Amanda Etcheverry: Agents still needed in the internet age

Selling a home can be daunting, even overwhelming, especially for folks who go through the process only every few years or perhaps just once in a lifetime. As the housing market shows signs of slowing, selling is even more difficult now than a year or just a few months ago. That’s one reason why it wasn’t surprising that a survey of sellers, renters, and buyers — the “2018 State of the Consumer” survey by the California Association of Realtors — found that real estate professionals remain in high demand. The survey found that 51 percent of sellers rely on agent assistance in the most crucial part of a transaction: negotiating price or terms of a sale. Half of sellers wanted help determining listing price, 40 percent needed advice about selling, a third wanted assistance in staging a home for sale, and 31 percent relied on experienced professionals for help with contractual and legal issues. An agent’s reputation was the single-most important reason overall that sellers selected the pro they ended up using, but the reasons varied greatly by generation. Baby Boomers were most likely to select an agent they worked with on a previous transaction, GenXers were most likely to select an agent that they deemed trustworthy, and millennials said that reputation was the most important reason. One out of five sellers listed with a different agent than the one who ended up selling their home. Sellers changed agents for a variety of reasons, including feeling that the previous agent did not communicate well, or didn’t seem to know what they were doing, the listing expired without selling the home, or the previous agent was untrustworthy. Still, it’s noteworthy that two-thirds of sellers did not know their agent prior to the transaction, yet of those who did, they knew their agent for a median of seven years. Agents most commonly kept in touch via phone calls, in person, emails, or texts. Yet even as electronic communication becomes ubiquitous, homesellers surveyed said they still prefer to have a livelier interaction with their agent. Two-thirds of all sellers preferred their agent to communicate with them either via telephone or in person. Interestingly, despite being more tech savvy than other generations, millennials said they preferred in-person communication above all other methods. Responsiveness was important to sellers — and they had incredibly high expectations regarding their agent’s response time. Nearly half expected their agent to respond either instantly or within a half-hour. Millennials were most likely to want “instant access” to their agent, with 21 percent saying they expected an immediate response, compared to 16 percent of GenXers and just 5 percent of boomers who felt the same way. Boomers were more willing to wait and 12 percent said they expected a response within one business day. Their agents, in general, were able to meet or exceed their expectations. Go to www.car.org for the full survey results. Amanda Etcheverry is the 2019 chair of the Santa Clarita Valley Division of the 10,300-member Southland Regional Association of Realtors. David Walker, of Walker Associates, co-authors articles for SRAR. The column represents SRAR’s views and not necessarily those of The Signal. The column contains general information about the real estate market and is not intended to replace advice from a Realtor or other realty related professionals.

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