Home buyers, sellers are doing more of the legwork themselves

by Steve Randall02 Aug 2018

It’s never been more important for real estate firms to build strong relationships with their customers as digital disruptions chips away at the route to home sales.

A report from J.D. Power reveals that digital disruption means that customers are able – if they wish – to do much of the work themselves that was traditionally the domain of the real estate agent or broker.

Researching available homes, finding an agent, or bypassing an agent altogether, are all within reach – literally – of homebuyers and sellers.

The good news is that real estate firms have opportunity as well as challenges from the rise of digital.

Overall satisfaction with the nation’s largest real estate firms has increased in the J.D. Power 2018 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study, the 11th annual release.

The increase is across the three main groups surveyed; first-time buyers; repeat buyers; and first-time sellers.

“Real estate firms are recognizing that their value proposition has shifted from that of information broker to trusted advisor; as a result, we’re seeing increases in customer satisfaction in each of the segments of home buyers and sellers,” said Craig Martin, Senior Director of Financial Services at J.D. Power. “The challenge for these companies is to consistently demonstrate and communicate the value to current and potential customers. Those who ensure trust and understanding are at the center of their client and customer strategies will truly differentiate from both traditional competition and those attempting to disrupt the industry.”

1 in 5 buyers will do so without an agent
The survey found that more experienced buyers and sellers are more confident in their ability to go it alone and 88% of buyers begin their home search before choosing an agent.

Almost 1 in 5 repeat buyers, 13% of first-time buyers, and 9% of first-time sellers did not use an agent for their sale/purchase.

Reputation matters, so does social media
More than 4 in 10 first-time buyers and sellers will select a real estate firm based on reputation, rather than recommendations or previous experience.

For repeat buyers and sellers, the experience that had with agents/salespeople beats firm reputation.

The report also reveals that 47% of buyers and 55% of sellers use social media to find agents with most saying they were “delighted” having done so. First-time buyers may also use social media to find homes.

Timely response to questions, keeping customers in the loop, and sharing comparable properties, are all valued communications from agents to customers.

The firms doing it well

The firms that rank highest among customers are:

First-Time Home-Buyer Satisfaction Ranking:

Century 21 (883) ranks highest for a fifth consecutive year and performs particularly well in all four factors in the segment. RE/MAX (871) ranks second.

Repeat Home-Buyer Satisfaction Ranking:

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Coldwell Banker rank highest in a tie with a score of 874.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices performs particularly well in the agent/salesperson factor. Coldwell Banker performs particularly well in the closing process and variety of additional services factors. Keller Williams (870) ranks third.

First-Time Home-Seller Satisfaction Ranking:

Century 21 (891) ranks highest for a fifth consecutive year and performs particularly well in all five factors in the segment.


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