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A high level of neighbourhood or building expertise is the number-one reason consumers choose one real estate agent over another – beating out personal recommendations, according to a survey released by Glacier’s real estate website, REW.ca.

This finding was despite more than half (53%) of all buyers (first-time and repeat buyers) saying they found their most recent agent via a recommendation from family or friends. Local expertise was cited by 39 per cent of first-time home owners as the top selection factor when finding a new real estate agent – notably higher than a referral from family or friends, at 27.5 per cent, and an agent’s reputation for getting the best deal, also 27.5 per cent.

The local expertise factor jumped even higher, to 51 per cent, among repeat property buyers who said they would consider looking for a new agent the next time they purchase a home – followed by recommendations (38.6 per cent) and reputation (22.8 per cent).

What’s more, nearly half (48.1 per cent) of first-time home owners said that they would either consider using a different real estate agent or would definitely switch the next time they buy a home.

Joannah Connolly, editor of REW.ca, said, “It certainly seems that a referral from friends or family does not carry the weight that it once did – leaving the door wide open for agents with local expertise to pick up new clients. With data becoming more readily available, we have to ask ourselves whether the way we choose our real estate agents is changing."

REW.ca polled 2,244 people in BC in February 2017. Results are based on consumers who had purchased a home in the past seven years.