According to CAR, Home Buyers Want Agents To Be Aggressive And Fast

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The California Association of Realtors recently released their annual Survey of California Home Buyers for 2008 which is once again, full of interesting and useful information. 

First off kudos to CAR for changing the name from Survey of Traditional vs. Internet Homebuyers to Survey of CA Home Buyers.  Is there really a difference anymore as searching online for real estate has become pretty ‘traditional'.  Maybe some, but this gap will continue to close quickly.

According to the report, turns out buyers are taking longer to find their dream home, demanding more, and are less satisfied than ever before.  Tough crowd.  To anyone selling real estate over the last couple of years, this shouldn't be a huge shocker, but it is nice to now have data to substantiate the trends, and more importantly use the data to improve where applicable.

Taking longer- When the internet was heavily used during the buying process, the buyer spent an average of 8.3 weeks searching for a home with their Agent, and looked at an average of 12.7 homes.  In 2007 this number was an average of 5.2 weeks. 

Satisfaction is down- Overall buyer satisfaction with their Agent averaged 3.3 in the 2008 survey, it was 4.1 in the 2007 survey.  When asked what concerns they has about the buying process, the two answers most commonly cited were ‘market conditions' and ‘agent responsiveness'.  Those that participated in the survey, specifically asked for better negotiating and faster response times from their agents.  In fact, 80% of those that weren't satisfied with their agent stated the agent "did not negotiate aggressively on their behalf". 

When houses were flying off the market, negotiation skills weren't as crucial and there were a lot less reasons a deal could fall apart (even though many of these reasons today are beyond the control of an agent), so it makes sense that this is more of a concern of the home buyer today than in the past.  But it is also good for agents to know that this is now a trait affecting satisfaction, as it can affect long term referral business.  Also good to know when marketing the reasons one should do business with you. 

As a group, Agents need to get better about response time.  We have seen this in numerous other reports, but customer expectations are very high when it comes to getting a response from their Agent.  In fact, 84% of the participants said response time was either "very important" or "extremely important" in their decision making process.  Again, if you excel at responsiveness, this is something you need to be marketing about yourself.  Just to let professionals know what they are up against, 31% said they expected an instant response (this was 22% in 2007- ironic how they are taking longer to buy, but expect faster answers) and 96% expected a response in 4 hours or less (this was 94% in 2007). 

Now let's talk marketing. 

The sites the public found most useful were: 33%, an individual Agent's site; 23%,; 22%, an "internet listing of a home that I was interested in"; 11%, Zillow, 8%, a real estate company website, and 4% Yahoo Real Estate

What do they want to see on websites?  61% wanted multiple pictures and a slide show; followed by maps and directions; agent contact information, virtual tours and neighborhood profiles. 

So while it may be harder to please a home buyer in today's real estate climate, at least we as professionals know what we are up against.  According to this report, two big areas of focus need to be superior negotiation skills and lightening fast response times when it comes to satisfying your customer. 

The sample of buyers in the survey included 1,249 home buyers.  The full report can be purchased in electronic format here for $29.95.  In my opinion, it is one of the best reports that comes out all year. 


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Stephen D White, E-Pro, ABR Cape Cod Real Estate
SDW Realty of Cape Cod - Falmouth, MA

Thank you Sara again for sharing all of your very useful info with us at AR!

Sep 23, 2008 12:55 PM #6
John Walters
Frank Rubi Real Estate - Slidell, LA
Licensed in Louisiana

Very good information thanks for sharing it with us.  I whole heartedly agree with response times.

Sep 23, 2008 01:09 PM #7
Patricia Kennedy
Redfin - Washington, DC
Home in the Capital

Sara, I find it interesting that buyers were dissatisfied about agent response time!  At least around here, we are so wired that it takes about a nanosecond for most of us to get back to people.

Sep 23, 2008 01:14 PM #8
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse

Its always interesting that the buyers expect instant response time, but I bet that they don't give the same service in their businesses.

Sep 23, 2008 01:42 PM #9
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Thanks for the highlights of that report Sara. If agents take away anything from this, it's that they have to communicate fast and often.

Sep 23, 2008 02:06 PM #10
Fran Gatti
RE/MAX Integrity - Medford, OR
Managing Principal Broker - RE/MAX Integrity

I certainly expect a fast response from the business people I am dealing with, so no surprise that most consumers do too.

Thanks for the information,

Sep 23, 2008 02:29 PM #11
James Engel
Keller Williams Realty Beverly Hills - Beverly Hills, CA
KW Beverly Hills

Great stats and very useful information. I guess we have to all go on overdrive and more coffee for the new buyer era

Sep 23, 2008 02:58 PM #12
Sheila Reeves

Great post with good content.  We all need to be more aware of the changes in our industry and 2008 has created more of those.

Sep 23, 2008 03:15 PM #13
Erin Stumpf (Attardi)
Coldwell Banker - Sacramento, CA
916-342-1372 / DRE# 01706589 Sacramento, CA

I believe fast for sure...I try to respond to inquiries within minutes if possible.  Aggressive?...not so sure about that one...

