Buyers Leverage More Tech in Home Searches

September 18, 2015

House-hunters are increasingly turning to the Internet for their home search, but they still say they need a real estate agent's expertise, according to the National Association of REALTORS® Real Estate in a Digital Age report.

Forty percent of buyers surveyed said they looked for properties online as the first step in their house-hunt (up from 36 percent in 2010), according to NAR. But 88 percent of buyers last year purchased their home with the assistance of a real estate agent, up from 83 percent in 2010.

"Consumers have the ability to do more home buying research online and be more connected during the home search process than ever before, but research proves they still are seeing the value a REALTOR® brings to the transaction from the initial search to well after the closing," says NAR President Chris Polychron.

Ninety-four percent of young adults from the millennial generation and 84 percent of baby boomers said they used online websites in their home search. Older baby boomers – aged 60 to 68 years old – used a mobile device to search for properties at less than half the rate of millennials – 30 percent versus 66 percent.

Millennials surveyed say that website listing features, photos and online property information were the most important in their home search. For baby boomers, virtual tours and direct contact with a real estate agent were the most important.

Millennials took, on average, about 11 weeks to find a home while baby boomers and the Silent Generation searched for an average of 8 weeks. Respondents who said they used the Internet to search for homes tended to visit more homes and search for longer – looking at 10 homes, on average, over a 10-week period compared to four homes in four weeks of those who did not use the Internet in their search.

Forty-three percent of buyers say they first found the home they ended up purchasing on the Internet, up from just 8 percent in 2001.

As consumers get more tech savvy, real estate professionals say they are too. Ninety-three percent of REALTORS® surveyed say they prefer to communicate with their clients via e-mail and 85 percent also say they like text messaging clients and 31 percent use instant messaging too. More REALTORS® also say they’re leveraging social media to connect, with Facebook and LinkedIn the two most popular platforms used.

Still, keeping up with technology can be a struggle. Forty-six percent of real estate firms cite keeping up with technology as one of the biggest obstacles they face over the next two years. Among commercial real estate firms, that percentage jumps to 53 percent.

"REALTORS® constantly strive to find ways to make the home buying and selling process easier for and more accessible to their clients," Polychron says. "There is nothing more important than helping people find and land their dream home, and since technology helps REALTORS® do that, it will continue to be a priority."

Source: "Real Estate in a Digital Age," National Association of REALTORS® (2015)