5 Things Buyers and Sellers Want from Agents in 2021

Key Takeaways 

Here’s what buyers and sellers want in a nutshell. 

1. Social proof of success: 
Most buyers and sellers work with the first agent they talk to; and this is especially true if the agent is referred by a friend, family member, or trusted colleague.

“We strive to continue to work off of referrals. The only way you're going to get referrals is if you do a good job, stay true to who you are, and represent [clients] in the best light.” — Dana Olmes, Luxury Consultant at Frontgate Real Estate

2. Personalized communication: 
Buyers and sellers value agents who take the time to share detailed, personalized messages that show they care about their clients.

“We give our clients much more coverage, much more personalized care. You're not just getting a phone call a week as a checkup; you're getting an intensive, one-on-one meeting on what's going on with your property at all times.” — Amber Montanio, Founder of Black Label Real Estate Advisors

3. Digital marketing: 
Most buyers start their home shopping journey online, which means buyers and sellers alike are looking for an internet-savvy agent.

“I focus on online digital marketing because a lot of buyers are looking online first… before they even go through the in-person viewing. I do a video tour for all my listings, and a lot of sellers have said: ‘We love how you present these listings online.’ They can see how [digital marketing] will definitely attract buyers.” — Mei Ling, Founder of 8 Blocks Real Estate

4. Step-by-step guidance: 
In this highly competitive real estate landscape, buyers and sellers don’t just want suggestions — they want their hands held from beginning to end.

“Sellers want their real estate agent to quarterback the entire sales process — not just providing design recommendations to maximize home value, but managing the entire renovation process along the way... for agents in top production, it’s no longer an option, it’s  expected.” — Alex Wang, Founder of Rainmaker Real Estate

5. A trusted partner: 
Today’s buyers and sellers value integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness above all else.

“I think a lot of agents would say their favorite moment in the transaction is when they hand over the keys. But I would say it’s the moment I know we have this trust, bond and rapport, that my clients know I’m going to take them over the finish line. I’m not just going to wave goodbye at the end, I’m going to be there when inevitably a light bulb falls out of the ceiling or the sink doesn’t work the day they move in. My team will be there; we don’t disappear.” — Hayley Kerstein, Lead Buyer Specialist at Elevation Real Estate


Diving into Details

How did we arrive at those priorities? We pored through NAR’s 2020 Generational Trends Report and pulled together five wants that hold true for clients across all generations, income brackets, and education levels. To secure repeat clients, you need to understand and be able to cater to the needs of each generation.

NAR’s data shows that buyers and sellers want a trustworthy agent with a stellar reputation and digital marketing chops who provides personalized communication and step-by-step guidance. 

Below, we break down each of these trends in more detail. Keep these client priorities in mind when interacting with buyers and sellers — it could mean the difference between losing an opportunity and securing a lifelong client.

1. Buyers and sellers want social proof of success

According to NAR, the most common ways that buyers in 2020 found their real estate agents were:

• Referred by (or was) a friend, neighbor, or relative (41%)
• Worked with an agent they’ve previously bought or sold with (12%)
• Inquired about a specific listing they used online (7%)

Similarly, the most common ways that 2020 sellers found their agents were:

• Referred by (or was) a friend, neighbor, or relative (41%)
• Worked with an agent they’ve previously bought or sold with (12%)
• Inquired about a specific listing they used online (7%)

In all cases, buyers and sellers rarely talked to more than one agent before they decided whom to work with, which goes to show that having a memorable personal brand is critical to long-term success. You need to be able to stand out from the crowd, which can be challenging when you need to adhere to the same strict corporate brand guidelines as everyone else at your brokerage.


Additionally, nurturing personal connections and networking relationships is critical. Data confirms that buyers and sellers are significantly more likely to work with an agent they previously interacted with (or one who was referred by someone they trust) than with a new-to-them agent. 

It’s important to maintain the relationships you have with past clients to set the stage for referrals and repeat business. Many Side partners — who are among the best agents in the industry — operate primarily if not completely off referrals.

