A huge majority of sellers do not bother to read reviews before appointing an agent – and there is enormous scepticism about the reviews themselves.
Only 2% trust them completely, 19% to a greater extent, 72% to some extent, and 7% don’t trust them at all.
The Home Movers Survey to which over 25,500 agents’ customers – sellers, landlords and tenants – contributed answers, shows that only 24% of agency customers overall read reviews before choosing an agent; 24% did read reviews; and 6% could not remember.
The proportion of landlords reading reviews before asking an agent for a rental valuation falls to just 12%.
Where reviews were read, most (42%) were on Google, followed by agents’ own website (36%), Trustpilot (11%), allAgents (6%) and Feefo (2%).
For most people (47%), the reviews did not influence their choice of agent. Some 395 were influenced by the reviews, and 14% couldn’t remember.
Most customers (65%) were not asked by their agent to recommend or review them, and 80% did not leave any reveiew
The survey also shows an uncertain level of satisfaction among sellers: less than half (48%) would use the same agent again; 29% would not; and 23% don’t know.
A proportion (17%) of those who have sold within the last year, or still have a property on the market, have changed agents, and 13% of those still trying to sell their home are considering changing agents.
Most sellers would not consider letting their property instead (85%) and, strikingly, most considered their property to be either average (53%) or better than average (42) compared with neighbouring homes.
Chains are a nightmare for most (74%); only 25% visited the office of the selling agent before instructing them, although 51% did pay a visit during the sales process. Some 22% never visited the agent’s office, and 2% said “My agent doesn’t have an office”.
While this suggests very low take-up of online agents, over a quarter (27%) said they had paid, or were paying, their agent a fixed fee. The largest percentage (32% of the sample) paid 1%.
The huge dominance of the market by Rightmove also emerges in the survey: 85% of sellers place being on Rightmove as the most important marketing tool, followed by Zoopla at 10%, OnTheMarket at 5% and PrimeLocation at 3%.
So, why did sellers choose the agent they went with?
Fees barely came into it, with just 19% choosing an agent based on the lowest fee; by contrast, 86% chose the agent on their marketing ability; 78% because they liked and trusted the agent; 76% because they were pleased with the valuation; and 72% on reputation.
Customers are also relatively unimpressed by proptech, with 80% saying they do not believe technology will transform estate agency.
The tenant survey also showed that a large majority (62%) rent because they have no choice, and not for lifestyle reasons.
This part of the survey also highlights worries for agents, with under a quarter of tenants rating agents as excellent in a number of areas, including communication. Interestingly, not one of the tenants surveyed said they had not been charged some kind of fee.