What Do We Know About Home Buyers?

2012 was the Year of the Buyer … AGAIN. Low prices and low mortgage rates favored buyers who were able to use good credit and sizeable down payments to achieve home ownership. But what else do we know about home buyers?

According to the 2012 Home Buyer Survey, conducted by the California Association of Realtors, we know that:

Home buyers are getting younger. The average age declined from 44 in 2006 to 35 in 2012.

  • Most have a college degree and an annual household income over $75,000.
  • Buyers spend an average of three months considering a home purchased before contacting a real estate agent. Nearly all buyers used an agent and most of those who did found their agent online. The average buyer interviewed at least two agents before selecting the one with whom they would work.
  • When it comes to service from their agents, buyers want the most responsive and most aggressive agent representing them. An agent’s reputation and experience are highly valued qualities to home buyers in selecting their agent.
  • Communication is a key element of the agent and client relationship. The majority of buyers prefers communicating with their agents by email and text message and expects a fast response time.
  • Buyers were most satisfied with agents who found the best home and worked hard; they were least satisfied with those who responded too slowly and were ineffective, especially in communicating.
  • Most home buyers find ratings valuable in selecting an agent and are most likely to rate agents on a public forum if they had a bad experience.
  • Attractively low home prices were the primary reason for buying. Also important to buyers are the property tax and mortgage interest deductions.
  • Most buyers (80 percent) found their home through an agent, but the percentage who found their home online is growing.
  • Nine out of every 10 buyers are receptive to receiving information about the home buying process directly from their agent via social media.
  • The average buyer searched for a home with an agent for two months and viewed about nine homes before making a purchase.
  • Seven in 10 escrows do not close on time and this is reflected in the declining satisfaction with the home finding process.
  • The internet is an important tool in the home buying process. Realtor.com and Zillow are the most widely used and most useful websites among buyers. The majority of buyers even found the home they ended up buying on those two sites.
  • Buyers are turning more to social media, with more than two-thirds using it in the buying process, and nearly all (90%) being receptive to receiving information in this format.
  • The majority of buyers obtained 30-year fixed rate loans to finance their purchases. While the average buyer is putting about 25% down on a house, they are still having difficulty obtaining financing.

The internet is critically important to attracting today’s home buyer. In fact, says the report, “Buyers are doing a lot of research online about homes, neighborhoods, properties, agents, financing and more. Consequently, it is imperative for real estate professionals to have a strong web presence and to maintain a good reputation, especially with a greater percentage of buyers reviewing agent ratings on public forums.”

SOURCE: The California Association of Realtors: 2012 Home Buyer Survey

By Jess Maria

Jessica Maria is an avid business and lifestyle writer on subjects ranging from technology to real estate to immigration. Her work has appeared in magazines in the United States, New Zealand, Australia, the UK and the UAE. She lives in California’s wine country, with her husband and two young sons.

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