Estate agents are among the least-trusted professionals

Estate agents are among the least-trusted professionals in the UK, ranking below both lawyers and traffic wardens, new research shows. 

The study from homebuying platform, YesHomebuyers, found that just 1% of people think that agents are trustworthy as a profession. This means agents are considered less trustworthy than lawyers (3%) and traffic wardens (2%) and are on an equal footing with some of society’s biggest white-collar villains: bankers (1%).

The only professionals that the UK public considers less trustworthy than estate agents are politicians. In fact, not a single respondent declared any amount of trust for the UK’s politicians.

When it comes to the qualities that build the most trust with the public, honesty (67%), knowledge (15%), and respectfulness (8%) are the most important. Three qualities that are increasingly difficult to apply to politicians after a difficult sociopolitical year.

Matthew Cooper, founder and managing director of Yes Homebuyers, commented: “There’s no doubt that the pandemic has impacted the way we feel about certain professions in society with those working tirelessly on the front line by far the most respected and trusted by the public. In contrast, those at the helm have fared far worse and you can’t really blame the public for having this perception of politicians generally, let alone based on their handling of the pandemic.

“It’s perhaps more surprising to see estate agents are still getting such a rough deal. The stamp duty holiday has caused a huge influx of buyers and the nation’s army of estate agents have been the ones working tirelessly to facilitating these sales despite huge market backlogs building at the back end of the transaction process.

“Of course, as the human touchpoint for many buyers and sellers, they’re always going to get it in the neck despite the great work they’ve been doing.”

Survey of 1,174 of the UK population carried out by YesHomebuyers on 18th March 2021:

Which of the following do you most associate with trust?
Answer Respondents
Honest 67%
Knowledgeable/intelligent 15%
Respectful/courteous 8%
Compassionate 4%
Hardworking 3%
Communicative 3%
Heroic 1%
Which of these professions do you trust the most?
Answer Respondents
Medical professionals 51%
Scientists 24%
Teachers 12%
Police 7%
Lawyers 3%
Traffic wardens 2%
Bankers 1%
Estate Agents 1%
Politicians 0%
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17 Comments

  1. julianodell

    Although Eye’s article states “just 1% of people think that agents are trustworthy as a profession”, the stats at the end actually relate to the question “Which of these professions do you trust the most?” Whilst a 1% rating in response to that question is nothing to be proud of, it does NOT mean only 1% of respondents trust agents, merely that our profession is not the one that is most trusted. On that basis, I can only assume that the 12 people (1% of 1174 respondents) who think agents are the “most trusted” might have been agents themselves.
    A more appropriate yardstick is MORI’s annual Veracity Index which gave agents a response rating of 27% to the question “Would you generally trust the following professions to tell you the truth?” Still not a great rating, but significantly higher than 1%.
    As someone who trains trustbuilding and recognises that trust is the essential ingredient at the heart of every successful estate agency interaction, I find it frustrating and unfair that the myth of mistrust still continues and is a stigma that is hard to shake off. Polls like this (and crucially the misleading headlines) relating to them don’t help.
    Mark Twain’s words seem appropriate…“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.

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    1. AndSotheStoryBegan

      How are you getting agents to earn trust, Julian? Is that working for them? In my opinion, competence doesn’t earn trust for agencies. There’s more than enough competent agents. Encouraging agents to be “better”, more communicative and, as one of your competitors’ says, “charming”, won’t work. The vendors have already told themselves a ‘story’ before the agent even sets foot in the door. Breaking those limiting beliefs can’t be achieved in the space of an hour. 

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      1. julianodell

        Too big a subject to provide a concise response here, but trustbuilding definitely makes a difference in all key areas of an agency’s business. It certainly worked in our agency over many years and was central to our mission statement, objectives and much of our marketing. The continuing perceived lack of trust in the industry generally means it is relatively straightforward to be the beacon in a mass of mediocrity. Can’t see how any agent cannot recognise the link between trustbuilding capability and business levels.

