Infographic: What makes a good real estate agent?

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Breaking down a 5-star homebuying experience

With trustworthiness in real estate agents remaining low (per Gallup, only 18% of Americans think real estate agents have high ethical standards), Open Listings wanted to identify ways to increase buyer trust & satisfaction by studying the traits modern homebuyer value in great real estate agents.

The methodology
The Open Listings team analyzed word trends in over 900 5-star reviews from our ratings platform to understand what buyers want from real estate agents when they need them.

These ratings come from Open Listings buyers working with our in-house agents, showing agents, and partner agents across California and Washington during every point of the process.

We identified the most common terms & grouped similar and frequently-appearing words to determine the most important real estate agent traits for homebuyers.

What buyers want most from real estate agents:

1. Helpfulness > sales pressure
The word “helpful” led the pack, appearing 134 times in 5-star agent reviews. Buyers turned to their Open Listings agents to clarify confusing real estate industry terms and answer questions -- but on their own terms. For our buyers, reactive helpfulness (i.e. answering a buyer question) was better than feeling pressured by too much agent outreach.

2. On-demand(ish) availability
The words “responsive,” “communication,” “quick,” “available,” & “accommodating” often went hand-in-hand and showed up a total of 129 times within our ratings. With the majority of Open Listings buyers in competitive markets, speed is crucial. Texts, emails, and phone calls can’t wait hours, let alone days. Buyers expect prompt, frequent communication -- even if it is just to say, “Still waiting for an answer.”

3. Good people skills
Although Open Listings buyers prefer to house hunt using an app, soft skills still matter during their agent interactions. Traits like “friendliness,” being “nice,” “personable,” pleasant,” and “polite” go a long way -- 104 times in 5-star reviews, in fact.

4. A triple threat: local, property, and buying expertise
“Knowledgeable” and “informative” appeared in 93 5-star buyer reviews. But, being truly knowledgeable is multi-faceted. Buyers wanted to work with homebuying partners who knew the local market, had deep homebuying expertise from negotiations to closing, and who were aware of valuable property insights, such as info from seller remarks, property reports, or disclosures.

5. Keepin’ things cool under pressure
With 57 nods, “professional” agents got the 5-star treatment. But, what exactly does it mean to be professional? Spoiler alert: it’s not a suit and tie. We dug a little deeper and found that professional means knowing how to keep calm and carry on. With so many emotions and finances at stake, homebuying can feel stressful. A true pro guides buyers to close smoothly and with a level head.

Key takeaways for homebuyers:

  • Get a home, not a salesperson: A great agent team prioritizes helping rather than giving you the hard sell.
  • Find a partner with homebuying expertise: Make sure the service or agent you pick has represented plenty of buyers and knows the nuances.
  • Time is of the essence: With today’s hot market, make sure you’re using a responsive service or agent -- ideally a team -- so that you’ll be able to get answers quickly.

Get the infographic:

Currently looking for a home? Open Listings lets you house hunt for free, make offers 24/7, and save thousands in unnecessary fees -- all with help from a team of expert agents with over 900 5-star reviews.

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