Each year The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS annually surveys recent home buyers and sellers to gather detailed information about their experiences buying and selling a home. The information provided helps to provide understanding from the consumer level the trends that are transpiring and the changes seen. The surveys cover information on demographics, housing characteristics and the experience of consumers in the housing market.
Many of the demographics covered in the report show trends that have not been seen in the last 10 years. In the last two years, home buyers were urged into the market by the Home Buyer Tax Credit and record affordability.
Buyers now are facing tighter credit standards and are typically buyers who have the means to buy a home—often without financing. This change is one that is so substantial it is changing who purchases homes, who sells homes, and how the home is financed.
This last year the Maine Association of Realtors commissioned a separate study that focused exclusively on our state. Over the next several articles we will examine some of the results and interpret how they affect Maine home buyers and sellers.
The Home Search:
- For 35% of home buyers, the first step in the home-buying process was looking online for properties and 10% of home buyers first looked online for information about the home buying process on a national level. In Maine, 40% of home buyers looked online for properties as a first step and 11% searched for information about the process online.
- The use of the Internet in the home search dipped slightly on a national level to 88% from a high of 90% in 2009, as the demographics of home buyers shifts to slightly older repeat buyers from younger first-time buyers. In Maine, this number was 87%.
- Real estate agents were viewed as a useful information source by 99% of buyers who used an agent while searching for a home in Maine, compared to 98% of buyers nationally.
- The typical home buyer in Maine searched for 9 weeks and viewed 6 homes, compared to12 weeks and 12 homes on a national level.
- Nine in ten recent buyers were satisfied with the home buying process nationally while 87% of buyers were satisfied with the process in Maine.
The home buying rate during the survey period of the report – mid-2010 to mid-2011 – dropped to a low following the expiration of the Home Buyer Tax Credit. In most cases buyers who were buying a home during this survey period were often in a situation where they needed to purchase a home for family changes, a job-relocation or a clear investment.
However, while sales declined, home values appear to have found more solid footing with several measures of prices showing little change compared to the year before, as reported in our 2011 Maine Real Estate Sales Reports.