With customer satisfaction among buyers and sellers alike slipping, real estate brokerages that want to win repeat business must keep their clients better informed, educating them on comparable sales information and following up with them after closings, J.D. Power and Associates said in releasing the results of its 2012 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study.
The study found homebuyer satisfaction — determined by consumer ratings of the agent or salesperson they worked with, their brokerage office, and the variety of additional services offered — at an all-time low. At 789 on a 1,000-point scale, overall satisfaction among homebuyers was down from 797 in 2011 to a new low in the five-year history of the survey.
Customer satisfaction among sellers — determined by consumer ratings of the same factors evaluated by buyers, plus the marketing of their property — also declined, averaging 768, down from 779 a year ago.
A key reason that satisfaction is down among both groups is that customer expectations are not being met, said Christina Cooley, senior manager of the real estate practice at J.D. Power and Associates, in a statement. Sellers, for example, are not happy at having to compromise on their listing price, she said, while buyers are having to settle for homes that are smaller or not in the condition they’d hoped for.
The survey showed that real estate companies scoring highest in customer satisfaction were more consistent at capturing a greater proportion of the listing price. On average, sellers report receiving 89 percent of their listing price.
Real estate companies that work closely with customers to meet their needs may not only be able to manage their clients’ expectations, but exceed them, Cooley said.
"At the end of the day, real estate companies may best satisfy their customers by keeping them informed, educating them on comparable sales information and following up with them after the closing," Cooley said.
Among sellers, brokerages affiliated with two of five major real estate brands evaluated scored above average, J.D. Power said. Brokerages affiliated with Keller Williams scored an average of 800 points with sellers, well above the overall average of 768. Brokerages affiliated with Coldwell Banker also scored above average, with an average score of 772. Brokerages affiliated with Prudential Real Estate earned an average score of 766, followed by Re/Max (760) and Century 21 (751).
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Among buyers, brokerages affiliated with Keller Williams had the highest average score — 818 — followed by companies affiliated with Prudential Real Estate (803) and Coldwell Banker (791). Brokerages affiliated with Re/Max earned below-average scores of 788 from buyers, and Century 21 affiliates finished last among buyers with an average score of 764.
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Higher levels of customer satisfaction translate into customer loyalty, J.D. Power said, noting that while the agent or salesperson has the largest impact on overall customer satisfaction among both homebuyers and sellers, less than 20 percent of customers say they "definitely will" switch real estate companies if their agent moves to another company.