Role of the Realtor in 2022: Expectations and Misconceptions

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By Matt Brannon Updated April 27, 2022

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๐Ÿ’ฐ High Hopes for Home Sellers ๐Ÿ’ฐ
Of those who plan to sell a house in the next 12 months, 43% expect their home to sell over the asking price.
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Worries About a Bubble | High Expectations | Sellers' Top Fears | Millennials More Interested in Agents | Using AI to Sell | Home-Selling Misconceptions | Decline of Word-of-Mouth Marketing | Methodology | FAQ

Home sellers in 2022 are paying close attention to the surging real estate market, with many eager to cash in on sky-high home values. Enticing potential for profit has more than a third of home sellers (35%) moving up their plans to list their homes.

Fears of a real estate bubble may also be speeding up sellers' timelines. Nearly half of those who plan to sell in the next 12 months (45%) believe the market is in a bubble that could crash in 2022.

Despite what sellers think about how sustainable the real estate market is, they realize the cards are currently stacked in their favor. Many expect their homes to sell faster, and for more money, than in previous years.

To help capitalize on this opportunity, sellers are turning to real estate agents at a higher rate than in 2019, according to our research.[1]

Sellers' confidence that their homes will sell for large sums is likely driving down misgivings about the cost of realtors' services. Nearly four in five sellers (77%) plan to use a realtor, up from 54% in 2019.

And although sellers are showing more willingness to work with realtors, they're still open to unconventional ways to find a buyer, with 73% saying they'd consider using artificial intelligence rather than a traditional agent. Nearly half of sellers (47%) believe AI is already superior to real estate agents.

To learn more about attitudes toward the home-selling process, we surveyed 1,004 people who plan to sell their house in the next 12 months about their perceptions, expectations, and misconceptions around realtors and selling a home.

Role of the Realtor Statistics ๐Ÿ 

  • Nearly half of home sellers (45%) believe the housing market is in a bubble that might pop in 2022. Jump to section๐Ÿ‘‡
  • About 43% of sellers expect their home to sell over the asking price. ๐Ÿ‘‡
    • More than a quarter of sellers (28%) expect to receive an offer on the first day their home is listed, and 53% anticipate accepting an offer within a month.
    • The most common fear among sellers is that their home will stay on the market for too long (74%). ๐Ÿ‘‡
  • The share of sellers who plan to use a realtor is 77%, up from 54% in 2019. ๐Ÿ‘‡
    • One in five sellers (19%) say finding a good real estate agent is the hardest part of the home-selling process. ๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Nearly half of all home sellers (47%) believe AI can currently outperform a traditional realtor.
    • Millennials are twice as likely as baby boomers to give AI the edge. ๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Fewer than half of sellers (46%) actually know how much they'll end up paying in commissions, and 42% don't realize they're also expected to pay the buyer's agent's commission. ๐Ÿ‘‡
    • Only about half of sellers (53%) are aware their agent isn't responsible for appraising a home. ๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Word-of-mouth referrals (42%) are now the third-most common way to find an agent, behind online real estate platforms (54%) and review websites (48%). ๐Ÿ‘‡
  • Millennials are 3x as likely as boomers to trust unverified realtor reviews. ๐Ÿ‘‡
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Nearly Half of Sellers Believe the Housing Market Is in a Bubble That Could Pop in 2022

Fears of a real estate crash may be driving a sense of urgency among people planning to sell their homes. Almost half of home sellers (45%) believe the market is at risk of crashing in 2022.

About one-third (31%) believe the market won't crash, and 24% aren't sure.

Excluding those who say they're unsure, 60% of sellers believe the market is in a bubble at risk of popping, while 40% don't.

Keen not to miss out on the current seller-friendly environment, more than a third of home sellers (35%) have moved up their plans to put their house on the market.

Experts at Clever Real Estate and elsewhere are less convinced of an impending crash. Although risky loans fueled the 2008 collapse, mortgage lenders now have more stringent lending standards.

Today's market concerns are more about strong buyer demand and low housing inventory.[2] Sellers probably shouldn't be too worried about a housing crash in 2022 โ€” worst case, experts predict a slow down of housing price growth.[3]

High Expectations: 43% of Sellers Think Their House Will Sell Over Asking Price

Sellers are taking note of the high home prices around the U.S.[4] As a result, 43% expect their house to sell for more than the asking price, and 28% expect to receive an offer on the first day of listing.

Sellers are so confident in their prospects that they say there are higher chances of their home starting a bidding war (30%) than their home not attracting a buyer (25%).

