HOUSTON (April 13, 2006) - Contrary to concerns about softening real estate markets, U.S. home buyers expect their home values to appreciate, according to a recent survey conducted by Stewart Title Guaranty Co., one of the nation's leading title insurance underwriters. In the survey, those home buyers also highly rated the services of their real estate agents, lenders and title company.
The single-page surveys were distributed to home buyers following closings in the last eight business days of March 2006. A total of 1,125 surveys were returned from both first-time and repeat home buyers.
"This is the first of an annual survey to be conducted by Stewart to gauge home-buyer expectations, satisfactions and suggestions on how the real estate transaction-services industry may evolve to better serve our customers," said Malcolm S. Morris, president, Stewart Title Guaranty Co.
"We are very pleased with the rating of 3.87 out of a possible 4.00 respondents gave their title service providers," said Morris. "Home buyers expect their home to appreciate 10.0 percent in value over the next year. That level of optimism bodes well for the continued vitality of the real estate market through the coming year."
Some specific findings of the survey include:
- When asked how more valuable they expected their home to be in one year from the date of closing, no home buyers anticipated that their property would decline in value. The median value increase estimate was 10.0 percent for both first-time and repeat home buyers. This figure is in line with the national average as reported by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), which found a one-year 12.95 percent average increase in housing values for 2005. (Source: http://www.ofheo.gov/HPIState.asp?FormMode=Summary)
- Buyers rated each of the transaction service providers (lenders, real estate agents and title) extremely high. Respondents were asked to assign a grade rating of either A (excellent), B, C (average), D or F (unsatisfactory). The rankings were converted to a grade point average (GPA) where A is a 4.0 and F is a 0.0.
a. The title grade overall was a 3.87 GPA, with 88 percent of respondents giving an excellent score.
b. Real estate agents were rated excellent by 85 percent of all buyers, with an overall score of 3.79 GPA.
c. Lenders received a 3.57 GPA with 73.1 percent of home buyers assigning an excellent rating.
Home buyers also were asked, "What one facet of the home buying process needs most improvement?" They responded predominantly with two themes: the amount of paper involved, and the amount (or lack of) communication in the transaction.
"In this day and age of technology, buyers expect much greater use of technology and less paper - and they expect better communication from the parties in the transaction," said Dr. Ted C. Jones, senior vice president and chief economist, Stewart Title Guaranty Co., who formulated the survey and analyzed the results. "These findings validate the title industry's push towards a paperless process with electronic signatures and transaction management via the Internet."
The survey's executive summary, instrument and complete customer comments may be found online at www.stewart.com.
Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC) is a technology-driven, strategically competitive, real estate information and transaction management company. Stewart provides title insurance and related information services required for settlement by the real estate and mortgage industries through more than 9,000 policy-issuing offices and agencies in the United States and international markets. Stewart also provides post-closing lender services, mortgage default management solutions, automated county clerk land records, property ownership mapping, geographic information systems, property information reports, flood certificates, document preparation, background checks and expertise in tax-deferred exchanges. More information can be found at www.stewart.com.