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Buying in America

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Buying a home today is an overwhelming yet rewarding process. Whether a buyer is looking to purchase a home in the most or least competitive market, the process is marked by both excitement and inevitable frustration.

Across the United States, the number of homes available for sale has fallen year-over-year every month since February 2015, leaving fewer homes for buyers to choose from and, in turn, stiffening the competition for the homes that are out there.

Today’s buyers are spending over four months (4.3) searching for their new home, and as these homes get swept off the market quicker than before, competition among buyers—particularly in tight markets—is presenting its own set of unique buying nuances. Cash offers can feel like a necessity in some of the nation’s most competitive markets, where homes often receive multiple offers. Some home buyers in these markets even forgo inspections and other contingencies to make their offer more desirable to a seller.

These hurdles are challenging to all buyers, but may be especially frustrating to first-time buyers. With more than 2 in 5 home buyers (42 percent) purchasing for the first time, many have just recently transitioned from renting and are only now experiencing the complexities of purchasing a home.

To help soothe these home-buying stresses and walk them through what is often a fast-moving and intricate process, buyers rely on support from real estate professionals. About three-quarters (74 percent) of buyers work with agents, and those who do report higher levels of satisfaction with the process overall (74 percent of buyers who use an agent, compared with 67 percent who don’t use an agent).

In addition to working with agents, buyers are tapping into every possible resource and increasingly looking to online tools, with nearly 4 in 5 buyers (79 percent) shopping online for their home. This is true across generations: While younger buyers use them more than their older counterparts, more than half of buyers in every generation incorporate these tools into their shopping process.

Buying a home requires patience, work and trust. Some buyers will have to compromise and act fast to secure their home, but preparation and tailored guidance from agents can help buyers feel more at ease as they navigate through each step of the process.