Consumers Speak!

Today's REALTOR® polled consumers nationwide about the biggest hassles in the buying and selling process. The verdict: You're doing a good job.

September 1, 1997

Buyers are satisfied with the service that REALTORS® provide, and almost 100 percent of all consumers--buyers and sellers--understand the agency disclosure they receive from you.

This news comes from Today's REALTOR®'s first-ever survey to probe consumer perceptions of the homebuying and homeselling process, conducted exclusively for the magazine with the Gallup Organization Inc., based in Princeton, N.J.

When asked to describe their feelings about the buying process, 64 percent of consumers who'd bought a home in the last year felt the process went as expected or better. However, 59 percent of sellers felt the selling process went as expected or was more difficult than expected. But don't despair: Another 28 percent of sellers felt it was much easier or easier than expected.

You also earn high marks on agency disclosure: Of the 92 percent of sellers who reported receiving a disclosure, 99 percent understood the explanation. Of the 90 percent of buyers who received a disclosure, 98 percent understood it.

Another strength you have is marketing and personal promotion. "For both buyers and sellers, the search for a salesperson was the easiest task among all the phases of the homebuying and homeselling process they were asked to evaluate," according to a Gallup spokesman.

However, you may want to focus on making buyers' search for their new home easier. "Buyers find that search, comparatively, one of the more difficult phases of the purchasing process; only 38 percent find it easier," the Gallup spokesman says. "Sellers seem to need the most coaching on getting their home ready for sale, with only 27 percent saying it was easier than expected."

The consumer phone survey, conducted last May, sampled 500 buyers and 500 sellers, evenly distributed in the Northeast, South Central, North Central, and West regions of the United States. All buyers had been in their homes less than a year; 98 percent of sellers had sold their previous home within the past year. For more background on the consumers, see "Get to Know the People We Polled," below.

Results Top Buyers' Expectations

You left good impressions on consumers who say that salespeoples' explanations of the different aspects of the buying and selling process met or exceeded expectations.

Buyers*

Much worse than expected
4%
Worse than expected
7%
Much better than expected
21%
Better than expected
27%
Just as expected
39%

Sellers

Much worse than expected
4%
Worse than expected
8%
Much better than expected
18%
Better than expected
25%
Just as expected
45%

*Numbers don't equal 100 percent due to rounding.

Top 10 Buying and Selling Hassles

Buyers and sellers were asked to name the main problems--everything from salespeople to paperwork--they had during the process. Twenty-two percent of buyers and 26 percent of sellers said they had no problems with the process.

Buyers' problems*

Finding a home
15%
Mortgage process
8%
Financing
7%
Dealing with the seller
6%
Negotiating price
5%
Closing
5%
Timing
5%
Dealing with the salesperson
5%
Dealing with the builder
4%
Inspections
2%

Sellers problems*

Finding a buyer
11%
Dealing with the salesperson
11%
Dealing with the buyers
10%
Timing
7%
Price
5%
Inspections
4%
Preparing house for sale
4%
Negotiations
4%
Closing
4%
Moving
2%

*Numbers don't add up to 100 percent because respondents were allowed multiple answers and only the top categories are listed; nine other categories had negligible percentages.

Women More Comfortable

For the most part, gender played little or no role in consumers' views on buying and selling. Here's an exception.

Percentage of buyers by gender who found the buying process easier than expected:

Women 37%
Men 28%

Get to Know the People We Polled

BUYERS

39 percent were first-time buyers.
100 percent used a real estate practitioner.
53 percent bought homes for $100,000–$200,000.
23 percent purchased homes that cost more than $200,000.

SELLERS

37 percent were first-time sellers.
83 percent who were also looking for a new home used a practitioner in the process. Of those, 24 percent used the same practitioner to purchase their new home.
47 percent sold their home for $100,000–$200,000.
38 percent sold their home for more than $200,000.

Regional Consumer Hassles

We asked consumers the main problem they had in their purchase or sale. Were some of the hassles more prevalent in certain areas? To find out, we took a look at the four sampled regions: North Central, Northeast, South Central, and West.*

Buyers: Locating a home was most problematic in the North Central states (Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin):

South Central

20%
West 23%
Northeast 24%
North Central 33%

Sellers:Dealing with the salesperson was the biggest problem in the South Central and Northeast (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont states**:

15%

West
15% North Central
26% Northeast
43% South Central

*Numbers don't equal 100% because of rounding

Timing was a bigger issue in then South Central states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, DC) than in the other regions:

Northeast

9%
North Central 17%
West 22%
South Central 52%

Dealing with buyers was most troublesome in the North Central and West (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington) states:

Northeast

17%
South Central 23%
West 27%
North Central 33%

Dealing with the salesperson was most often a problem in the South Central region**:

North Central

13%
Northeast 17%
West 26%
South Central 43%

Timing was more of an issue in the North Central states:

West

11%
Northeast 16%
South Central 32%
North Central 41%

*Several states aren't included because pollsters didn't interview consumers in those states.

**Numbers don't equal 100 percent because of rounding.

Cyber Consumers

A moderate number of consumers used the Internet at some point during the buying and selling process. Fewer used it to locate a salesperson.

Buyers

19 percent surfed the Net during the buying process.. Of this group:

80%
used it to search for homes
16%
used it to find a mortgage
4%
used it to find a salesperson

Sellers
10 percent surfed the Net during the selling process. Of this group:

35%
advertised for potential buyers
2%
searched for a listing salesperson

And Another Survey Says Consumers Prefer One-Stop Shopping

A separate survey released by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® in July shows that when purchasing a home, most buyers would rather use real estate companies that offer a wide range of services through one-stop shopping.

Some highlights:

  • 78 percent of recent buyers say that the choice of getting some or all of their homebuying services handled through the real estate company is appealing.
  • 66 percent say that if they had to do it all over again, they'd choose a company that offers one-stop shopping.
  • 32 percent say that they'd be willing to pay more for the convenience of getting homebuying services handled through one real estate company.
Christina Hoffmann
Senior Speech Writer

Christina Hoffmann has covered real estate and homeownership for two decades, including as REALTOR® Magazine managing editor and HouseLogic.com’s content manager, with added expertise as owner of a demanding 100-year-old house. She is currently a senior speech writer at NAR.

Notice: The information on this page may not be current. The archive is a collection of content previously published on one or more NAR web properties. Archive pages are not updated and may no longer be accurate. Users must independently verify the accuracy and currency of the information found here. The National Association of REALTORS® disclaims all liability for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information or data found on this page.

Related