In Home Search, Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus… Sometimes

The conventional wisdom in real estate is that women are the decision-makers when buying a home, leaving the hapless man with the task of selling the old place.

But that’s just a stereotype. What do the numbers tell us about how women and men search for shelter?

When we surveyed 1,131 active Redfin home-buyers over the past few days, we learned of a few differences.

Some are very stereotypical. For example, who’s more likely to fall in love with a home? When we asked home-buyers whether they initially evaluated a home analytically or emotionally, 71% of men were analytical compared to only 58% of women.  Surprise, surprise.

Women were also more likely to be motivated to buy by life events such as a marriage or birth (42% for women  vs. 35% for men), whereas men were more likely to be motivated by money (53% of women were motivated by low interest rates, vs. 61% for men).

What was more interesting is that we saw that women and men were equally likely to buy on their own, a change from the historical pattern in which mostly men did this. Both 14% of women and men are buying alone, a trend that actually favors women in older demographics.

But that’s just what the survey said. As we all know, buyers are liars. What people say in surveys matters less than what they do.

Enter Redfin mathematician Justin Yan, with his movie-star hair and his big, whimsical brain. Justin dug into this question by using U.S. census data about common male and female names to categorize Redfin’s registered users by gender.

Users with androgynous or foreign names were less likely to be categorized.

Here’s what we learned from 30,000 men and 30,000 women:

  • Women log-in 9.2% more often: there is some argument about how many unclassified log-ins are from men but it seems that women are more frequent shoppers.
  • But men view 11.5% more listings in detail: are men more thorough, or do women need less detail to decide about a home?
  • Women mark 2% more properties as favorites: so who’s the picky one?
  • Men have 40% more service requests from Redfin agents, either to tour a home or answer to a question: we aren’t sure if men just prefer Redfin agents, or if they’re just more likely to take the lead in the decision to hire an agent.
  • Men have 8% more saved searches, where you subscribe to the results of a search: this could be because men are more settled and less adventurous in their home search; or because men are just more likely to program the VCR.
  • Men view 38% more pages about inspectors, lenders and real estate attorneys: once a home is under contract, men also seem to be more active in hiring; and finally, and most humiliatingly…
  • Men have 13% more password resets:  it’s a fact. Men are more forgetful than women, at least when it comes to passwords to real estate websites!

But those are just the numbers. Do you search with a member of the opposite sex? How are you different?

Discussion

  • http://twitter.com/james_alley James Alley

    My wife and I share the same account so that we can collaborate better, see each other’s favorites, etc. So you would see a lot of “female” behavior attatched to a male account. Over 60,000 users that sort of thing should smooth out, but I wonder if my situation is more common than you might think.

    I thought of this because of the password reset statistic. I reset our password several times, but not because I forgot, but because I needed to accommodate my wife with a password that would work for both of us and that both of us could easily remember.

    You might want to consider some kind of “joint” account or “family” account which can have multiiple ids associated with it, since it’s probably very common for couples to work together during this process.

    • http://blog.redfin.com/ GlennKelman

      Great idea! A joint account is near the top of our list for many reasons James! It’s hard for us to track down how many customers we really have when so 85% of folks buy a home together, and create a de facto joint account.

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  • http://jamesschiller.com/ James Schiller

    Wow.. What a really cool post. Very interesting data. As a real estate agent you always think to yourself “sell to the wife”, because how does that saying go; “happy wife, happy life”. Your data seems to show the huge difference between the way men and woman think. Such a cool post!