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Homebuyers increase reliance on Internet

by Diana Dietz on

122584470Homebuyers are increasing their reliance on the Internet but are also developing different patterns for using it in their home searches, according to a new joint study by the National Association of Realtors® and Google.

The Digital House Hunt: Consumer and Market Trends in Real Estate found nine out of 10 homebuyers rely on the Internet as one of their primary research sources. Real estate-related searches on Google have grown 253 percent over the past four years.

“Increasingly, online technologies are driving offline behaviors, and home buying is no exception,” said Google Head of Real Estate Patrick Grandinetti. “With 90 percent of home buyers searching online during their home buying process, the real estate industry is smart to target these people where they look for and consume information – for example through paid search, relevant websites, video environments, and mobile applications.”

Multiple listing service websites and were found to be the top two websites used in recent home searches attracting more than 20 million unique visitors in an average month. According to, today’s buyers search most frequently on numbers of bedrooms and bathrooms, square footage, garages, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and swimming pools.

Online search queries also reveal first-time homebuyers frequently searched words like “FHA loan,” “FHA,” “home grants,” “home loan,” and “home buyer assistance.” In 2012, more than four out of 10 first-time buyers purchased their homes with a Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgage.

Mobile devices continue to change the way buyers search for homes. According to Google’s data, 48 percent of people who use a mobile device in their home search used the device to get directions to homes for sale, and 45 percent used the device to request more information about specific home features or real estate services.

“Technology has transformed the way Realtors® do business, but in real estate, high tech doesn’t come at the expense of high touch,” said Steven Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc., which operates “Rather than displacing real estate agents, the Internet is actually helping connect them with homebuyers. And Realtors® are responding by leveraging resources like, Facebook and YouTube to engage buyers and sellers in ever-evolving ways.”

The full report can be viewed here.


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