Survey: Quarter of Consumers Accept Virtual Home Buying

April 17, 2020

Listing data, detailed photos, and virtual and live-video tours will suffice for a growing number of consumers who are looking to buy a home; they don’t need to physically visit the property before making an offer, according to a new joint survey from realtor.com® and Toluna Insights.

Twenty-four percent of 1,300 consumers surveyed say they’d be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person, and 30% would be willing to rent one, the survey shows. Younger demographics appear to be the most comfortable using virtual tools in lieu of physical, in-person showings (29%). Further, 21% say that COVID-19 has made them more likely to move into a home sight unseen in the future.

The survey follows on the heels of findings this week from the National Association of REALTORS® that a quarter of REALTORS® and their clients have put a contract on a home without physically seeing the property. “Uncertainty around COVID-19 and limitations around social interactions and group gatherings, like open houses, have made buying and selling homes more difficult than ever,” says Nate Johnson, chief marketing officer at realtor.com®. “As real estate agents and consumers seek out ways to safely complete these transactions, we believe that technology will become an even more imperative part of how we search for, buy, and sell homes moving forward.”

Still, 47% of respondents say they prefer to see a home in person with a buyer’s agent before submitting an offer. But with social distancing guidelines in place, they are willing to adapt: 23% of that group say they prefer to go view the home alone, 13% prefer an online video tour, and 6% prefer their agent to show the home via video chat, the survey finds. Survey respondents indicate the following technology features are most helpful when deciding to buy a new home virtually:

  • A virtual tour of the home (61%).
  • Accurate and detailed listing information (58%).
  • Accurate and detailed neighborhood information (53%).
  • High-quality listing photos (51%).
  • The ability for the agent or landlord to show the property via video chat (39%).
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