Estate agents are among the least-trusted professionals

Simon Leadbetter

Estate agents are among the least-trusted professionals in the UK, ranking below both bankers and private landlords, new research shows.

According to the 2023 Ipsos Veracity Index, trust in estate agents remains low at just 28%, positioning them fifth from the bottom among professions.

This unchanged result indicates a persistent public wariness toward estate agents, underscoring a vital area for the industry to address.

Despite fluctuations in trust across various professions, the estate agency’s consistent placement near the lower end of the spectrum suggests a significant opportunity for the profession to rebuild and enhance public confidence.

Knowing these annual results were coming conducted a survey between 8 December and 12 December 2023, with a sample size of 2,000 UK adults, unveiling nuanced perceptions of trust towards estate and letting agents nationwide.

The data indicates that most UK adults exhibit much higher levels of trust towards agents if they dealt with one, with 61% trusting them to a certain degree and 15% expressing high trust. 28% of adults have never interacted with an estate or letting agent.

Demographic insights reveal that trust levels vary notably across age groups, with younger adults (18-34 years) displaying the highest trust at 75% and 25% trusting agents a lot’ or ‘completely.’ This contrasts with the over 55 age group, where only 53% express some level of trust, and 13% trust agents a lot or completely. Trust declines with age.

The South West and East of England are leading the way regionally, with 67% and 66% of respondents expressing trust, respectively, followed closely by London at 65%. On the city scale, Southampton, Norwich, and Leeds top the list with 73%, 71%, and 66% trust levels. In contrast, the North East has the lowest regional trust level at 52%.

Among cities, Brighton exhibits the least trust at 52%, with Newcastle and Sheffield also reflecting lower trust levels at 53% and 54%.

These findings suggest significant regional and urban variances in public perception that could be reflective of local market conditions or the quality of service provided by the estate and letting professionals.

Homeownership status further influences trust, with 59% of outright owners and 73% of those with a mortgage trusting agents, compared to 65% of private tenants expressing trust in their letting agent. This suggests that the type of property ownership may impact the frequency and quality of agent interactions.

Simon Leadbetter, who has over two decades of global corporate experience working with a number of well-known estate agency brands, is the founder of He said: “Our findings present a complex picture of trust in the real estate industry.

“The IPSOS Mori results are the annual occasion for the industry to flagellate itself for low trust. But it is much more nuanced than that. Just as people dislike politicians collectively, they often trust their local MP if they have dealt with them. The same applies to estate and letting agents.

“So, we asked, ‘Thinking about your most recent interaction with an estate or letting agent, to what extent did you trust them to work in your best interest?’

“The differences in trust levels, especially when viewed through the lenses of age, geography, and homeownership status, underscore the need for the industry to address these discrepancies and build stronger relationships with all population segments.

“Our study also revealed a very low level of distrust in estate and letting agents across every demographic segment and region of the UK population. Notably, 15% of individuals aged 35 to 54 report a complete lack of trust in these professionals. Areas like the South East expressed the highest levels of distrust at only 17%.

“Individual estate and letting agents are doing okay, but the industry has a reputation issue.”



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  1. Robert_May

    Resentment and blame is the driver for the numbers, until there’s a perfect home for everyone who wants at least 1 home there will be someone who’s missed out and wants someone to deflect they were the ones who missed out.

    330 people view each home listed on the portals. 264 people are unique visitors to that one property, about 50 people will be seriously interested, 10 will view, a couple might offer but only 1:330 people who’ve shown an interest in a property will get to move in. The rest need someone to blame someone who got in their way, someone who dashed their dreams.

    the very definition of agency, the case laws that shape agency all have agents taking on the role of the one to take the flack

    1. jan-byers

      Ah yes so itisn all the public’s fault !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      When I was an agent I had to sack 3 people from memory for telling massive whappers to vendors or buyers.
      God knows how many I did not find out about.
      As a vendor I have been lied to to an amazing degree by an agent whose buddy wanted to buy my house.
      As a developer I have had agents hugely overvalue my proprties to try to get an instruction.
      I have had countelss calls not retiren or emails responded to.
      Go into an estate agents office and you will probably see kids who have never bought a house so have no idea.
      Last year there was a report that said the average agents salary is less than 30k
      These are just not profesional people.
      Agency is an admin job – put a photo on rm and wait for an e mail.

