According to the results of a housing survey released recently by BMO Harris Bank, three-quarters (77 percent) of homeowners have used a real estate agent. However, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans are confident they could sell a home without the help of a real estate agent, and 59 percent said they felt they could purchase a home without one.
“While a notable number of Americans feel they could buy or sell a home without a real estate agent, our survey tells us that when the time came, the majority of homeowners did seek the added professional help and enlisted an agent,” says Kevin Christopher, head of Mortgage Sales, BMO Harris Bank. “It can be a complex process, and one that takes up a great deal of time. One way we’ve tried to make it easier is having our bankers attend open houses, giving prospective homebuyers a chance to talk about the purchase and finances in one stop.”
Word-of-mouth is the top way that homebuyers select an agent (41 percent), followed by:
- Past experience (22 percent)
- Reference from bank (9 percent)
- Advertising or a flyer (9 percent)
- Came to the door (2 percent)
The survey also asked Americans about where they felt real estate agents had the most value-add. The top three benefits for having an agent when buying are: handling paperwork (67 percent); having someone who understands market value (59 percent); and access to market information (53 percent). The top three benefits when selling are: again, paperwork (64 percent); advertising the home to bring in offers (58 percent); and having someone to price the home appropriately (57 percent).
“Although higher home prices and mortgage rates have dented housing affordability, it remains; historically; very attractive. This, in turn, continues to support the demand for homes, along with rising household formation,” says Michael Gregory, head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. “Despite the overall U.S. housing activity losing some of the momentum we saw earlier in the recovery, recent solid job growth should help reinvigorate the housing market.”