First-time home buyers are playing a larger role in the housing market, but they’re finding big changes. Thirty-nine percent of home sales nationwide were from first-time home buyers during the 12-month period ending June 2012, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. That's up from 37 percent a year earlier. But while first-time home buyers...
The report, “The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate,” includes custom research from NAR’s 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers as well as internal Google data and research conducted by Google and third-party marketing firm Compete.
Real estate-related searches on Google.com rose 253 percent over the past four years according to internal Google data.
Nine out of 10 house hunters searched online during the homebuying process with 52 percent choosing that as their first step in the process, the report said. Those who used search engines were 9 percent more likely to take an action on a real estate brand website than those who did not search and those who searched performed an average of 11 searches prior to taking an action, the report said.
Google and Compete tracked the behavior of users who completed a specific desired “conversion activity” at a real estate website during second-quarter 2011 and second-quarter 2012.
These activities included registering to buy or sell a home, sharing a listing, submitting a lead form, using a mortgage calculator, viewing a contact phone number, or viewing directions to a home or agent office. Google and Compete backtracked 90 days from the time a user completed one of these actions to uncover behavior patterns that lead to the activity.
The report’s findings included insights on how house hunters are using online search, mobile devices, and video more and more in their homebuying endeavors.
“Increasingly, online technologies are driving offline behaviors, and homebuying is no exception,” said Patrick Grandinetti, Google’s head of real estate, in a statement.
“With 90 percent of homebuyers searching online during their homebuying process, the real estate industry is smart to target these people where they look for and consume information — for example, through paid search, relevant websites, video environments, and mobile applications.”
Buyers in general searched for homes an average of three weeks before contacting an agent. However, there was a great deal of variety among buyers — 40 percent of new-home buyers did not contact an agent for 120 days after they start researching, while nearly a quarter contacted an agent that same day.
YouTube searches related to agents, including finding an agent, grew 46 percent on an annual basis in the third quarter. The study found some generational differences in the online behaviors of buyers. Among first-time buyers, 52 percent first turned to the Internet for homebuying information. Nearly 8 in 10 (77 percent) first-timer buyers drove by a home they first viewed online, the report said.
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