Home Buyer Research Says Home Buyers Research (more than agents think)

By Rebecca Chandler

home buyerMy office is literally littered with research.  Ask anyone who walks in.   Research studies on real estate advertising, home buyer trends, and home seller stats.  Consumer media usage.  Email marketing trends.  Social media for real estate studies.   Real Estate Book advertiser studies.  Real estate lead tracking studies.  The list goes on and on.   

It's overwhelming at times.  But, one of our core corporate values is that we make fact-based decisions.  Recently, we partnered with Josh Gordon, an independent media consultant to track the habits of home buyers.  We then compared that data to the assumptions of real estate agents on buyer habits.  In other words, we asked buyers how they shopped for homes and agents and then asked agents how they thought buyers shopped. There were some similarities and some disconnects.

For example, generally home buyer and agents agree on the reasons that a buyer chooses a specific agent with whom to work.  Both believe that the #1 reason is trust, followed by knowledge and experience. 

However, a disconnect lies in the reasons the agent was NOT chosen to represent the buyer.  Buyers said that, in most cases, it was simply too early in the process.  Buyers today spend more time looking at neighborhoods and homes  (12 weeks in total according to the 2009 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers) and are loaded with information prior to selecting an agent to represent them. 

Where do they look for information?  They did not select a single media  for research, but used multiple sources of information to make their decisions.  Websites that feature multiple agents was chosen most often, followed by referrals from a friend or a previous relationship with the agent, and then real estate magazines.  Social media outlets were used the least followed by newspaper advertising.

One misconception agents had was that buyers relied less on these information sources after they'd chosen an agent.  However,  66% of buyers indicated that they made no change to their search habits at all.  They continued to consult all areas of information just as they had done prior to selecting an agent.  They looked through homes on multiple websites and 63% said they continued to use real estate magazines throughout their entire home search. In fact, most still consulted the same sources they had before selecting an agent.

What does this tell us?  Buyers use multiple media for their entire home search.  They research longer before engaging an agent.  They continue to seek information afterward and they choose an agent when they are ready based on what they've seen and to whom they've spoken.   This is why top agents keep their personal brand and listings in front of buyers across multiple media platforms to create top of mind awareness when the buyer is ready to act.

Stay tuned for more insights from the buyer study and from our seller study. More to come . . . .

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