September 16, 2015
Survey: One in Five Homebuyers Made an Offer Sight Unseen

SurveyMonkey Study of 2,134 People Who Bought or Sold a Home in the Past Two Years Finds Consumers Are Open to Unconventional Real Estate Practices

37% of Homebuyers Received Savings from their Traditional Real Estate Agent

17% of Homebuyers and 13% of Sellers Decided to Forego the Help of a Real Estate Agent

SEATTLE -- Sept. 16, 2015 -- A survey of 2,134 Americans who bought and/or sold a home in the past two years revealed while small portions of homebuyers and sellers had used unconventional methods to buy and sell homes--like offer sight unseen or forego an agent’s help--a majority is open to an alternative to the traditional real estate service. One in five buyers made an offer on a home without having visited it in person. Seventeen percent of buyers bought a home without an agent’s help, a significantly higher portion than is cited in the most widely accepted report on this figure. The most common reason for foregoing an agent’s help was that they already knew the seller. And more than one-third of buyers who worked with a traditional agent received a refund or other form of commission savings from their agent. Homebuyers and sellers who worked with a Redfin agent were much more likely to recommend their agent to a friend or colleague than those who worked with agents at other brokerages.

“There are large inefficiencies in the real estate brokerage industry, and the results of this study show that consumers are aware of them,” said Panle Jia Barwick, associate economics professor at Cornell University. “By creating different agent compensation structures and by offering more information about agents’ track records, companies like Redfin are making strides in making real estate more efficient and thereby saving consumers money.”

The research was conducted by SurveyMonkey Audience and commissioned by Redfin (www.redfin.com), the next-generation real estate brokerage. Below are the four key trends revealed by the study:

Technology is changing the game.

  • Twenty-one percent of buyers said they made an offer on a home without ever seeing it in person. Certain demographics were more likely to have made an offer on a home sight unseen, including:
    • 53% of people who bought homes for more than $750,000
    • 36% of people who bought a home with a Redfin agent1
    • 30% of millennials
    • 30% of single, never married people
  • 17% of people who bought a home in the past two years did so without an agent. That’s substantially higher than the most widely cited number reflecting this group’s prevalence, which reports that just 12% of buyers in 2014 purchased without an agent. Among people who bought without an agent, 37% said they didn’t need one because they knew the seller personally.

  • 13% of people who sold a home in the past two years did so without the help of an agent. This is in line with the most widely accepted report on this figure, which cites that 12% of sellers in 2014 sold without an agent. The most common reason for selling on one’s own was to save money (61%).

  • 37% of people who bought homes with non-Redfin agents said their agent saved them more than $500 via a refund or other type of contribution.2

  • Sixty-two percent of Redfin users said they were “very confident” that Redfin.com promptly showed all the homes for sale, compared with 51% of Realtor.com users, 44% of Zillow users, 44% of Trulia users who said the same for those sites.2

  • 64% of respondents are open to an alternative to the traditional real estate service and 21% prefer the way traditional agents work.

  • 73% of respondents like the idea of saving money on real estate commissions and believe real estate can be more efficient. Just 14% worried that saving money would lower the quality of service.

  • 71% percent of people who bought or sold a home with Redfin would recommend their agent to a friend or colleague, compared with 49% of people who bought or sold a home with agents at other brokerages.1
    1. Millennial homebuyers value stability.

      • Millennials’ (age 18 to 34) top considerations when choosing a neighborhood were safety (53%), affordability (44%) and good schools (38%).
      • Millennials were among the most likely groups to select a neighborhood for its schools, tying with those with household incomes above $125,000 and just behind all buyers under age 45 (39%).

      Urban lifestyles aren’t for most people.

      • Just 11% of respondents named walkability and 8% named access to public transportations as top considerations when choosing a neighborhood.
      • Millennials were slightly more likely to name these considerations, with 13% listing walkability and 12% access to public transportation.

      First-time buyers cite practical reasons for buying instead of renting.

      • 58% indicated they were buying rather than renting for a sense of stability or permanence.
      • 44% bought for a safe place to invest their money and build wealth.
      • 35% bought in order to achieve the American Dream of homeownership.

      Methodology Statement from Chuck Brinker, Director of Research Solutions at SurveyMonkey:
      "SurveyMonkey fielded an online study from July 14 to July 25 using the SurveyMonkey Audience platform. The study was conducted among 2,015 respondents from the Cint OpinionHUB panel, including 84 who indicated they worked with a Redfin agent. All respondents indicated they bought or sold a home in the past two years.”

      1SurveyMonkey used the SurveyMonkey Email Collector to send the unbranded survey to a Redfin customer list to reach an additional 119 respondents who had used a Redfin agent.To ensure that the Redfin customer list was not biased, Redfin pulled and randomized a list of 5,000 people who had bought or sold a home with a Redfin agent in the past two years. Analysts who pulled the list were blind to whether and how each customer rated their agent. Responses from this group are included in this analysis only where noted, for the customer-satisfaction comparison. All other figures reported only include SurveyMonkey’s Audience of the general population.

      2These results exclude all respondents who indicated they worked with a Redfin agent to buy or sell a home.

      Click here to read the full report on SurveyMonkey’s blog.
      Click here to download full question-and-answer breakdowns for all of the cited findings.

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      About Redfin
      Redfin (www.redfin.com) is a next-generation real estate brokerage that represents people buying and selling homes. Founded by technologists, Redfin employs a team of experienced, full-service real estate agents who are advocates, not salespeople, earning customer-satisfaction bonuses, not just commissions. Redfin.com features all the broker-listed homes for sale, as well as for-sale-by-owner properties that don't pay brokers a commission. Redfin also offers online tools, built by its own software engineers, that make the entire process of buying or selling a home easier and more fun. The company serves major markets across the U.S. and has closed nearly $20 billion in home sales. In 2012, Redfin was named one of The DIGITAL 100: World's Most Valuable Private Tech Companies by Business Insider.

      Redfin Journalist Services: Rachel Musiker, press@redfin.com, 206-588-6863