Exclusive: The Best Agent Guide is back and almost all branches have already been mystery shopped for it

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:

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29 Comments

  1. Jrsteeve

    So how much is first place again?

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    1. DonShore93

      “Whole of market assessment” – um – what’s that little player called? Oh! Google – bless!

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    2. DonShore93

      And ‘We want to provide a platform for the really good agents to say they do an excellent job” and ” a guide for the consumer” – looking like Google reviews again (or is their brand/visibility not strong enough for some agents?).

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  2. Property Poke In The Eye

    Get lost, we don’t need these lot telling us how good we are.

    £1200 plus VAT for a licence?????  £349 plus VAT for a VIP ticket???

    I rather give that to a local charity.

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  3. ArthurHouse02

    As a paying customer of Rightmove, I would like to thank them for passing on certain data to this company without my consent, allowing them to rank my business against my competitors for financial gain!!

    Thankfully my office did fairly well last year. But for those that didnt do that well for whatever reason at least be comforted that the public have no interest or awareness of these awards, and more than likely dont give it the slightest consideration when deciding which estate agent to use.

    Also, what are these plus VAT figures that you mention, pretty sure your costs arent allowed to be displayed that way any more.

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  4. Ric

    I am launching “The Best of the Best Guides” next week.

    See who really are the best rankers in the industry.

    *damn spell check* LOL.

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  5. PepeM

    Presumably, unlike last year, Mr Knight will be declaring a conflict of interest should the winners, by chance, happen be a business with whom he has a direct financial relationship?!

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    1. ArthurHouse02

      And which company is this?

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  6. AgencyInsider

    I do wish Mr Knight would refrain from referring to the consumer as ‘she’. What piece of PC nonsense is this? Use ‘they’.

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  7. Jonty73

    For too long agents have tried to differentiate themselves in their markets by shouting about being the best (says who – your mum or that handful of clients who you’ve delivered what you’re supposed to good service that have said nice things) or more advertising, more branches blah blah boring boring.

    Look at the amount of firms who celebrate a poxy All Agents award – biggest fake review site going, or the agents banging on about being top agent in the Guild etc – means nothing.   If this exercise of Best Estate Agent guide shows the score in the view of the customer and that’s good, I would place good money that plenty of agents will have that plastered across twitter and facebook quicker than it takes a kettle to boil.   Most won’t attend the event and most won’t pay for the package, therefore you’ve had a freebie and stop moaning – yet if last years event is anything to go by, over 1000 agents will be at the main event for a day of learning, self improvement and seeking to be even better – the speaker line up alone and a full day of training was easily worth the ticket price.

    Its your choice what you do when you receive the card in the post saying how well you’ve done – if you don’t believe in it, please don’t be a hypocrite and blitz the whole of social media about how wonderful you are as judged by this independent result.   Oh and if you were lucky enough to win the big accolade and didn’t bother rocking up to the event, I would suggest you will feel like a bit of a fool or maybe your agency isn’t as good as you would like to think it is and in which case you’re in denial.

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    1. ArthurHouse02

      But its not our choice is it? From what i remember last year, you were only able to advertise your “success” if you paid the yearly membership fee.

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      1. Simon Bradbury

        Hi ArthurHouse02,
                                   That is not my understanding. Last year, as this year, any accredited estate agent branches were and will be automatically included the the “Best Estate Agent Guide” at NO CHARGE.
        Quite good value really!

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        1. AgencyInsider

          I have known some beastly agents in my time and it’s great to see there is now a guide to them.

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          1. Simon Bradbury

            Nice oneAgency Insider!! LOL – as the kids say.
            I’ve amended it now.
            Just testing!

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        2. aSalesAgent

          Agents are included in the guide at no charge, but I do not think we are allowed to brag about it (assuming one has a score to be proud of) unless you pay a licensing fee.

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  8. Simon Bradbury

    Whilst I understand the concerns that some agents have in respect of this impressive initiative – I respectfully disagree with previous posters.

    Of course,  the criteria for assessments of this type can always be challenged and queried. Peter Knight has clearly listened to the concerns of agents from last year and has amended some of the areas to be measured – just as he said he would. They seem very fair to me.

    For the record, most of our branches did not feature in the top 20% of agents in the country and therefore did not appear in the “Best Estate Agent Guide 2018” – though some did. I felt that the charge for a licence to promote those of our branches that did appear in the guide was fair and represented great value for a very compelling and unusual marketing message.

    I am very impressed with this entire enterprise and can’t wait to see if any of our branches feature in the final results.

    Thank you Peter to you and your team. Please keep on innovating and challenging our industry!

     

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    1. Rivero

      What?!…”unusual marketing message” – surely ‘we are the best’ is the least unusual marketing message there is!

      “please keep on innovating and challenging our industry” – presumably you mean ‘please continue to collaborate with Rightmove to continue to extract more money from us mug estate agents’?

      Sycophancy is not a good look first thing in the morning.

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      1. Simon Bradbury

        HI Rivero,

        Personally, I think that a marketing message showing an agents performance from a set of identifiable criteria and comparing that to the performance of other agents is unusual – but I appreciate you disagree.

