Realtors, Home Buyers Turning to the Net

A study of potential home buyers, realtors, and users found that approximately two-thirds of realtors use the Internet for business purposes, and a rapidly growing number of consumers are searching for homes online.

The survey “Realtors and the Internet” was released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and it evaluates the impact of online technologies on the real estate industry. The survey found that 23 percent of all potential home buyers surveyed in May of 1999 searched for a home online, and that 58 percent of all potential buyers feel online searching is extremely valuable or very valuable.

A survey by NAR in 1995 showed only 2 percent of home buyers were using the Internet as a real estate search tool.

The survey also found that 65 percent of realtors use the Internet for business purposes, and three-fourths of those using the Web make it an important part of their listing presentations. Ninety percent of real estate professionals using the Internet generate at least one percent of their business online, according to NAR president Sharon Millett.

A similarity seems to have developed between online shoppers for homes and those buying another high-ticket item — cars — online. Both groups use the Internet for research, and then establish contact with a human to follow-up or make a sale. The vast majority of users are looking for home listings, the survey found, not real estate agents or companies.

“Generally, consumers contact brokers and real estate agents after doing their homework on the Web site,” Millett said.

The survey also found that users have a median household income of $63,300, nearly $17,000 above the typical potential home buyer. There was little gender or age difference between the groups, however.

When asked what the most valuable features of online listings were, 79 percent of the respondents said detailed property information, 68 percent said multiple photos, 66 percent said home address and neighborhood, 60 percent cited a location map, and 49 percent said community information.

More than 60 percent of Internet-savvy professionals told the survey customers contact them by email. Two-thirds of the online contacts that realtors receive are interested in a specific home found on the Web. Twenty-seven percent are looking for homes in the specific market area.

The study was conducted in May of 1999. One portion consisted of 6,665 respondents to an online survey conducted by Another portion consisted of 500 respondents to a telephone survey of randomly selected potential buyers who were searching for a house. A telephone survey of 500 NAR members asked a series of questions about the impact of the Internet on their business.

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