Every year the National Association of Realtors does and in-depth survey of over 80,000 home buyers and sellers across the country. The survey covers all aspects of the home selling process and gathers detailed information about the experiences of buyers and sellers. For those interested in how the buying and selling process works, it’s an interesting read. For those that don’t have the time or inclination, I thought I would summarize some of the most interesting topics from the 2011 survey report.
As the internet has moved into the mainstream of everyday life, it’s not surprising that it’s become a major tool in the buying and selling of real estate. Roughly 90 percent of all home buyers used the internet in some form to purchase their home. The use ranges from 35 percent who first looked online for information about the home buying process; to another 55 percent who used the internet to gather information about a market or view information about a particular property. Before contacting a real estate agent, home buyers typically spend about two weeks gathering their own information online on properties of interest. Heavy internet users spent twice as much time searching for properties and visited three times as many homes as buyers who were light internet users.
Despite the increase in the use of technology in the home buying process, the use of real estate brokers by buyers has also grown. In 2001, 69 percent of buyers reported using the services of a real estate broker to find and purchase real estate. In 2011, that number had grown to 89 percent. As in many industries, the use of online tools has also increased the use of off-line services as well. The survey also reported a high degree of satisfaction with the real estate brokerage profession, with 98 percent of buyers viewing real estate brokers as a useful source of information and helpful in the home buying process. Nearly nine in 10 buyers indicated that they would use their broker again or recommend them to others.
During the past decade a general feeling persisted that the rise of the use of technology in the real estate business might diminish the role of brokers. This recent survey seems to indicate just the opposite is taking place. Perhaps due to the growing complexity of the home selling process, the survey reports that more and more sellers are turning to professional real estate brokers to sell their properties than at any time in the past. Currently, 85 percent of home sellers sold their properties with the assistance of a real estate broker. For-sale-by-owners (FSBO) represent only 11 percent of all sales and that’s been declining steadily over the past decade.
While the National Association of Realtors survey indicates that the process of buying and selling real estate is changing, the changes are not what most observers might have thought a decade ago. A decade ago many were predicting that the internet would diminish the roll of professionals in the buying and selling process. What seems to be taking place, however, is the internet has become the center of information flow and has increased the amount of information available to both buyers and sellers. At the same time, buyers and sellers are turning more and more to real estate professionals to help them interpret the flow of information and help them manage the process of buying and selling real estate.
This opinion article is provided by William Small, JD, CCIM, managing director of Frias Luxury Estates, a division of Frias Properties of Aspen. Email him at email@example.com.