Tech Tools Make Home Searches Easier, Helping Shorten Sales Times, Say RE/MAX Agents

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Homes are selling faster these days, and a major reason, say RE/MAX agents and analysis, is that buyers are making extensive use of technological tools that speed up home searches and let them make a purchase decision in less time than in years past.

The increased use of new technology by home buyers and their agents appear to be one of several key factors helping Chicago-area homes tend to sell more quickly than they did just a few years ago. According to RE/MAX, the average market time for all homes sold in the metro Chicago market fell from 139 days in 2012 to 93 days in 2015.

That’s a 33 percent reduction in average market time over the three year period. The last time homes sold as quickly was 2006, near the peak of the housing boom. The RE/MAX analysis is based on activity reported last month by Midwest Real Estate Data, the regional multiple listing service.

Jim Merrion, regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois, sees two primary reasons for the sharp reduction in market times.

1.    Contemporary technology has given buyers and brokers new tools to make the home buying process easier and faster. Smartphones, for example, allow buyers, wherever they may be, to view new listings immediately and set up a showing if they are interested. Virtual tours also allow buyers to eliminate homes without even stepping inside.

2.    Home values have risen, giving buyers greater confidence. Meanwhile, the inventory of homes for sale, especially when distressed properties are excluded, has remained quite limited for the last two years. That encourages buyers to act quickly because desirable homes often attract multiple offers.
Inventory levels vary from area to area and between different market segments, explained Josie Morrison of RE/MAX Action in Lisle, Ill.

“When my friends wanted to downsize to a townhouse, they faced a limited supply and had to be aggressive. The home they bought was on the market for just five days,” she said. “Conversely, the house they were selling had ample competition and took considerably longer.”

Given such variations in supply and demand, buyers and sellers should be keenly aware of market conditions, Morrison emphasized. Fortunately, modern technology makes that easier than ever.

“Buyers usually have a fairly good picture of the market when they start house hunting seriously,” said Liz Sidorowicz of RE/MAX Premier Properties in Chicago. “Those I’ve worked with recently, especially younger buyers, rarely need more than two months to find a home because they are so well prepared. Not many years ago, that process would have taken four to six months.”

Brian Corwell of RE/MAX Sauk Valley in Sterling, Ill., estimates that a typical buyer in his market takes 30 days to find a home, down from 45 days 10 years ago. He believes improved communications has been vital to speeding the process.

“Years ago, considerable time was lost calling people and leaving messages,” Corwell said. “Now, we use text messaging and stay in essentially constant contact when needed. I’ve worked with buyers while sitting on a Mexican beach. Plus, there are excellent mobile apps – RE/MAX Northern Illinois has one – that give buyers all kinds of great tools they can use anywhere.”

According to Scott Paul of RE/MAX Center, Grayslake, Ill., buyers today are more confident in their decision making for two main reasons.

First, they will have at least taken an online tour of every listed home in their price range.

“My buyers will physically visit fewer homes than once was the case, but they can screen many more homes online,” Paul said.

A second confidence-building factor, he noted, is the availability of automated value estimates.

“I do a comparative market analysis of homes my buyers are considering. If my estimate matches up fairly well with the automated estimates available online, it provides an added level of reassurance,” Paul said. “Of course, they won’t always match, and buyers need to understand that automated estimates aren’t infallible.”

RE/MAX agents consistently rank among the most productive in the industry. In the United States, RE/MAX agents averaged 15.6 years of real estate experience and 16.0 transaction sides in 2014. RE/MAX has been the leader in the northern Illinois real estate market since 1989 and is continually growing. The RE/MAX Northern Illinois network, with headquarters in Elgin, Ill., consists of more than 2,250 sales associates and 105 independently owned and operated RE/MAX offices that provide a full range of residential and commercial brokerage services. Its mobile real estate app, available for download at, provides comprehensive information about residential and commercial property for sale in the region. The northern Illinois network is part of RE/MAX, a global real estate organization with 100,000+ sales associates in 90+ nations.


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Stephen Johnson
RE/MAX Northern Illinois
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