A new way to shop for homes in a virtual world

In a year when we’re learning to do so much remotely, homebuying is no exception. From going to work to attending school, grocery shopping, and even seeing our doctors online, digital practices have changed the way we live.

This year, rather than delaying their home purchases, buyers – alongside their trusted real estate professionals – turned to the Internet to do more than just a typical home search. In some cases, they bought homes without even stepping foot inside. Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavioral Insights at the National Association of Realtors (NAR),

One in every 20 homebuyers purchased a house sight-unseen during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study. My Button

Before March, only 3% of buyers purchased a home without ever setting foot on the property. The pandemic brought a small 2 percentage point bump to virtual homebuying, according to a new study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

“People really didn’t buy houses sight-unseen, traditionally. It’s still not a huge number, but it has gone up, and we have definitely seen that trend accelerate,” said Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at NAR.

How Your Real Estate Agent Will Pave the Way

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Today, real estate professionals are using digital practices to help home buyers and sellers walk through many steps in the process virtually. While following the regulations set forth by the CDC and all local guidelines, this year, agents quickly empowered buyers and sellers with virtual tours, 3D floor plans, high-quality photos, videos, online open houses, and more. For those who had homebuying and selling needs in 2020, trusted advisors made it possible in many markets.

Here’s a graph showing some of the digital options buyers found most helpful in their searches this year, as noted by NAR in the 2020 profile of home buyer and seller

Digital home search preference
  • First-time buyers made up 31% of all home buyers, a dip from last year’s 33%. My Button
  • The typical buyer was 47 years old this year, and the median household income for 2019 rose again this year to $96,500.
  • 12% of home buyers purchased a multi-generational home, to take care of aging parents, because of children over the age of 18 moving back home, and for cost-saving.
  • 18% of recent home buyers were veterans and 2% were active-duty service members.

The report also mentions that buyers this year generally searched for eight weeks. Throughout that search, they viewed a median of 9 homes, but not all of them were seen in-person.

“Buyers viewed five homes online and four homes in-person during the pandemic, compared to nine homes in-person in 2019, according to NAR. This was the first year NAR asked buyers to specify the number of homes toured virtually.”

In true 2020 fashion, virtual practices helped buyers safely narrow down their top choices, so they didn’t have to unnecessarily walk into more homes than they needed to see throughout the process. Here’s the breakdown by region: My Button

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