The buying process begins long before buyers actually contact an agent. On average, buyers started considering a purchase nearly six months (23.7 weeks) before contacting a real estate agent, up notably from 12.2 weeks last year. They are also taking their time investigating homes and neighborhoods before contacting an agent, spending a little over seven months on this compared to about 1.5 months last year. The median number of weeks that buyers spent looking for a home with their agent also increased from 9 weeks last year to 9.8 weeks this year. The lengthier consideration time and home search reflect the limited availability of homes for sale and the increasing prices, which are causing buyers to weigh their options more carefully.
When they were finally ready to make a purchase, buyers tended not to move very far away from their previous homes—the median distance from their last residence was 27 miles. More than 8 out of every 10 buyers (85 percent) made offers on other homes and one-third claim they settled for the best option given the limited supply of houses. Price decreases, desire for a better location and favorable financing were the top three reasons that buyers purchased. Nearly half did not buy sooner because there were not many good housing options, others waited to see when prices would stabilize or had difficulty qualifying for a mortgage. The average buyer plans to stay in their home for six years.