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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!