A new Ispos survey for the Ontario Real Estate Association says that 88 per cent of sellers and 89 per cent of buyers say they plan to use a Realtor to help them buy or sell a home.

Launched last year, OREA’s Home Buyers and Sellers Report is the largest of its kind Canada, the association says, offering hundreds of data points on Ontario’s real estate consumers.

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The report says home buyers of all ages find value in using the services of a Realtor. Compared to last year, more likely potential have come to appreciate that a Realtor will help them with paperwork and help them navigate the process, it says.

“Perhaps with increased interest in online searches to find a home, likely buyers (and in particular older ones) are finding less value in a Realtor’s ability to know what to watch out for in the homes they are looking at,” says the report. “These older buyers have most likely already bought at least one home in the past and already know what they should be looking out for.”

The report says that word of mouth remains the most popular way of finding a real estate professional across all groups. “However, it is impossible to ignore the popularity of internet searches, particularly for buyers under the age of 55. More ‘traditional’ ways of advertising –such as billboards or newspaper ads – seem to be fading away as a way of reaching out to people,” it says. “Though not the main way in which likely buyers find a real estate professional, social media has become a more often used tool, particularly among young buyers and during the COVID context.”

What are potential buyers looking for in a real estate professional? Trustworthiness, negotiating skills and experience are the top three traits.

“Compared to last year, younger buyers are less likely to cite trustworthiness as being among the most important things they are looking for in a real estate professional, but make up for this in valuing negotiating skills,” says the report. “Older buyers’ top trait is trustworthiness, but they are also more likely to say they value the real estate professional’s local market knowledge than other age groups (perhaps rising in importance as people move farther away). This is also a trait that has gained in importance for this age group over the past year.”

Potential buyers who say they won’t use a Realtor say they can find a home on their own (35 per cent) and they think they can save money by not using one (31 per cent). Only 10 per cent said it was because they had a bad experience with a Realtor in the past.

Sellers who say they won’t use a Realtor cite saving money (33 per cent), the ability to negotiate for themselves (27 per cent) and “I can list my home for sale on my own” (24 per cent) as the main reasons.

“While pricing a home competitively is the most important service a Realtor can offer their clients, according to sellers, different age groups value some services differently. For example, older sellers place importance on marketing the home to buyers and finding buyers for the home,” says the report. “Younger sellers, on the other hand, tend to think preparing the home for selling is important, a service that has grown in importance among this age group over the past year. Younger sellers are seeing less value in the Realtor’s ability to sell the home within a specific time frame and help with paperwork/inspections.”

Results from OREA’s 2021 report are available online:

* 2021 Buyer Intentions: Ipsos Factum

* 2021 Seller Intentions: Ipsos Factum

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