Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Internet & Real Estate Agents: Some Things Change, Others Remain the Same

According to Science Journal, the internet took over multichannel global communications almost instantaneously, transmitting one percent of information in 1993, 51 percent by 2000, and 97 percent by 2007.[1] The internet’s prominence in the real estate industry has a similar progression.

The National Association of REALTORS® has tracked home buyers and sellers’ use of the internet in the home search process since 1995. As one would expect, the use of the internet grew with time. According to NAR’s Home Buyers and Sellers Report, only two percent of buyers and sellers used the internet in their home search in 1995. That number grew to 92 percent by 2015.

Internet Use
While the use of the internet has grown over the last 20+ years, some things in the real estate business have not changed so drastically. Namely, home buyers predominantly use a real estate agent for the purchase of their home. In 2005, 77 percent of home buyers worked with an agent to purchase their home. In 2015, buyers worked with an agent as the dominant purchase method, albeit going up a few points to 87 percent of home buyers. There is no argument that internet provides a valuable resource to home buyers. However, agents remain essential to helping buyers through the process, finding the right home, and ultimately closing the deal.
agent help
*From 1995 to 2005, the NAR Home Buyers and Sellers Report was published every other year (1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2005). There is no data for 2000. After 2005, it was published every year.

[1] "The World's Technological Capacity to Store, Communicate, and Compute Information", Martin Hilbert and Priscila López (2011), Science (journal), 332(6025), 60–65.