How Home Buyers and Home Sellers Acted in 2019

There were a few surprises but most home buyers and home sellers acted as expected in 2019. Here are the highlights of the 2019 home buyers and home sellers survey as reported by the National Association of Realtors. Technology and the internet continue to be “the” source for home shoppers; everyone is drinking from a firehose with the amount of info out there. There a some are unexpected findings and a few are just head scratching. We hit the high points and add our two cents in where needed…

The Home Search Process

* The first step for 44% of buyers was looking at properties on line. 93% of buyers found online information the most useful resource. 16% of buyers first contacted a real estate agent to start the search. (Zillow is by far the launch pad for most buyers)
* The typical buyer not using the internet spent 4 weeks searching and visited 4 homes; those using the internet spent 10 weeks searching and visited 10 homes.
* 87% of buyers online found photos very useful, 85% found detailed information very useful. (Quality photos are critical)

Characteristics of Home Buyers

* First-time buyers made up 33% of all home buyers, same as last year.
* The typical buyer was 47 years old with a median household income of $93,200.
* Of all buyers, 61% married, 17% single females, 9% single males and 9% unmarried couples.

Characteristics of Homes Purchased

* 13% of homes bought were new, 87% previously owned. (the agent on site DOES NOT represent the buyer in any way)
* 39% of buyers bought new to avoid renovation and potential problems. 33% of buyers saw existing homes as better value.
* Typical home was 1,850 sq ft, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, built in 1990+-.
* 15 miles was the median distance between homes purchased and moved from.

Home Sellers and Their Selling Experience

* The typical home seller was 57 years old, with a median household income of $102,900.
* Most commonly cited reasons for selling was to be closer to friends and family (16%), too small (13%), job relocation (11%).
* 34% of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers.

Home Selling and Real Estate Professionals

Agents MUST be technologically proficient & social media savvy; understanding how buyers & sellers operate on line is critical. They must be curators of the key info; able to help clients weed through the piles of on line information. Agents must be responsive & available when the phone rings or text/email arrives; the client’s success depends on this. Quality agents understand this and savvy clients demand it.

* 89% of home sellers worked with a real estate agent to sell their home.
* 75% of recent sellers contacted only one agent to sell their home. (WHY? Zillow every recommendation, meet with at least 3)
* 66% either used the agent before or got them through referral.
* 89% of sellers had their homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), the main source for listings.

And the rest of the key points…

* 8% of sales were “by owner” without agents. (Almost all sold to people they knew ahead of time)
* 12% of buyers purchased a multigenerational home to care for aging relative, for children moving back home and for cost-savings.
* Buyers expect to remain in their homes for a median of 15 years, 20% said won’t move again. (Much shorter duration around Atlanta)

The key takeaway here is how impactful technology is and will continue to be. For sellers, homes must well presented and exposed in the places buyers are looking. A few garbage cell phone pics, failure to hit all aspects of the home, poor or missing custom narratives…buyers swipe and move on. Answers to inquiries are expected almost immediately; “No sale” when agents fail to answer the phone WHEN IT RINGS and fail to answer an email or text WHEN RECEIVED. 93% of buyers find the internet MOST useful for info; that is well ahead of their use of agents…this trend will continue.

The second key point is agent selection. With so many buyers and sellers using the internet, why did 75% of sellers not compare agents? Retaurants, movies, hotels, airlines….all reviewed before decisions are made. But when it comes to buying or selling a home, it’s too hard to spend 10 minutes reading reviews on Zillow and Google to research an agent? This is likely the largest financial decision anyone makes, treat it that way.

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