Commuting costs continue to factor strongly in decisions regarding location, with 75 percent of buyers saying transportation costs were important.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents purchased a detached single-family home, 8 percent a condo, 6 percent a townhouse or rowhouse, and 7 percent some other kind of housing. The typical home had three bedrooms and two bathrooms.
Fifty-one percent of homes purchased by all buyers were in a suburb or subdivision, 18 percent in a small town, 17 percent were in an urban area, 12 percent in a rural area and 3 percent in a resort or recreation area. The median distance from the previous residence was 11 miles.
Eighty-nine percent of respondents used real estate agents and brokers to purchase a home, 6 percent purchased directly from a builder and 5 percent directly from the previous owner; 59 percent of buyers working with real estate professionals had a buyer representative arrangement.
The biggest reason people buy a home is the simple desire to own a home of their own, cited by 30 percent of respondents, including 60 percent of first-time buyers. The next biggest reasons for buying were desire for a larger home, cited by 11 percent of respondents; a job-related move, 9 percent; a change in family situation, 8 percent; and the affordability of homes, 7 percent.
Fifteen percent of respondents currently own two homes, and an additional 5 percent own three or more properties.
The typical home seller was 53 years old and their income was $95,400. Sellers moved a median distance of 19 miles and their home was on the market for 11 weeks. Forty-six percent moved to a larger home, 29 percent bought a comparably sized home and 25 percent downsized.
Twelve percent of sellers do not plan to sell their previous home, and 6 percent said their home has not yet sold but they’re currently renting to others.
The typical seller, who purchased a home nine years earlier, realized a median equity gain of $20,000, a 12 percent increase over the original purchase price, while sellers who were in their homes for 11 to 15 years saw a median gain of $54,000, or 31 percent.
Sellers typically found a real estate agent through a referral by a friend, neighbor or relative, or used the agent in a previous transaction; 84 percent are likely to use the agent again or recommend to others.
Like sellers, buyers most commonly choose an agent based on a referral, with trustworthiness and reputation being the most important factors; two out of thee buyers interviewed only one agent. Eighty-nine percent of buyers are likely to use the same agent again or recommend to others.
Of sellers working with real estate agents, the study found that 80 percent used full-service brokerage, in which agents provide a broad range of services and manage most of the aspects of selling a home. Eight percent of sellers chose limited services, which may include discount brokerage, and 12 percent used minimal service, such as simply listing a property on a multiple listing service.
Realtors provide all of these types of services, as do non-member agents and brokers, with similar findings for each year since questions about brokerage services were added in 2006.
For-sale-by-owner transactions accounted for 9 percent of sales, matching the record-low set in 2010 and down from 10 percent in last year’s study, well below the record high of 20 percent set in 1987. The share of homes sold without professional representation has trended lower since last reaching a cyclical peak, which was 18 percent in 1997.
Many FSBO properties are not sold on the open market. Factoring out private sales between parties who knew each other in advance, the actual number of homes sold on the open market without professional assistance was 6 percent.
“An interesting finding is that when asked about the reason for selling, 20 percent of FSBOs said they had been contacted directly by a buyer, up from 15 percent in the 2010 study,” Bishop said. “This is another indication of the tight inventory situation that is developing in various parts of the country, notably in the West.”
The median transaction price for sellers who used an agent was $215,000, well above the $174,900 median for a home sold directly by an owner, but there were differences in the findings. The median income of unassisted sellers was $80,400, in contrast with $97,600 for agent-assisted sellers. Unassisted sellers were much more likely to be selling a smaller home, and they were more likely to be in an urban or central city area, all suggesting a lower home value.
The most difficult tasks reported by unrepresented sellers are understanding and completing paperwork, getting the right price, and preparing or fixing up the home for sale.
NAR mailed an eight-page questionnaire in July 2012 to a national sample of 93,502 home buyers and sellers who purchased their homes between July 2011 and June 2012, according to county records and using the Tailored Survey Design Method. It generated 8,501 usable responses; the adjusted response rate was 9.1 percent. All information is characteristic of the 12-month period ending in June 2012 with the exception of income data, which are for 2011. Because of rounding and omissions for space, percentage distributions for some findings may not add up to 100 percent.
The 2012 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers can be ordered by calling 800-874-6500, or online at www.realtor.org/prodser.nsf/Research. The study costs $19.95 for NAR members and $149.95 for non-members.