Buyers: Are Surveys Right About You?


Homebuyer Surveys and Polls are a sure sign of spring, but are they a sure sign of what buyers should do?

Surveys don’t include interviews with every buyer in every state across the country. The sample of hundreds or thousands chosen to represent the total number of homebuyers out there may or may not include buyers with a lot in common with you.

Polls usually involve phone calls or online responses from small numbers. We all know how accurate polls have proven to be.

This means some surveys or polls will sound “right” because they reflect what you plan; others will seem “off” because they don’t fit your point of view:

  • When a survey matches your plans, don’t take this as proof you’ve made the right choice. If the results are accurate, what they may indicate is that there will be competition for what or where you want to buy. Forewarned is forearmed.
  • If the survey or poll does not reflect your buying plans, dig deeper to learn which questions were asked and what these new ideas involve. This disconnect may offer fresh buying perspectives that may be worth considering or the whole thing could be merely a marketing promotion. New ideas can mean broader opportunities, but survey or poll intent must always be considered.

Surveys, polls, and studies — only a small percentage of them scientific — are at the core of much of the content, online and off, that we consume as news, research, and entertainment.

When these fact-waving snippets declare what a majority of people are doing about buying a house or condominium or arranging a mortgage, do you have these results in perspective?

  • The bias of a survey or poll is important to consider since they have become less about science and more about powerful sales content. Who benefits from the slant of the survey or the poll results? Who is trying to persuade buyers to do what? If it is the same company or organization that is paying for the survey or sponsoring the poll, how reliable are the results?
  • How the target group is defined matters. For instance, millennials are popular targets of lenders and real estate brokerages since this buying segment is considered the prime real estate market. Yet, millennial definitions vary and are essentially centered on age, like age 18 to 34. Do you act the same and want the same things as everyone else with your chronological age?
  • Don’t rely exclusively on search engine results. Go directly to key real estate market players to learn what their research reveals. This insider view of buying and selling can provide valuable insight. For instance:
    • Fannie Mae annually produces the National Housing Survey (NHS) and Mortgage Lender Sentiment Survey. The NHS explores the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI), which is based on six components including job security, that reflect buyer attitudes and activity within the context of the economy. As you read this Survey, consider how the six components would influence your finances and decision making.
    • The National Association of REALTORS provides useful publications like the Home Buyers and Sellers Generational Trends Report. This report contributes insight into differences and similarities across generations of home buyers and home sellers. Articles exploring seller issues like “More Ultra-Luxury Sellers Face ‘Stale’ Listings” can also provide useful perspectives for buyers.
    • Content directed at real estate professionals can prove enlightening for buyers and sellers. For instance, the second annual Homebuyer Insights Report (HIR) from Bank of America was recently released with the intent of “revealing unique and surprising trends among homebuyers, which will provide helpful insights into homebuyer attitudes for real estate professionals.”
    • The HIR describes first-time buyers as “juggling a variety of financial responsibilities: paying off debts/bills (61%), improving credit scores (47%), saving for a new home (45%) and paying off student loans (32%) are major priorities.”
    • In the Report, current owners’ advice for purchasing includes: “start saving sooner (60%), consider the maintenance costs and unexpected expenses (42%), create and stick to a budget (35%) and buy early to build equity (21%).”
    • Highlights from the report include: > 68% of millennial homeowners surveyed say their current home is a “stepping stone” to their forever home > 86% of millennial homeowners believe owning a home is more affordable than renting > 35% of prospective homebuyers have already started to plan for a down payment; only 21% think they can currently make one > 47% of prospective buyers think they would qualify for a down payment assistance program; of those, 87% say they would take advantage of these programs.

However exciting a survey or poll is, don’t rely exclusively on these sources to make decisions to do or not do something related to buying or selling. Your own informal survey may be more relevant:

  • Ask a lot of questions and listen to the answers. Investigate what friends, colleagues, and locals have learned the hard way about buying or selling real estate in your preferred neighborhoods.
  • Question real estate professionals who are active in those areas to learn about the reality of how buyers choose and what they are missing out on. Many of these professionals share their expertise on

Hindsight is often the clearest vision buyers and sellers possess. Make sure your hindsight is a pat on the back not a kick in the pants. Learn from the experience of others.

You’re not searching for reasons to avoid buying or selling, but for observations and details on how to be successful with your real estate transaction.

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