Pandemic stressors cause buyers and sellers to value Realtors even more than before

by Kerrie Kennedy

As lockdowns end, homebuyers are starting to feel more comfortable venturing out.

That’s according to a national survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors on May 20, which showed that the majority of people – 65% – who attended an open house within the last year would do so now without hesitation.

While nearly three-quarters of respondents reported feeling more comfortable visiting a retail store, their perception of the safety of attending an open house or touring a home for sale has gone up since the NAR’s last survey, conducted on May 6, where 56% of respondents said they had no hesitation about open house safety.

An even larger share of those polled — 82% — said that, given the necessary assurances, they’d feel comfortable doing their home shopping in person again within the next three months.

“The real estate industry — and our country — has endured some very challenging times for several months, but we’re seeing signs of progress and we are earnestly hoping the worst is behind us,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, said in a press release accompanying the findings.

Although the majority of respondents are ready to house hunt in person again, they’re also okay with doing it all online — right down to the closing table. NAR found 53% of respondents said they could envision buying a home without ever actually stepping foot inside.

While 73% of active sellers and another 71% of active buyers said they’re comfortable using technology to conduct real estate business, more than half of both buyers and sellers said it was important to have a real estate agent to help them navigate the virtual homebuying and selling process, including weeding through online listings, providing in-depth information not readily available and walking them through an online closing.

But perhaps the most notable takeaway from the survey is how the pandemic has changed customer attitudes about the value of real estate agents. According to the survey, 62% of sellers and 54% of buyers said that having real estate agent’s guidance is especially valuable during the pandemic. 

While buyers and sellers are leaning more heavily on agents for their digital savvy, they also put a premium on traditional communication. More than 70% of buyers and 60% of sellers said talking over the phone with their agent made them feel more comfortable and connected.

“While we celebrate homeownership month, we embrace today’s version of homeownership and the unique paths homeowners take to realize their dream,” Malta added. “For prospective buyers, the desire to own a home remains strong and the guidance, expertise and professionalism Realtors provide is more important now than ever.”

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