Every single agency branch that lists on Rightmove has already been mystery shopped as part of this year’s Best Agent Guide awards, founder Peter Knight has revealed.
Altogether, some 17,600 branches list on Rightmove. Other non-Rightmove agents have also been mystery shopped.
The Best Agent Guide awards – which replaced the Sunday Times-backed Estate Agency and Lettings Agency of the Year in 2017 – have returned for a second year and Knight, of organisers at the Property Academy, unveiled a range of changes in an exclusive video interview with EYE.
Knight told EYE that all agents on Rightmove are assessed using data on what is important to consumers such as the number of photos, whether a floorplan is displayed and how long a property took to go under offer.
The winners will be announced at the EA Masters conference in October, which will run over two days rather than the previous one-day event.
Each branch and agency brand has already been assessed based on its patch and compared with its peers, rather than against a national average.
The Property Academy then receives the scores from Rightmove and combines it with its own mystery shop – amounting to 50,000 reviews – that looks at issues such as how fast agents answer the phone and how well callers feel their queries were answered.
Last year, the Property Academy mystery shopped the top 40% of branches based on their performance in the Rightmove data analysis but this year the mystery shopping exercise has taken in all the Rightmove agents.
The combined scores allow the top 20% to be identified and categorised as “Exceptional”, “Excellent” or “Highly Rated.”
This year’s awards will also mention market share and give a rating to brands as well as individual branches.
Knight told EYE that he felt going whole of market in the assessment made the awards fairer.
He said: “It’s a whole of market assessment. No one needs to do anything, we publish the guide, everyone assessed appears in it for free, there is no charge or interview process, it is whole of market.”
All types of agents, from high street to online and hybrid, have been assessed, Knight added.
The shortlist will be revealed this month and the winners announced at the EA Masters event on October 11.
Unlike previous years, the EA Masters event – held at the Intercontinental 02 Hotel – will be held over two days on October 11 and 12.
The first day will involve a masterclass with Australia’s number one agent, Alexander Phillips, and one with Peter Fuller, responsible for over 30 acquisitions for Romans, who will talk about how to prepare for the biggest sale of your life.
The next day, more than 1,000 of the best agents in the country will assemble for the EA Masters conference and exhibition followed by the Best Estate Agent Guide awards, hosted by Gabby Logan.
This will feature seminars and a series of talks as well as the unveiling of the Best Agent Guide and awards for the sector’s best suppliers, as voted by estate agents.
Tickets for the event cost £199 plus VAT to attend the first-day masterclass and the same to attend the exhibition on the second day.
Those wanting to attend both the exhibition and the awards ceremony will pay £299 plus VAT or £349 plus VAT for a VIP ticket.
Agents included in the guide can purchase a licence so that they can use marketing material, but there is no requirement for them to do this or attend the event to be a winner. Like last year, branches will be charged £1,200 plus VAT to upgrade to an enhanced entry and receive a marketing pack.
Knight added: “Once we come up with the assessment and grade agents, they can, if they wish to, purchase a licence as well as having an enhanced listing in the guide.
“They don’t have to do it.
“The feedback we have had is when people ask why should I use you, they can say they have been independently assessed as one of the best in their location. We are told this can be a determining factor.”
The guide is monetised by licence sales and Knight said there was positive take-up of licences last year but insisted the figures were “commercially sensitive”.
He also defended criticism of Rightmove’s involvement in the process, with some agents questioning the portal’s role last year, adding: “Rightmove have been a fantastic partner, involved from day one in the old awards.
“When it comes to this assessment, at no point have we ever received the data, we compare our consumer research with just their scores.”
You can watch the full 30-minute interview below: