How are Home Buyers Using the Internet? By Carmen Hirciag, MBA Research Analyst
The internet is now a normal part of our daily routine, so it is no surprise that it was an important tool to buyers in the home buying process; 96 percent of buyers used it during the process, a significant rise from 28 percent in 2000.
When it comes to specific online activities, previewing homes is most important to buyers—they rated it at 8.9 on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being most important. Also important is identifying specific homes that buyers wanted their agents to show them (7.5) and finding an agent (7.2). The diagram below lists the ratings of other buyer internet activities.
Realtor.com and Zillow are very popular among buyers. Realtor.com has been the most widely used website by buyers since 2003, with 87 percent indicating that they used it in 2012. It is also the most useful website, followed by Zillow and individual brokerage websites, which have consistently been reported as the top three most useful websites by buyers since 2007. Additionally, more than half of all buyers (54 percent) found their home on realtor.com or Zillow.
The use of social media in the buying process also gained some ground, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) of buyers using it, compared to only 52 percent last year. Buyers primarily used it for buying tips and suggestions from friends, neighborhood information from friends and to view their agents’ Facebook pages. This form of communication is expected to grow in the future, with 90 percent of buyers indicating they are receptive to receiving information about the home buying process directly from their agent via social media.