Demand for Realtors is increasing

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Jonathan WhitingBy Jonathan Whiting

You may or may not be aware of this fact, but more people are choosing to use a real estate agent than ever before. In correlation to the increased demand for real estate agents is the so-called democratization of information – the opening of the web, a.k.a. the Google factor, and the general trend of consumers choosing how and when they purchase products. When you analyze the statistics surrounding Internet adoption and demand for real estate agents, an untold story unfolds.

Let’s start with the number of home buyers working with a Realtor, as published in a recent U.S. report issued on Realtor.org. In 2001 about 69 per cent of all home buyers worked with a real estate agent. Dramatically, by 2012 that number increased to 89 per cent, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). That’s a whopping 20 per cent increase.

That’s a good news story for Canadian real estate. After an onslaught of news about an uncertain economy over the last four years, along with a general opening up of information online, you would be forgiven for assuming that Realtors’ future in the marketplace might be at risk. The numbers are not reflecting that, and the story doesn’t stop there.

The increased demand for real estate agents may be related to a surprising factor.  A growing demographic of home buyers is adopting the Internet and technology in their home-buying process. An analysis of the 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers released by NAR found that home buyers using the Internet were more likely to work with a real estate agent. Twenty per cent more likely, to be exact. This is counter to a common assumption that the more access a home buyer has to information online, the less they will need to work with a real estate agent.

In reality, “91 per cent of home buyers who used the Internet to search for a home purchased through a real estate agent, as did 71 per cent of non-Internet users,” says the study.

Data released by the Parliament of Canada reveals that since 2000, Internet usage in Canada increased by 35 per cent. Today 80 per cent of Canadian mobile phone users are on a smartphone and 93 per cent of Canadians go online for product information. These latest statistics divulge an interesting outcome. With the ability to search for homes online Canadians have spoken through their actions. They like using the Internet to search for information about property and real estate agents when purchasing.

Perhaps the greatest value a real estate agent provides for the home buyer is a sense of security that they are making the right decision and that the deal is put together correctly. With the increase in accessible information online, it is likely home buyers are realizing just how much information is available and are recognizing the need for an expert in the purchasing process

According to NAR, 87 per cent of buyers surveyed viewed real estate agents as a source of valuable information. Another study by Mustel Group Market Research found home buyers believe that the greatest value a real estate agent provides is dealing with the details and negotiating the best price.

One can conclude from all this that with the rise of technology, Canadian home buyers are embracing real estate agents. That’s not to say there isn’t uncertainty. But the numbers expose strong demand for real estate agents from the most promising of all consumers groups, the emerging home-buying demographic. Canada’s youngest home buyers using the Internet are also the most likely to work with a real estate agent. The future of Canada’s real estate agents is remarkably good.

Jonathan Whiting is a founding partner of StreetText.com, a text message and web marketing platform that serves Canadian real estate agents and mortgage brokers coast to coast.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Truth be known, most fsbos are sold by Realtors but the listers(and we know who lists the majority of them) , take all the credit for the hard working Realtor out making his or her living and getting no credit for the sale. the selling stat just states sold by “non member”. Truth also be known that the majority of sellers using fsbo listings have to seek the purchasing Realtors expertise to complete the sale and purchase while the fsbo company hold out its hand for the “extra” ransom they ask for helping the seller. ….ouch!!

  2. I would hope that more and more people are seeing the value of working with a Realtor, not just when buying but selling too. I have had many experiences of clients buying privately and have had to really help guide them through the process. Although I am more comfortable than the typical consumer with a real estate transaction I know that I do not know every check and balance like a Realtor would, so I then tell them they have to put it upon their solicitor to confirm everything, which in the end could very well add to the cost of them doing the transaction.

    The go it alone attitude in mortgage financing and real estate transactions is unnecessary when there are so many of us that are devoted to our professions. Hopefully hindsight is catching up with a lot of consumers as this article highlights. If you want to have it done the best and to your ultimate satisfaction, use a professional.

  3. It is different in US. Companies like Zillow and Trulia were founded 8 years ago in US. During these 8 years they were cultivating the culture of working with buyer’s agents.

    In Canada startups like http://www.EstateBlock,com that specifically targeting buyers just coming out now, so lots of Canadians are still trying to contact listing agent, thinking that they will be able to receive a discount or simply worrying that buyer’s agent services are not free.

    It is especially sad when buyer can’t explain why he wants to work with listing agent and he doesn’t care about misrepresentation.

    I think CREA should spend more money to educate sellers and buyers.

  4. I agree. Consumers today are accessing the MLS System for less than what for-sale-by-owner companies charge, and REALTORS are offering their services at much more reasonable prices. That in itself is bring consumers back.

    True FSBO companies are selling a lot of homes, but their are far more NOT selling. Their list to sell ratio is dismal and sellers are realizing that if they don’t sell they don’t save. And those that do sell are realizing they could have done better using a Realtor. And with so many sellers upset that they didn’t sell using a by-owner company, these companies are feeling the heat. Its always made common sense to use a Realtor, but now today it makes financial sense to use a Realtor.

    Canada quite simply has the best real estate system for home sellers and buyers and is only getting better. Standards for industry members are improving and the trust factor between our industry and consumers is improving. Kudos for us!

    • There seems to be far fewer FSBO outfit listings/signs; i.e; Property Guys etc. in the Peterborough, Ontario region of late, other than the ones that are wind damaged/faded after having been on front lawns for six months to a year…or more.

      I am driving out to B.C (Osoyoos) in September, where the FSBO outfits were viewed as a strong presence last September whilst I was then in B.C.

      B.C. Realtors: What is the situation now?

  5. Buyers are also, I find, much more receptive to controlling and being involved in how and how much their agents are paid, and are sometimes almost eager to sign Exclusive Buyer’s Agency contracts. Listing agents and sellers should not influence and/or “control” what the buyer’s representation gets paid- why it’s taken so long for this general principle to be more understood is beyond me, but it’s good to see a tangible awareness growing out there. It is finally much more comfortable to have this discussion with new buyer clients.

  6. That’s fantastic news especially because I work predominantly with buyers. The article however doesn’t touch on what sellers are doing. I believe buyers may have a different interpretation if they had to share in the costs of the real estate transaction fees. Just a thought.

      • This arguement has gone on for all the 37 plus years I have been in real estate. Let us take that old scratching post “the car salesman”. Two identical cars, one priced at $20,000. One right beside it at $24,000. Which one do you think will sell first? Do you think the buyer cares what the salesman is getting paid? The home seller that adds the commission to what his house is worth usually ends up helping those that don’t ad it in sell their house! This is called market value, otherwise known as supply and demand.

  7. Although as a real estate practitioner I like to hear news, any news, about an increased market demand for real estate agents, the source this article is based on is the American NAR.

    As we all know, the U.S. and Canadian markets are not the same. The U.S. real estate market is recovering from a market crash and REALTOR.COM® does not include all MLS® listings.

    Are we jumping to conclusions too quickly when we are assuming that whatever our cousins south of the border do will be replicated here?

  8. Especially true. I think people are beginning to realize the value we bring to each and every deal. We work hard, sometimes under very stressful situations to earn our clients trust. We work in a very tough market, with the new amortization rules and CMHC rules just being introduced we will have to earn our customers loyalty to ensure repeat business for our future!

  9. Great news for agents. I’m not surprised by your findings. I’ve noticed that most potential buyers coming through open houses already have a realtor. A few years ago that wasn’t the case.

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