Realtors scratching their head about WHY buyers would want to search without them?

Rhonda Duffy


I found this on ActiveRain – a social networking blog that I belong to. This is a commentary between agents and a manager of Active Rain, Tim:

Buyer’s Agents, Have Consumers Really Chosen Their House Online?

I’m fascinated by the conversation around REALTORS® and real estate on Twitter.

I track lots of different key words and find the conversations that take place enlightening. The other day I saw this comment from PJ.

“Going to meet with my realtor. I don’t know why as I’ve already picked out my house. GO AHEAD, TAKE MY MONEYS”

The timing of the comment was particularly interesting, since I had just had a conversation with Mariana Wagner about how her Internet clients “think” they know what house they want, based on their Internet searches, but more often than not end up buying something completely different.

In PJ’s case, she put an offer on a house that same day, so she was probably right. But every REALTOR® I speak to tells me that the process is indeed made easier by the consumers search, in most cases, but that their local knowledge contributes greatly to what their clients end up buying. The stereotypical consumer thought, “why do I need to pay so much money if I’ve already done all the work?” is often incorrect.

So it leaves me wondering…

What percentage of Internet shoppers really find their home online? What percentage of Internet shoppers end up buying something that you, as their buyer’s agent, have shown them instead?

20 Comments on Buyer’s Agents, Have Consumers Really Chosen Their House Online?

Jeff – 9 out of 10 will buy something else. This how many clients, in my experience, think they know the house before they walk inside, then they are disappointed or pleasantly surprised about the home.

03/24/2008 11:35 AM by Marzena Melby


For me, 0% have actually written an offer on what they found online themselves. Every contract I have written has been on a property that I recommended the client see.

In my area, we don’t charge the buyer anything to represent them. The seller covers that cost.

03/24/2008 11:37 AM by Lissa Uder, Your Lebanon MO Real Estate Agent


Jeff – Often times buyers do tend to end up buying homes that don’t exactly match the description they are looking for. I would have to say that the percentages have changed dramatically about whether or not the agent points out a property to a buyer that they should see. With the IDX property finder services that most Realtors offer it is much easier today for a buyer to find a home that matches their criteria.

03/24/2008 11:49 AM by Bill Gassett Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate


The internet is a great place for buyers to begin their searches and a way for them find a Realtor, but I can’t think of one client that found something online that they wrote on. In many cases I didn’t even show them those properties because many were under contract or did not have some other criteria that the buyer wanted.

03/24/2008 11:52 AM by Richard Parr, Realtor, Real Estate Agent Elmhurst and DuPage County Real Estate


Interesting. . .I agree that people start online, but the last few contracts I have written for buyers have been on homes that I recommended they see. Actually, I am finding that buyers are online, but very often agents in my area are not. I have picked up two buyers in the last month who had been emailing other agents to no avail. . .they found me online and I responded right away. One client even commented that she was shocked to have me get back to them so quickly. . .IK I drifted off topic, sorry!

03/24/2008 11:56 AM by Lori Gilmore – Will County Illinois Realtor



I think they go on line and than drive around the neighborhoods looking for property. I had 2 buyers last year who did just that.

03/24/2008 12:14 PM by Jane Wallace CRS, Denver Real Estate


Jeff, I love it when a buyer has done a ton of research online. The days of having to show a billion properties is now over because they feel they have seen so much that when I say we are going to look at 5 that is usually enough and they can make a decision and feel good about it. I think online searching allows buyers to decide quicker than years ago. I have never sold a home to a buyer that they found online – I have however sold a couple of homes to people almost exclusively online – they never stepped foot inside the home until the day I handed them keys – I love the internet!!

03/24/2008 12:23 PM by Jo Soss | Bremerton WA Real Estate


Jeff, First time home buyers and relocation buyers rarely purchase the homes they have initially chosen online. First time home buyers are just plain excited and only begin to get a better idea of what they really want once they begin to view a few homes. Relocation buyers begin to make trade-offs, after they have viewed the area, subdivisions, and have a rough idea of drive time to work.

03/24/2008 12:34 PM by Jill Wente – Spring TX Real Estate


{SVW Hubba}…

I am going to approach this query from the stand point that I just bought the house I live in now. I used the Internet to locate homes near water and in gated Communities…

I narrowed my search down to three homes…When I arrived at the one I really really wanted…The neighborhood looked like a dump site.

I was really disappointed because the house itself was perfect for us. But alas on the way home from seeing that house we decided to just pop into the Community where we now live…And voila…My new home was just sitting there vacant and ready for us to move in. It was a FSBO and not on the Internet.

Now I don’t know if any of that helped but there you have it 🙂


03/24/2008 01:08 PM by “The Lovely Wife”…Broker Bryant’s…Wife!


