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BMO Harris Bank Survey: Three-Quarters of American Homeowners Have Used a Realtor

CHICAGO, IL -- (Marketwired) -- 07/10/14 --


  • Despite some Americans feeling they could buy or sell on their own, the majority still turn to an agent in the end
  • Word-of-mouth reigns as top way people select a realtor
  • Ability to do paperwork and understanding of the market among key reasons cited for using a realtor

According to the results of a housing survey released today by BMO Harris Bank, three-quarters of homeowners have used a real estate agent. However, nearly half (47 percent) of Americans are confident they could sell a home without the help of a real estate agent, and 59 percent said they felt they could purchase a home without one.

"While a notable number of Americans feel they could buy or sell a home without a real estate agent, our survey tells us that when the time came, the majority of homeowners did seek the added professional help and enlisted an agent," said Kevin Christopher, Head of Mortgage Sales, BMO Harris Bank. "It can be a complex process, and one that takes up a great deal of time. One way we've tried to make it easier is having our bankers attend open houses, giving prospective home buyers a chance to talk about the purchase and finances in one stop."

Word-of-mouth is the top way that home buyers select an agent (41 percent), followed by:

  • Past experience (22 percent)
  • Reference from bank (9 percent)
  • Advertising or a flyer (9 percent)
  • Came to the door (2 percent)

The survey also asked Americans about where they felt realtors had the most value-add. The top three benefits for having an agent when buying are handling paperwork (67 percent), having someone who understands market value (59 percent) and access to market information (53 percent). The top three benefits when selling are again paperwork (64 percent), advertising the home to bring in offers (58 percent) and having someone to price the home appropriately (57 percent).

"Although higher home prices and mortgage rates have dented housing affordability, it remains historically very attractive. This, in turn, continues to support the demand for homes, along with rising household formation," said Michael Gregory, Head of U.S. Economics, BMO Capital Markets. "Despite the overall U.S. housing activity losing some of the momentum we saw earlier in the recovery, recent solid job growth should help reinvigorate the housing market."

Survey results cited in this report are from a Pollara survey commissioned by BMO Harris Bank using interviews with an online sample of 2,500 Americans conducted between April 1st and 7th, 2014. The margin of error for a probability sample of 2,500 is +/- 1.96%.

For more information on planning for your financial future, including tips for selecting a real estate professional, visit www.bmoharris.com/yourfinanciallife.

About BMO Harris Bank
BMO Harris Bank provides a broad range of personal banking products and solutions through more than 600 branches and approximately 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Arizona and Florida. BMO Harris Bank's commercial banking team provides a combination of sector expertise, local knowledge and mid-market focus throughout the U.S. For more information about BMO Harris Bank, go to the company fact sheet. Banking products and services are provided by BMO Harris Bank N.A. and are subject to bank or credit approval. BMO Harris ® and BMO Harris Bank® are trade names used by BMO Harris Bank N.A. Member FDIC. BMO Harris Bank is part of BMO Financial Group, a North American financial organization with approximately 1,600 branches, and CDN $582 billion in assets (as of April 30, 2014).

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