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SOURCE:  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 their annual survey of homebuyers 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 30th year that NAR has conducted an annual survey of those who have purchased and sold their homes.  The most recent became available in November of this year, based on answers to a 131-question survey sent to a random sample of 145,000 consumers who purchased a home between July 2016 and June 1017.  After accounting for undeliverable surveys, there was a 5.6% response rate.

In 2016, first-time buyers constituted 32% of the market, the lowest participation rate by first-time buyers since 1987 (30%).  This year, the first-time buyer rate was 34%  Geographically, the  highest percentage of first-time buyers was in the northeast (43%).  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 turning to these norms.

The most useful info for sellers and their agents came from the section on the home search process.  Recent trends continue.  86% of buyers said that they used the internet during the search process.  In 2003, that number was only 42%.  This past year, 55% of buyers used a mobile or tablet application…a newer and growing phenomenon.  68% of buyers said they frequently relied on a real estate agent for information.

Forty-two percent of buyers went to the internet as the first step in the home search process. 17% contacted a real estate agent first, and 6% began by driving through neighborhoods looking for homes for sale.  Driving around can be an option, because half the homes purchased were within 15 miles of the buyers’ previous residence.  Interestingly, 8% of buyers began the process by going to a bank or mortgage company.

Buyers use multiple sources of information in the process of looking for a home.  The most used sources are websites (95%), and real estate agents (89%).  Mobile or tablet apps have replaced yard signs as the third most used source.  Only 15% indicate they used newspaper ads as an info source, and only 2% garnered info from television.

Certainly the most relevant source has to do with where they actually found the home they ultimately purchased…this year that source was the internet (49%).  Next was agents, at 31%.  This is not to say that buyers actually bought their home through the internet.  The typical scenario is that a consumer sees the home on the internet, and then contacts his or her agent.  **88% of those who used the internet to search purchased their home through an agent.**

The differences in a little more than a decade are fascinating.  In 2001, 48% of buyers learned about their home through a real estate agent, and only 8% found their home on the internet.  The times – they have changed!

Some things, though, remain the same – or close to it. In 2001, yard signs persist as sources, but at a much lower percentage.  Print media may not be dead, but it has shrunk to insignificance…”

SOURCE: Bob Hunt for realtytimes.com.  The 2017 Profile of  Home Buyers and Sellers (https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/research-reports/highlights/from-the-profile-of-home-buyers-and-sellers) shows what works, and is a valuable resource.

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