Real estate agents who provide clear communication and walk buyers through every step of the purchase process including appraisals, inspections and home warranties are more likely to earn high marks for customer satisfaction, according to the latest J.D. Power Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study.

For seven years running, the J.D. Power study has measured customer satisfaction among first-time and repeat homebuyers and sellers with brokerages affiliated with the nation’s biggest franchisors.

“Satisfying first-time buyers is critical for real estate firms to differentiate themselves,” said J.D. Power’s Christina Cooley in a statement. “It’s up to the agent to build confidence in buyers by educating them and demonstrating a commitment to working in the best interest of the customer.”

Buyers and sellers have a growing arsenal of tools to help them choose an agent based on client ratings and reviews, including profile pages on property search sites Zillow, Trulia and realtor.com.

J.D. Power measures overall satisfaction for homebuyers in four areas: agent/salesperson; real estate office; closing process; and variety of additional services. For sellers, overall satisfaction is measured in those four areas, plus satisfaction with how their home was marketed.

The agent’s relationships with their client was the the most important factor in determining customer satisfaction among buyers. For sellers, the way their home was marketed was the most important factor, “as it is a tangible way for the customer to assess how the agent is supporting the sale,” J.D. Power said in releasing the study.

Overall satisfaction was higher among repeat customers. The average score among repeat homebuyers was 840 on a 1,000-point scale, and 821 among repeat home sellers. The industry average for the first-time buyer segment is 835 and 820 among first-time sellers.

Buyers and sellers said they chose their real estate brokerage based on its reputation (30 percent of buyers and 35 percent sellers), past experience with the agent or salesperson (21 percent of buyers and 25 percent of sellers), or based on recommendations (24 percent of buyers and 21 percent of sellers).

The average number of open houses attended by buyers was three, and sellers said their homes were shown eight times on average.

The study included 5,810 evaluations from 4,868 customers who bought and/or sold a home between March 2013 and April 2014.

Among first-time homebuyers, brokerages affiliated with Century 21 had the highest overall customer satisfaction (848), followed by brokerages affiliated with Prudential Real Estate (846). Scoring below the average of 835 were brokerages affiliated with Re/Max (830), Coldwell Banker (827) and Keller Williams (824).

JDPower_2014_first_buyer

Among repeat homebuyers, brokerages affiliated with Century 21 had the highest overall customer satisfaction (852), followed by brokerages affiliated with Prudential Real Estate (847) and Coldwell Banker (844). Scoring below the average of 840 were brokerages affiliated with Re/Max (823) and Keller Williams (823).

JDPower_2014_repeat_buyers

Among first-time sellers, brokerages affiliated with Century 21 had the highest overall customer satisfaction (833), followed by brokerages affiliated with Re/Max (831) and Prudential Real Estate (825). Scoring below the average of 820 were brokerages affiliated with Coldwell Banker (810) and Keller Williams (802).

JDPower_2014_first_sellers

Among repeat sellers, brokerages affiliated with Century 21 had the highest overall customer satisfaction (836), followed by brokerages affiliated with Keller Williams (829). Scoring below the average of 821 were brokerages affiliated with Re/Max (815, Coldwell Banker (814) and Prudential Real Estate (806).

JDPower_2014_repeat_sellers

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