Home sellers' top expectations include:

  • Home selling for more than asking price (43%)
  • Ability to negotiate a better price or contingencies (36%)
  • Appraisal coming back higher than the sale price (31%)
  • Buyers starting a bidding war (30%)
  • Receiving an offer on the day of listing (28%)
  • Appraisal coming back lower than the sale price (25%)
  • Home selling for less than asking price (25%)
  • Trouble finding a buyer (25%)

More Than Half of Sellers Expect to Accept an Offer Within a Month of Listing Their Home

Sellers are confident their homes won't stay on the market for long. About 28% of sellers expect to accept an offer within two weeks of listing, nearly double the 15% who said the same in 2019.

More than half of sellers (53%) plan to accept an offer within the first month of listing. Although that timeline may seem ambitious, it's consistent with National Association of Realtors data showing 84% of homes sold in February 2022 spent less than a month on the market.[5]

After listing their home, sellers expect to accept an offer in:

  • Less than a week (8%)
  • 1 to 2 weeks (19%)
  • 3 to 4 weeks (25%)
  • 1 to 2 months (24%)
  • 3 to 4 months (18%)
  • Longer than 4 months (6%)

Nearly two-thirds of sellers (62%) expect it will take 10 or fewer showings to accept an offer, including 26% who expect to show their house five or fewer times.

Those expectations might be unrealistic โ€” even for homes in desirable areas. Portland, Ore., realtor Stephen FitzMaurice wrote in 2021 that homes in the Portland market undergo about 25 showings before sellers accept an offer.[6]

Sellers' Top Fear? Their Home Taking Too Long to Sell

A speedy sale is more than an expectation for sellers โ€” it's a must. Although many sellers believe their home will sell quickly, our survey still reveals 74% of sellers are concerned their home will take too long to sell.

The finding suggests sellers believe the current window for a high return on investment is temporary โ€” one they don't want to miss out on.

Failing to get the price they're looking for when selling their house (69%) is the second-most common fear among home sellers, followed by concerns that aren't strictly financial, such as being worried about strangers in their homes (67%) and having to move out before they're ready (66%).

Sellers' main concerns are:

  • House will take too long to sell (74%)
  • Settling for a lower price than expected (69%)
  • Worries about strangers coming into their home (67%)
  • Being forced to move out too soon (66%)
  • A major issue being discovered during the buyer's home inspection (62%)
  • Home not appraising for the purchase price (60%)
  • Poor timing causing the seller's next home purchase to fall through (58%)

Sellers, Especially Millennials, Are More Interested in Hiring an Agent Than in 2019

To actualize their high expectations, sellers are turning to realtors in droves.

Optimism around their home sales has thoroughly revived sellers' interest in using real estate agents. As of 2022, 77% of sellers plan to use an agent to sell their home โ€” up from 54% in 2019.

The shift in agents' popularity is even more pronounced among millennials: Nearly twice as many millennial sellers plan to use an agent (80%) compared to 2019 (47%).

A lack of experience with the selling process may be persuading millennials to turn to the professional expertise of an agent.

About 85% of all sellers say the role of the realtor is very important or somewhat important in the home-selling process.

Convenience may be another driving factor in the increased willingness to use an agent. In the less competitive markets of the past, sellers may have had more doubts that they'd break even on their home sale โ€” pushing them to take on more of the work themselves rather than pay an agent's commission fees.

In 2022, however, sellers are so confident they'll make money on their home sale that they're more willing to delegate the process to an agent.

Sellers Who Don't Plan to Use an Agent Cite Cost, Self-Confidence as Main Reasons

A small portion of sellers surveyed (8%) say they plan to sell their homes without the help of a realtor.

Asked why, the most common reasons are that real estate agents are too expensive (56%) and that sellers feel confident handling the sale on their own (56%).

Some sellers say they won't use an agent because:

  • Real estate commission is too expensive / a desire to save money (56%)
  • Confidence to sell on their own due to past real estate experience (56%)
  • They want more control over the home-selling process (49%)
  • Bad past experiences with real estate agents (39%)
  • Not trusting real estate agents (16%)

About four in five of those selling without an agent (79%) believe hiring a realtor won't help secure a higher sale price on their house. FSBO data, however, shows homes sold without agents sell for as much as 26% less than comparable homes listed on the MLS.

Though most sellers surveyed plan to use a realtor, men are nearly 3x as likely as women to say they won't use an agent (11% vs. 4%).

1 in 5 Sellers Say the Most Challenging Part of Selling a Home Is Finding an Agent

Before reaping the rewards of a home sale, sellers have to overcome obstacles associated with the process.

Asked what they consider the hardest part of the home-selling process, sellers' most common challenges are:

  • Preparing the house to sell (30%)
  • Pricing the house correctly (20%)
  • Finding a qualified real estate agent (19%)
  • Attracting buyers (11%)
  • Negotiating with buyers (10%)
  • Filling out paperwork (8%)
  • Other (2%)

Compared to our 2019 edition of this survey, the share of sellers who say their biggest concern is attracting buyers has nearly dropped in half, from 20% in 2019 to 11% in 2022.

