UF/IFAS study sheds light on homebuyer types

Cantrell for web 033115

Randy Cantrell

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Some homebuyers want to live near the best schools and shopping. Others favor houses that look gorgeous from the outside. Still others are motivated by the house’s cleanliness. But a University of Florida housing specialist found multiple types of homebuyers and what lured them to buy homes after the housing bust.

That data could help Realtors and people trying to sell their own homes.

While real estate remains largely focused on “location, location, location,” post-housing-bust homebuyers fall into four categories and five sub-categories, said Randy Cantrell, an assistant professor in the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences at UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

A few years ago, a South Florida Realtor asked Cantrell what compelled people to buy homes after the most recent real estate boom-turned-to-bust, defined as any time after 2008. Since 2008, potential homebuyers have competed for mortgages typically reserved for those with credit scores of at least 680 – out of a maximum of 850 — and riskier mortgages are no longer available, Cantrell said.

Tighter credit markets and lending restrictions after the housing bust led Cantrell to study and create profiles of who bought homes after the housing bust.

Each respondent in Cantrell’s survey had to meet the following criteria: They had to have bought an existing, furnished or staged home after 2008; they had to be 25 to 50 years old at the time of purchase and they had to have children under age 19 living at home when they occupied it. They also had to assume they had multiple comparable homes to choose from within the same community. For example, the homes had to be comparable in size and energy efficiency.

Cantrell’s national, web-based survey of 384 respondents showed representative homebuyer profiles. He even divided the profiles into sub-categories. The post-bust survey revealed how to differentiate what groups of people – as opposed to individual homebuyers – want when they buy a home, he said.

Here’s an example of one group of homebuyers Cantrell found: People who said they bought a home because they wanted to live near the best schools ranked the home first by external factors, such as how well-suited the neighborhood or community was for raising a family, but after that, they were motivated by the first impressions that they and others formed when viewing the exterior and interior of the home.

Another homebuyer segment sought fine craftsmanship in the home’s interior, which the casual observer typically would overlook upon first inspection, Cantrell said. For this group, the home’s exterior was not nearly as much of a motivator.

Most homebuyers look for every fine detail. Sometimes, the most seemingly minute item can distinguish your home from one down the street that’s been on the market for months, or even years.

Cantrell was most surprised by the inferences people drew when they saw certain details in a home. For instance, a potential homebuyer might open the door to see a highly disorganized closet and wonder what else is awry in the home, he said.

Cantrell also has first-hand experience after selling his home a few years ago and going through some interesting twists as he worked with a professional stager. He said he would have never considered a stager necessary until feedback revealed that potential buyers were confused about how the living room “fit” into the home’s floor plan. The stager told Cantrell to unhook the big-screen TV from the cable outlet and move it to the other side of the living room so potential buyers could experience a better view of the TV next to windows, which exposed the large front yard.

“That was the ’eureka’ moment for me,” said Cantrell. “I complied with unconventional thinking, and my home sold. I knew there was a story to be told about the ‘hidden’ details that most sellers never come to understand about buyers and why a seller’s really nice home continues to sit on the market. It’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Cantrell’s study is published online in the journal Housing and Society.


By: Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, bradbuck@ufl.edu

Source: Randy Cantrell, 352-273-3554, rcantrell@ufl.edu


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Posted: March 31, 2015

Category: Agriculture, Money Matters, UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Research, Work & Life
Tags: Family, Survey

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