Century 21 gained the highest customer satisfaction rating among real estate brokerages in all four buyer/seller categories, according to the J.D. Power 2014 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study released on Aug. 6. The four categories measured were: first-time buyers, repeat buyers, first-time sellers, and repeat sellers.
The study used four factors to quantify customer satisfaction in both buying and selling: the agent/salesperson, real estate office, closing process, and additional services. For selling, a fifth factor (marketing) was considered.
The customer-agent relationship is most critical in measuring customer satisfaction among buyers, according to the study. With sellers, it is the marketing of the home.
"Satisfying first-time buyers is critical for real estate firms to differentiate themselves. It's up to the agent to build confidence in buyers by educating them and demonstrating a commitment to working in the best interest of the customer," said Christina Cooley, director in the diversified services industries practice at J.D. Power. "The more seamless the experience, the less overwhelmed customers are likely to be. When agents take the lead, customers are also more likely to appreciate their real estate firm and agent for their expertise and customer focus."
The biggest factor that both buyers and sellers considered when choosing a real estate firm was the firm's reputation (30 percent for buyers, 35 percent for sellers). Twenty-four percent of buyers chose a firm based on recommendation as opposed to 21 percent of sellers; and 21 percent of buyers picked a firm because of past experience with the agent or salesperson as opposed to 25 percent of sellers.
Out of 1,000 possible points, Century 21 posted the following scores in the four segments:
- First-time home-buyer satisfaction. Century 21's total of 848 was just enough to beat out Prudential at 846. Century 21 scored high in the agent/salesperson, real estate office, and additional service categories while Prudential scored high in the closing process.
- Repeat home-buyer satisfaction. Century 21 scored 852 while Prudential placed second at 847. Century 21's strong suits were real estate office and closing process, while Prudential scored high in additional services.
- First-time home-seller satisfaction. Century 21's score of 833 just beat out RE/MAX, which was second at 831. Century 21 ranked high in the categories of real estate office, closing process, marketing, and additional services; RE/MAX scored highest in real estate office and agent/salesperson.
- Repeat home-seller satisfaction. Century 21 again topped the list with 836 and Keller Williams (829) ranked second. Century 21's highest ranking categories were additional services, agent/salesperson, closing process, and marketing; Keller Williams scored high in the real estate office category.
Other key findings of the study include: The average listing price of a house was $200,000 in 2014, which remained unchanged from 2013; each home on the market hosted an average of three open houses and took almost eight showings to sell on average; and repeat customers had a higher satisfaction rating than first-time buyers or sellers. Repeat buyers scored 840 while repeat sellers totaled 821; first-time buyers and sellers totaled 835 and 820, respectively.
The J.D. Power 2014 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study is in its seventh year. This year's study was fielded between March and May of 2014 and was based on 5,810 evaluations from 4,868 customers who either bought or sold a home between March 2013 and April 2014.