WASHINGTON (January 7, 2013) – Real estate-related searches on Google.com have grown 253 percent over the past four years, according to a joint study from the National Association of Realtors® and Google.
“These results parallel the trends shown in NAR’s economic research reports,” said NAR President Gary Thomas, broker-owner of Evergreen Realty in Villa Park, Calif. “As home sales and prices continue to trend up, more people are regaining confidence to invest in their future through homeownership.”
The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate is a joint report from NAR and Google that examines the connection between consumer Internet use and online home search and shopping patterns. The study leverages NAR’s custom research and Google’s proprietary and third-party research. Google collaborated with Compete in 2011 and 2012 to survey and analyze the behaviors of people in the market for new and existing homes. That research focused on people who had completed an online “conversion”– taking the next step of contacting an agent or requesting additional information from a real estate brand’s website.
According to the analysis, buyers used specific online tools at different points during their home search process. Buyers tend to rely on search engines and general websites when they begin their search, use maps more in the middle of the process, and engage mobile applications most toward the end of their search.
In their online search queries, first-time buyers frequently searched terms like “FHA loan,” “FHA,” “home grants,” “home loan,” and “home buyer assistance.” Last year, more than four out of 10 first-time buyers purchased their homes with a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage.
“The fact that first-time buyers are looking for information about FHA loan programs and home buyer assistance underscores some of the challenges today’s home buyers face in today’s tight credit environment,” said Thomas. “Realtors® are excellent sources of information and can help buyers navigate the mortgage financing process.”
Both first-time and repeat buyers rely on Realtors® in their home search. According to the 2012 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, multiple listing service websites and Realtor.com were the top two websites used in recent home searches. Realtor.com, NAR’s official property listing website, attracts an average of more than 20 million unique visitors per month. Mirroring the Google/NAR study, search activity on Realtor.com has picked up significantly in recent months – a 31 percent increase nationwide between March and October of this year.