Sep 23, 2008 03:16 PM #14
Li Read
Sea to Sky Premier Properties (Salt Spring) - Salt Spring Island, BC
Caring expertise...knowledge for you!

wow...timely reminders about communication and speed of same/expectation levels heightened.    Am off to get this full report.    Thanks!

Sep 23, 2008 03:52 PM #15
Harrison K. Long
HomeSmart, Evergreen Realty - Irvine, CA
REALTOR , GRI, Broker associate, Attorney

Sara ... thanks for the nice article about CAR report and that we as Realtors should focus on superior negotiation skills and lightening fast response times when it comes to the customer. We agree and are pleased to provide that kind of service. If Christi and hear from a prospect on a Sunday, we can meet with them on Monday, write an offer, and present that offer on Monday night. If we receive a counter offer, we present to the client almost immediately. Get their signed response to the other side on the same day. We are here to make our client buyer situations work correctly.  Best wishes. Harrison

Sep 23, 2008 04:08 PM #16
Mike Wong
Keller Williams Realty Southwest - Sugar Land, TX
Realtor: Commercial, Residential, Leasing, Invest

Good post. I prefer to be fast and agressive, but every client requires different service and a different pace. Right now with all the market and media news most are scared and skeptical and will avoid a fast and agressive agent like the plague. Im having to walk and baby alot of clients right now who feel like Im guiding them thru a mine field.

Sep 23, 2008 05:19 PM #17
Paul Francis
Francis Group Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Agent - Summerlin Homes


Nice post and thanks for keeping it real with real good information!

Sep 23, 2008 05:21 PM #18
Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

I make myself available 24/7 by both phone and Internet, but no call or email goes unanswered for more than four hours.

Sep 23, 2008 07:16 PM #19
Tim Rogers
Coaches Corner Radio...The Real Estate Guy - State College, PA


Thanks for the great information.  I missed this but I have sent it to all the people in my office.

It's interesting that buyers want immediate response but when I take 5 consecutive cell calls when I'm with a buyer, often they get a bit testy and I need to remind them that I take their calls when I'm working with another buyer.

Sep 23, 2008 11:35 PM #20
Jennifer Lamm

Whenever we need to see where we can improve, it is to go to the voice of the customer....

Sep 24, 2008 04:27 AM #21
Not Yet Licensed

The sites the public found most useful were: 33%, an individual Agent's site

Thanks Sara!

That's very interesting to see that individual agent websites are ranked number one by consumers.  That tells me agents with effective internet marketing CAN compete with the "big boys" in this changing market.

Best regards,


Sep 24, 2008 04:49 AM #22
Cindy Marchant
Keller Williams Indy NE 317-290-7775 - Carmel, IN
"Cindy in Indy" , Realtor, Fishers Real Estate

Hi Sara, I can tell you that my response time is definitely being affected by the increase in "maintenance" and "trouble shooting" I am having to do on the deals I have.  It used to be you handed it off to the lender and called to check in and to find out when the package was going to be sent.  This month alone, I've talked to a lender on a single transaction every single day as we try to jump through hops, give blood and nearly a first born to get a package to the Title Company.  I am dealing with more issues on every single deal from appraisals that are low, buyers that want all KINDS of inspection issues resolved, lenders that want so much more information, etc, etc.  You have to be at the top of your game to get a transaction to the closing table and all of that takes so much more time, so I do believe my responsiveness has suffered.  Hoping some normalcy returns soon!

Sep 24, 2008 01:35 PM #23
Brett Shaw
Coldwell Banker Kaiser - Carmel, IN

Brett Shaw from Cyberhomes:

Wow Sara, thanks for the information.  It's not really a shock that the focus was on response time and negotiating.  What surprises me is the percentages of people's expectations of the response time.  With internet sites like Cyberhomes,,and Zillow, people can get any information that they want instantaneously.  Obviously, this is becoming a conditioned perception when dealing with real people in the real estate industry.  The internet is a tough act to follow when dealing with speed of information.

I agree with Patricia in that agents these days are so wired that it doesn't take long to least it shouldn't.  What I've heard good feedback on is that when people send an email, not only would it get sent immediately to the agent's phone, but a program on the computer would send back an immediate response saying that the message has gone directly to them and a response would be arriving soon.  This way, the person gets the gratification of knowing that the agent has gotten the information.  Just a thought.

Sep 28, 2008 04:13 PM #24
Nelson Carrillo
McMillin Realty - Phone: (619) 940-6560 - Bonita, CA
South San Diego, CA Homes For Sale

I agree, home buyers want to move fast, otherwise they think we are not doing our job as we are supposed to or that we dont know what we are doing.  I like to be aggressive and not waste time.  However, with everything thats going on in the lending industry, my buyers are taking a little longer to qualify for a home loan and that can be a bit frustrating.  Two loans were denied because of "depreciating market" but oh well... How much more aggressive can I be??

Oct 03, 2008 07:31 AM #25
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