      1. Ric

        “Go into an estate agents office and you will probably see kids who have never bought a house so have no idea”

        Yeh, all kids are ****, they should only work in a field they have experience in… In fact, lets abolish birth, and wipe out the chance of these pesky kids learning a career.

        You wanna try motivational speaking Jan…

      2. htsnom79

        @ ” I’m a developer don’t you know ” , can you do us the courtesy that we extend to lawyers and try not to bother us on a Friday?

  2. Chris Arnold

    Isn’t it time we ditched these irrelevant and misleading surveys?

    People’s opinions change on a daily basis and are dependent on how the question is phased. The answers are always subjective.

    This industry as a whole remains incapable of fixing the problem because it persistently promotes Competence ahead of Character.

    People aren’t interested in brands, what or how well those brands do what they do – they’re interested in Who the people are behind the brand and whether there is affinity.

  3. The Sussex Idler

    It’s the public I find untrustworthy – not my colleagues.

    1. MrManyUnits

      You must be living under a cloud, I’ve seen more brown envelopes changing hands than you can shake a stick at.

      1. Ric

        Are you an Estate Agent? @MrManyUnits?

        Seen lots from the same company person / lots from different companies and different people or you’ve taken lots?

        If you’ve seen lots, and can prove it – whistle blow and help stamp it out!

      2. Robert_May

        Out of interest what did you do on each of those occasions?

      3. jan-byers

        Brown enveoples are endimic in the business

        1. Ric

          Seems to me, brown envelopes and staff members fibbing has been close to you…

          I would worry if all the staff who have ever worked for me, did not grasp the first and most simple instruction: Tell the truth, you are the messenger. Lie and mindful you have NO idea who you are fibbing to, and the consequence of getting caught is simple… you’re out.

          Stems from Owners, down through management to the front line… if you set targets and create unhealthy competition or stress, you probably create a liar…

      4. The Sussex Idler

        I’ve been offered one in 20 plus years and immediately reported it to my Director. If you guys honestly think (or know) it’s endemic you should have reported these people immediately. To not do so is shameful.

        1. Ric

          My guess is 99% are as decent as you… Jan unfortunately has managed all the offices with the other 1% in.

    2. surrey1

      100%. When you get gazumped a week down the line, gazundered on exchange, the chain collapses after months for spurious reasons, the chain suddenly gets longer, it ain’t the agents. Just convenient to shoot the messenger.

  4. Ric

    Has anyone done a survey on “How trustworthy to EA’s find people”

    75% of valuations are listing within 1 to 3 months – NEVER go on with anyone.
    99% of buyers who insist on getting a viewing quickly it is their dream home – NEVER offer.

    The list is endless.

    If I was allowed to show files and air call recordings, some might understand why EA’s have a slightly sceptical view on what we are told and why perhaps people have the opinion they do.

    The question should be “Have you ever been lied to and can prove it by an Estate Agent”

    1. jan-byers

      Er YES

      1. Ric

        byers are liars is the endemic

        ffs sorry, sticky “u” button…

        buyers are liars is an endemic

        (Smile, I’m playing…)

  5. Malcolm Egerton

    Hardly surprising – in our area we have the usual 20+ agents, almost all of whom are cherry-picking happy clients to post reviews to Google, which, by now, everyone in the business should know is illegal. I suppose it does help us, as we win instructions when this is pointed out. The public are not keen on working with law-breakers, it appears.

  6. Rob Hailstone

    Back in the 70s and 80s, I saw plenty of brown paper bags changing hands. Agents with re furbs or probate properties would phone up their builder contacts as soon as a property became available. Timber and damp companies handed cash over regularly for the work. I even knew solicitors who handed over bags of cash. That was 20th century behaviour. I don’t know how much of the above behaviour still goes on (if any), but if an agent offer to sell properties for free, what will the public think. They know the agent must get paid somehow, and even thought it won’t be via brown paper bags, will that payment be 100% transparent? Regulation surely has to be the way forward?

