Saturday, 21 October 2017

NAR Survey Provides Some Clear Lessons

Written by Posted On Wednesday, 17 January 2007 00:00

One of the most interesting things about the studies of home buyers and sellers that the National Association of Realtors® has been conducting since 1997 has been that they showed trends. Most notably, over the years we have witnessed a steadily increasing use of the internet in the homebuying process. On the other hand, one of the most interesting aspects of the recently-released 2006 National Association of Realtors® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is that it reveals only slight changes from the year before. It is important to be aware of change; but it is also important to know that certain trends may have settled in for a while.

As in past years, the number of buyers using the internet in their searches for homes has increased, but this time it is only from 79 to 80 percent. We may have reached a saturation point of internet users. Maybe there will always be about 20 percent who just don't get it.

There was also a drop in the number of buyers who used a real estate agent, but only from 90 to 85 percent. Still, a large majority of those looking for a home choose to engage the assistance of an agent.

Of course, people don't use just one source of information. Most of those who use an agent also use the internet. Sixty-five percent of those looking for a home still drive around and look for yard signs. Fifty-five percent seek to obtain information from newspaper ads, and 47 percent go to open houses.

It is one thing to know what information sources buyers use, it is another to find out what they perceived to be useful. Of those who used the internet, 73 percent reported that they found that to be very useful. Sixty-nine percent of those who consulted with a real estate agent indicated that doing so provided a very useful source of information. 31 percent found that yards signs were very useful sources of information, and 20 percent said that of newspaper ads.

There is another important distinction to be made as well. It is to note the difference between what buyers described as being very useful sources of information and what, in fact, were the information sources from which they actually learned of the home that they ultimately purchased. For example, of the buyers who used open houses as a source of information, 22 percent reported that information source to be very useful. Yet less than 1 percent of buyers found the home that they purchased through an open house.

That is not necessarily contradictory. It may be that many buyers felt that they learned a lot about the marketplace, neighborhoods, and prices by going to open houses, even though they didn't purchase any of the open houses they visited. A person who first learned of the house they ultimately purchased through a real estate agent still might truthfully say that the internet was a valuable source of information to them during the process.

As in past years, the top three sources from which buyers learned of the home they ultimately purchased were real estate agents, the internet, and, of all things, yard signs. At 36 percent, 24 percent, and 15 percent respectively, these three sources accounted for 75 percent of homes found, and were the only sources in double-digit percentages.

For sellers who believe in playing the odds, there are some rather clear lessons from all this. Want to sell your house? Get an agent and have it put into the Multiple Listing Service so that other agents will be exposed to it. Be sure your agent puts it on the internet. Put up a yard sign.

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Bob Hunt

Bob Hunt is a former director of the National Association of Realtors and is author of the recently published book, "Real Estate the Ethical Way." A graduate of Princeton with a master's degree from UCLA in philosophy, Hunt has served as a U.S. Marine, Realtor association president in South Orange County, and director of the California Association of Realtors, and is an award-winning Realtor. Contact Bob at

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