ORLANDO, Fla. – While listing inventory remains a wild card, realtor.com and Google Searches released data that suggests a lot of buyers see the pandemic as a pitstop on the way to homeownership rather than an end-point.
According to realtor.com, “listing visits, saves and shares are all up significantly since the first wave of shelter-in-place orders took effect on March 16 – especially for those listings with virtual tours.”
Google Searches compared a metro area’s lowest day of home searches during 2020 to home searches at the end of April to measure improvement. Out of 50 cities listed, two Florida cities ranked in the top 10. At No. 3, the Jacksonville metro area had 96.08% more home searches at the end of April than it had on its slowest day of 2020 so far. And at No. 4, Miami had 81.82% more searches at the end of last month.
Tampa ranked as No. 35 with a 44.26% increase in buyer interest, and Orlando ranked No. 39 with a 34.92% increase. Tucson, Arizona was number one for home search increases with 164.71%; Indianapolis bottomed out at No. 50 on Google’s list, but home search activity still was up 8.62%.
Realtor.com listed the increased use by home-search function on its website:
- Up 30%: Listing views for single family homes and condos
- Up 76%: Saved homes
- Up 95%: Sharing home listings with other users
- Up 14%: Time spent per unique user
“Data suggests that home shoppers who had paused their search are now picking it back up, and the spring homebuying season won’t be lost, but merely pushed into the summer months,” says Danielle Hale, chief economist at realtor.com. “Tools such as virtual tours and Livestream Open Houses are enabling consumers to safely continue their home search while maintaining social distancing guidelines.”
“There are probably people who think there are going to be bargains in the marketplace,” says Tendayi Kapfidze, LendingTree’s chief economist. “They might be anticipating … fewer buyers competing because many people have had a disruption to their incomes or are uncertain about the outlook for their jobs. The low interest rates also make it an attractive time.”
Since shelter-in-place orders began, the growth rate for listing visits to homes that offer virtual tours has been twice as high as those without virtual tours. User visits were also 29% higher for listings featuring virtual tours, with increased engagement and a greater likelihood of a consumer connecting with an agent. According to realtor.com:
- Two thirds (64%) of its users took a virtual tour, and of those, 45% prefer listings that offer virtual tours
- 65% of home buyers believe virtual tours will continue to be a great resource in their home shopping process even after the pandemic
- An additional 8% think virtual tours can be a replacement for in-person tours
- When asked what they like about virtual tours, top responses include: They help me eliminate homes that aren’t for me (52%); they help me see the details of a home without having to step inside (43%); they help me create a shortlist of homes I want to see in person (38%); and they allow me to see more homes quickly without having to drive around to open houses (30%)
By Kerry Smith
© 2020 Florida Realtors®