A typology of Housing Search Behaviour in the Owner-Occupier Sector

A NBE approach: Maclennan and Wood, 1982

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4.5 A NBE approach: Maclennan and Wood, 1982

Modelling Housing Market Search edited by William Clark (1982) remains one of the most highly cited texts on housing search. The chapter, Information acquisition: patterns and strategies, by Duncan Maclennan and Gavin Wood, likewise is frequently referred to as one of the key staging posts in understanding information acquisition in housing search. The conceptual model presented by Maclennan and Wood is referred to as the chain of search stages, whilst the text enhances this title:

“a successful search for housing is not a single activity but can be more appropriately viewed as consisting of a linked series of distinctive information seeking actions” (Maclennan and Wood, 1982, P134).

As with Smith et al (1979), Maclennan and Wood (1982) consider search as decision making under uncertainty and the search process as iteratively revealing more about the market. One of the most significant elements in Maclennan and Wood’s model is the feedback loops to revise aspirations and the information sources used. Households, whose experiences vary may, for example, select one information source (message service) at the start of their search, and then change to a different information source once they have begun area orientation, or if the source is not revealing the information it is perceived to be needed. Whilst Maclennan and Wood assert that households rationally select information sources, they do so from a position of limited information, and may re-choose the information sources accessed.

The stages of housing search are sequential, although they may be recursive. There is a logic to the process though, based on event decision-making, for example the decision to enter the market precedes message service selection. This process suggests that whilst the decision-maker brings with them reasons for searching (e.g. push and pull motivations to start searching) they make conscious decisions to begin a process of search, for example by selecting from a range of information services and undertaking a determined intensity of search through it. There is, however, no discussion about the limitations of the decision maker’s capacity. All determinants of limitations are external (e.g. the sources and amount of information). In this sense whilst Maclennan and Wood open up a behavioural model of housing search, it remains an extension of the mainstream rather than alternative culturally embedded approach.

Fig. 4.5: The chain of search stage: Maclennan and Wood, 1982

Source: Maclennan and Wood, 1982, P.136

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