"Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" c/o Winston Churchill or Ben Franklin

Real Estate Agent with Chad Kumpe Real Estate

A survey is completed every year by NAR of Home Buyers and Sellers. They interview 120,000 buyers and sellers between July of the previous year and June of the current year. (This survey is now available for download at www.Realtor.org.) Fifty-six percent of the buyers last year were between 25 and 44 years of age with Forty-seven percent of all home buyers being first time buyers. By far the largest group of these first time buyers was in the 25 to 34 age range.  I think this is significant, because when I look at my Board of Realtors, I do not see many Realtors representing this age group (only a very few.)

 Forty-four percent of buyers found the Realtor they worked with by referral from friends or relatives. It was the "Sphere of Influence" we all talk about.  How deep is your "Sphere of Influence" in the age group that makes up the buyers of today and tomorrow?

The survey also pointed out that buyers want most from their agent:  first Honesty and then Representation. This seems to add up to "Trust."

 So let's see what some other surveys say.  A Gallup Poll, just released, rated the public's perception of the honesty and ethics of various professions. Nurses rated highest followed by Druggists and MDs. the lowest being Stock Brokers at 21st and HMO Managers at 22nd.  Although Real Estate Agents were not ranked in November of 2009, using our 2008 ranking, we would have come in at 14 behind Bankers but ahead of Lawyers. (It might have been beneficial not to be ranked after the bad market of 2009.) The Harris Poll organization did a poll on professions in late 2009 also. This was a ranking of the public's perception of Prestigious Occupations.  Again the most prestigious were Firefighters (62%), Scientist (57%) and Doctors (56%.)  The bottom three were somewhat of a surprise to me: Stock Broker (13%), Accountant (11%) and Real Estate agent/broker (5%).

I am not sure how to put this all together.  It looks like 17 % of the population trusts in us but not a lot of respect for us at 5%.  This might give a clue to a final statistic that came from the NAR poll.  About two-thirds of the buyers and sellers were satisfied with the service they received in their transaction (not great) but only 17% used the same agent for their next transaction.

Perception is reality!



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  1. Joseph J. Chang 02/27/2010 12:41 PM

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Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

Chad, Chad, Chad

I've spoken with THOUSANDS of prospective home buyers over the years and I've never spoken with a single one who understood the meaning of the word REPRESENTATION from them.

About 3-4 times over the many years, I've heard the term BUYERS AGENT.

What I do hear over and over is the word AGENT.

Actually, what I hear most is "we would like to see. . . . .  "

Those are the facts.  No survey to illicit a desired response.  No querry of prospects.

Just the facts.

Feb 27, 2010 08:32 AM #1
Deborah Wilson
Hackenberg Realty Group - Canton, OH
Stark County OH Real Estate

Chad, you stated that "Forty-four percent of buyers found the Realtor they worked with by referral from friends or relatives."  I am surprised that the statistic is that high.  Particularly since buyers or sellers don't use the same agent again.  Loyalty doesn't seem to be important.  We live in a disposable society.

Feb 27, 2010 09:22 AM #2
Carla Muss-Jacobs, RETIRED
RETIRED / State License is Inactive - Portland, OR

It was Mark Twain who said that.  But, it's doesn't matter, the point well-taken.

Feb 27, 2010 11:09 AM #3
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

I like Deborah Wilson's comment above and tend to agree with her on it.  Loyalty, theres not much of that in this game, and yes....we are a disposable society!!


Feb 27, 2010 11:24 AM #4
Judy Colburn
ProStaged Homes - Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Glendora, San Dimas Covina, Home Staging

Well, on a positive note, after dealing with an agent who kept trying to put me in a house I knew I could not afford, I found an agent who represented me when I bought my first house, sold that house and bought my next house. They took my best interests to heart and earned my loyalty and respect, so much so, if I sell again, guess who I'll be calling...

As with any industry, you have the good and the bad. I find that often times people are much more willing to remember and promote their bad experiences over the good. Take heart Chad - perception may be the norm but it's usually not reality.

Interesting to note in reading your stats, used car salesmen weren't mentioned. That surprised me.

