By: P. Dennis Connelly, CRS Long & Foster Real Estate
More Americans are using real estate agents to buy and sell their home than ever before, even among the younger generations.
A new Harris Insights housing consumer study, which was underwritten by the California Association of Realtors, The CE Shop and REAL Trends, shows a full 90% of consumers use real estate agents to buy and sell their homes. This is a survey high and is up 5 percentage points from the last study in 2014 and up 9 percentage points from the first study conducted in 2001. The study asked the opinions of 1,000 people who had either bought or sold a home in the last six months.
And despite fears that Millennials are replacing real estate agents with technology, the study found that is not the case, and 91% of those ages 18 to 34 used real estate agents in their transaction. That number is slightly higher among Gen Xers, or those ages 35 to 44 years old, at 94%.
Actually, it’s the older generations that are cutting real estate agents out of the picture as just 81% of those ages 55 and older reported using a real estate agent in their transaction.
The study also found that more educated consumers are more likely to use a real estate agent, 94% of those with a college degree used agents in their transaction. Those with only a high school diploma used agents at a rate of 83%.
Higher income earners were also more likely to use real estate agents. About 79% of those who made $50,000 a year or less used an agent, while those who made between $75,000 and $100,000 used agents in 98% of the cases.
If the need for real estate agents is increasing – what are consumers looking for when it comes to selecting their agent? “Referrals from people I trust” garnered the highest response from consumers on what was most important when selecting their real estate agent. About 69% of consumers said this was either extremely important or very important, while 92% said it was important.
Next in importance was “findings agents who had listings like my home” at 64%, followed by “looking at websites with ratings of agent’s performances” at 62%. In fourth place was “having a personal relationship with the agent” at 57%.
The study also found that consumers value agents who are members of a Realtor organization, as this was the fifth most important factor at 52%.
But while technology does not seem like it will replace real estate agents any time soon, it is playing an increasingly important role in the home buying and selling process. A full 92% of consumers reported looking at websites for information about real estate agents, and this number was even higher for younger generations. Millennials reported using websites 96% of the time.