Real estate brokerages are capitalizing on an improving resale market by focusing on factors tied to customer satisfaction among both buyers and sellers, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study,SM released today.
Along with the study showing higher overall customer satisfaction in all segments, home sales have increased by 3% since June 2015 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.57 million.¹ Real estate companies meeting the expectations of the growing first-time home buyer and seller market are better positioned in a stronger market to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy, and sales.
The study, now in its ninth year, measures customer satisfaction with the nation’s largest real estate companies in four segments: first-time buyers, repeat buyers, first-time sellers and repeat sellers. Overall satisfaction is measured across four factors of the home-buying experience: agent/salesperson; real estate office; closing process; and variety of additional services. In the home-selling experience, the same four factors are evaluated plus a fifth factor, marketing. Satisfaction is measured on a 1,000-point scale.
The study identifies three findings crucial to improving the customer experience:
Agent/Salesperson Is Most Important to Buyers: For buyers, the most important element driving overall satisfaction is the agent/salesperson. There is a clear need to keep buyers—particularly first-time buyers—well informed throughout the purchase process. Among first-time buyers, satisfaction is significantly higher when they are kept informed at all key contact points vs. when they are not (879 vs. 797, respectively). However, satisfaction declines when a buyer is contacted more than twice per day.
Real Estate Company Marketing Is Most Important to Sellers: For sellers, marketing is the most important factor. Strategic marketing can be a key differentiator and an influential tool for a seller to gauge how the agent/salesperson is driving the sales process. An open house and website listing are effective marketing tools; however, the study finds that the highest levels of satisfaction are associated with a listing package (876) and use of aerial/satellite photography (875) to market a home.
Customer Advocacy Essential for First-Time Buyers and Sellers: First-time home buyers and sellers cite good reputation and recommendations from friends, family and colleagues as the two main reasons for selecting a real estate company. More than two-fifths (42%) of first-time buyers and 49% of first-time sellers say they chose their real estate company based on its reputation, and 22% of first-time buyers and 17% of first-time sellers selected based on recommendations.
“Satisfying the first-time buyer and seller market is essential for real estate firms to differentiate themselves and increase market share,” said Greg Truex, senior director of the at-home practice at J.D. Power. “To satisfy first-time buyers, agent communication must be transparent and informative at key points throughout the purchase process. For sellers, agents need to be proactive in providing premium marketing tools and services. Agents who are able provide a comprehensive and detailed listing package coupled with aerial photography capabilities to impress buyers can increase satisfaction and exceed customer expectations.
“After the purchase, the home buyer becomes the mortgage servicer customer described in the J.D. Power Primary Mortgage Servicer Study,” Truex added. “It’s not a coincidence that, when the level of satisfaction is comparable, the ratings in both studies reflect that similarity.”
First-Time Home-Buyer Satisfaction Ranking
CENTURY 21 (876) ranks highest for a third consecutive year and performs particularly well in the agent/salesperson and variety of additional services factors.
RE/MAX (874) ranks second and performs particularly well in the real estate office and closing process factors.
Overall satisfaction among first-time home buyers is 865, compared with 827 in 2015.
Repeat Home-Buyer Satisfaction Ranking
CENTURY 21 and Coldwell Banker (857 each)rank highest in a tie. CENTURY 21 ranks highest for a third consecutive year and performs particularly well in the real estate factor, while Coldwell Banker performs particularly well in the closing process factor.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (856) ranks third and performs particularly well in the agent/salesperson and variety of additional services factors.
Overall satisfaction among repeat home buyers is 852, compared with 841 in 2015.
First-Time Home-Seller Satisfaction Ranking
CENTURY 21 (864)ranks highest for a third consecutive year and performs particularly well in all five factors.
Overall satisfaction among first-time home sellers is 847, compared with 827 in 2015.
Repeat Home-Seller Satisfaction Ranking
CENTURY 21 (866)ranks highest for a third consecutive year and performs particularly well in all five factors.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices (846) ranks second.
Overall satisfaction among repeat home sellers is 846, compared with 814 in 2015.
Following are some of the loyalty findings related to delighted customers:
Among delighted customers (overall satisfaction scores of 901 and above), 58% say they “definitely will” use the same real estate company again, compared with the study average of 38%.
More than two-thirds (69%) of delighted customers say they “definitely will” recommend their real estate company to others, compared with the study average of 46%.
Among delighted customers, the average number of positive recommendations is 7.2, compared with the study average of 6.0.
The 2016 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study includes 5,837 evaluations from 4,760 customers who bought and/or sold a home between March 2015 and April 2016. The study was fielded from February through April 2016. For more information about J.D. Power solutions for the home improvement industry, visit http://www.jdpower.com/industry/home-improvement.
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