When Does the Home Buying Process Really Begin? By: Carmen Hirciag, MBA - Research Analyst
The home buying process begins long before an agent gets involved. On average, buyers start considering a purchase more than three months (12.2 weeks) before contacting a real estate agent, according to C.A.R.’s 2012 Home Buyer Survey. This is down from over four months (16.6 weeks) last year, a sign of buyers’ eagerness to take advantage of low prices and low interest rates. Buyers have grown increasingly more thoughtful about their buying decision, as this consideration period has more than tripled since its lowest point of 3.8 weeks in 2006. It is no coincidence that buyers began taking more time to mull over purchases in 2007 as housing market conditions worsened; they grew increasingly uncertain about home values, and the economic recession that followed did not remedy the situation.
Buyers are also spending more time investigating homes and neighborhoods before contacting an agent—6.5 weeks, on average, compared to only three weeks in 2005. This is likely the result of more information being available online now, and has lead to REALTORS® getting involved in the buying process at a later point than was the case in the past.