88% of Homebuyers Used a Real Estate Agent in 2013

by Peter Thomas Ricci

Are real estate agents still an integral part of the homebuying process, or is the Internet impeding on their influence?

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It’s been one of the more prevalent themes in housing the last 15 years – when will the Internet make real estate agents obsolete? It was only a matter of time, analysts argued, before the World Wide Web revolutionize the purchasing of homes much as it did CDs and books, and rendered the whole commission system a wasteful, costly antiquity.

Thankfully, as scary as that scenario seems, it bares little resemblance to reality, a fact that NAR’s 2013 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers underscored with one delightful stat: in 2013, 88 percent of homebuyers purchased their homes with an agent, up from 69 percent in 2001; in other words, the share of homebuyers using agents to buy their homes has gone up by 27 percent in just 12 years.

Agents & the Homebuying Process in Four Steps

Here are four more important details about how agents factored into the homebuyer process included:

1. Referrals are King – Referrals or past experiences continued to be the prevailing reasoning behind a homebuyer’s choice of agent; 42 percent of buyers went the referral route, and 12 percent used a previous agent.

2. The Growing Influence of Ratings – The Internet, though, is making more of a difference, particularly with how agents are rated; 12 percent of homebuyers used online recommendations when choosing an agent, and we expect that number to rise in the coming years.

3. The Illusion of Choice? – Interestingly, homebuyers still do not shop around for agents, even with the options the Internet provides; two-thirds only interviewed one agent.

4. Heckuva Job! – Finally, year after year, it’s clear that real estate agents are doing something right – a whopping 88 percent of homebuyers said that they would use their agent again or recommend them to others.