    1. Ric

      As we know, any income earned outside of the fee on a property needs to e declared anyway on the Agency Agreement, so A free Fee, MUST have “we might earn X, Y or Z from A, B or C” and that is regulation…

      I suspect if someone got paid by the buyer or developer, that would be 100% something you would have to declare, and question anyway who the agent is actually working for.

      Strike/PB must have a contract which declares why Free is not Free I assume?

  7. Matthew Gardiner Legge

    Assuming the major corporates have the largest market share then it’s safe to assume that the public’s poor perception is mostly shaped by their experiences with these companies. My two and a half years working for one of the Connells brands was a real eye opener so I speak from experience. It was no secret that formal complaints to management regarding aggressive salespeople pushing mortgages/conveyancing services meant to them that the negs were doing their jobs properly. I think very little has changed.

    Brown envelopes, in over thirty years, never seen one, never had one, never heard of anyone getting one.

    Unusually in this instance, I find myself in agreement with some of Mr/Ms Byers comments.

    1. Ric

      I think the “endemic” comment is clearly an over exaggeration though, considering you (like me and others) have clocked up 30 years + and never seen one, had one or nor heard of anyone getting one.

      But you touch on the most valid point: It is the Corps (in the main) who set targets and play the Negotiator Performance table game, which just creates a level of competition where some will do anything to “be the winner”….

      My time at Countrywide in 1990’s which I have mainly fond memories of TBF was still based on, tell them anything you can to get their bums in front of the FS person. (I didn’t, hence left for the Indep world to be me)

      Still someone would walk in the office looking for the nearest Cash Machine, and you would be like “Just sit there I will ask my colleague who will come and tell you” – 60 minutes later, no cash machine needed… they had borrowed the money over 25 years” with Nationwide who paid the best Proc fees, closely followed by Abbey National.

    2. Retiredandrelaxed

      My experience (30 plus years in agency, starting in the early 80’s) is exactly the same as Mr Legge’s.

      The only “brown envelope” I ever encountered was when a seller thrust £50 into my pocket because he was so pleased that we had agreed a sale for him within a few days. Because the sale was only just agreed, I felt awkward about it and reported it straight away to my Director, similarly to The Idler. (Happily, the sale exchanged fairly quickly so we felt able to keep the thank you gesture!)

      Businesses take their lead from their owners/Directors, as Ric states – in my case our boss (HAF) would never have condoned such behaviour, which would have led to being immediately out on one’s ear.

      I can’t speak for other agents in our town but there was never really any talk of the proverbial brown envelopes being part of the culture. Maybe I was just lucky to work in a fairly “clean” area.

  8. northernlandlord

    It’s just not fair! I am sure that like me private landlords are gutted that we didn’t make it to the number one spot at Christmas this year. Well never mind, if the anti-landlord rhetoric continues through 2024 we can have high hopes to be next year’s Christmas number one.

    1. The Sussex Idler

      There’s still time!

  9. Gangsta Agent

    maybe they don’t trust people who call it the real estate industry

    1. Simon Leadbetter

      What like the UK Government, ONS and everyone outside the industry?

  10. Simon Leadbetter

    It’s a fascinating debate here.

    What seems to have been slightly lost between the punchy headline and the content (nothing to do with me as my suggestion was the somewhat less pithy “UK Adults Show Varied Trust in Estate and Letting Agents, Reveals Two New Surveys”) was HOW MUCH trust people have in the individual estate and letting agents they deal with in real life.

    Ipsos asked about generic trust in all estate agents to tell the truth. Fair enough, they ask about 31 professions and have done so since 1983. We asked a different question that was more connected with the EEA1979, “Thinking about your most recent interaction with an estate or letting agent, to what extent did you trust them to work in your best interest?”

    Every demographic, every region, every city, and every home tenure has a lot more trust than distrust. The lowest level of trust was 75%, who felt trust from ‘completely’ to ‘slightly’. Conversely, distrust (“I didn’t trust them at all”) peaked at 25%.

    As an industry, these results are good.

    1. Robert_May

      so the people you targeted were all confirmed as agents’ clients? An agent’s primary duty of care is to their principal so asking buyers whether agents the agent was working in their best interest is a loaded question with an expected no answer


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