In case you were worried tech and for-sale-by-owner real estate transactions replacing agents, new data should put your fears to rest: in the first half of 2018, 90 percent of buyers and sellers used an agent, according to the REAL Trends 2018 Consumer Study released on Monday,

That’s the highest rate of consumers using an agent since the report’s inception in 2001 (when 81 percent of consumers used an agent) and a 5 percentage point increase from the last REAL Trends consumer study in 2014 (85 percent).

More than 90 percent of Millennials (91 percent) and Gen-Xers (94 percent) used a real estate agent as part of a transaction, about 10 percentage points more than their older counterparts aged 55 and over (81 percent).

The survey ran online between June 20 and July 12, 2018, and included 1,000 people age 18 or older who either bought a home or sold a home in the first six months of 2018. Demographic figures including age, gender, ethnicity, religion and household income were weighted to make the survey’s proportions reflect the general population. It was underwritten by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) and the CE Shop, in addition to REAL Trends.

Consumers said the biggest reasons for using a real estate agent during a transaction were:

  • Help negotiating a buying/selling price (86 percent),
  • The need for a higher level of professionalism (80 percent),
  • Help managing the stressful process of buying or selling a home (80 percent),
  • Help narrowing down the list of potential homes (77 percent)
  • Access to a comparative market analysis (74 percent)
  • Need someone to educate them about the buying/selling process (72 percent)

Credit: REAL Trends

When it comes to finding the right agent to meet their needs, all consumers said referrals from people they trust (69 percent) was ‘important’ in their decision-making process.

Next, buyers and sellers searched for agents who had listings similar to what they were looking for (64 percent), scoured through websites with agent performance ratings (62 percent) or simply used an agent they already knew (57 percent).

Although 92 percent of buyers and sellers used websites to find information about real estate agents, Millennials and Gen-Xers (66-67%) tended to surf the web for information more often than those aged 45 and over (47%)., Zillow, Google, and Facebook were the most popular online sources for consumers, while local real estate websites lagged behind in fifth place. For the first year ever, Amazon and the neighborhood social network, Nextdoor, also made the list.

Moreover, more than 70 percent of consumers said they’re “extremely likely or very likely” to use one of these sites to find their next agent.

“A great deal of the findings of the research point to the importance of relationships, both in the selection of a real estate agent for the task of selling or buying a home and the importance consumers place on the delivery of personal service rather than the reliance on technology solutions,” said REAL Trends president Steve Murray of the results.

Email Marian McPherson.

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