New Study Finds That 53% Of Americans Admit To Checking Zillow On A Weekly Basis

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via Wealth Gang

In an era of instant gratification, it seems that many of us have found a unique pastime: scouring Zillow. And this isn’t just a niche hobby; according to a recent survey conducted by Real Estate Witch, a staggering 53% of Americans admit to checking Zillow on a weekly basis.

The survey by Real Estate Witch, conducted between June 21-22, 2023, captured the perspectives of 1,000 Americans on the home buying process. As the real estate market continues its dynamic evolution, this study underlines the importance of enhancing public awareness and education to facilitate well-informed decisions, especially since buying a house is often the biggest purchase you’ll make in your life. 

So what is “Zillow Syndrome” and why should potential homeowners be wary?

Caught in the Zillow Browsing Vortex?

You’re not alone! According to a 2021 survey by Surety First, we’re a nation hypnotized by digital real estate window shopping. This survey found that half of us (55% to be exact) spend a solid one to four hours daily deep-diving into Zillow home listings and daydreaming about houses for a dopamine fix.

Our Zillow addiction is real: The Surety First survey found that 58% said they missed big-time deadlines, all in the name of house browsing. Oh, and if you’ve sneakily checked out the value of your buddy’s pad or, dare we say, your boss’s mansion, you’re in good company with 63% and 53% saying they’ve done the same too, respectively. Ever ditched that coffee date to stay in with Zillow? So have 56% of respondents. A whopping 62% of people who frequently look at homes on Zillow are looking at homes priced $100,000+ above their current digs.

This study found that 64% of Zillow house browsers have shot their shot, reaching out to agents about those dreamy, out-of-budget homes.

Go big or go home, as they say. Or just keep browsing.

The Age Misconception

One of the most significant takeaways from the initial Real Estate Witch study is the glaring misconception surrounding the age of first-time homebuyers. Common media portrayals often showcase fresh college graduates diving into the housing market. However, this depiction stands in stark contrast to reality.

The data uncovers that the average age of a first-time homebuyer is actually 36. It seems that the vast majority of us, a concerning 73% to be exact, have been holding onto an outdated narrative. If you’re in your 30s and just beginning to consider buying your first property, you’re in the majority, and you’re not late to the game.

Mortgage Myths

While Zillow allows users to window shop their dream homes, the reality of acquiring that home is far more complex. The survey revealed some alarming misconceptions about the mortgage process. An optimistic 43% of non-homeowners, according to the Real Estate Witch Study, believe they have a firm grip on the mortgage ropes. Yet, their confidence might be misplaced. For instance, a surprising 64% think that the first step to homeownership is selecting a house, placing the cart before the horse. In reality, getting pre-approved for a mortgage should be step one. This pre-approval not only provides clarity on what one can afford but also strengthens their buying position.

Moreover, there’s confusion about what pre-approval truly entails. Close to half of the respondents (47%) are under the false impression that pre-approval locks in their interest rate. This misunderstanding could lead to financial miscalculations down the line.

Financial Fallacies

Delving deeper into the financial aspect, the Real Estate Witch study throws light on several myths. For starters, there’s a widespread misunderstanding about realtor fees. Over half (51%) of Americans underestimate the typical fees involved, which can significantly impact budgeting for a new home.

Credit scores, too, remain a cloudy area for many. The study found that 32% believe a score of 700 or more is the golden ticket to buying a home. However, in the real world, a score of 620 can open doors to conventional loans.

And what about the actual cost of real estate? It’s a figure that should be at the forefront of any potential buyer’s mind. Yet, a surprising 60% underestimate the median home price. With only 14% correctly identifying the median price range of $400,000 to $499,000, it’s evident that many are ill-prepared for the financial realities of homeownership.

This might explain why a substantial 76% of non-homeowners express apprehensions about the rising home prices.

In Conclusion

“Zillow Syndrome” epitomizes the gap between perception and reality in the realm of homeownership. While platforms like Zillow offer an accessible window into the housing market, they can’t replace thorough research and understanding when it comes to actual buying.

The Real Estate Witch study about home buying misconceptions is a good reminder of the importance of being well informed. After all, a home is one of the most significant investments most will make in their lifetime, and a little knowledge can go a long way in ensuring it’s a wise one.

B. Carlisle

Contributing editor at Wealth Gang. An entrepreneur at heart, he's passionate about meaningful ways to leverage technology and social media for business opportunities and side hustles.