How home buyers and sellers have changed and remained the same

HomesThe National Association of Realtors® annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is characterized as being a survey of home buyers and sellers that reveals “demographics, housing characteristics and the experience of consumers in the housing market, including the role that real estate professionals play in home sales transactions (realtor.org). The release of the Highlights of the 2014 Profile of Home buyers and Sellers on November 3rd by NAR provides insight into home buyer and seller behavior. I compare a small sample of data from three Profiles that demonstrates how some things have changed, and how some things have stayed the same.

The recent lack of first time home buyer participation is one of the issues that experts point to as holding back a full housing recovery, and has been highlighted by the 2014 Profile of Home buyers and Sellers. Only thirty-three percent of home buyers surveyed in 2014 were first time buyers, which the NAR points out as being below the “historical norm of forty percent among primary residence buyers.” Compared to 2003, NAR reported that forty percent of home buyers were first time home buyers. However, fifty percent of home buyers reported being first time buyers during 2010, which is most likely due to the first time home buyer tax credit that was offered at the time to stimulate home sales.

The 2014 survey revealed that home buyers searched on average for 10 weeks and viewed 10 homes; which is reduced from the 12 week average search indicated the year prior. The 2010 report also indicated a 12 week average search, looking at an average of 12 homes. But these home search stats are a far cry from the 8 week average search time viewing 10 homes reported in 2003.

As you might have expected, home buyer use of the internet has grown. In the 2014 survey, ninety-two percent of buyers reported using the internet in some way in the process. The first step for forty-three percent of home buyers was to look at properties online; while only twelve percent of home buyers initially used the internet for information about the home buying process. The use of mobile applications has significantly increased as technology allowed; fifty percent of buyers reported using mobile websites or applications. Compare this to 2010, when about ninety percent of home buyers reported using the internet; and in 2003 when only forty-two percent of home buyers reported searching for homes online.

Rather than eliminating real estate agents, the internet has changed the relationship between agents, buyers and sellers. Ninety-eight percent of buyers in 2014, who used an agent, viewed them as being a useful source of information. Eighty eight percent of surveyed buyers indicated they used an agent to purchase their home, compared to eighty-one percent in 2010, and eighty-six in 2003.

Ninety-one percent of surveyed sellers in 2014 reported their homes were listed on the MLS, but eighty-eight percent had assistance from real estate agents. Only nine percent of surveyed sellers sold “by-owner.” The 2010 seller stats are consistent with the 2014 Profile; while the 2003 survey indicated eighty-three percent of home sellers used an agent’s assistance to sell their home.

There are differences between buyers and sellers also.  Among the differences in how they choose their agent: the 2014 survey indicated that forty-four percent of home buyers, compared to thirty-eight percent of home sellers, found their agent by a referral through a friend or family.

© Dan Krell
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