Real estate changed by internet

real estate changed

The 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 ( 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 real estate changed. Some things have changed, and 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.

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By Dan Krell
© 2014

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Are internet Realtor® reviews real or fake?

internet Realtor reviews

The internet is a great tool. It conveniently provides access to information about real estate activity and home sales to assist you in your decision making. It’s only natural that people tend to gravitate to the internet because it provides somewhat of a buffer from aggressive real estate agents; it allows a certain amount of anonymity. This may also be a reason for the rise in popularity of internet Realtor® reviews.

But, internet anonymity can be a two way street. Besides reading online what others are saying about your agent, without anyone being the wiser; online reviews are often posted without verification.

An August 19th New York Times article by David Streitfeld (In a Race to Out-Rave, 5-Star Web Reviews Go for $5: Printed August 20, 2011, on page A1 of the New York edition) is an exposé of the fake review business. Yup, fake online reviews. Streitfeld describes how in an effort for online businesses to appear better than the competition, “an industry of fibbers and promoters has sprung up to buy and sell raves for a pittance.” Streitfeld illustrates the “game” as it’s played; posts on websites such as Craigslist and help for hire sites offer a positive review for a fee.

Also known as “deceptive opinion spam” or “review spam, Cornell researchers claim “these fake reviews are fictitious opinions deliberately written to sound authentic, in order to deceive the reader.” They conclude that the detection of fake reviews is “well beyond the capability of human judges;” and recommend an analysis of reviews to include, among other things, psycho-linguistically motivated features. (Proceedings of the 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, pages 309–319, Portland, Oregon, June 19-24, 2011.)

“There have always been fake reviews from employees and competitors,” states Greg Sterling, of Sterling Market Intelligence, in a March 7th blog post “Fighting the Rise of Paid Reviews.” Describing the increase of “guaranteed positive reviews” for a fee, “… the increasing importance of online reputation to consumers and the potential influence on rankings that reviews bring the stakes are higher than ever. Hence the emergence of services that will guarantee positive reviews.” He further states, “I don’t know this but my guess is that somewhere in some room … there are minions writing positive reviews without ever having actually used the business or visited its location.”

The National Association of Realtors® (NAR) code of ethics prohibits deceptive practices, which includes posting or encouraging fake reviews. However, Lani Rosales of AGBeat argues that there has always been an element posting fake Realtor® reviews and testimonials (“Sketchy new trend – hiring fake online review writers”).

Internet Realtor reviews

What to do?

Suresh Srinivasan of agent reputation platform ReachFactor ( stated in email correspondence that review spam is a “big and growing problem. It’s extremely cheap to pay others …to write a review of any service professional.” He states that many websites get “gamed” because they only require the reviewer to register but don’t actually verify that a transaction took place with the agent. He points out that even though some popular real estate websites try to read every review, it is not entirely effective in weeding out the fake reviews. Mr. Srinivasan’s company verifies factual information collected about Realtors® so as to ensure consumer transparency as well holding Realtors® to a higher ethical standard.

by Dan Krell. Copyright © 2011

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.