Why is Customer Satisfaction With Real Estate Companies Falling?

A new J.D. Power and Associates study suggests that customer satisfaction with real estate companies is falling among home buyers and sellers. In fact, the study—in its fifth year—suggests that home buyer satisfaction with real estate companies, in particular, is at its lowest level recorded. Seller satisfaction is also down this year, according to the 2012 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study of more than 2,700 home buyers and sellers.

The study measures customer satisfaction with the largest real estate companies, factoring in views over the salesperson, office, and service.

So what’s gotten customers so unhappy lately? Some real estate companies may be taking the blame from sellers and buyers for the reality of the real estate market, in which qualifying for a loan is tougher, home values have fallen the last few years, and low inventories of for-sale homes are making the choices sometimes slim for buyers.

“Although home buyers and sellers are aware of continuing challenges in the real estate market, a key reason satisfaction is down is that customer expectations are not being met, either in terms of sellers having to compromise on their listing price, or for buyers who are compromising on the home’s condition and size,” says Christina Cooley, spokesperson at J.D. Power and Associates. “This is understandably frustrating all around. However, we also find that real estate companies that set themselves apart in terms of working closely with their customers and meeting their needs may plan an important role in both managing expectations, but more importantly, exceeding them.”

Not surprisingly, the study found that sellers tend to be most satisfied with real estate companies that were able to get them the greatest proportion of the list price when selling. According to the study, sellers reported receiving 89 percent of their list price.

Cooley says that high-performing companies also tend to make more effort to put customers’ at ease by taking the time to educate them about the realities of the market, such as by using comparable sales information, and by following up with them after closing.

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