BAM Key Details:

  • The 2023 Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report is in, with a revealing snapshot of today’s seller, including demographics, behavior, and preferences. 
  • According to one finding in the report, 92% of sellers report using a real estate agent to assist them with the home buying/selling process. 
  • The report also found that lower commissions are becoming increasingly important to sellers, with 62% reporting it is very important in 2023.

Zillow has released its 2023 Consumer Housing Trends Report, and according to survey results, 92% of U.S. sellers use a real estate agent to guide them through the home selling process. 

And since most sellers are also buyers, often the same agent then guides them through their next home purchase. 

The stats in Zillow’s report offer a revealing snapshot of today’s seller, from their demographics to their behavior, preferences, and expectations. As an agent, the more you know about what sellers value, the more likely you are to deliver a high-value experience. 

Read on for the highlights. 

The typical U.S. seller

  • Age—The median age for U.S. sellers is 45—older than the median age of renters (39) and buyers (40) but younger than the median age for tenured homeowners (57). 
  • Race & Ethnicity—A little more than two-thirds (70%) are non-Hispanic white or Causasian—higher than the share of the overall population that is white (63%). 
  • Region—The largest share of U.S. sellers live in the South (40%), followed by the Midwest (23%), the West (22%), and the Northeast (15%). 
  • Income—The median annual income for sellers is $95,000 to $99,999—higher than the national median (2022) of $70,784. 
  • Education—Nearly half of all U.S. sellers (49%) have at least a four-year degree, which is higher than the 35% share of the overall adult population with 4+ years of college.
  • Relationship status—Most sellers are married or in a committed relationship (70%), while 15% have been married in the past and another 15% never married. 
  • Typical home type—The median U.S. seller sold a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom, single-family detached house with 2,000 to 2,999 square feet. 
  • Seller/buyers—Seven of ten sellers (70%) also buy a home, with 54% of those upgrading to a more expensive home, 31% spending less and 14% spending about the same. Over half of these seller/buyers (58%) sell first and then buy, 32% buy first, and the remaining 10% did both around the same time. 

The 2023 Seller-Agent Relationship

Nearly all sellers (92%) reported hiring a real estate agent, with 74% saying they hired one to help promote their home and find buyers for it. Nearly one in five (18%) reported hiring an agent to finalize the sale but promoted their homes and found buyers on their own. 

Of those choosing to work with a real estate agent, most hire the first agent they contact. Over half (53%) contacted only one agent, while 45% contacted two to four agents. Only 2% said they contacted five or more. 

Roughly two-thirds (65%) of sellers who are also buyers hire the same real estate agent to help them sell their previous home and buy their next one. 

Most Sellers Find Agents Online

Nearly two in five sellers (38%) report finding their agent online—up from 30% the year before, 16% in 2019, and 15% in 2018. About a quarter said they found their agent on a real estate website, followed by 6% who found their agent using a search engine and 6% who found one on a social networking site. Only 11% had past experience with their agent in 2023, compared to the high of 23% reached in 2018. 

What Sellers Want in an Agent

Sellers found the following agent characteristics “highly important”:

  • Trustworthy (84%)
  • Responsive (82%) 
  • Local and neighborhood-specific knowledge (77%) 
  • Positive reputation in the community (77%)
  • Strong sales history (77%)
Zillow-Important-characteristics-of-an agent-table

Source: Zillow

Commission Matters to Sellers

The number of respondents giving high importance to a lower commission or rebate is on the rise:

  • 62% in 2023
  • 57% in 2022
  • 49% in 2019 and 2018

With headlines about industry lawsuits, consumers will be even more sensitive to conversations about commissions in the coming months. Be prepared to have more conversations and options for your clients. 

Today’s cooler market may be driving sellers to make more home improvements

While higher mortgage rates have driven up monthly payments and sidelined a fair number of buyers, sellers are showing no signs of tempering their expectations when it comes to pricing their homes. 

The median seller responding to Zillow’s survey reported a final sale price of $300,000 in 2023—up from $285,000 in 2022. 

