Housing Information Lives on the Web

Thirty-nine percent of Internet users turn to the Web as a source to look for a place to live, up from 34 percent in 2004, and 27 percent in 2000. The findings are part of a survey released by Pew Internet & American Life Project that looks at how U.S. residents look for a new home.

While the survey finds 39 percent of all Internet users look for a new home online, 27 percent of all U.S. adults use the Internet instead of more traditional sources. That’s up from 13 percent in 2000. On the Internet, users find information and listings from a number of sources such as multiple listing services, searchable housing databases, blogs, and classifieds found on newspaper sites and dedicated sites such as Craigslist.com.

Use of the Web in this category stems from a balance of age and the number of years a user has spent online. Of these two factors, age weighs more heavily. Fifty-one percent of Internet users aged 18 to 29 have searched for a new home or apartment online, versus 43 percent of users aged 30 to 49; 27 percent aged 50 to 64; and 15 percent of Internet users over 65.

“Not only do 51 percent of Internet users aged 18 to 29 look for [housing] information online, 9 percent look on a typical day,” said Susannah Fox, associate director at Pew Internet. “People talk about real estate as the ‘new porn,’ they talk about it like gossip. They are using the Internet to feed curiosity as well as making housing choices.”

Number of years online also factors into the likelihood someone will use the Internet over another source to look for a place to live. Forty-five percent of those who have been online for six years or more use the Web as a source; 30 percent of those online for four-to-five years; 24 percent of those online for two-to-three years; and 22 percent who have less than one year spent online.

Broadband is considered another factor; 45 percent of those with broadband connections at home have used the Internet for housing information, versus 30 percent of Internet users with dial-up service.

A phone survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International in August of 2006. The response rate was 27 percent.

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