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Excerpted from an article by Bob Hunt for realtytimes.com

“One of the most useful research projects of the National Association of REALTORS (NAR) is the annual survey of home buyers and sellers.  It is particularly useful because it shows sellers and their agents what works and what sources buyers use to find their new homes.  This is the survey’s 35th year.

The most recent version (2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers) became available in November of this year.  Information is based on answers to a 132-page question survey mailed to a random sample of 93,171 consumers who purchased a home between July 2015 and June 2016.  There was a 5.9% response rate.

In 2015, first-time home buyers constituted just 32% of the market – the lowest participation by these buyers since  1987 (30%).  In 2016, the first-time buyer rate rose three points to 35%, with the highest percentage of first-time buyers in the northeast (44%).  Over the years the historic norms for the country have been in the 40% range.  As more low-down payment mortgage programs come into the market, there may be a good chance of returning to those norms.

The most useful information is to be found in the section on the home search process.  These survey results are not significantly different from those of recent years, the trends continue.  This year 86% of buyers said that they used the internet frequently during the search process.  This past year 54% of buyers said they frequently used a mobile or tablet application.  That is a newer and growing phenomenon.  71% of buyers said they frequently relied on a real estate agent for information.

Forty-four percent of buyers went to the internet as the first step in the home search process.  17% contacted a real estate agent first.  Interestingly, 7% of home buyers began the process by going to a bank or mortgage company.

Buyers used multiple sources of info in the process of looking for a home.  The most used sources are on-line websites (95%) and real estate agents (92%).  Mobile or tablet applications (72%) have replaced yard signs as the third most used source of info (yard signs are not allowed in Connestee Falls).  Only 16% of buyers indicate that they used newspaper ads as an info source, with a mere 3% got info from television.

The most useful info has to do with where buyers actually found the home that they ultimately purchased.  The highest in that category (51%) was the internet.  Agents are second at 34%.  This is not to say that buyers bought their home through the internet.  The typical scenario would be that a consumer sees the home on the internet, and then contacts an agent.  90% of those who used the internet to search purchased their home through an agent.

The differences in a little more than a decade are striking.  In 2001, 48% of buyers learned about their home through an agent, and only 8% found their home on the internet.

The 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows what works.  It’s a valuable resource.

SOURCE:  Bob Hunt for realtytimes.com

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