The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently commissioned a survey by Harris Poll on consumer preferences for real estate services. Originally conducted in 2008 and again in 2010, this third survey evaluates any changes in homebuyer preferences, especially given the improvement in the economy over the past several years. Surveying over 1,100 recent and future homebuyers online in September 2015, NAR discovered that usage of and interest in “one-stop shopping” (OSS) has substantially increased. Fifty percent of recent buyers used one source to procure home-buying services, compared to 29 percent in 2008. Benefits of OSS noted by homebuyers include:
- Saving money when firms offer discounted prices (81 percent)
- Having the ability to compare rates across a variety of providers (75 percent)
- Making the home-buying process more efficient and manageable (74 percent)
The Role of Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents continue to be a highly trusted source about OSS (52 percent would trust real estate agents to provide information), second only to friends and family (54 percent). Over half of homebuyers in 2015 (53 percent) says they would be more likely to consider a firm affiliated with their real estate agent compared to 39 percent in 2010 and 29 percent in 2008.
Real estate agents seem to have greater influence over homebuyers’ service-related decisions than mortgage lenders. For example, 47 percent of recent homebuyers who used a real estate agent used an affiliated provider for their home warranty, but just 32 percent of recent homebuyers who used a mortgage lender used an affiliated provider for their warranty. Homebuyers are almost three times more likely to use a real estate agent as their primary point of contact (53 percent) compared with mortgage lenders (17 percent); for most, the agent remains the primary contact throughout the home-buying process.
In addition, 72 percent of homebuyers prefer the firm providing closing services be affiliated with their real estate agent. The top four services homebuyers want to be affiliated with their real estate agent’s firm are: closing services (72 percent); home warranty (65 percent); home inspection (63 percent); and mortgage (51 percent).
Perceptions of Mortgage Markets
The survey also included questions about the homebuyer’s perception of the mortgage market. Forty-five percent of homebuyers believe it is easier for people with “good” credit to get mortgage approvals in 2015 than last year. For those who experienced difficulties getting a mortgage, 51 percent blame it on a bank’s unwillingness to make loans. Homebuyers in 2015 are three times as likely as 2010 buyers to say that OSS use makes getting a mortgage much more likely (16 percent in 2015, compared to 5 percent in 2010).
One-stop shopping has continued to gain popularity with buyers, and overall home-buying satisfaction levels are consistently higher among those who used OSS (average 8.3 on 0-10 scale) than those who used multiple sources (7.7). Nevertheless, notable portions of future buyers are still unsure about the home-buying process, and many are still uncertain how they will procure the home-buying services they plan to use in the next two years. Sizable portions of the future homebuyer population do not feel knowledgeable about real estate transactions (27 percent), are not confident in their ability to negotiate various aspects of the transaction (26 percent), and do not understand the roles played by service providers in real estate transactions (22 percent).
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of NAR from September 8 – 22, 2015. Methods of the third wave matched those of previous waves. The 2015 survey included a total of 1,155 adults, of whom 524 were recent homebuyers, 530 were future buyers, and 101 were both recent and future buyers. In all three waves, respondents also had to have used or expect to use at least one of the following services as part of the home-buying process: real estate agent; mortgage lending; closing services; homeowner’s insurance; home inspection; home warranty. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, contact Sarah Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group.
Sarah Young is the director of Real Estate Services for the National Association of REALTORS®.
For more information, visit www.realtor.org.