SOURCE: HouseValues Inc.

May 22, 2006 08:25 ET

Are Soaring Gas Prices Changing the Way Consumers Search For and Buy Homes?

70 Percent of Consumers Say the Price of Gasoline Is Now a Consideration When Deciding Where to Live, According to HomePages.com Survey

KIRKLAND, WA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- May 22, 2006 -- Rising gas prices appear to be hitting home in more ways than one.

Besides causing growing numbers of Americans to adjust their driving and vacation plans, unrelenting price hikes at the pump now appear to be playing a role in where -- and how -- consumers search for homes.

According to a survey of home buyers by HomePages.com, 70 percent of consumers say rising gas prices have become an important consideration when deciding where to live. Nearly half of all home buyers (48 percent) ranked rising gas prices as "very important."

Consumer attitudes and opinions about commuting long distances to work have also shifted rather dramatically over the past year. More than 40 percent of home buyers now think a short commute to work is an important factor in choosing a new home. Last summer, Kelton Research asked the same question and found that 9 percent of consumers thought a short commute was an important factor in choosing a new home.

Real estate professionals also report that consumers are seeking homes that are closer to desired local services and amenities, such as restaurants, coffee shops, and schools.

"Clients are now telling me they have two primary requirements in their home search: They want a neighborhood that has good schools, established and family centered, and they want to be close to their jobs," said Eileen Landau, a Realtor with Realty Executives, Realtors in Naperville, Ill. "These increasing requests are a direct result of rising gas prices. It makes a bigger difference now, for instance, if a family is five miles away from their child's school instead of two miles."

Rising gas prices also appear to be contributing to a spike in consumers' reliance on new online technology that enables them to find detailed information on communities and actually view neighborhoods, streets and homes through aerial mapping technology.

"As gas prices continue to increase week after week, a natural reaction is for consumers shopping for homes to do more of their homework online -- well before getting into a car to search for homes," said Steve Murray, editor of Real Trends, a Littleton, Colorado-based real estate publication.

Officials at HouseValues said real estate agents across the nation who subscribe to the company's HomePages.com real estate service are reporting increased consumer activity in the new online service, which HouseValues introduced late last year.

HomePages is the first national home buying and selling service to combine aerial maps, in-depth neighborhood information and nationwide home listings into one Web site. The site offers consumers access to nationwide detailed home listings that are updated as often as twice a day to ensure consumers have access to the latest new properties to hit the market.

About HomePages

HomePages™ (www.homepages.com) gives consumers a complete picture of where they want to live in a way they have never seen before. This lifestyle and neighborhood-centric site combines detailed neighborhood information (community demographics, crime stats, school details, parks and recreation, and local amenities and services) with searchable aerial imagery and integrated home listings to help consumers make the best decision about buying or selling a home. HomePages was developed by HouseValues Inc. (NASDAQ: SOLD) to provide consumers and real estate professionals with the information and tools they need for success throughout the home buying and selling process.

SOLD: CORPORATE

Contact Information