Agents responsible for poor reputation

In order to improve the negative image that is often associated with real estate agents the industry needs to improve from within, according to the participants of the Real Estate Business Executive Roundtable.

“I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. We’re probably the masters of our own destiny in this regard,” Geoff Baldwin, managing director of RE/MAX WA, said.

“We are probably the ones that are most responsible for our reputation. If you want to find someone saying bad things about real estate agents, where do you go? A real estate agency.”

According to Mr Baldwin, agents need to resist being involved in negative communication with potential clients.

“We want to call ourselves professional and be part of a profession but we participate constantly in this competitive conversation that involves knocking our fellow agents,” he said.

According to a survey commissioned by LEDA Real Estate, more than half of the participants said they did not trust real estate agents. The survey was based on residents in Sydney.

LEDA Real Estate founder Barry Goldman said the survey was a wake-up call for business owners in the real estate sector to start putting a real focus on customer service and satisfaction.

“What we are starting to see is a new generation of tech-savvy buyers and sellers that will no longer be willing participants to the propaganda that still exists within the industry,” he said.

“It is not hard to find the real cost of things these days, and never before has so much information been available at the touch of a screen about a prospective property.”

Interestingly, the survey also revealed that 57 per cent of people across the city also felt that real estate agents did not go above and beyond when it came to being proactive, marketing and advertising properties.

Peter Hanscomb, CEO at Belle Property, said the industry's integrity is a major issue and says principals need to start with their own offices at the grassroots.

“It’s an issue in the industry and that is why every single person who is involved in a transaction with us is surveyed by a third party company,” he told the Roundtable.

“So not only are our people aware of that accountability and that responsibility, they’re now getting detailed feedback. I’ve seen a very significant change in the attitude of all the staff, whether it’s front desk, administrators, property managers, new business managers, salespeople. Everyone knows that they’re accountable for what they do.”

CEO of hockingstuart Nigel O’Neil points to the commission fee structure as the main reason real estate agents seem to be labelled negatively.

“We have a fee for success model in real estate where the sales agent doesn’t get paid until that property is sold,” he said.

“I think there’s always going to be that challenge around trust in our profession. So I think, fundamentally, for the trust issue to be overcome beyond accountability, there’ll have to be a shift away from a fee-for-success and a fee-for-service model.”

Other participants at the Real Estate Business Executive Roundtable included Georg Chmiel, CEO at LJ Hooker, Andrew Cocks, executive director at Richardson&Wrench, general manager of Laing+Simmons Leanne Pilkington, CENTURY 21 CEO Charles Tarbey and Douglas Driscoll, CEO at  of Starr Partners.

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