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Study Examines Buyer, Seller Satisfaction with Real Estate Companies

Repeat buyers and sellers expressed more satisfaction with the their real estate company compared to customers who were selling or buying a home for the first time, according to the ""J.D. Power"":http://www.jdpower.com/ 2013 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study.

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For the year, repeat homebuyers averaged a score of 817 out of 1,000, while the score for repeat sellers was 803. On the other hand, the score for first-time buyers and sellers was 797, J.D. Power reported.

To measure satisfaction, the study looked at four factors in the homebuying experience: agent/salesperson, real estate office, closing process, and variety of additional services.

The study also found first-time homebuyers have been more active this year, representing 49 percent of buyers in 2013 compared to 40 percent in 2012. At the same time, the percentage of first-time home sellers jumped from 30 percent in 2012 to 44 percent this year.

The surge in first-time buyers and sellers coincided with a decrease in listing prices and an increase in distressed transactions.

For example, the survey noted the average listing price this year has decreased by 11 percent to $200,000 compared to $225,000 last year.

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Additionally, foreclosure purchases bumped up to 19 percent from 17 percent last year, while short sale purchases edged up to 15 percent from 14 percent.

On the seller-side, the use of short sales jumped to 20 percent in 2013 from 14 percent a year ago.

With more transactions involving a foreclosure or short sale, J.D. Power explained it is even more important for customers to have the right information.

""Real estate companies remain challenged in adapting their customer service approach to best meet the needs of first-time home buyers and sellers. They need to educate these customers by explaining the current state of the market, discuss foreclosure and short sale transactions, and walk them through every step of the closing process,"" said Christina Cooley, director in the diversified services industries practice at J.D. Power.

The study also found the reputation of a real estate company is of great importance, with 35 percent of first-time buyers selecting a company based on its good name.

""A real estate company's agent remains the most important aspect of the customer's experience among first-time and repeat home buyers and sellers; however, customer loyalty is first to the company and second to the agent,"" said Cooley. ""Interestingly, less than 20 percent of customers say they ""definitely will"" switch real estate companies if the sales agent moves to another company.""

Repeat and first-time homebuyers gave Prudential Real Estate the highest score of 829 and 811, respectively, for overall satisfaction with the buying experience.

For first-time sellers, Prudential also ranked No. 1 again, with a score of 809.

Repeat home-sellers though differed and gave RE/MAX the highest score of 819. Century 21 and Keller Williams also received top rankings among buyers and sellers.

About Author: Esther Cho

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