October 11, 2011

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NAR: Buyers Relying on Referrals


The US National Association of Realtors recently released its 2009 Profile of Homebuyers and Sellers and the results show an even heavier reliance on the Internet to find homes than in 2008.

The often-quoted statistic from the 2008 NAR report had 87 percent of US home buyers looking online for their next home. According to the new NAR figures posted by Sara Bonert, zillow.com’s director of broker relations, that figure has now risen to 90 percent.

Bonert’s blog post also shows that looking online for properties was the first step taken by both first time and repeat buyers, rather than contacting an agent. Buyers spent an average of two weeks on this initial property search before they decided to find an agent to help them with the buying process.

So how did buyers go about finding an agent once they were ready to buy? This is where reliance on the Internet drops off dramatically: according to figures quoted by Leading RE, 44 percent of buyers were referred to their agent by a friend, neighbour or relative. 10 percent went with the agent who previously bought or sold their home, and 10 percent went online to find a new agent.

If buyers are more likely to rely on referrals to choose their agent than to go looking online, are agents wasting valuable time creating a strong web presence? Not so, says Bonert, who points out that agents have a big opportunity to connect with buyers who haven’t yet chosen representation during their initial two week research period.

And before you delete your social networking accounts and cancel your website hosting contract, consider the NAR’s finding that eight out of 10 home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home purchased their house through a real estate agent, while non-Internet users were more likely to purchase directly through a builder or via a private transaction.

LeadingRE points out another significant finding from the report: 66 percent of buyers and 64 percent of sellers contacted just one agent before agreeing to work with them. Eric Bryn, LeadingRE’s vice president of strategic development and intellectual property counsel, sums up this finding best:

“What this tells me is that responsiveness, already a key point in selecting an agent, is likely a key factor in gaining business too. The first agent to pick up the phone, answer an email, respond to a chat, reply to a Tweet, comment on a status update, etc, increases their odds of gaining a new client or retaining an existing one.”

Finally, Denver property website Mile High Urban Living quotes another finding from the report that won’t surprise regular propertyadguru.com readers: The most valued features for real estate websites were property photos, detailed property information, virtual tours, real estate agent contact information, and interactive maps.


Related posts:

  1. Buyers are Often Sellers Too!
  2. getanoffer.co.uk Aims for “Serious Buyers”
  3. Referrals Still the Top Strategy
  4. NAR Survey Shows Low Tech Agents
  5. NAR Web Indexing Vote Postponed
  6. Report Reveals Gaps in Aussie Social Media Use


  1. Rachael Lord says:

    Whats the bet that 10% of those who find agents online will increase in the future!

  2. Yvonne Alpan says:

    I further that bet the trend can only increase and the more information you put about the property the more they will look at it and come back to it. Internet has changed our way at looking and sourcing information and it goes right across the board few people don’t use it, so now a majority for source of all our information. It can only mean an increase in the way buyers look for homes and it will become very much the norm. in very near future. You cannot afford to sit back and expect old methods to work yes they still work but now they have to be in conjunction with the internet and I don’t think anyone can afford to ignore that. If companies do I believe it will be at their peril it make take time to show but not that long as things move very fast now and getting left behind is certainly not a good feeling for any company.


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