Right now, the home buying public is made up of four distinct generations. We have the Matures (born 1925 - 1941), the Boomers (born 1942 - 1965), Generation X (born 1942 - 1965), and most recently, the Millenials (born after 1981). In the morning, we might be working with a retired couple who like a lot of face time or prefer to talk on the phone. And in the afternoon, we could be helping a 25-year-old buy his or her first house. They do it all on their computer, or better yet, GPS-enabled smart phones. For them, even email has become passe; testing, Twitter and Facebook are their social connections. Who knows where it will all go next. The only thing for sure is that people will always be part of the process. No matter how much the technology improves, buying or selling a house will always require trust, judgement and experience.
2010, fully 50% of the people who purchased homes were first-time buyers. In 2001, first-time buyers were 42% of the total, and in 2006 they made up only 36% of all the homes sold. Of all the first-time buyers in 2010, only 13% cited the Home Buyer Tax Credit as the main reason for buying a home.
In 2001, 69% of buyers purchased a home through an agent; by 2010, that figure had increased to 83%. When you look at where buyers found the home they purchased, 38% said a real estate agent, 37% said the internet and 11% said an open house or yard sign. Only 2% found the home they bought in a newspaper ad.
On the selling side, the vast majority of people (88%) also employed an agent. Only 8% of sellers were able to get the place sold without an agent. In 2003, the number of FSBO's (for sale by owners) was a bit higher at 14%. Among that 8% that sold it on their own in 2010, more than 50% of those sales were attributed to the fact that the seller already knew the buyer.