Agents have been warned that their profession will never be trusted by the public as long as they continue to badmouth rivals.
Geoff Baldwin, chairman of the Certified Practicing Real Estate Agent association, said the industry has to accept responsibility for the low approval ratings it receives on trust surveys.
Mr Baldwin said nothing would change until agents stop rubbishing each other in an attempt to gain commercial advantage.
“How can we blame the public for their lack of respect and trust in our profession when many of us continue to propagate negative information about our competitors at appraisals, listing presentations, during negotiations or in general conversation?” he said.
It is rare for lawyers, doctors or accountants to attack rivals, yet it happens all the time in real estate, according to Mr Baldwin.
“In other professions, when a member of the public expresses their dissatisfaction about a competitor, it is met with suggestions on how to move forward rather than agreement or reinforcement of their negative opinions,” he said.
Mr Baldwin said negative agents actually do themselves a disservice because most clients respond poorly to such behaviour.
“Of course, there will be times when the actions of a competitor will upset us, but it is important that we restrict discussion around these disagreements to those involved rather than making them a public or even an industry debate,” he said.
“There is never a good reason to rubbish a fellow agent publically or even to agree with an aggrieved client of a competitor, and until such behaviour ceases our industry will always rate lowly in the public perception stakes.”