The share of respondents who say finding a realtor is the hardest part of the process increased from 14% in 2019 to 19% in 2022. The stress of finding and committing to a realtor may push sellers to explore less traditional ways of finding buyers.

Nearly Half of Home Sellers Believe Artificial Intelligence Can Outperform a Real Estate Agent

Many home sellers have grown increasingly confident that artificial intelligence tools are better suited to sell their homes than traditional real estate agents.

As of 2022, nearly half of all sellers (47%) believe AI can outperform a traditional agent when it comes to finding a buyer. That's up from 37% in 2019.

Millennials, in particular, are twice as likely as baby boomers to believe AI can outdo a real estate agent (52% vs. 26%).

Even sellers who have doubts that AI can outperform an agent are open to giving the tech a try. Nearly three-quarters of all sellers (73%) say they would consider finding a buyer for their home via AI in 2022, up from 51% in 2019. Further, nearly four in five millennials (79%) say they'd consider using AI.

3 in 5 Sellers Say Websites or Social Media Platforms Are the Best Ways to Find a Buyer

The majority of sellers (59%) believe digital methods โ€” advertising websites such as Zillow or Realtor.com (45%) as well as social media platforms (14%) โ€” are the best ways to find a buyer for their home.

More conventional methods such as introductions from a realtor, open houses, referrals, and window shopping are prefered by a minority (41% combined).

Sellers say the best methods for finding a buyer are:

  • Online advertising (e.g., Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com, etc.) (45%)
  • Introduction from real estate agent (22%)
  • Social media (14%)
  • Open house (9%)
  • Referrals from family/friends (6%)
  • For sale signs (4%)

More Than Half of Sellers Don't Know the Typical Cost of Real Estate Commission

Although they're optimistic about their home sale, many sellers still carry misconceptions related to the transaction process and role of the real estate agent.

Asked how much they should expect to spend in commission, only 46% sellers accurately responded with the industry standard of 4% to 6% of the home's sale price. About one-third of sellers (34%) overestimated the cost of commissions.

On the other end of the spectrum, 10% of respondents expect to pay less than normal โ€” 1% to 3% in total commission, a rate real estate firms rarely offer.

Sellers believe commission is:

  • 1% to 3% of the home's price (10%)
  • 4% to 6% of the home's price (46%)
  • 7% to 10% of the home's price (28%)
  • Greater than 10% of the home's price (6%)
  • Unsure (10%)

Some of those sellers expecting to spend less may not realize they're responsible for paying the buyer's agent commission in addition to the seller's agent's commission.

More than four in 10 sellers (42%) wrongly believe the buyer's agent's commission is paid for by the buyer, rather than the seller. Research shows the seller can typically expect to pay an average of 2.8% to the seller's agent and 2.7% to the buyer's agent for a total of 5.5%.

Once Informed of Average Commission Payments, Most Sellers Say the Fees Are Fair

A desire to avoid paying commission fees may be tempering sellers' enthusiasm for working with real estate agents. More than half of sellers (51%) have concerns about overpaying on commission.

Among those who plan to sell their home without the help of a realtor, the most common reason for not using an agent is a perception that their services are too costly (56%).

Once informed that the typical commission payment amounts to 5.5%, however, a vast majority of sellers say the cost is fair (69%).

Nearly Half of Sellers Wrongly Think Seller's Agents Conduct Appraisals

Some of the most common misconceptions among home sellers stem from a lack of understanding about the typical tasks a seller's agent performs.

Nearly half of sellers (47%) wrongly think their agent is responsible for appraising a home's value โ€” a process the buyer or buyer's lender typically initiates. Nearly half of sellers (42%) also mistakenly believe their agent will set up and participate in the home inspection โ€” another responsibility that falls on the buyer and their agent.

Task % of sellers who believe task is handled by seller's agent Task actually handled by a seller's agent?

Filling out and filing paperwork 63% โœ…
Listing a home for sale on the MLS and real estate websites 60% โœ…
Negotiating offers 59% โœ…
Helping set a fair listing price 57% โœ…
Appraising a home's value 47% โŒ
Recommending contractors, attorneys, and other third-party vendors 47% โœ…
Coordinating photography and videos 47% โœ…
Staging a home 43% โœ…
Setting up and participating in the home inspection 42% โŒ
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When shown a list of tasks associated with a real estate transaction, only two of 1,004 respondents correctly identified only the ones handled by a seller's agent โ€” revealing most sellers lack an understanding of the process.

Websites Beat Word of Mouth for the Most Popular Way to Find a Seller's Agent

Word-of-mouth marketing doesn't carry the same weight it used to. The top two ways sellers plan to find agents in 2022 are through online real estate platforms such as Zillow and Clever Real Estate (54%) and review websites such as Yelp and Google (48%).

