LOS ANGELES -- The Internet buyer has become the "typical" homebuyer over the last few years, according to the California Association of Realtors' "2006 Internet Versus Traditional Buyer Survey," released this month. Since 2001, the share of homebuyers using the Internet as an integral part of the home-buying process has nearly doubled to 70 percent.
While the characteristics of Internet buyers and their traditional counterparts have started to converge, important distinctions between the two segments remain. According to the C.A.R. report, Internet buyers were younger, wealthier, better educated and more likely to be married than traditional buyers. Internet buyers also reported greater satisfaction with the home-buying process compared with traditional buyers.
"The Internet is changing the dynamics between buyers and their agents, as well as the way business is conducted throughout the real estate industry. However, while the Internet has become an important research tool for home buyers, it has only enhanced the Realtor's role in the transaction," said C.A.R. President Vince Malta. "Buyers continue to rely on their Realtors for help with interpreting the information gathered from the Internet and to guide them through the home-buying process."
According to the survey, more than nine out of 10 Internet buyers indicated that the Internet helped them better understand the process of buying a home. Additionally, Internet buyers are accustomed to receiving more frequent communication and faster response times from their Realtors.
"More and more consumers have high-speed Internet access at home, enabling them to gather information on all types of products and services both quickly and easily," said Malta. "This trend has carried over to the process of buying a home. As a result, home buyers are more informed, have a greater sense of control over the process, and hold high expectations concerning how quickly they receive information."
Internet buyers and traditional buyers expressed significant differences in how they conducted their home-buying research. Internet buyers conducted more research at the onset of the home-buying process, while traditional buyers relied more on their agent as their source of information.
Other key findings from C.A.R.'s survey include: