Increasing Numbers Of 55+ Home Shoppers Searching For Real Estate On Smart Phones

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Research released in August from 55places.com’s 2016 National Housing Survey indicates a growing trend in smart phone usage for 55+ home shoppers using their mobile devices to gather real estate information.

A greater percentage of visitors coming to 55places.com from a mobile device are new users, which suggests that many active adults start their home search on a smart phone and then as they dig deeper into the communities, use their desktop computer.

Searching for a home online is nothing new. However, research released in August from 55places.com shows that active adults are using not just the Internet—but specifically their smart phones—for their home searches in record numbers.

According to 55places.com’s 2016 National Housing Survey, 71 percent of the 2,679 respondents indicated they used the Internet as a source of information during their most recent home search. That number soared to 87.62 percent for those who specified they were “somewhat to extremely likely to purchase a new home in the next 12 months.”

“Contrary to what some may think, the Internet has become the go-to source for 55+ home shoppers,” said Bill Ness, founder and chief executive officer for 55places.com, the most comprehensive online tool for active adult home shopping and buying. The website showcases real estate, facts, descriptions, and photos of 55+ neighborhoods nationwide.

Conducted in the second quarter, 55places.com’s 2016 National Housing Survey also asked about smart phone habits. Of the 2,270 respondents who use the device, 35.99 percent said they used it to search for real estate. The percentage is even greater—52.37 percent—for those who expressed an interest in buying a home in the next year. And just over 54 percent of those who said they were “very likely” or “extremely likely” to purchase a new home in the next 12 months conducted a real estate search from their smart phones.

These numbers are consistent with online behavior 55places.com has seen on its website. In the past month, more than half of the site’s nearly 900,000 visitors were on a tablet (26.2 percent) or mobile phone (24.6 percent). Mobile users are diving deep into the site, as well, looking at an average of 5.26 pages and spending approximately 4-1/2 minutes on site.

“A greater percentage of visitors coming to 55places.com from a mobile device are new users, which suggests that many active adults start their home search on a smart phone and then as they dig deeper into the communities, use their desktop computer to see bigger photos and get a more visual sense of the communities,” said Ness.

Over the past three years, mobile visitors to the 55places.com website have increased nearly 200 percent, more than doubling annually between August 2013—July 2014 and August 2014—July 2015. In 2016, mobile visitors increased 49.5 percent over the prior year.

During those same time periods, desktop users have remained relatively consistent, growing just under 10 percent over the past three years while tablet users have grown 48.6 percent. This illustrates the popularity of smart phones and their acceptance among the 55+ population.

“Thanks to technology, active adults are connected on the go more than ever before,” said Ness. “Keeping online data relevant and up-to-date is crucial to attract these home shoppers who have become accustomed to having information at their fingertips 24/7.”

As a national online resource, 55places.com allows people to find, research and compare 55+ and active adult communities across the country any time of the day or night.

While the Internet ranked as the top source for information by 55+ adults who are likely purchase a home in the upcoming year, nearly half—46.62 percent—responded that they used a real estate agent during their most recent home search.

In addition to listing homes for sale, 55places.com connects interested homebuyers with handpicked partner agents who are local real estate experts to complete the purchase. This combination of providing an Internet search tool and uniting buyers with real estate professionals has proven a successful business model for 55places.com.

The 2016 National Housing Survey is the most recent methodology 55places.com has employed to better understand the needs and preferences of 55+ homeowners. The company has compiled a wealth of data about active adult communities through its website. Plus, the executive team has gathered unrivaled knowledge by traveling to countless 55+ communities and interviewing residents, builders and agents around the country.

For more information on 55+ housing trends at the state, region and national level, contact Bill Ness at (773) 278-5500.

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Debbie Szwast
@55Places
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