SAN FRANCISCO — Get a group of home sellers in a room, ask them about their experiences with their agent and the results may be eye-opening.
That’s the premise behind Hear it Direct, which puts together consumer panels of buyers and sellers with varying satisfaction levels and price ranges. At Real Estate Connect, a sellers panel, in particular, had some comments that real estate pros may find sobering:
- At least 5 out of 6 said they had chosen an agent who was either a family friend, a referral from a friend, or someone they had worked with before.
- Most said the agent who they bought the house with in the first place had not kept in touch — which may be why only one used the same agent to sell the same property.
- None had an agent ask them how and how often they wanted to communicate. One 44-year-old seller said he got “a lot of emails,” but as a member of Gen X, he would have preferred phone calls. “If you call me, that tells me you really care about me,” he said.
- When asked which websites were most accurate in terms of estimating the value of their home compared to what the home sold for, the sellers mentioned Zillow, Trulia, Redfin and Yahoo Real Estate (which is powered by Zillow). One mentioned that Zillow’s estimate was low, another said Zillow’s estimate was high, but Zillow was mentioned most often as a resource.
- The sellers mentioned using Zillow, Trulia and Redfin during the process, as did buyers in a previous panel. Not one buyer or seller mentioned realtor.com.
- At least 5 of the 6 sellers said they interviewed multiple agents, usually three or four. One who had interviewed three said that if he had to do it over again, he would have interviewed many more agents. He felt his agent had done the minimum to earn her commission.
- Four out of 6 said they Googled their agent’s name.
- All Googled their own address to see what websites the property was on and what it looked like.
- Only one said an agent they interviewed might have brought an iPad or desktop to the listing appointment.
- Two out of 6 hired an agent that had an assistant or a team.
- Three out of 6 had agents ask them for a price reduction.
- None said their agent had made them feel like they were part of a team in selling their house.
- Half said the number of homes an agent sells was important to them in deciding whom to hire. “That’s what’s most important isn’t it?” one seller said, though he added that that could mean that a highly productive agent might have less time to spend with each client. “The problem is some people need their hand held,” the seller said.
- None said their agent had used a showing feedback tool, but at least half said they would have liked to use such a tool if it were available.
- Three out of 6 had multiple offers on their property.
- Three out of 6 thought they would have gotten a higher price if they had kept their property on the market longer.
- None said they provided an online review for their agent after the process was over. “I never even thought of it,” one seller said.
- Half said they asked the agents they interviewed what they charge at the beginning of the process. All said they asked about commission at some point during the selling process.
- Five of the 6 sellers said they paid a 5 percent commission. The remaining one said she paid close to 6 percent.
- Four out of 6 said that if they hired a different agent they thought they could have gotten more money for their property.
- Half said that if someone had come up to them when they were selling and offered them 10 percent off their asking price in cash immediately, they would have accepted the offer. Sellers may soon be able to do just that via startup Opendoor.
- All said their agent hadn’t done anything to make their life easier while their house was on the market. One seller said he would have liked if his agent had just told him what was going on and what to expect through the process.
- Two of the 6 said they felt good about the industry after the selling process.
A panel of industry observers later commented that neither the buyers nor the sellers had seemed to have been educated by their agents about the process and what they should expect. One panelist noted that the sellers, in particular, looked defeated.
“The best part of it was not having to do it again,” one seller said.