty-three percent of buyers first found the home they ended up purchasing on the web; that number was just 8 percent in 2001. In 2001, nearly half (48 percent) of buyers found the home they purchased from a real estate agent; today that number is 33 percent.

Realtor tech communication
Realtors prefer to communicate with clients via email (at 93 percent) as well as text messages (85 percent) and instant messaging (31 percent).

Social networking
Social media is also popular with Realtors, though 70 percent of female Realtors are active on social media compared to only 58 percent of male Realtors. Some social media platforms are more popular than others among Realtors: Facebook and LinkedIn are most utilized by Realtors at 80 percent and 71 percent, respectively. Realtors active on social media do so for visibility/exposure/marketing (81 percent), building relationships and networking (66 percent), advertising (59 percent) and promoting listings (51 percent).

Realtors must adapt to technology to better work with and understand clients, but it's not always easy: 46 percent of all real estate firms cite keeping up with technology as one of the biggest challenges they face over the next two years. That number is even higher for commercial real estate firms at 53 percent.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

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