How Buyers and Sellers Are Choosing Their Agents

How Buyers and Sellers are Choosing Their Agents
November 10, 2023 Braxton Wilhelmsen

How Buyers and Sellers are Choosing Their Agents

Senior married couple sitting on a couch at home and using a laptop together. Smiling mature husband and his wife are having fun while doing home shopping online


In today’s fast-paced world, the real estate industry has experienced a monumental shift driven by the power of the internet. Despite this shift, it is as important as ever to give clients what they’re searching for to nurture a steady flow of referrals and repeat business. The same thing that draws buyers to a home listing is also what sellers are looking for in an agent – great photography and online marketing! In this article we’ll discuss this in more detail, and show you how Open Homes can be the key ingredient in supercharging your real estate brand and marketing.


“Buyers used to count on their realtor to tell them which properties to see, to find properties for them. But now most buyers and certainly everyone that I’ve worked with, they are looking online for places themselves and then they send them to me to find out more about it. So the first thing they see online is the photo. So it’s extremely important what it looks like”  Linda Elkin – Red Oak Realty

“My buyers find homes faster than I do.” We hear this all the time. The online real estate marketplace Zillow receives over 200 million unique visitors per month. Add their three closest competitors and it’s more like 325 million. That’s roughly the  entire population of the USA. While buyers are increasingly finding listings to view online, it may surprise you to learn that only 20% of buyers find their agent on the internet. 

According to a survey by the National Association of Realtors, only 10% of respondents found their agent by inquiring about a property online, 1% via social media, and another 9% on the agent’s website. This is compared to 3% finding their agent when visiting an open house or by directly contacting a broker (6%). So where are the bulk of buyers finding their agents?   

How buyers found their agents chart

A full 50% of respondents found their agent via word of mouth or previous experience. Reputation matters! If you want to cast your line where the fish are, the biggest bang for your buck isn’t in mailers, billboards or cold calling. While you should still be doing these things, the bread and butter of your marketing should be fostering your existing relationships. Let’s see if the same is true of sellers.


Sellers have slightly different motivations, but this only makes the relationship even more important. All agents are valued for their knowledge of the law, facilitating negotiations, inspections, closing, etc. Buyers are often looking for someone to help them find and buy a home, while sellers are trying to get the most out of what is usually the most valuable asset they possess, and want someone they can trust to honor that effort. Let’s look again at the survey data from NAR to see where sellers are finding their agents:

How sellers are finding their agents

Referrals are the most common way sellers find an agent at 36%, followed by repeat clients who are 27% of respondents. This means 63% of home sellers find their real estate agents without any direct marketing efforts, but on reputation and positive past experiences only. In marketing, every effort matters. But if you’re investing large amounts of money into outreach without first investing into the absolute foundation of every great marketing effort–knocking it out of the park for your current clients–you’re leaving money on the table. Start by providing world class marketing for the listing you already have, then add important growth marketing efforts like paid ads, billboards and print materials.

What it means

Based on this data, the best marketing investment of all is the one you make in the listing you have right now. Unbelievable, right? If you want to grow your business, the best thing you can do is provide an incredible experience to each and every client. When a buyer or seller has a terrific experience with you, they’ll want to work with you again in the future, and they’ll recommend you to their friends and family. That’s it! That’s the secret. The National Association of Realtors asked sellers what they’re looking for in an agent so you can understand how to create that experience:

What sellers most want from real estate agents

Help marketing their home tied with home pricing for #1 thing sellers want most from their real estate agent.

Open Homes can’t help you price your listings, but we do give your sellers an incredible experience with best-in-class marketing. On average, people shop with 3 agents before deciding who to work with. How can you close the deal? Create an impressive listing portfolio by pulling out all the stops on the one you already have. Then, when you’re sitting down with your next potential client, show them the exceptional marketing you do. 

How can Open Homes help you wow them? Let me count the ways:

Captivating Visuals:

Sometimes it seems like photography and other marketing considerations are just checklist items. You either have photography done or you don’t. The truth is, in the digital age, the quality of your images matters more than ever. High-quality photography is your gateway to catching the eye of potential buyers. Open Homes real estate photography specializes in creating captivating visuals that showcase your listings in the best possible light.

Attracting Online Traffic:

With buyers increasingly turning to online platforms for their initial home search, it’s crucial to make your listings stand out. According to the same NAR survey, buyers consider photography to be the most useful aspect of any online listing. Stunning photography can draw them in, generating more interest and inquiries.


When they see the level of professionalism and attention to detail we bring to your marketing efforts, they’ll be more likely to choose you again as their agent and sing your praises to loved ones. We sometimes hear agents say, “This is just a small one bedroom listing, so we don’t need to go all-in on this one.” If your seller knew you were approaching their listing this way, would that yield a referral or repeat business? Show them you care by putting the same effort into their small listing you would put into the big ticket home down the street.

Exciting Results

The bottom line is selling faster at higher prices. Deliver for your clients and they’ll never forget you. Who can forget someone who got them tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars over asking?


The more things change, the more they stay the same. It has always been important to differentiate yourself, and Open Homes’ real estate photography can be a game-changer. So now you know the secret: Time-tested fundamentals like great service and rock-solid relationships are as relevant as ever, even as buyers are turning to the internet to find their homes. By leveraging stunning visuals, attracting online traffic, impressing sellers, and elevating your brand, you’ll not only survive but thrive in the age of online house hunting. Remember, in this competitive landscape, excellence in marketing can make all the difference, ensuring you secure top-dollar deals and impress your clients every step of the way.