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Saturday, February 16 , 2019, 2:30 am | Fair 50º

Real Estate

Alec Bruice: Realtors Help Consumers Make Smart Back-to-School Home-Shopping Decisions

In many school districts across the country, kids are already heading back to school after the summer break. While households with children commonly choose to buy a home in the late spring to get settled in before the new school season starts, rising home prices and a lack of homes for sale may mean more families have been forced to continue their house hunt into fall.

“In a fast-moving market with fewer homes for sale and rising prices, more buyers find themselves in need of a real estate professional to help them find the right home and guide them through each step of the process,” said National Association of Realtors President Tom Salomone. “Despite recent industry reports to the contrary, busy families require hands-on attention and unparalleled transaction and local market knowledge and regularly turn to full-service agents, who provide a broad range of services and manage most aspects of a home purchase and sale.”

The median days on market to find a buyer was 32 days in May (the shortest time on record) and 34 days in June (tied with June 2015). Fewer and faster-selling houses on the market translate into more pressure to make quick decisions, and despite advances in online real estate information and technology, the vast majority of consumers still prefer buying and selling a home through a real estate professional because it saves them time and makes the process less stressful.

While more than 8 in 10 buyers worked with an agent to purchase a home last year, according to NAR’s 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, agent use is even higher among buyers ages 36 to 50 (87 percent) and 35 and younger (89 percent), the demographics most likely to have school-aged children.

“Buyers with children have a slightly harder time finding the right property, likely because of their desire to purchase a home that best meets their family’s needs or is in their preferred school district; 53 percent of families with children cited finding the right property as the hardest step in the buying process compared to 50 percent of buyers without children,” Salomone said.​

In many cases, families are looking to move because their current home is too small (cited most at 29 percent for families with children at home compared to only 9 percent with no children at home); a job relocation (23 percent); or a change in their family situation such as birth of another child, marriage or divorce (12 percent).

The typical homebuyer with children bought a 2,100-square-foot detached single-family home with four bedrooms and two full bathrooms.

When choosing a buyer’s agent, parents with children under 18 at home want someone who can provide more mobile-ready, easy-to-access information; 71 percent said it was important when choosing an agent that he or she sends postings as soon as a property is listed or its status changes; sends property info and communicates via text (59 percent); sends market reports on recent listings and sales (55 percent); sends emails about specific needs (56 percent); and has a mobile site to show properties (30 percent).

When it comes to seller’s agents, twice as many parents with children at home needed to sell their home urgently compared to those with no children at home (24 percent compared to 12 percent), perhaps to time transactions around the school season.

It makes sense then that sellers with children at home placed a higher priority on selling their home within a specific timeframe (22 percent) and help pricing it competitively (19 percent) compared to sellers with no children at home (20 percent and 15 percent, respectively).

Busy parents also rely more on referrals for finding their seller’s agent; 46 percent of sellers with children at home first found their agent through a referral from a friend, neighbor or relative compared to only 40 percent of sellers with no children at home.

When it comes to the home search, for buyers with children under the age of 18 living in their home, it’s no surprise that the quality of the school district and convenience to schools was a strong influencing factor of their neighborhood choice.

Recent buyers with children cited quality of the school district an influencing factor (at 50 percent compared to 11 percent with no children in home) as well as convenience to schools (at 46 percent compared to 6 percent).

“If you are thinking of buying or selling a home this fall, don’t be intimidated by the market or process while kids are back in school; overall, the fundamentals of the market are strong,” said Salomone. “A realtor helps get sellers ready to sell and buyers ready to buy — whether or not they have children — and knows the ins and outs of the real estate transaction the market where you want to buy or sell.”

The National Association of Realtors, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

*Taken from the National Association of Realtors.

Alec Bruice is a licensed real estate broker with Santa Barbara Brokers and the 2016 president of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors. Contact him at [email protected] or 805.637.5774. The opinions expressed are his own.

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