During the transition period of 2006 and early 2007, home buyers
adjusted their behavior to adapt to the new housing market environment.
The 8th Annual California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) Internet
Versus Traditional Buyers Survey describes these changes among consumers
in the real estate market, driven in part by the slowdown in the demand
of housing, as well as by the influence that the Internet has on the
real estate marketplace.
• The share of Internet buyers has grown from 28 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2007, while the share of traditional buyers declined from 72 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2007. Growth in the use of the Internet in the home buying and selection process has been accelerated by the growth in broadband use. The two percentage point increase from 2006 to 2007, however, was the smallest increase since the inception of this study.
• Many home buyers preferred the dynamic online experience that the Internet offers over the static paper experience that print advertisements offer. Only 12 percent of all home buyers looked at newspaper/magazine ads to search for a home, while more than seven of ten home buyers used the Internet as a significant part of the home buying and selection process.
• “Multiple pictures/slide shows” continued to be the online feature with the highest rating among all online features, followed by “Map/Directions”.
• Internet buyers were pleased with their experience of using the Internet during the home buying process, as 98 percent expressed above average levels of satisfaction. Almost all agreed that using the Internet helped them better understand the home buying process, more than nine of ten agreed that the Internet helped them understand home values better, and nine of ten agreed that using the Internet put them more in control of the home buying process.
• Home buyers became more patient and more careful about the purchase of their home, resulting in more time devoted to each part of the home buying process. They spent more time considering buying and investigating homes before contacting an agent, and they spent more time previewing homes with their agent.
• Consistent with past years’ results, nine of ten home buyers hired an agent to assist them through the home sales transaction.
• With buyers being more concerned about housing market conditions, and more cautious about their home purchase, they expected quicker and more frequent communication from their agent. Agent qualifications, on the other hand, became secondary in the selection process, perhaps because of the lack of understanding about the value a REALTOR brings to the transaction.
• When asked why they were satisfied with their agent, Internet buyers cited “always quick to respond” and “worked hard on their behalf” as the top two reasons, while traditional buyers said their agent “worked hard” and “negotiated good deal” on their behalf.