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Weichert, REALTORS® recently announced the results of an in-depth homebuyer survey that reveals the motivations and attitudes of buyers who purchased a home over the past year. The real estate services company found that while historically low interest rates were certainly a motivating factor for buyers, the global pandemic also prompted some people to buy a new home for more living space and amenities in a less-congested environment.

With interest rates continuing to hover at or below 3%, purchasing a home has become a viable option for more people. When asked what motivated their purchase, the survey results showed that 45% of recent Weichert homebuyers wanted to own rather than rent. Almost an equal number of survey respondents—about 42 %—wanted a home with more living space, property and/or amenities.

Motivating Factors
Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weichert reported a spike in city residents seeking additional space in more suburban and rural markets. The ability for more people to work from home long-term and COVID safety concerns fed demand for larger homes and spacious back yards.

“Buyers from urban areas who are moving to the suburbs are looking for things they don’t have in the city—a big backyard where kids and pets can play, extra rooms for a home office or gym, maybe a big furnished basement where everyone can enjoy a movie on a big-screen TV,” said Carlo Siracusa, president of Weichert Residential Brokerage. “When they find a home that offers all this and more, they often offer asking price or higher to ensure they lock in the purchase.”

Indeed, many survey respondents made the decision to purchase quickly, with almost 30% completing their home search within one to three months. While a strong desire to nest may be one reason for a speedy home purchase, the ongoing shortage of homes for sale has also played a key role. When there are fewer homes to choose from, decisions are made quickly, and a higher price point is needed to seal the deal.

Siracusa said that addressing the lack of housing inventory has become a top priority at Weichert, where sales associates are actively educating the public about the advantages of listing their home now. As part of their efforts, Weichert sales associates are offering sellers a new “Coming Soon” Program, which is designed to jumpstart the sale of a home and get it sold quickly.

“There’s never been a better time to sell your home,” he noted. “When supply is low and buyer demand is high, you are going to get more money than you would in a more-balanced marketplace. Plus, with interest rates so low, it increases the pool of buyers making it more likely for multiple offers in a short period of time.”

According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), properties typically remained on the market for 21 days in January, which is down from 43 days in January 2020. Seventy-one percent of the homes sold in January 2021 were on the market for less than a month.

The company expects buyer demand to continue through 2021. The option of long-term remote work is providing more people with the flexibility to relocate to areas that were formally too far from the office for daily commuting. Other buyers entering the market include millennials, who according to NAR, made up the largest share of homebuyers at 38%. Additionally, 86% of younger millennials and 52% of older millennials were first-time homebuyers, the most of any age group.

Sales Associates Remain Relevant
Survey answers also revealed that sales associates continue to play an important role in the buying process, despite ever-growing technological capabilities. More than 45% of respondents first learned about the home they purchased from a real estate associate, compared to 34% who first saw their home via the Internet/social media. In addition, almost 98% of survey respondents rated the service they received from their Weichert sales associate as “excellent” or “good” and nearly 97% would recommend their associate to a friend or family member. Ninety-two percent would use Weichert again for their real estate needs.

“Migrating to a more digitally-based sales experience when the pandemic hit didn’t mean there wasn’t a need for sales associates to be involved in the home-buying journey. The personal touch was never lost, but rather enhanced by technology,” explained Siracusa. “The incredibly positive response noted on the buyer surveys regarding Weichert’s customer service is a testament to that.”

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