First Time Buyers: The Search

One of the more revealing aspects of the property market is the way in which house hunters conduct their search. It tells us a lot about why people choose to live in the areas they do, and why they choose the specific properties they do.

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The Facts

In a recent study by the American Housing Survey, it was found that 27% of first time buyers looked at more than 15 houses in their search. Almost 63% of first timers looked at multiple neighbourhoods. These figures are almost exactly the same for move-up buyers, suggesting that how intensively and whereabouts one looks for a property does not change much with experience.

The survey also put specific questions to buyers as to their reasons for buying the house they did. Price was the primary reason – with 31% of respondents claiming it was the most important factor – followed by layout/design (22%) and size (11%). Other reasons that mattered to people were the condition of the yard or garden, and the quality of the exterior.

Here is where the difference between first timers and move up buyers comes into play. The biggest three reasons – price, size and design – remain the same, but in a different order. Layout or design was the number one response with almost 29%, followed by price at 16% and the size of the property at nearly 14%.

The reasons for selecting one’s new neighbourhood remain much the same for first-time buyers and move-ups. Over 34% of respondents cited the mere presence of the house they bought as a reason to fall in love with the neighbourhood. After this came the overall appearance of the area, with proximity to work being a – perhaps surprise – third place. The results were similar for move-up buyers.

When asked to list every factor that played a part in picking a neighbourhood, first timers ranked the presence of the house first, followed by the look of the neighbourhood, proximity to work, and proximity to family and friends. For move up buyers, the ranking started with the look and design of the neighbourhood, followed by the presence of the house, proximity to work, and fourthly, the proximity to friends and family.

Regardless of the number of categories from which to choose, both groups of buyers placed an emphasis on the general feel of an area and the presence of the house in that area, with first timers more concerned about the latter, and move-up buyers more concerned about the former.

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