Most home buyers first learned about the homes they purchased through a real estate agent or the Internet, according to a survey conducted for Prudential CA/NV/TX Realty, while 5 percent of respondents said they discovered the properties in a newspaper.

About 18 percent of respondents said they found the home they purchased by viewing a yard sign or driving by the home, and 9 percent said they learned about the home through a friend.

About 36 percent of buyers who bought a home in the last three years said they first learned about the properties from their agent, while 31 percent of buyers said they learned about the properties through the Internet, according to the telephone survey.

The survey is based on responses from 300 adults living in private households in Northern California who purchased a home in the past three years and used the Internet to search and view homes.

“Agents remain an essential source of information for consumers, but the relationship is changing as agents play more of a consulting role,” said Sherry Chris, chief operating officer of Prudential CA/NV/TX Realty, in a statement.

When buyers were asked to identify the most important reasons for visiting a real estate Web site, the top three responses were: “looking at property photos,” 89 percent; “property search,” 85 percent; and “mapping a property,” 77 percent.

Less popular responses included finding “financing information,” 31 percent; “locating an agent,” 26 percent; and “career information,” 11 percent.

About 91 percent of respondents said they most enjoyed using the Internet for their home search because “it saves time,” while 45 percent said “it empowers you in the transaction.”

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