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    2. Whaley

      Great point Julian

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    3. jatinder77

      I do not seem it be correct but still if it is stated it would have the sense. There are few real estate agents for whom all of the others are also getting trapped. there are a lot of agents who work with enthusiasm and provide a quality service. you may also check out the case study of Leasehold Valuation Slough who is an honest chartered surveyor from the UK. They even served contactless in the pandemic situation and also provided with desktop valuations of the properties that were in need of.

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  2. AlwaysAnAgent

    According to the public I’m only slightly more trustworthy than Matt Hancock. Do we really tell that many lies?

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  3. Robert_May

    Yay lets ask  the 332 people who are interested any particular property what they think about the agent who disappoints  97% of them that they’re not in a position to afford or buy the property so can’t view.

     

    Then ask  90% of the 3 % who get to  have a look round what they think of the agent who advises their client that their offer isn’t the best offer received.

     

    As only  1:332 (0.3%) of the people who might be interested in viewing or buying any one property can buy it it is natural people will always be resentful towards the agent who has sided with someone else.

     

    Veracity indexes are self confirming reports on people who’ve missed out, envy and resentment

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    1. AndSotheStoryBegan

      Robert, that logic still applies to other Professions. As Julian O’Dell rightly implies, negative headlines fuel the fire. It’s negativity that media owners seek and the solution is not to rage against the problem, but to embrace it and fix it. 

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  4. AndSotheStoryBegan

    There’s many an agency claiming to be honest, trusted and expert – without ever providing evidence from what they say and, importantly, who they are. Transparency is pre-requisite for trust and that requirement scares away most agencies that prefer to deal in confusion, hazy and complex. There’s opportunity for any agency to build category leadership – the category of trust, but most prefer to lead with cheapest, awareness, skilled, biggest, or best.

    The poor perception of estate agency, as a sector, will remain until such time as individual agencies take it upon themselves to provide a crystal clear vision of Who they are and What they believe. Only by doing that will they stand out as different, rather than fitting in to the commodity. I’m not holding my breath.

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  5. Whaley

    I’M NOT HAVING THAT !!!

     

    NO ONE IS DISPLACING ‘PROPTECH’ FROM OUR MUCH VAUNTED BOTTOM SPOT, NO ONE!!!

     

     

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    1. Robert_May

      Oi!!!! 9620 days in this job and just 2 complaints  ( a crook from Worcester who didn’t like me not liking him nicking client money and an old chap in Norwich who was too old to start a lettings agency and didn’t like me reminding him of that when he wanted a refund because Lettings is for youngsters)
       
      Proudly professional thank you very much!

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  6. scruffy

    Does anyone see a link between our industry’s trustworthiness and referral fees?
    No better example of the conflict between greed and reputation.

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    1. jan - byers

      100%

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  7. Charlie Lamdin

    We voted for every politician we have so we only have ourselves to blame if we don’t trust them!

    This story and survey is deeply unhelpful clickbait. If you surveyed 332 sellers, you would get a different result.

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  8. Russell121

    Even if agents had found a cure for Covid they would still be seen in a negative light. It’s an ingrained stereotype like any other.

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  9. RuralAgent

    My son is in the process of trying to buy a property.  At the viewing he was greeted by the agent (who got the time wrong) saying he didn’t expect the vendor to be in but if he is tell him it is a second viewing as that’s what we have told him as he was about to change agents.  So basically telling us they have lied and we expect you to do the same!  Minority makes bad for majority!

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  10. Woodentop

    We are a service industry. Do poor service and it stands out and mud sticks. However are we  really that bad at our jobs? Yep some will be, as in any industry but the last I spoke to anyone on this subject the worst pre Covid for ‘service’ was …. the health service and medical experts and trusts being sued left right and centre for malpractice and quickly followed by the police.

     

    Therefore is this article about trust only or about service?  The percentages are a nonsense in any event to be of any value worth considering out of a population of over 66 million and is also dependent on how the questions are choreographed.

     

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