Kathleen McQuilkin, CRS, GRI, SRES, CRP, CSP, ALHS

Last Updated: March 14, 2017 | View all posts by Kathleen McQuilkin, CRS, GRI, SRES, CRP, CSP, ALHS

Are you familiar with Welcome Home? This quarterly homebuyer survey, conducted by PAR, is designed to help Realtors® better understand how to work with their clients and anticipate their needs. And it focuses specifically on Pennsylvania homebuyers.

This is the third year for the survey and I find the results and trends fascinating. Sometimes the results show something I might have suspected – like consumers find the financing part of the transaction frustrating. But other times, I’m surprised by the results.

For example, in the most recent Welcome Home study, homebuyers who paid cash for a house were also more likely to have a lower income.

This may seem counterintuitive. One in 3 buyers with incomes under $50,000 reported buying homes in cash. When you delve deeper, you learn that age may be driving a higher share of lower-income respondents reporting cash-only purchases. The survey also showed 75 percent of cash-only buyers were over 50 years old, while 64 percent of those with an income of under $50,000 were over 50 years old.

In addition, cash-only home purchases overall dropped to the historical averages in the first quarter of 2017, following two quarters of increasing numbers. Since the first Welcome Home survey in 2015, an average of 23 percent of homebuyers surveyed reported buying their homes in cash. Last year in the fourth quarter, the share of cash-only purchases peaked at 30 percent of all respondents.

The most recent survey indicated that homebuyers reporting a cash-only purchase dropped to 25 percent. We also discovered that 28 percent of females and 23 percent of males made cash-only purchases.

As a Realtor®, I’m always interested in knowing the trends regarding how long homeowners stay in their homes. Those trends seem to be shifting, like so many other homebuying habits.

More homebuyers are unsure of how long they plan to stay in their current home, compared to past surveys. Previous Welcome Home surveys showed an average of 14 percent of respondents were unsure of how long they plan to live in their current home. This first quarter survey saw a rise in the number of homebuyers who were unsure of their plans, increasing to 23 percent. As we track upcoming results, we’ll see if this is a trend or a temporary change.

The survey also found that 55 percent of homebuyers use home search websites and apps to conduct some initial searches for their homes. Home search sites, realtor.com® and Zillow, continue to be the most popular home search sites, with realtor.com slowly rising in use, narrowing the gap between the two sites.

You can read the entire survey summary online at WelcomeHomePA.org.