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What Do Americans Want? Check Their Google Searches

“Can you use money from a 401(k) to buy a house?” The number of consumers asking that question rose 2,800% in the past three months.

NEW YORK – As pandemic conditions and historically low mortgage rates draw more consumers into the real estate market, the topics they’re searching for online could highlight key areas Realtors can focus on in their marketing through social media, blogs and videos.

A look at the search data finds that consumers show a high and growing interest for information about mortgages and other financial questions about the homebuying process. Recent Google searches centered on real estate, according to Google Trends, are:

  • “Refinance home loan calculator” (up nearly 4,000% last week)
  • “Can you use your 401(k) to buy a house?” (up 2,800% in the past three months)
  • “How low will mortgage rates go?” (searches quadrupled in the past week)

After mortgage rates hit a record low – the eighth record this year – Google searches soared as buyers and homeowners wanted to learn more. Rates recently started hovering below 3%, with the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage hitting an all-time low of 2.88% last week, according to Freddie Mac.

Other popular Google search topics indicate a higher interest from first-time buyers. For example, Google searches for “process of buying a house” surged 950%. Another popular Google search topic is “minimum credit score to buy a house.”

Homebuyers also may be searching for deals. According to CNBC, Google searches for “How to buy a foreclosure” increased over the past two months, as have searches seeking the difference between buying a fixer-upper home versus one that’s move-in ready.

Searches including the word “suburbs” also reached a high in July. The cities with the highest search interest in “suburbs” over the past three months were Chicago, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles and Houston.

Source: “Consumers Are Less Confident About Housing, But Searches for These Topics Are Soaring,” CNBC (Aug. 10, 2020)

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