Agents remain bottom of most trusted list

To improve public perception of the real estate industry, agents need to create a culture of higher expectations, one industry leader has said.

When clients start demanding more, the industry will offer better service to meet that demand, Ben White, non-executive director of Ray White, said.

“I want to improve the perception that exists around agents,” he told Real Estate Business, “and that can be done with a culture of higher expectations – we want our landlords to start demanding more from property managers.

“The only thing that holds back our best agents is the perception created by the bad agents.”

Roy Morgan Research recently conducted a poll on how 30 different professions were perceived by the public and found that, once again, the real estate industry was almost bottom of the list, at 28.

Similarly, on the 2011 list of Australia’s Most Trusted Professions compiled by Readers Digest Australia, real estate agents sat close to the bottom. At number 42 out of 45, agents are less trusted than sex workers, journalists or taxi drivers, but sit above politicians and telemarketers.

According to award-winning agent and real estate branding expert Peter Hutton, there is a reason for this: “Real estate agents simply don’t understand the definition of trust – that it depends upon the feeling of certainty the agent gives to the prospective seller in regard to selling their property,” he said.

Mr White, however, disagrees and believes perception surveys are based on old stereotypes that do not reflect accurately the modern real estate industry.

“Every day, thousands of Australians trust their homes with real estate agents and property managers,” Mr White said. “Unfortunately, you can’t vouch for everyone in the industry but the majority of agents are hard working.

“However, there is a way to go still, and as an industry, we need to lift standards so the bad agents fall out the bottom.”

According to Mr White, this “lift” in industry standards started at the 2012 Wealth Conference held on the Gold Coast in May.

More than 650 property managers, principals and specialists attended the event, including over 150 non-Ray White delegates.

“It was a great event, it was great to see so many people from the broader industry there and 2013 is going to be even better,” he said.

Next year’s event, scheduled to be held at the same location in August 2013, will focus on changing the “culture of expectation”.

“Over the next 12 months my team will be answering the all important question: How do we change the perception of the real estate industry?

“We would love to hear from anybody that would like to change our industry as well,” Mr White said.

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