The median seller received two offers on their home, with 19% of all sellers surveyed receiving four offers or more in 2023—closer to 2019 (17%) than 2022 (26%) when this share may have peaked. 

The majority of sellers (56%) reported at least one offer that fell through, with about half citing issues with money, mortgage, or financing as the reason. Other obstacles included— 

  • Issues from the home inspection report: 30%
  • Appraisal came back lower than the purchase price: 29%
  • Buyer could not sell their home: 25%
  • Other reasons: 9%

When asked about their top priorities for the home sale, most sellers (55%) ranked maximizing their profit at number one, while 84% ranked it among their top two. Next to profit, sellers are most likely to prioritize selling within a specific timeframe, with 33% making it their number one priority and 87% ranking it among their top two. 

All the more reason to reach out to an experienced agent who can help these sellers find buyers with the means to purchase their home at the time and price of their choosing. 

So, it’s no surprise the vast majority of sellers (92%) are more likely to enlist the help of a real estate agent than to use other resources to sell their home: 

Zillow-Share-of-sellers-that-used-each-resource-chart

Source: Zillow

Upsizing & Downsizing

Seller/buyers who are upsizing with their next home purchase trend younger. 

The median age for seller/buyers who are upsizing or downsizing: 

  • Buying homes with more bedrooms or more bathrooms: 40 years
  • Buying homes with the same number of bedrooms or bathrooms: 45 years
  • Buying a home with fewer bathrooms: 50
  • Buying a home with fewer bedrooms: 57
Zillow-Upsizing-and-downsizing-table

Source: Zillow

Upgrading seller/buyers also tend to have higher incomes with a median range of $100,000 to $124,999. The median income for seller/buyers who buy less expensive homes is between $75,000 and $79,999. 

Motivation to move comes down to life events for 8 in 10 sellers

Most U.S. sellers (80%) in Zillow’s survey cited at least one life event as a factor that influenced their decision to move and sell their home. 

The most common motivating event was a change in household or family size (54%), followed by working remotely more often (41%) and taking a new job or accepting a job transfer (37%). 

Zillow-life-events-influence-decision-to-sell-table

Source: Zillow

Home Selling Activities

The most common digital tools used by sellers in 2023 enabled them to do the following: 

  • Sign paperwork online: 55% did this and 61% said they would like to
  • Store home sale documents digitally in one central service: 41%
  • Complete closing via remote or mobile notary options: 40% 

Open houses are more popular than ever in 2023—the first year the median seller reported having two open houses, up from one ever since 2018 (when Zillow started tracking these). This year has also seen the smallest share of sellers foregoing open houses entirely (21%). 

About two in five sellers (60%) didn’t take their home off the market until it sold, while 40% temporarily de-listed their home—a decision that has become more common since 2021, when 28% of sellers reported doing so. Nearly a third (31%) did so in 2022. 

Nearly eight in 10 sellers (79%) said they completed at least one home improvement project before selling their home—up from 71% in 2021 and 2022: 

  • Painting
  • Redecorating
  • Kitchen improvement/remodel
  • New appliances
  • New or repaired flooring

Sellers who report home improvements tend to be younger, with the largest shares in their 30s (89%) or in their 20s or younger (87%). 

Zillow-Share-of-sellers-that-reported-at-least-one-home-improvement-project-chart

Source: Zillow

Typical Timeline for Home Sellers

Sellers described the urgency of their current timeline as “medium” (45%) — meaning somewhat urgent but not rushed. About two in five (39%) described it as “relaxed” — meaning they had time to wait for the best offer. The smallest share (16%) were rushed, having a brief timeline in which to sell their home. 

The typical seller reported seriously thinking about it for 2–3 months before listing their home. And 64% said they considered renting out their home rather than selling it, with 30% saying they seriously considered that option. Younger sellers were more likely to consider renting before ultimately deciding to sell. 

Report Methodology

To create a comprehensive picture of today’s seller, Zillow Group Population Science conducted three nationally representative surveys, fielded to over 4,700 unique sellers between April and June 2023. 

For this study, “sellers” are household decision makers at least 18 years of age who moved and sold their previous home within the past 12 months. 

Read the full report for more details.