The Burst of the Housing Bubble did Little to Change Buyers Habits

On average, American consumers spend only 5 hours researching their home mortgage options, about the same as time spent planning a one-week vacation.

Palm Coast, FL – May 17, 2010 – Buyers often blame someone else when their real estate investments or home purchase turns out badly. Some of them are right. I’ve seen enough evidence to realize that real estate buyers are often misled, deceived, manipulated, and defrauded, sometimes on a large scale. But in spite of the number of lawsuits filed and, more recently, criminal investigations and convictions’ American consumers continue to leave themselves vulnerable to fraud.
According to a survey from Zillow, home buyers spent an average of only five hours researching their mortgage options; about the same as for planning a one-week vacation. Yet, a home purchase is almost certainly the most significant purchase in most buyers’ lives.
  • Those surveyed spent an average 40 hours searching for a house.
  • Four hours are spent researching the average computer purchase
  • They spent 10 hours researching automobile purchases; 2 hours buying a television
  • Buyers are actually getting fewer mortgage quotes; 3, down from 4 in 2008
Yet a difference of one half a percentage point on a $400,000 mortgage could save the borrower more than $44,000. A few more hours would probably be worth the effort.

Some of the most successful sales and marketing people do well because they generate a sense of urgency within their prospects. "Buy now or you will lose out to the person behind you in line." To the extent that buyers succumb to this pressure, they will continue to be victimized, not by the seller, but by their own lack of effort.

Yes, there are some real crooks with very sophisticated schemes. Some are so clever and elaborate that they defy standard due diligence. But if you aren’t even doing enough to protect yourself from the honest practitioners, you have to put some of the blame on yourself. Do your homework.

1 reply
  1. Larry Gavrich
    Larry Gavrich says:

    Agree, but…

    Sound advice, Toby, but I am not sure these surveys by Zillow amount to much. You have to wonder about people who would spend time taking these surveys when, well, they could be out researching mortgage loans or doing something useful. Maybe the majority, who do not take time to answer such surveys, have smarter buying habits. Also, we are a short-term-thinking nation; the $44,000 savings you mention is, I assume, on something like 1/4% over the life of the loan. In our nomadic society, few people envision themselves living in one place for 30 years and, therefore, the $44,000 may seem irrelevant to them. That said, some folks will spend more time obsessing over the tiles in the bathroom than they will over the finer points of financing what’s built around the tiles.

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