Amongst record closings and heightened competition in 2020 and early 2021, homebuyers care most about affordability, transparency, and the time it takes to close, according to a new survey from Spruce, a company powering online real estate transactions.

According to Spruce, the findings of the national survey show the priorities of U.S. homebuyers, their increased trust in technology for financial transactions, and their interest in relatively untapped opportunities for alternate real estate investments.

“There are many aspects of the real estate and home buying process that need to be improved,” said Patrick Burns, CEO and co-founder of Spruce. “But the most fundamental issues–affordability of closing costs, process transparency, and time–are perhaps unsurprisingly the pain points most felt by Americans today, and thus remain our key areas of focus as we continue to build our client-focused offerings.”

When ranking the most important aspects of the home buying process, respondents chose overall affordability (64% reported most important), transparency (41% voted second most important), and the time it takes to close (23% as third most important) as their top three–over customer service and the ability to sign electronically.

Overall, respondents trust technology about the same as they did pre COVID (59%). But about a third of respondents (31%) reported increased trust in technology to make major financial transactions.

Real estate investment opportunities: When asked about their interest in forms of real estate investment other than traditional home buying, nearly half (49%) of respondents reported not having considered alternate forms of real estate investment. More than 30% of respondents cited interest in rental properties, with 25% being interested in rent-to-own.

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