NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Historically, homebuyers and homesellers have been the real estate equivalent of two ships passing in the night. But a new study from gives home sellers a glimpse of what buyers really want.

That advice should give hope to millions of home sellers in the U.S., who are staring down the barrel of a buyer-oriented real estate market.
The National Association of Realtors says that pending home sales did rise by 2.1% to 90.8 for the month of February, but home sales activity year-to-year tells a different story: It’s down 8.2% below the 98.9 reading from February 2010.

It’s obvious homeowners with a for sale sign on their front lawns can use any edge they can get. That’s where the HomeGain study comes into play. The website interviewed more than 1,000 buyers, asking them to rate what they wanted to see in a “home for sale” listing on a scale of one (least important) to five (most important).

The responses show that buyers really want to see as many visual images of the home as possible. They also want to know the sizes of the rooms in those homes, the survey found. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Wide selection of photographs (4.3)
  • Location of the property on a map (4.1)
  • Room sizes (4.0)
  • Floor plans (3.9)
  • Town name (3.8)
  • House number (3.57)
  • Street name (3.57)
  • Room description (3.51)
  • 360° virtual tours (3.4)
  • Information on local services, like shops and schools (3.2)

If homebuyers had one top item on their wish list, it would be seeing a home’s basic floor plan, coupled with plenty of photographs, and interactive (preferably 3D) visual tours of the property when possible.

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HomeGain also took a look at what homesellers wanted from their listing agents. Cost for their services was the number one desire, listed by 29% of the 800 respondents the website surveyed. Having a robust presence on the Internet was also a big issue for sellers, as they presumably want to reach as many potential buyers as possible.

Interestingly, one item that homebuyers listed as a priority – floor plans – was a low priority with homesellers (with 3% of surveyed respondents listing it as a priority). Here are some of the highlights for issues that concern home sellers the most, based on what percentage of those surveyed indicated as most imoportant:

  • Fees (29%)
  • Web presence (21%)
  • Use of virtual tours (13%)
  • Office location (11%)
  • Sales board visibility (9%)
  • Newspaper advertising (8%)
  • Community involvement (6%)
  • Use of floor plans (3%)

Overall, the HomeGain study shows that buyers and sellers aren’t exactly on the same page when it comes to real estate listing priorities. But that’s going to have to change if the transaction process is going to regain its health, study proponents say.

“It’s no surprise that photographs, maps and floor plans were popular with homebuyers,” said Louis Cammarosano, general manager of HomeGain. “It is surprising, however, that a large majority of home sellers did not select agents based on the agent’s specific marketing plans designed to meet buyers’ interests, but rather on the basis of fees and an agent’s office location.”

It seems homesellers would do well to focus on hiring agents who excel at marketing and showing the home to the widest audience. But in real estate, like most other financial venues, you get what you pay for.

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