The housing market is abuzz with activity this summer, as sellers attempt to unload homes onto the market as their values rise and buyers compete for affordable pricing while mortgage rates are still low. Given the level of activity among market participants, many real estate companies may feel like there is enough business to go around. However, a recent J.D. Power and Associates report shows that real estate professionals who focus on the unique needs of buyers and sellers may be in a better position to appeal to new clients.

The J.D. Power 2013 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study relied on four factors of the home-buying experience to measure satisfaction and project the ways in which today’s agents could better further the goals of their company. To reach its determinations, J.D. Power examined:

  • The agent and sales staffThe real estate officeThe closing process, andAdditional service offerings

Satisfaction for the home selling process is also determined by these four factors, as well as how well the home is marketed to prospective buyers. The results of the study reveal that satisfaction is highest among repeat customers, rather than first-time buyers and sellers. This may be the case for a number of reasons.

For example, repeat customers may already be familiar with the process, which can lead to fewer inaccuracies, confusion and mistakes (all of which raise the risk of real estate E&O insurance claims). In addition, repeat buyers may also have an established relationship with a certain agent or agencies, which helps instill trust and lead to a more positive customer experience.

Focusing on the specific needs of new market entrants Given these scenarios – and the fact that more home buyers are entering the market, it’s essential that today’s real estate companies also focus their attention on first-time buyers and sellers to improve customer acquisition and retention. The study found that the number of first-time buyers entering the market in 2013 is 49 percent, versus 40 percent in 2012. This number is even higher for first-time sellers, which will reach 44 percent this year compared with only 30 percent last year.

By honing in on the needs of these clients, agents can gain a greater market share, get the chance to improve their reputation and exposure and establish relationships with new clients.ivenven

“Real estate companies remain challenged in adapting their customer service approach to best meet the needs of first-time home buyers and sellers,” said Christina Cooley, director in the diversified services industries practice at J.D. Power. “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.”

Rather than employing a one-size-fits-all attitude toward working with buyers and sellers, real estate agents can make clients feel more comfortable by first gauging their existing knowledge of the process, as well as basic mortgage concepts. This will enable agents to create a more tailored approach toward the buying and selling process that can keep clients more engaged and confident about their transaction.