With online real estate websites now a staple in the residential housing world, you’d think that millennials—who gravitate to computer screens like moths to the light— would seek online brokers when selling or buying.
Not so, according to recent surveys.
“We were surprised to learn that online providers are not yet as big a disruptor in this sector as we first thought, despite purported cost savings,” says Doria Lavagnino, co-founder and president of financial advisor company CentSai.
In a recent CentSai survey of millennials, 75% of participants said they would prefer using a local real estate agent, rather than someone they found online. In addition, 71% said they would prefer working with a local mortgage lender, as well.
Other surveys support these findings. An Ellie Mae study showed that more millennials seek personal referrals for lenders rather than finding them online.
In the CentSai study, millennials cited many reasons for preferring local help, including: “amount of hassle,” “handholding,” “local knowledge,” “longstanding relationships,” and “personal touch.”
Bottom line: people like face-to-face assistance, particularly when making an investment as important as buying a home.
“For the real estate professional to be disintermediated completely,” notes one real estate expert, “the human species would have to make a fundamental change that they would rather rely on a robot than one another when making the biggest investment of their lives.”
It’s a relief to report that we’re not there yet.