Homebuyers want websites and apps more than agents and realtors

Graeme BruceBusiness Data Journalist
July 27, 2021, 2:04 PM GMT+0

A new YouGov poll shows just how much influence the tech world has had on the American real estate industry, as apps like Zillow have become the most important tools in the homebuyer's arsenal.

For starters, one in five (21%) of Americans say they’d be comfortable buying a house sight unseen. Young Americans between 18 and 44 are even more likely to be relaxed about buying property after only seeing online photos or virtual tours (28%), perhaps a byproduct of the pandemic, a red-hot market in many parts of the country, and the popularity of real estate apps.

These factors have also likely led to increased “home-surfing” — perusing real estate listings even if you’re not actively looking. A quarter of Americans say they do it often (up from 13% in March 2018, when we last posed the question); half do it sometimes (up marginally from 49% in 2018); and 22% say they never do (down from 33% in 2018). Even among those groups least likely to be prepared to buy without viewing in person, browsing the internet for homes is an increasingly common pastime.

And the apps and sites that facilitate surfing are popular. About two in five house-hunting Americans (41%) say they rely on brands like Zillow most when looking for property. That’s more – albeit marginally – than the proportion who rely most on real estate agents (38%).

While homebuying on social media networks does take place, it’s not widely done -- at least not yet. Our poll data indicates just 5% of homebuyers rely most on social platforms, while marginally more (7%) rely on the Multiple Listing Service website.

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Methodology: YouGov polled 1,218 US adults online on July 14, 2021 between 12:03 E.T. and 2:00 p.m. ET. The survey was carried out through YouGov Direct. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, political affiliation, and ethnicity. Results are nationally representative of adults in the United States. The margin of error is 3.7% for the overall sample. Learn more about YouGov Direct.