Moving forward, you should prioritize:

• Asking satisfied clients for referrals
• Checking in regularly with past contacts
• Posting your contact information clearly on listings
• Maintaining a lasting relationship with your network

2. Buyers and sellers want timely, individualized communication

Last year, buyers reported that the most important agent communication practices were:

• Calling personally to inform of any new activities (74%)
• Sending postings as soon as a property was listed, had a price change, or was under contract (71%)
• Sending property information and communicating by text (68%)
• Sending personal emails about specific needs (53%)
• Sending market reports on recent listings and sales (51%)

The 2020 data shows that clients placed a high premium on receiving efficient and personalized communication from their agents. Buyers and sellers don’t want to feel like they’re just a name in your database — they want targeted outreach based on their specific needs.

Moving forward, you should prioritize:

• Keeping clients in the loop throughout the process with prompt and personal communication
• Sending targeted content to specific clients 
• Asking early on in the relationship how clients prefer to be contacted

3. Buyers want an easy-to-navigate digital home shopping experience

A vast majority of home shoppers start their journey on the internet.

In 2020:

• 93% of buyers used an online website as their main source of information during the home search
• 84% of all buyers used the internet to search for homes
• 52% of buyers found their new home on the internet
• 44% of buyers said their first step taken during the buying process was looking online for properties
• 5% of buyers found their agents when looking for a property listing online
• Buyers named photos (87%) and detailed information about properties for sale (85%) as the most valuable features on a website

With buyers spending most of their home search efforts online, agents need to focus on digital channels for property marketing. Notably, while most buyers do use the internet to search for houses, only 5% of buyers in 2020 reported finding an agent through an online property listing. When it comes to finding new clients, personal connections and referrals still reign supreme.

Moving forward, you should prioritize:

• Creating individual landing pages for your listings
• Designing a detailed and attractive website
• Optimizing your SEO
• Running targeted campaigns on social media

4. Buyers and sellers want expert advice

In 2020, clients expected their agent to help them find the right fit and shepherd them through each step in the transaction process. With markets across the country being incredibly hot with tight inventory, this is more critical now than ever before. Agent expertise driven by experience can make all the difference in today’s highly competitive real estate landscape. 

In 2020, buyers reported wanting an agent who would

• Help find the right home to purchase (52%)
• Help negotiate terms of sale (12%)
• Help with price negotiations (11%)
• Help with paperwork (8%)
• Find data on comparable listings (6%)

Sellers wanted an agent who would:

• Help market to potential buyers (21%)
• Help sell the home within a certain timeframe (20%)
• Help set a competitive price (19%)
• Help with value-increasing renovations (16%)
• Help find a buyer (13%)

Moving forward, you should prioritize:

• Using local market data to shape your property marketing strategy & sharing that approach with sellers
• Better understanding buyer clients’ specific needs and finding homes to match
• Keeping your clients informed throughout each step in the transaction process

5. Buyers and sellers want to work with an agent they can trust

A home purchase or sale is a significant financial transaction, and buyers and sellers are understandably seeking an agent who will have their back throughout the process.  

In 2020, buyers wanted an agent who:

• Had honesty and integrity (97%)
• Had knowledge of the purchase process (93%)
• Was responsive (93%)
• Had knowledge of the real estate market (90%)
• Had strong communication skills (88%)

Sellers wanted an agent who:

• Had honesty and integrity (97%)
• Had a great reputation (35%)
• Was honest and trustworthy (19%)
• Was a friend or family member (15%)
• Had knowledge of the local market (11%)
• Was kind and a good listener (5%)
• Seemed 100% accessible because of technology (4%)

Moving forward, you should prioritize:

• Cultivating strong and lasting relationships with current and past clients
• Strengthening your reputation by posting client reviews on your website
• Establishing your expertise by sharing local market reports

Take these priorities into consideration when working with buyers and sellers this year — your clients will thank you (and hopefully, refer you!).

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