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From the MA Association of Realtors:

A new study on Massachusetts home buyers and sellers found that over 90 percent of all home buyers and sellers are using the Internet as part of their home buying and selling process. Yet despite the increased Internet usage, over 90 percent of buyers and sellers are also choosing to work with a real estate professional as well. The data is from the 2008 Massachusetts Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, compiled by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), on behalf of the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS (MAR).

“The Internet continues to make the home buying and selling process much more efficient,” said MAR President Gary Rogers, broker at RE/MAX First Realty in Waltham. “With access to extensive amounts of real estate data, clients are much more knowledgeable about the market and focused on what they want to do, yet at the same time they are relying more and more on REALTORS® to help interpret that data, to provide local market insight and to guide them through the complexities of buying and selling.”

The study also found that 47 percent of home buyers reported using social networking web sites, such as MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Friendster, which is up from 34 percent last year. Among home buyers aged 18 to 24, 87 percent reported using social networking sites, which is up from 50 percent last year. Twenty-seven percent of the 18 to 24 year-old group reported using them every day or nearly every day.

The median age of home buyers in Massachusetts in 2008 was 39 years old, which was the same as last year. The median income (which is reported from 2007 household data) was up to $88,100 compared to $84,400 in 2006. Fifty-eight percent of home buyers were married couples, 18 percent single females, 12 percent single males, and 10 percent unmarried couples. Ten percent of home buyers reported they were born outside of the United States compared to nine percent nationally.

The median age of the first-time home buyer was 31, which was down from 32 years of age in 2007. Fifty-three percent of first-time home buyers were between 25 and 34 years old. First-time home buyers accounted for 48 percent of recent home purchases and had a median income of $80,600 compared to $60,600 among first-time home buyers nationally.

Despite the credit issues in 2008, 90 percent of buyers financed their home purchase (98 percent of first-time buyers compared to 82 percent of repeat buyers). Savings was the chief source of the downpayment for 74 percent of first-time buyers with 44 percent of repeat buyers using proceeds from the sale of their primary residence.

Forty-seven percent of all buyers believe that their home purchase was a better financial investment than stocks, with an additional 30 percent of buyers feeling their home purchase was at least as good an investment as stocks. However, to make their home purchase, 57 percent of home buyers reported that they had made sacrifices, such as reducing spending on luxury items, entertainment or clothing.

The median age of the home seller was 47 years (which is up from 43 years in 2007) and they had a median income of $105,500. The typical seller owned their home for seven years. Sixty-nine percent of home sellers were married and 61 percent had no children under 18 years old living at home.

When it came to selling, 37 percent of home sellers did not reduce their asking price before the home was sold. Recent sellers typically sold their home for 95 percent of the listing price. Thirty-three percent of sellers did offer incentives to attract buyers, most often that assistance was applied to closing costs and home warranty policies.

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