Nearly three quarters of Houston home sellers used a Realtor when selling their homes, and most said they would use a Realtor again, according to a survey from the Houston Association of Realtors and the University of Houston Center for Public Policy.

The survey examined home buyer and seller habits in the Houston area, and found that more are now using the Internet, challenging real estate professionals to add value to their transactions.

Among sellers who used the Internet, 40 percent rated the Houston association’s site as the most important Web site in their home-selling process, according to the survey. Sellers who used the Internet were much more likely to be satisfied with their agent’s performance.

Home buyers also found the Internet to be a useful tool, especially for their research needs; 81 percent used the Internet to learn more about area home prices. Three-quarters of the buyers expected to use the Internet during their next home purchase.

Buyers and sellers also ranked timely responses from their Realtors as a top priority. More than half of the buyers and sellers expected their agent to respond to communications within two hours.

The survey found that Houston home sellers, as a group, are generally older and well educated — 76 percent are over 40 years of age, and nearly two thirds have at least a college degree. They also tend to be longtime residents of the Houston area, with more than half living here for more than 20 years.

Most sellers who were surveyed had sold a home before; only 39 percent were selling a home for the first time. Overall, 90 percent of the home sellers were satisfied that they received a fair price for the home they sold.

Other findings in the survey:

  • Thirty-six percent of sellers who used a Realtor said knowing the Realtor personally, or having used them before, was the most important factor in choosing them to sell their home.

  • Nearly half of sellers wanted their Realtor to help sell the home within a specific time frame.

  • More than nine in 10 sellers were satisfied with their agent’s overall performance.

  • Seventy-six percent of sellers said they would benefit from accessing Realtor ratings by previous customers.

  • Eighty-nine percent of sellers would use a Realtor again to sell another home.

Houston home buyers, in comparison to sellers, are a younger and less experienced group. Almost two-thirds are under the age of 50, and half were buying their very first home. Most have lived in Houston for less than 20 years. Houston’s group of home buyers is also more diverse than the national average — more than 40 percent of Houston home buyers were minorities.

Fewer home buyers than sellers used a Realtor, but those who did were also satisfied with their agent’s performance, according to the survey.

  • Fifty-seven percent of home buyers used a Realtor, while 21 percent bought directly from the builder.

  • Ninety-five percent of buyers who used a Realtor were satisfied with the agent’s overall performance.

  • One-third of buyers who used a Realtor rated knowing the agent or having used them before as the most important reason for choosing them.

  • Ninety-four percent of buyers were satisfied that they paid a fair price for the home they bought.

  • Nearly seven in 10 would use the same agent to buy another home. 

The HAR 2005 survey is the first in a planned regular series of studies, designed to help Houston-area real estate professionals track consumer attitudes and experiences over time.

The CPP conducted interviews with 224 persons who had purchased homes and 181 persons who said they had sold a home.

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