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Agents Still Outperform the Internet, Say Buyers

April 30 2010


The more technologically advanced home buying becomes, the more it remains the same.

According to the 2009 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers from the National Association of REALTORS®, home buyers find real estate agents as the most useful information source.

They may access the Internet more often, said 76% of home buyers in 2008, but they also went to real estate agents for information (68%.)

This year, buyers needed more help. Inventories were higher across much of the nation, requiring more time to sort. For example, in 2001, buyers spent 7 weeks searching for homes, while in 2009, they spent 12 weeks.

Experienced home buyers spent only two weeks searching for homes before contacting an agent and found their new home within 10 weeks.

In addition, market conditions were challenging to home buyers, which is one reason why retaining a real estate agent remains important.

At least 13% of home buyers reported that they had a purchase agreement that was cancelled, terminated, or fell through.

Also, foreclosures saturated the market, requiring expertise in negotiations, loan origination, and more. Thirty percent of home buyers purchased distressed homes in the third quarter of 2009. Nearly half of home buyers considered buying a home in foreclosures but didn’t because they couldn’t find the right home, the process was too difficult, or the home was in poor condition, among others.

One figure that has improved dramatically is the use of the Internet by home buyers, up to 90% in 2009 from 71% in 2003.

This improvement can also be attributed to real estate agents and their service providers, who make information about homes much more available, including multiple photos, videos, neighborhood information, and more.  For that reason, home buyers turned to real estate agent Web sites, texts, email alerts and other Internet-based technologies to search for homes.

Overwhelmingly, home buyers used multiple listing service Websites (60%), real estate company Websites (46%,) Realtor.com (46%, Realtor.com only receives its listings from MLS services and real estate brokers) and real estate agent Websites (45%.)

Home buyers most often found the home they purchased through a real estate agent (40%) while 35% found their home through the Internet.

Finally, 79% of home buyers purchased a home through a real estate agent.

In 2008 and 2009, home buyers found the home they ultimately purchased through their real estate agent (34% and 36% respectively), more often than on the Internet (32% and 36% respectively.)