Real estate websites allow consumers to vet homes from the comfort of their keyboards, so you might imagine that they have reduced the number of properties buyers visit before pulling the trigger.
In fact, the opposite appears to be true.
Buyers who search properties online actually visit many more homes and search for much longer than people who don’t look for homes on the Web, according to a report released by the National Association of Realtors, “Real Estate in a Digital Age.”
Buyers who search properties online visit 10 listings over a 10-week period before finding a home, while buyers who search offline only tour just four homes over a four-week period before settling on a property, according to the report.
Given that the vast majority of people search for homes online, the finding raises the possibility that listing search websites have actually boosted the value — and perhaps even the workload — of agents by jacking up the number of properties agents show to the average buyer.
That may help explain why the share of buyers who purchased their home with assistance from a real state agent rose to 88 percent in 2014 from 83 percent in 2010.
Even with the easy availability of listings online, about a third of buyers still first learn about the home that they end up purchasing from a real estate agent. That’s down from 48 percent in 2001, but still impressively high considering the popularity of listing portals.
Meanwhile, the share of buyers who find the home they purchase using the Internet has predictably spiked — jumping to 43 percent from 8 percent in 2001.
But most still find their home through other sources:
- Real estate agent (33 percent)
- Yard sign or open house (9 percent)
- Friend, relative or neighbor (6 percent)
- Homebuilder or the homebuilder’s agent (5 percent)
- Print newspaper advertisement (1 percent)
- Other (3 percent)
One takeaway: Buying newspaper ads to publicize listings may not be the greatest investment — at least from a seller’s perspective.