Digital technology has changed the way we buy just about everything—and real estate is no exception. With more and more home buyers and sellers doing their own legwork and even forgoing agents altogether, the role of the real estate agency is changing.  That’s why it’s important to zero in on what skills you want to look for in a real estate agent—and a recent study can help you do that.

Websites such as Zillow and Redfin continue to disrupt the industry by giving anyone information that used to be known only to real estate agents. That reality has forced traditional residential real estate agencies to focus more on customer service and position themselves more as advisers and less as providers of information. The latest version of an annual study by J.D. Power ranks the largest real estate companies in terms of customer satisfaction among four distinct types of customers. If you’re considering buying or selling a home, the results of this study can help you determine which real estate agency to choose, depending on your situation, while revealing which agencies are more likely to shine in different stages of the process.

The three types of customers surveyed were first-time home buyers…repeat buyers…first-time sellers…and repeat sellers. Respondents were asked about their satisfaction with the real estate agents…the real estate agency…the closing process…and additional services offered. For sellers, the real estate company’s marketing was included as a fifth factor. “The challenge for these companies is to consistently demonstrate and communicate the value to current and potential customers,” according to Craig Martin, senior director of financial services at J.D. Power. Some of the results of the study…

Century 21 leads the pack in satisfaction for first-time buyers. For the fifth year in a row, Century 21 ranks No. 1, scoring high across all four categories among first-time home buyers. RE/MAX, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and Coldwell Banker came in second, third and fourth, respectively. No firm did terribly in this ranking—Keller Williams trailed the pack but scored 853 out of a possible 1,000 compared with Century 21’s score of 883.

Repeat home buyers like Berkshire Hathaway and Coldwell Banker. These two firms tied for first place among repeat home buyers, with both scoring 874. Berkshire Hathaway scored particularly high marks in terms of the company’s agents and salespeople, while Coldwell Banker excelled in terms of closing and additional services. Keller Williams and RE/MAX came in a not-too-distant third and fourth, respectively, and Century 21 trailed the pack with 860 points.

Century 21 is tops among sellers. Like first-time buyers, sellers have chosen Century 21 for the fifth consecutive year. Not only did the company beat the No. 2 agency by more than 30 points, but Century 21 performed particularly well across all five categories. Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker and RE/MAX were a distant second, third, and fourth, respectively.

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