I also have yet to sell a home that a client found online. They tend to forget to look at things like railroad tracks, warehouses, busy streets, etc. I email homes to my clients and they screen them, but I haven’t had anyone find their home on their own yet.

03/24/2008 01:17 PM by Melina Tomson, M.S. Salem Oregon Real Estate Specialist


It seems like in the market we have now, buyers will probably not find the home they want online, because they can be very particular about what they want, without the home selling the first day on market. When the market changes, maybe internet sales will be higher. I also don’t understand the statement about paying the realtor. Sellers pay the realtor fees in Tennessee, So even if the buyer know the house they want, they should use a buyers agent to handle the negotiation, inspection, and appraisal processing, since it doesn’t cost a penny.

03/24/2008 01:33 PM by Nashville Real Estate Blog – Larry Brewer


The internet is a great place to begin. At least get their idea of a home style. We have clients that do their own internet search, then either call or e mail. Since they never really know the area that the home they chose to see is in, ie flood zone, we get the info for them and then go and see it with them if they are really interested. So far, they have not purchased yet, but look at all the gas we saved!

03/24/2008 01:33 PM by Ernie & Barb Suto



I have sold to many many internet buyers. NONE have ever bought the house they initially found on the internet. FEW even buy in the same neighborhood…. I am very happy that the internet makes it easier for buyers. I have worked with several out of towners and having so much information available online has reduced the amount of time a transferee needs to spend in looking for their new home AND neighborhood.

03/24/2008 01:37 PM by April Hayden-Munson Realtor, Southeastern Wisconsin


Jeff, I have never had anyone buy the home they called me on! Whether from the internet or a yard sign, they have always gone on to look at other homes and chosen something different. Here in Louisiana, the seller pays all commission, so the cost of using an agent doesn’t enter into the equation.

03/24/2008 01:42 PM by Lisa Heindel, New Orleans West Bank Real Estate


I think a lot of buyers get a head start on the internet but you never know if it’s the right house until you have seen it pictures can be deceiving! In New York State the home seller’s pay the Realtors commission so even if the buyer thinks they already know what they want to buy it is still beneficial to use a Realtor and have the advocacy of a Buyer’s Agent it’s a free service for the buyer.

03/24/2008 01:43 PM by Amy Testa


I am also a bit amused about the “take my Money’s” portion. Somehow the buyer thinks that using a Buyer’s Agent is somehow taking money out of their pocket. If that same buyer had walked into a FSBO the seller certainly would not just “hand them 2.5-3% or even reduce price. Some buyers seem to forget that the seller has already negotiated the commission and the CO/Op. Buyers Agency reduces and almost eliminates the Vicarious Liability of years past and they protect themselves by paying a co/op to a Buyer’s Agent. Buyer’s Agent’s provide a service, and as mentioned, can give the buyer valuable information and experience at no charge to them as well. It’s a win-win for them. The Buyer’s don’t hear the horror stories we do. In the end though, it’s up to them.

just my .02

03/24/2008 01:50 PM by Brian Luce


Nothing will ever replace local knowledge no matter how detailed the available information is, my experience has led me to believe that internet consumers weed out undesirable properties online and then rely on the agent to find the perfect deal. On REALTORdotCOM less than 20% of the listings have multiple photos and consumers know that to be true. So A realtor is an integral part of the process ( Local Realtor That is) great post

03/24/2008 01:50 PM by Michael Leznik – Sherman Oaks Real Estate and Community Guide


For the most part, people shop price online and when they come to me they know nothing about neighborhoods, school systems etc. I admit, it is confusing. PO addresses do not always correspond to municipality or school system. There is an area that has a “White Plains” PO but its a different municipality altogether. People often come to me with listings from this area ready to make an offer – thinking they’ve found a the bargain of the century! When they realize exactly what it is that they are buying, they either come up with a more realistic plan or the rush back to their rentals. Either way, I have yet to sell a home someone found online. Online listings can be VERY deceptive. You can put a great deal of lipstick on a pig with an online listing.

03/24/2008 01:52 PM by Ruthmarie Hicks


Jeff….Many of our clients start on line checking out property and neighborhoods and some even find a Realtor that way. I think some of the numbers may b e skewed as we also sign our clients up for specific properties that fit their needs and they see something they like on line. While a picture is worth a 1000 words it is not always the same once they get there.

03/24/2008 01:52 PM by Pam Winterbauer, 2006 REALTOR® of the Year


This is EXACTLY why we gave over 1 million dollars in Cash Back Bonuses in 2007. Buyers love to do the work and why shouldn’t they? We aren’t emotional counselors. Let them find what they need, we can show them the houses that they really like after they have narrowed the field and they we SHOULD split our commission with them.

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