Buyers are sellers are less happy with their real estate companies than ever, according to J.D. Power and Associates. But there are a couple of notable caveats.

The company’s 2012 Home Buyer/Seller Satisfaction Study (released last week) found that overall satisfaction among home buyers was rated at 789 out of a 1,000 — just call it 78.9 percent satisfied; among sellers, satisfaction was at 768/1000, or 76.8 percent.

Both numbers are down from 2011, and both are at their lowest level in history. (Although “history” only means the past five years.)

Here’s what the company measured:

  • For buyers: agent/salesperson; office; and variety of additional services.
  • For sellers: agent/salesperson; marketing; office; and variety of additional services.

So what’s the deal? J.D. Powers says (via Christina Cooley, senior manager of the real estate practice):

[C]ustomer expectations are not being met, either in terms of sellers having to compromise on their listing price, or for buyers who are compromising on the home’s condition and size.

What’s particularly interesting is that people feel a lot more loyal to a real estate company than to a particular agent:

[C]ustomer loyalty is stronger toward the real estate company than toward the agent. [Fewer] than 20 percent of customers say they “definitely will” switch real estate companies if their agent moves to another company.

Of course, perception and reality often differ. This sentence may speak volumes: “On average, sellers report receiving 89 percent of their listing price.

First of all, you don’t need to ask sellers to report anything — that information is in the MLS, and in the past year sellers in Virginia have received between 97.2% and 98.3% of their asking price.

In other words, don’t trust people to do the math themselves. Unfortunately, because they believethey’re getting a lot less than they ask, they’re unsatisfied with their agents.

Lesson: Manage client expectations.

And click here to read more from J.D. Power — including links to ratings for some specific companies.