Matthew Ferrara, Philosopher

33 Must-Know Stats about Modern Real Estate Customers

We love to remind our clients of Peter Drucker’s critical insight: Know the customer so well, that your products and services virtually sell themselves. So, here’s are 33 things you need to know about them if you want to grow your business!

Let’s talk real estate consumers, not houses, for a moment. If you want your sales, marketing and customer-relationship strategy to be as effective as possible, make sure you’ve understood just who you’re trying to connect with this year. In fact, of the top 10 reasons people bought a home last year, most were “personal” reasons. So stop spending as much time worrying about housing inventory and make sure you have mastered the about the housing consumer. Here are some to get you started, courtesy of multiple sources, including the National Association of REALTORS, Pew Research, Nielsen, Morgan-Stanley and a few other pieces we’ve brought together.


  • 37% of recent buyers were “first time” buyers – a drop from 50% in 2010
  • They typical buyer was 45 years old – up from 39 a year ago
  • 37% of buyers were under the age of 31; 32% were over 55
  • While all buyers use the internet to search for homes, for 35% of them, it was the first step in the process; 21% started by contacting an agent
  • 21% of buyers were single females; 12% single males
  • 64% of all buyers had no children under 18 at home
  • Buyers found real estate agents (83%) slightly more useful than the internet (81%)
  • 92% said open houses were very- to somewhat-useful sources of real estate information
  • Buyers found the home they purchased in the newspaper 5% of the time
  • 58% of buyers wanted to see videos when looking at property online
  • The average seller was a Baby Boomer (45-65 years old)
  • The typical real estate consumer moved 18 miles from their previous home in 2011
  • 66% of sellers remained in the same state; 67% in the same county
  • 46% bought a larger home, 31% purchased the same size; 23% downsized
  • 25% of sellers sold their home within two weeks of entering the market
  • 63% of sellers had no children under the age of 18 at home
  • Job relocation and the need for more space were the primary reasons people sold their home.
  • Most sellers had been in their current home for 9 years.
  • 61% of sellers were repeat clients or referrals from friends and family
  • 66% of sellers only interviewed 1 real estate agent
  • Sellers found their agent through the internet 3% of the time; direct mail 2%; newspaper 1%.

  • Gen X’ers (35-45) have doubled their use of social media since 2008
  • 1 in 6 minutes spent online is on Facebook
  • $50,000-75,000 is the typical income range of a Facebook user
  • Single women use social media more than single men
  • 200 million consumers access social media on their smartphones
  • After Google, consumers search YouTube the most (2 billion streams daily)
  • Consumers spend 1 in 3 minutes watching video on their mobile devices
  • 1 in 10 U.S. adults owns a tablet computer
  • 40% of iPad owners earned more than $100,000 last year
  • 44% of Gen Y’ers prefer texting to face-to-face meetings
  • The typical Gen Y’er sends 3,000 text messages a month
  • Gen X and Gen Y used web-based email 20% less last year

With this kind of information, it should be possible to customize and refine your sales, marketing and referral strategy. Decisions like where to advertise, how to communicate and whether or not it makes sense to spend time in social media become clearer once you realize how consumers themselves behave.

More importantly, perhaps these metrics will provide you with some ideas of information you need to know about your local consumers, which questions to ask and what behaviors to look for as you interact with buyers and sellers this year.

So, use the research to ask yourself: Am I running my business the way the modern consumer would like me to run it? It’s easy to tell, when you study the people you’re hoping will do business with you.

What’s your favorite stat from the list above? Do you have another stat to suggest? We’d love to hear it in the comments below!

  • Incredible information! I find it a little scary that buyers only find Real Estate agents slightly (2%) more useful than the internet!!

    Love seeing that single women comprise 21% of the buyers!

  • Jamie:

    Thanks for your comment; while it’s true that agents were only marginally more useful than the web, it’s still good to see that they are at least as useful as the web, considering how many believe the web has “taken away” their business…. In complex times, people still look for people to help them interpret data and take action.
    As for the single women buyers, it’s really great news because they are also likely to be more active social network users – a win-win for marketing strategy!

    — Matthew

    Matthew Ferrara Learning Network
    tel. 978-291-1250 – skype: mflearn

  • Agreed on the win-win and I would also speculate that the segment of single women homebuyers will continue to increase!

    Thanks for the great info!

  • I see YouTube is the 2nd most used search tool.  But how many searches related to anything related to real estate go through YouTube?  I gotta believe YouTube has 99.5% of it’s search is related to stupid videos, music etc….. 

    Has anyone ever asked in any real estate survey what percentage of users use YouTube to search for homes or mortgages?

    Has anyone done an in depth review of what is being searched for on YouTube?

  • Brad:
    I don’t know the answer; I don’t think YouTube parts with its search data so easily, but I’m sure there is some data floating around. On the other hand, look at companies like ColdwellBanker who have created their own custom channels on YouTube and reached a million viewers within the first year. I think it’s pretty fair to say that housing issues are searched – and more than just properties looked at – on YouTube. In fact, our own tiny slice of YouTube videos indicates that people are searching for topics that we cover – housing consumers, trends, etc – and many of our clients have created their own channels with e-newsletters and regular blog content on all sorts of topics.
    At the end of the day, I’d ask the question: Can you afford not to participate in YouTube? Some people can. But if 2 billion streams occur every day, it’s fairly safe to say it’s another opportunity for business people to grab additional potential connections with consumers.
    Thanks for your comment!

    — Matthew

  • Thx for the post Matt.  The last 3 points about sellers finding their agents is the exact reason we created Rezora.

    There is a balance out there when it comes to internet marketing.  I find too many broker owners are thinking a massive investment in their website is the only solution.  When I ask them how much business they currently generate the answer is usually ZERO.

  • Bob Barrie

    “Sellers found their agent through the internet 3% of the time” This is the real news here. Sellers are still finding their agent with referrals not the interenet

  • Always has been the case, and it’s still the case today! Now, this doesn’t mean they don’t use the Internet to ask their friends for that referral, suck as on social media, but th idea that they just randomly search and hire agents isnt supported by the data.

  • Thanks Matt! Great info!