The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) recently commissioned a survey by Harris Poll on consumer preferences for real estate services. Originally conducted in 2008, 2010 and 2015, this fourth survey evaluates any changes in homebuyer preferences, especially given the improvement in the economy over the past several years. After a substantial increase in 2015, use of one-stop shopping (OSS) among recent homebuyers has remained consistent in 2019. On par with 2015, consideration of OSS continues to be high. This year, 95 percent of homebuyers would consider an OSS model.
Almost 50 percent of recent homebuyers used one source to procure home-buying services in 2019. Home-buying satisfaction levels are higher among those who used OSS, and the majority of homebuyers say that OSS makes buying a home easier. Benefits of OSS noted by homebuyers include saving money when firms offer discounted prices (77 percent) and making the home-buying process more efficient and manageable (79 percent). Nearly three in four who would consider OSS also say they would be willing to pay more if they would have a better experience using OSS.
The Role of Real Estate Agents
Real estate agents are the first point of contact in the home-buying process for over half of homebuyers. Real estate agents continue to be a highly trusted source about OSS (57 percent would trust real estate agents to provide information), second only to friends and family (45 percent). Similar to 2015, over half of homebuyers say they would be more likely to consider a firm affiliated with their real estate agent, with nearly one in five saying they would be much more likely—suggesting that the real estate agent can have a significant impact on a homebuyer’s choice of additional services. This consideration has close to doubled over the past 10 years. Knowing that an agent’s firm offers OSS has a positive impact on homebuyers’ selection of an agent (up significantly from 68 percent in 2015 to 86 percent in 2019). In fact, of recent homebuyers who used a real estate agent, there has been an increase in use of agent-affiliated services this year, including home warranty (47 percent in 2015 vs. 57 percent in 2019); home inspector (34 percent in 2015 vs. 56 percent in 2019); and homeowners insurance (22 percent in 2015 vs. 36 percent in 2019).
Perceptions of Mortgage Markets
The survey also included questions about the homebuyer’s perception of the mortgage market. One in three homebuyers say getting a mortgage is less difficult than last year. For those who continued to have trouble getting a mortgage, 30 percent blame it on a bank’s unwillingness to make loans, down from 51 percent in 2015. Close to two in five homebuyers believe getting a mortgage through a real estate agent’s affiliated mortgage company increases their chances of getting the loan approved. Over half of homebuyers said they would oppose regulatory or legislative measures to make OSS services unavailable or more difficult to use.
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of NAR from July 29 to Aug. 31, 2019. Methods of the fourth wave matched those of previous waves. The 2019 survey included 1,231 adults, of which 675 were recent homebuyers and 676 were future homebuyers. In all four 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; homeowners insurance; home inspection; home warranty.
Sarah Young is the director of Real Estate Services, National Association of REALTORS®. This column is brought to you by the NAR Real Estate Services group. For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.