Feb 27, 2010 11:30 AM #5
C. Lloyd McKenzie
Albuquerque, NM
Living Albuquerque

I think surveys sometime confuse the issue.  NAR does not always get it right.  Imagine if they ask the wrong question.  It would elicit the wrong response, and that could present a huge set of problems.  Baylor University has done quite a bit of work on Real Estate related issues.  I would corroborate the NAR studies with the studies that Baylor has done. 

Feb 27, 2010 11:45 AM #6
Michelle Minch
Moving Mountains Design Home Staging, Pasadena, CA - Los Angeles, CA
Home Staging Los Angeles and Pasadena, CA

I think you are right to note that the largest group of first time home buyers was the 25-34 yr old age group. As a professional home stager, I definitely take that into account when determining how I will spend my time marketing my company. I'm a lot older than that, but I am using the technology and social media that that age group uses to reach out to them. I have gotten several jobs via Twitter and Facebook. A recent 30 yr. old client who worked for Google  said he chose me because I really understood the importance of  on-line presence and marketing.

Feb 27, 2010 01:23 PM #7
Elva Branson-Lee
Solid Source Realty GA - Atlanta, GA
CDPE - Atlanta Real Estate & Short Sale Agent

I've heard about the negative perception of real estate agents before. In February I celebrated my 2nd year as a full-time real estate professional. In that time, I've metvery few agents that would warrant that type of negative opinion. I don't see it.

Feb 27, 2010 01:38 PM #8
Carey Scott
Prestige Property Brokers - Columbus, GA

Surveys are like good lies - they have a little bit of truth in them! LOL!

No, seriously. We still have work to do on the perception of being honest and ethical. I don't know if that perception will ever change. But what we have to do is explain to our clients what we do and how we work for them and represent them. A lot of the perception is down to the fact that clients don't see what we do and therefor don't understand what we do. All they see is us getting our checks at closing. And if you don't communicate than that's all they think you did - get paid.

Feb 27, 2010 02:28 PM #9
Don Wixom
RE/MAX Executives Nampa, ID - Nampa, ID
"Looking out for your next move..."tm

Interesting stats!  I have a pretty good rate of repeat clients over the years & they send me referrals!  I think the secret there is staying in touch!  People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care!

Feb 27, 2010 02:45 PM #10
Frank Castaldini
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco

I once say a video of a survey that was conducted.  Overwelmingly those who were interview has a low opinion of real estate agent, but has a very high opinion of their own real estate agent.  That is the reality.  Become the agent that people know and you earn the high regard.  Most of these respondents said that their agent was referred to them.

Feb 27, 2010 04:15 PM #11
Leslie Ebersole
Swanepoel T3 Group - Saint Charles, IL
I help brokers build businesses they love.

From Wikipedia: "Lies, damned lies, and statistics" is a phrase describing the persuasive power of numbers, particularly the use of statistics to bolster weak arguments, and the tendency of people to disparage statistics that do not support their positions.

The term was popularized in the United States by Mark Twain (among others), who attributed it to the 19th Century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881): "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics." However, the phrase is not found in any of Disraeli's works and the earliest known appearances were years after his death. Other coiners have therefore been proposed. The most plausible, given current evidence, is Charles Wentworth Dilke (1843-1911)."

I am thrilled to beat the lawyers but disappointed to come in behind the bankers, given the Wall Street shenanigans over the past year.

Feb 27, 2010 04:37 PM #12
Robin Dampier REALTORĀ®
Coldwell Banker King - Hendersonville, NC
Hendersonville & Western NC Real Estate Source

I believe "statistics", the same as "words", can be skewed to show or say whatever your intent is to show or say!

I also believe that for the majority of us in this business our integrity and service mean a lot and we always strive to do better and learn.

Sue of Robin and Sue

Feb 27, 2010 05:18 PM #13
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

We take for granted the world we live and breath in..... I am talking about the Real Estate world. You think the other person (outsider) gets what you are saying all the time?. Not so....they just nod their heads and do not want to risk embarrassment. Later on, when polled, they tell it like it is. What then?  Go slow, check in with them as you go, and repeat where necessary. People recognize caringness, patience and genuineness if you put them out there! Thank you Chad for allowing me to express these thoughts in your delighful post!

Apr 01, 2010 08:22 AM #14
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