Brokerages affiliated with franchisors Prudential Real Estate, Re/Max and Century 21 scored higher than average in overall customer satisfaction among first-time buyers in a J.D. Power study measuring customer satisfaction among first-time and repeat homebuyers and sellers among the nation’s largest real estate companies.

In general, overall satisfaction with real estate companies was higher among consumers who had bought or sold a home before, compared to first-time buyers and sellers. On a 1,000-point scale, the average score among repeat homebuyers was 817, and 803 among repeat home sellers, compared with the industry average of 797.

Companies affiliated with Prudential Real Estate ranked highest with first-time homebuyers in overall customer satisfaction (811), followed by Re/Max (798) and Century 21 (797). Companies affiliated with Coldwell Banker (792) and Keller Williams (787) scored below average.


Among first-time sellers, Prudential Real Estate (809), Keller Williams (802), Re/Max (800) and Century 21 (799) were tops, with Coldwell Banker (780) scoring below average.

“Real estate companies remain challenged in adapting their customer service approach to best meet the needs of first-time homebuyers and sellers,” said Christina Cooley, director in the diversified services industries practice at J.D. Power, in a statement. “They need to educate these customers by explaining the current state of the market, discuss foreclosure and short-sale transactions, and walk them through every step of the closing process.”

Brokerages that are good at adapting to specific customer scenarios, expectations and needs “are much more likely to be successful in achieving customer satisfaction and loyalty,” Cooley said.

The 2013 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study included 4,371 evaluations from 3,930 customers who bought or sold a home between March 2012 and April 2013.

For buyers, overall satisfaction included four factors: the client’s ratings of the agent, the real estate office, the closing process, and the variety of additional services. For sellers, there were was one additional factor in overall satisfaction: marketing.

The percentage of first-time homebuyers increased to 49 percent in 2013, up from 40 percent in 2012. The percentage of first-time home sellers was up even more sharply, rising from 30 percent in 2012 to 44 percent in 2013.

Average listing price was down 11 percent from 2012, to $200,000, and foreclosures and short-sale purchases were both up slightly, to 19 percent and 15 percent, respectively.

More than one-third (35 percent) of first-time homebuyers and 27 percent of first-time sellers said they picked their broker based on its reputation, while 28 percent of first-time homebuyers and 27 percent of first-time sellers selected their company based on recommendations.

“A real estate company’s agent remains the most important aspect of the customer’s experience among first-time and repeat homebuyers and sellers; however, customer loyalty is first to the company and second to the agent,” Cooley said.

Less than 20 percent of customers said they would definitely switch companies if the sales agent moved.

Among repeat buyers, companies affiliated with Prudential Real Estate (829), Century 21 (820) and Re/Max (819) scored above average in overall customer satisfaction, with Coldwell Banker (811) and Keller Williams (807) falling below average.

Among repeat sellers companies affiliated with Re/Max (819), Century 21 (816) and Prudential Real Estate (809) scored above average, while Coldwell Banker (785) and Keller Williams (784) scored below average.

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