        Also, I would seek to differ in your description and clear perception of…”us mug estate agents”. I generally find most estate agents to be anything other than “mugs” – but I guess there are a few around.

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        1. Rivero

          Isn’t that essentially what GetAgent, NetanAgent, Threebestrated, All Agents, The ESTAS, the British Property Awards, the Negotiator Awards and Rightmove Intel all do?

          You’re right…I use ‘mug’ in a self-deprecating kind of way because we too have previously allowed ourselves to become vulnerable to the whims and price ratcheting of third party companies.

          Any company looking to collate large numbers of estate agents together hope to one day replicate the success of Rightmove or alike…and I think most of us would agree that would not be a good thing.

          What I believe we as agents should do is invest the money saved by not paying third parties to compile (bordering on arbitrary) lists or charts and spend it on improving our offering to the actual paying customer.

          As an industry we never learn, we just keep looking for new rods for our backs.

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  9. smile please

    Oh good more of my employees time has been wasted dealing with fake enquiries and now they want to charge me £1500 to say how well we handled the waste of time enquiry.

    Oh and RM I don’t think I have you permission to release my data to a third party. Oh that’s right it’s in the T&Cs I have no say over. 

     

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    1. Rivero

      Bang on brother

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  10. J1

    At what point did we as consumers of Rightmove invite them to be our judge and jury?

    Awards schemes are first and foremost money making schemes for the organisers.  If you choose not to attend you affect your ability to win anything at all.

    Rightmove should stick to developing its site and be more embracing of new technologies and stop wasting time on judging their clients.

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  11. Sunbeam175

    I was absolutely fuming last year when rightmove were promoting a competitor as ‘the best agent’ in the area due to a Peter Knights Mickey Mouse outfit. When I spoke to Peter he said it was down to 2 mystery shop phone calls and 1 mystery shop email IN A WHOLE YEAR! This doesn’t determine the best agent!  At the time of the mystery shop email we had a computer issue which lasted 3 days which meant we couldn’t access emails and therefore couldn’t respond and I asked about the phone calls but to get the data on the phone calls I had to pay (which I refused to do)!! The agent that won the award is closed Sundays, closes early Saturdays, doesn’t do viewings out of hours, does ‘basic’ floorplans, does lousy photographs, doesn’t understand the price bandings on rightmove, only has one branch and sells 1/5th of what we sell. HOW ON EARTH CAN RIGHTMOVE SUGGEST THE PUBLIC CONTACT THEM INSTEAD OF US?????? This company is A JOKE and we, as decent agents, are spending in excess of £100,000 per year for rightmove to promote, via Peter Knight a RUBBISH AGENT rather than us!!??

    LOVE A RESPONSE FROM PETER KNIGHT ON THIS!!!

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    1. Ostrich17

      So, you outsell a single branch office 5 to 1 – but you spend over £ 100k p.a. on RM ?

      You should take your revenge by cutting out all those extras that the Vampire Portal sold you!

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  12. Sunbeam175

    We spend over £100k between all our branches but in the town I am referring we outsell the other agent at 5/1.

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    1. PeeBee

      Hi Sunbeam1875

      You still watching this thread?

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  13. RedBryan96

    The thing to remember about the industry awards is this, be sure that no one cares as much about the awards as you!!

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  14. Woodentop

    This is nothing more than a commercial venture by Peter Knight to get you to part with your money. The league table is based on limited data, questionable analysis or verified and not requested by the industry or public? Joe public visits to RM allows them to draw their own conclusions on agents standards. How much money is Mr Knight going to make for himself out of this little adventure no-one asked for? It is questionable under BPR and GDPR to not have asked permission of agents names to go on a league table

     

    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.”

     

    Any agent who has been unjustly listed and commercial disadvantged as a result, could sue. If they have covered their backs raises the question of how simplistic and limited the analysis is and does not provide a true rating of any agent on a league table to use, especially with the public. No doubt there will be oodles of small print!

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  15. coleface

    The main issue with this being used as a ‘BEST’ rating has to be the mystery shop element. Any agent with more than one office will have endless battles securing high quality staff. On a good month you might be having a really good run with staff, on a bad month it could all be going pear shaped – no matter how much effort, training and support you are trying to provide the staffing challenge is huge and ever more so these days with the younger population less motivated and driven than ever before.

    You will have a trainee or two in your ranks, You will have a couple who probably wont make the grade. And you will have some rock solid reliable types and the odd superstar.

    Its complete luck of the draw which person gets hit on a mystery shop and the experience the shopper (or a genuine client) receives can be very different based on this. We all know this as business owners and its highly frustrating you cant guarantee the level of quality of every individual, but its the reality of any workplace. Other than assuring courtesy, its by a mile the toughest challenge in running our businesses face to maximize the level of responses.

    As a result to be judged on something that is pure pot luck defeats the very premise of the awards. In no way is a random call on a random day in a given year an accurate reflection of that companies qualities. It also heavily weights in the favour of the smallest practices where the business owner may well pick up the phone.

    All this aside of the huge bias given towards businesses that commit to spend on tickets for events / dinners etc.

    I’d like to believe the awards are well intentioned rather than a pure money making exercise, but that may be naive. Either way they are flawed and therefore difficult to support, despite my enthusiasm for positive news stories about our industry,

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