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REALTOR® or Agent… Do Consumers Know?

The HAR.com Consumer Research Panel evaluates agent satisfaction in new survey

Most Houston consumers are unaware that they are working with a REALTOR® when buying or selling a home, while others do not know the difference between a REALTOR® and a real estate agent. Those are among the findings of the latest HAR.com Consumer Research Panel survey aimed at identifying consumer trends and challenges in the Houston real estate market.

At the same time, however, the panel, made up of more than 6,600 home buyers, sellers, owners and renters, reported high satisfaction with the real estate professionals they hired to facilitate a home transaction.

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Asked if they know the difference between a licensed real estate agent and a REALTOR®, 80 percent either said they did not know or were unsure, suggesting that years of marketing to promote the advantages of working with a REALTOR® when buying or selling a home may have been significantly less effective than hoped. Only agents who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® may use the term “REALTOR®.”

Consumers offered these telling comments when asked what the difference was between REALTOR® and agent in the survey:

“The REALTOR® is the boss and the agent works for the REALTOR®.”

“Generally the REALTOR® is more educated and experienced.”

“One is a broker and one is not.”

“The REALTOR® owns the business.”

“Generally a REALTOR® is more professional, though there are exceptions on both sides of the coin.”

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The HAR.com Consumer Research Panel offered high marks for real estate agent professionalism. The survey found that 94 percent believe real estate agents are professional and competent. It also found that 88 percent of consumers were satisfied with their agent.

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“While consumers have a low awareness of the difference between an agent and a REALTOR®, survey  respondents tell us that they are satisfied with their agent and consider them highly professional and competent,” said HAR Chairman Danny Frank of Prudential Anderson Properties.

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