The average homebuyer looks to friends and family first when gathering information on the homebuying process, ahead of real estate agents by more than two to one and mortgage lenders by more than four to one in the latest homeownership survey from NeighborWorks America. The NeighborWorks America survey, conducted of 1,000 adults by Widmeyer Communications, a Finn Partners Company, found that 39 percent of people thinking of buying a home first seek advice from friends and family who own their home, while Realtors and mortgage lenders are approached just 16 and 9 percent of the time, respectively. Interestingly, the Internet is the second-most-used source of homeownership information at 17 percent.
“Professionals involved in the home-buying process lag far behind when it comes to where consumers go first for information about what they overwhelmingly admit is a complicated undertaking,” said NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen M. Fitzgerald.
Although friends and family are the preferred first choice for advice, 75 percent of Americans agreed (42 percent strongly) that the home-buying process is complicated. Young homebuyers consider the home-buying process even more complicated, with 86 percent of respondents under 30 years old agreeing (60 percent strongly agreed).
Seventy-seven percent of whites and Hispanics agreed that the home-buying process is complicated, while 65 percent of African-Americans said the same. Moreover, 81 percent of consumers said they know where to find reliable advice about the home-buying process, an indication that they go to friends and family not only because it’s convenient and comfortable, but because they believe their advice is reliable.
Consumers under 30 years old are significantly more likely to discuss homeownership with friends and family, with 84 percent choosing that route, while the rate for people older than 55 is just 56 percent.
Foreclosure prevention and mortgage scams
Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have faced foreclosure in 2013 and even in this time of crisis, friends and family are where homeowners most often go for advice. According to the NeighborWorks America survey, 68 percent of homeowners are likely to look to friends and family for advice on preventing foreclosure or avoiding a loan- modification scam. Realtors and mortgage lenders are close second and third choices, at 63 percent and 60 percent, respectively.
“The truth is that a homeowner working with his or her mortgage lender is the best thing to do to prevent foreclosure,” said Fitzgerald “Friends and family could provide important support during a very stressful process, but the first step for people facing foreclosure should be to talk to their lenders and then to a housing counselor.”