Referrals (42%) were the third-most common answer when sellers were asked how they plan to find an agent. That's a shift from our 2019 survey of sellers that showed referrals were the most common way to find an agent.

Sellers plan to find an agent by using:

  • Online real estate platforms (e.g., Zillow, Realtor.com, Clever Real Estate) (54%)
  • Online reviews (e.g., Yelp, Google) (48%)
  • Referrals from friends (e.g., word of mouth) (42%)
  • Personal relationship with a real estate agent (e.g., a friend, family member) (42%)
  • Online search (32%)
  • Social media (29%)
  • Traditional advertising (e.g., TV, for sale signs, print) (22%)
  • Open house (22%)
  • Referral from lender (18%)

Most sellers (90%) prefer a real estate agent with at least four years of experience. But more experience doesn't necessarily translate to more trust from sellers.

Sellers say the ideal amount of experience for an agent is:

  • 1 to 3 years (9%)
  • 4 to 6 years (45%)
  • 7 to 9 years (26%)
  • 10 or more years (19%)

The majority of sellers say they plan to interview two or three realtors (54%) before making a hire. The most popular methods for interviewing real estate agents are speaking in person (53%), followed by a video call (21%) and a phone call (15%).

Millennial Sellers Are 3x as Likely as Baby Boomers to Judge a Realtor Using Reviews That May Be Unverified

When researching which realtor to hire, sellers have a variety of preferences for how they gauge a realtor's performance:

  • Assessing whether the realtor is known well locally or online (33%)
  • Verified online realtor reviews (25%)
  • Recommendations from people they know (19%)
  • Online reviews even if they're unverified (13%)
  • Number of recent home sales (10%)

Millennials are 3x more likely than baby boomers to trust any online reviews, even those unverified on platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Yelp (13% vs. 4%).

Sellers are well aware that committing to any realtor involves risk that it might not work out. More than half of sellers worry that choosing the wrong realtor could cost them a better sale price (57%) or result in an unwelcome extended period of time on the market (56%).

Sellers say the biggest risks of choosing the wrong agent include:

  • Losing out on a higher sale price (57%)
  • The house taking too long to sell or not selling (56%)
  • Contracts falling through due to errors or failed negotiations (54%)
  • Overpaying on commission (51%)
  • Miscommunication that leads to closing delays (45%)
  • Conflict due to a personality clash (35%)

Methodology

The proprietary data featured in this report comes from an online survey commissioned by Clever Real Estate. We surveyed 1,004 homeowners who plan to sell in the next 12 months about their knowledge of home selling and their views on realtors and the current real estate market. The survey was distributed using organic sampling on February 10, 2022.

Article Sources

[1] Real Estate Witch โ€“ "The Role of the Real Estate Agent". Updated April 20, 2020. Accessed April 4, 2022.
[2] Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis โ€“ "Housing Inventory: Active Listing Count in the United States". Updated April 1, 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.
[3] Zillow โ€“ "Zillow January 2022-January 2023 Home Value & Sale Forecast". Updated Feb. 16, 2022. Accessed April 8, 2022.
[4] Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis โ€“ "Average Sales Price of Houses Sold for the United States". Updated Jan. 26, 2022. Accessed April 4, 2022.
[5] National Association of Realtors โ€“ "Realtors Confidence Index Survey February 2022". Updated March 2022. Accessed April 4, 2022.
[6] Portland Realtor Stephen FitzMaurice Team at eXp Realty โ€“ "How Many Showings to Sell a Home? 2021 Update". Updated April 9, 2021. Accessed April 4, 2022.

About Clever

Since 2017, Clever Real Estate has been on a mission to make selling or buying a home easier and more affordable for everyone. 12 million annual readers rely on Clever's library of educational content and data-driven research to make smarter real estate decisionsโ€”and to date, Clever has helped consumers save more than $82 million on realtor fees. Clever's research has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, Inman, Housing Wire, and many more.

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FAQ

How do I find a realtor?

The most popular ways of finding a realtor when selling a home include online real estate platforms such as Zillow, Realtor.com, and Clever Real Estate, followed by online reviews, referrals from friends, and personal relationships with realtors. Learn more.

When should I get a realtor?

About two-thirds of sellers find a real estate agent two to four months before listing a house for sale. One in five sellers hire an agent one month or less before listing, which most experts advise against. Learn more.

What does a realtor do for a seller?

Seller's agents typically fill out/file paperwork, list a home for sale on MLS/real estate websites, negotiate offers, set a listing price, recommend third-party vendors, stage a home, and coordinate photography and videos. Learn more.

How many real estate agents should I interview?

More than half of home sellers say they plan to interview two or three agents. A majority of those selling a home prefer to interview real estate agents in person (53%), followed by a video call (21%) and a phone call (15%). Learn more.

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