How the Internet Informs Homebuyers

A large swath of homebuyers believe they’re better consumers because they use online technology

By By Professional Builder Staff | March 24, 2015
Open laptop awaits consumers using it to search online for information about builders.

In a poll of 1,003 recent homebuyers by Discover Home Loans through Versta Research, 89 percent of respondents said that they used some form of online technology during the search and purchase process. Almost half of the homeowners surveyed said that using the Internet helped save them money, 92 percent said the technology saved them time, and 90 percent reported an overall positive experience because they went on the Web.

Besides searching listings, the other top ways that buyers used online technology were through maps to explore neighborhoods (72 percent) and for submitting documents to lenders through email, apps, or websites (71 percent). 

In an effort to provide more information and set up model home tours or appointments with salespeople, many builders have hired online salespeople to engage website visitors through online chats in real time. Marketing consultant Dawn Sadler, principal of Idea One Media, in New York and San Francisco, recommends that a real person respond within three hours after prospects reach out online, as a quick turnaround increases the sales conversion rate. If the three-hour time frame isn’t possible, a response within 24 hours is a must. 

Some buyers, however, demand a faster reply. “We know that when Gen Y inquires, we have 15 minutes to respond or they will move on to the next thing,” says Tim Kane, president of MBK Homes, in Irvine, Calif. 

Seventy percent of homebuyers in the Discover poll said that they used online calculators to find out what their monthly mortgage payment would be. 

Although homeowners were more informed buyers due to information collected online, 83 percent reported working with a real estate agent to help with the purchase; 98 percent communicated with their agent by phone; and 42 percent felt that they did more work than the agent to initially find their property. 

“Technology is a great resource for buyers because it gives them access to online property listings and allows them to preview homes and find reviews on real estate agents and mortgage lenders,” says TJ Freeborn, Discover’s senior manager of customer experience. “It’s truly changing the home buying process, and the result is a more confident, informed buyer.” PB

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