What Home Buyers Are Looking For and Where They’re Finding It

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The search for a new home, especially among first-time buyers, has a lot of moving parts. Finding an agent, collecting the paperwork needed to get a mortgage, finding a lender, the list might seem endless.

According to a recent report from Chase Home Lending, a division of JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM), and Alphabet Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL), online search activity among first-time home buyers has reached an all-time high and — no surprise here — affordability remains the top priority for prospective buyers.

Mike Weinbach, CEO of Chase Home Lending, said:

We teamed up with Google to help us better understand what customers are searching for and how the home buying landscape is evolving. We found that millennials and first-time homebuyers are making a big splash in the market, and affordability remains top of mind.

The research led to several key findings:

First-time buyers have picked up the pace
In 2017, 44% of first-time buyers searched for a mortgage loan in the mortgage category, up from 11% last year.

Affordability is key
Buyers are keyed in on how much house they can afford. In 2016, buyers made 34% more searches on affordability than they did in 2015.

Potential buyers in the South were the most frequent searchers
In the last three years, buyers from the South were responsible for 37% of mortgage searches, compared to 26% in the West, 19% in the Northeast, and 18% in the Midwest.

Buyers want to lock-in on a fixed-rate mortgage
Searches among buyers in Florida for fixed-rate mortgages are up 30% year over year in Florida while similar searches rose only 18% in New York, 9% in Illinois, and 6% in California.

Chase has created this infographic that highlights a number of other data points from the joint research project.