Consumers place more importance on recommendations from friends or family and online reviews when choosing a real estate agent than they do when selecting some other types of professionals whose performance can have a significant impact on a person’s health or financial well-being.
Respondents most often cited “expertise” as most important when asked what qualities they seek when choosing a doctor, lawyer, financial planner, home remodeling specialist or real estate agent, according to a survey released by agent-matching service Agent Ace.
But expertise matters less to consumers when they are choosing a real estate agent than when they’re choosing all other types of professionals addressed in the survey — except for home renovation specialists.
Michael McClure, broker-owner of Professional One Real Estate and the creator of the Facebook group Raise the Bar in Real Estate, posits that this is because:
- Consumers generally have relatively low expectations of real estate agents (primarily due to the low barrier to entry to real estate).
- Consumers don’t appreciate the complexity of real estate transactions.
- Consumers don’t interact with real estate agents as often as they do with other types of professionals, “which increases the potential for drawing erroneous conclusions” about agents, he said.
He said the takeaway for real estate agents is to:
- Strive to provide exceptional service to every client.
- Rack up testimonials and add them to their marketing, websites and listing portals.
- “Be cognizant of opportunities that exist within social media.”
The survey was conducted by Harris/Nielsen on behalf of Agent Ace and garnered responses from 2,079 adults ages 18 and over, according to Agent Ace.
Thirty percent of respondents cited expertise as most important when choosing a real estate agent, compared with 38 percent for financial planners, 40 percent for lawyers, 42 percent for doctors and 29 percent for home improvement specialists.
Recommendations from friends or family carry more weight for consumers when choosing a real estate agent than for all other types of professionals included in the survey — except for home renovation specialists.
Twenty-six percent of respondents cited recommendations as most important for choosing a home specialist, followed by real estate agents (25 percent).
Recommendations from friends or family were most important for choosing a financial planner, lawyer or doctor for 21 percent of respondents.
Endorsements from strangers apparently matter much less to consumers. The survey found that online reviews rarely are a priority for consumers selecting professionals — though they are much more important to millennials than other age groups.
Six percent of respondents said online reviews were most important when hiring a real estate agent, compared with 4 percent for financial planners, 4 percent for lawyers, 3 percent for doctors and 9 percent for home improvement specialists
Those results might call into question the value of investing time and resources in cultivating an online reputation.
But a closer look at the results suggest that real estate agents interested in attracting millennials would be well advised to consistently encourage satisfied clients to share their experiences online.
Respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 were more than three times as likely to say online reviews were most important when choosing a real estate agent than they were to say that online reviews were most important for choosing a financial planner, lawyer or doctor.
Online reviews carried equal importance for choosing a real estate agent and home renovation specialist among millennials (13 percent said they were the most important consideration) — considerably higher than the shares of millennials who cited online reviews as most important for choosing the other types of professionals.
Another survey finding that argues in favor of cultivating an online presence: 6 out of 10 consumers strongly agree that real estate websites and other technologies are a great way to find a real estate agent.
Real estate agents might be heartened to know that the survey affirmed a strong appreciation among consumers for real estate agents.
Agents were cited most often (60 percent) as an important resource in purchasing or selling a home, followed by driving around looking at homes or neighborhoods (43 percent) and home searching sites or apps (29 percent). (Note: being an important resource for purchasing a home is not exactly the same as being an important resource for finding a home.)
The survey also took a crack at uncovering the qualities that make a real estate agent great. Here are the results:
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