Consumers See You as Top Resource

October 6, 2015

Seventy percent of Americans are either very or somewhat likely to look to a real estate professional for information about home ownership, according to a new study from NeighborWorks America.

Of all the sources of information about home ownership the survey asked about, real estate professionals ranked highest. NeighborWorks asked respondents about five other sources of home ownership information: friends, family, and co-workers (with 62 percent saying they’re very or somewhat likely to consult them); web search (59 percent); mortgage lenders (57 percent); housing counselors (31 percent); and social media (24 percent).

“It’s clear from our survey that consumers see real estate professionals as a primary resource for homeownership information, so their role is very important,” says Marietta Rodriguez, vice president of homeownership and lending at NeighborWorks America.

This is the third year that NeighborWorks, an organization comprised of more than 240 local development groups working to increase affordable housing and sustainable home ownership, has been compiling the America at Home household survey. This year’s study, conducted by Widmeyer Communications, surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults using a random sample.

Rodriguez says the results point to the need for a greater collaboration between nonprofits and the real estate industry. “Through partnerships with the organizations and professionals that consumers use to gather information, NeighborWorks can better assist consumers who want to become successful homeowners,” she says. “That should trigger the establishment of strong partnerships with real estate professionals. Together they can give consumers the best information about the process, from mortgage products and credit education to the purchase process, too.”

In the “very likely to use” category, every source of information went down year-over-year except for web search, which remained static. Yet Neighborworks says other survey questions revealed “increased homebuyer education could energize the housing market.” Respondents routinely overestimated the cost of home repairs and upkeep by thousands of dollars. They also lack adequate information on the consequences of foreclosure, with many believing foreclosed buyers have to wait years longer than they usually do before being eligible for another mortgage. And nearly 40 percent of respondents have received no information about down payment assistance programs that could help middle-income homebuyers afford a home more quickly than they’d thought.

“These findings reveal that Americans are not receiving adequate information about the home buying process,” says NeighborWorks CEO Paul Weech. “It’s understandable that Americans looking to purchase their first home are intimidated by obstacles such as student debt, lack of a down payment and weak credit, so it’s critical that first-time homebuyers have access to information and programs such as down payment assistance and affordable loans so they feel confident in purchasing a home independently.”

Source: “NeighborWorks America survey finds student debt, mortgage market confusion, and a declining marriage rate are weights holding back the housing market,” NeighborWorks (Oct. 5, 2015).