• In most areas, it's cheaper to buy than rent -- in fact, it can be 23 percent cheaper for millennials to buy.
  • Most buyers start their search online and continue use the Internet throughout the process.
  • Even with all the information accessible to buyers, they still rely on agents to walk them through the process.

The real estate market is always changing, and the growing reliance on technology in our industry makes it move even faster. Buyers and sellers search for homes and communicate differently than they did just two decades ago.

On top of that, they also have more access to data and information than ever before. What are some trends that will have an impact on how you do business in 2016? Read on to find out.

1. Buying costs less than renting

In most areas, it’s cheaper to buy instead of rent. According to Trulia, nationally, it’s 35 percent cheaper to buy instead of rent, and CNN Money reports that for millennials, it’s 23 percent cheaper.

According to recent trends, rents will only continue to rise. If you have clients who have been on the fence about buying, this might be the encouragement they need to spring into action and make their dream of homeownership a reality.

2. The Internet is king

The Internet continues to be the first stop for buyers and sellers looking for information. In fact, 43 percent of all buyers looked for properties online before contacting an agent or looking for information about the homebuying process.

This percentage is even higher for younger buyers or millennials. It only makes sense. After all, younger buyers are more likely to have grown up with computers in their homes and access to the Web from an early age.

But they’re not the only ones using the Internet to answer their questions — the National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers shows that most buyers continue to search for information on the Internet throughout the homebuying process.

3. Agents are still necessary

According to National Association of Realtors Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 88 percent of buyers would use their agent again or refer him or her to others. Despite having incredible access to information, buyers and sellers still rely on agents to guide them through the real estate process.

Buyers want their agents to help them find the right home, negotiate a great deal and help them with all the paperwork. Sellers, on the other hand, want their agents to market their home to potential buyers, sell it within a particular period and price it to sell.

Technology hasn’t made agents obsolete — it’s made them more valuable. After all, a computer, tablet or smartphone isn’t going to hold your hand through the process and the Internet certainly won’t infer frustration by your tone of voice and offer reassurance.

Although more and more buyers will use the Internet and mobile devices in their home searches, there’s no doubt that they’ll need the expertise of a trusted agent or broker by their side to help them make this important purchase.

Brian Buffini is the chairman and founder of Buffini & Company. You can follow Brian and Buffini & Company on Facebook.

Email Brian Buffini.

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