The Consumer Research Panel is helping to “revolutionize the real estate industry in Houston”

Only two years after inviting Houston area consumers to share their experiences and opinions regarding the real estate industry, the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR) now has more than 6,500 home buyers, sellers, owners and renters serving on its Consumer Research Panel.

“In 2011, we decided to create the Consumer Research Panel  to focus on the consumer, the group that actually drives the marketplace,” said HAR Chairman Danny Frank with Prudential Anderson Properties. “Through this program, HAR is demonstrating that it takes the consumer seriously, and through the panel is capturing the all-important consumer perspective on the real estate market. This panel is the first of its kind in the industry and we believe is helping to revolutionize the real estate industry in Houston.”

To date, the Consumer Research Panel, working in partnership with the WAV Group, has conducted several surveys ranging from legislative priorities, lifestyle search, transaction management, customized real estate search, market statistics, real estate agent satisfaction and rental trends. The feedback and opinions gathered from these volunteer panelists is used to improve the services offered by HAR to its members and consumers, and further help inform HAR REALTOR® members about better ways to serve their clients.

Six new surveys are expected to be conducted in 2013.

“Since 2008, I have argued that there is no such thing as a national real estate market—the ‘TINSTAANREM’ clause,” said Stewart Title Chief Economist and former HAR Chairman Ted C. Jones, Ph.D. “That is what makes the work of the Consumer Research Panel so valuable. This dedicated group of volunteers is providing critical feedback about our local market, and as we all know, real estate is local.”

The Consumer Research Panel consists largely of women, aged 25-54, with an advanced education. Participants do not receive any compensation or other incentives from HAR for their work. They do, however, receive a copy of the survey’s final report.  The consumer volunteers are currently responding with a 15 to 20 percent completion rate which is considerably higher than typical surveys conducted on a national basis.

The Consumer Research Panel initiative was recently recognized by the Pinnacle Group, a program for progressive REALTOR® association executives and elected leaders, and was cited by noted real estate blogger Rob Hahn (‘The Notorious R.O.B.’) for its groundbreaking work focusing on the needs of the consumer. HAR is currently working with several other associations, assisting them in establishing their own in-house research panels.