Unanswered phone calls and ignored emails found during giant mystery shopping exercise of 30,000 branches

Unanswered telephone calls and ignored emails painted a “pretty desperate picture” of the industry during mystery shops of 30,000 branches.

Peter Knight, of the Property Academy, was speaking on Friday at his new venture, EA Masters.

At the event, the first-ever Best Estate Agents Guide was launched to the industry.

In his presentation, Knight referred to earlier criticisms, including those made by posters on EYE.

Knight said he queried some of the motives behind the criticisms, and said: “Quite frankly, some of it is downright lies.”

He detailed the process by which the Best Estate Agents Guide became reality.

He said: “We [the Property Academy] asked Rightmove what consumers want from their agents at the point of instruction.

“What they want is someone who will sell or let their property.”

But a lot of properties don’t sell, said Knight. The starting point of the new Guide was whether the property did actually sell or let.

Knight said the survey showed that some firms – including some high profile ones – “will list anything”. However, deals failed to materialise.

Consumers, said Knight, tended to regard their properties as “special” and wanted “special presentation”.

The concept of the Guide was then mapped out. Knight spoke of the sheer quantities involved in the research, starting with Rightmove’s 26,000 branches; 1m properties listed at any given time; 50m leads; and 36bn property views a year.

In addition, 20,503 consumers had been asked about their experiences of selling, letting and renting.

Rightmove began by interrogating its data of branches.

A ‘longlist’ of the best performing was then given to the Property Academy which led to 30,000 mystery shops.

Each branch was mystery shopped six times for the purposes of the Guide. As a result, 20% were highly rated, 10% were given “excellent” and 5% rated “exceptional”.

Knight also addressed the issue of monetising the Guide. He told delegates that appearing in the Guide is free: however, any that wanted to upgrade, so that their entry stood out, and to use marketing materials, would be able to buy a licence.

The licences – from £100 per month per branch – are being sold from today, when the Guide is also being launched to consumers. The first 500 branches to buy licences will get special deals.

Also from today, there will be adverts for the Guide “all over” Rightmove, and a blog on the portal will be about the Guide, Knight announced.

Knight said the benefits to being in the Guide were threefold.

Agents would be able to prove – not merely claim – they are the best; they will be able to substantiate their fee; and they will be able to generate high quality leads.

Knight said that the exceptional agents have traits which set them apart from the rest: they are enthusiastic, make the customer feel special, price correctly, and have lower fall-through rates.

However, he said that the mystery shopping exercise showed that many agents really could do better: “A total of 12% of calls were not answered – I mean, haven’t these people ever heard of Moneypenny?

“A number did not ask for the caller’s name, and 42% did not give their own name, while 65% did not ask for an email address. A total of 40% of email enquiries were not answered.

“It is a pretty desperate picture,” Knight concluded.


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  1. smile please

    What a waste of time. You have contacted branches six times with no intention to buy or sell.

    Then have the cheek to charge me 100 pounds per month!

    You can tell you work with Rightmove!

  2. Fawkes

    I just tested the search facility on the guide for SE3. The heading states that; ‘There are 337 estate agents in or around se3 .Only the top 20% of estate agents are listed in the Best Estate Agent Guide’

    Approaching 200 then appear from as far afield as Battersea including my personal favourite, a 1 man band operation who are located in ‘London’. It seems to me that in actual fact A) A great many agents appear to do a very good job, as judged by the guide B) What’s the point of appearing in a guide where the choice given to the consumer is so wide?

  3. nextchapter

    REVIEW OF THE NIGHT – The speakers were fantastic. I mean really incredible. Gabby Logan was amazing and so was everything else, APART FROM THE ACTUAL AWARDS themselves!  We fell within the top 5% of Estate Agents and we’re rated exceptional. Whilst I initially thought that was an achievement, I soon discovered some of the awful competition that I receive complaints about constantly also fell within the top 5%. In fact, one Agent I know, with only 1 available lettings property, and a very very small market share for Sales managed to sit within the top 100!!!  I suppose, if you only have one available property on the market, you have all the time in the world to chat away with a mystery shop right?  I don’t like how this awards ceremony did not take many other factors into account!  THEY SHOULD HAVE SPOKEN TO OUR CLIENTS. THEY SHOULD HAVE CONSIDERED THE TYPE OF MARKETING WE DO OUTSIDE OF RIGHTMOVE.  If an Agent only has 5 properties available on Rightmove and 4 have sold, its going to look like a wonderful conversion rate on Rightmove, but they only had 5 available properties in the first place, which means nobody wants to use them.  The awards do not take into account all other forms of marketing and customer service based things we do for clients.   Yes. It’s about customer service for prospective sellers or buyers that call our offices, but it’s mainly about selling a clients home, achieving a record price and helping both buyer and seller through to exchange of contracts as smoothly as possible.   To conclude – GREAT SPEAKERS, AWFUL AWARDS and I know many Estate Agents within the top 5% felt the same way on the night.   It’s now going to be all about upselling the products to all the mediocre Estate Agents that somehow managed to do well.  I will only ever attend this again for th speakers and leave before the awards are handed out.


  4. PV68

    This is because the vast majority of listings are either fake or speculative. In London there are 6 fake listings for every real one. Yet we have to spend ages and check every listing before we find a horse that’s worth viewing. What a waste of time when Rightmove could actually do more …

    1. Neutral

      Hope you can turn that horse into a home when you find it

  5. Tim Higham

    nextchapter – I agree.


    Same with conveyancing ‘awards’ – or more accurately ‘we had to pay to even be considered’ conveyancing awards.

    We have won several but as soon as we found out who else was typically n the top spots – factory outfits who have the worst UK reputation – we could not have our name associated with that/them in the future.

    It also felt bad that to even be considered for the award, you had to pay to enter…they did not come to you/all law firms…..so is misleading the public.



  6. cyberduck46

    >“It is a pretty desperate picture,” Knight concluded.


    This pretty much sums up my own experience with traditional agents over the years.


    Undoubtedly there are some good ones but how does a consumer know? If you stand a good chance of getting a rubbish agent then surely the best approach is to go with an online agent where you pay less and have more control.



    1. dompritch134

      Nail on the head again cyberduck.

      Also I see no article on the 10% share gain on Friday!

    2. FlyingSheep54

      Anecdotal evidence I have heard from a lot of people desperately unhappy with online agents they have used is that they have very little or no control over their listings or sales. Then if they are lucky enough to sell they get palmed off onto the worst conveyancers this country has to offer (and that is saying something) who overcharge enormously to accommodate the kickback payed to the online agent.


      1. cyberduck46

        >Anecdotal evidence I have heard from a lot of people desperately unhappy with online agents they have used is that they have very little or no control over their listings or sales.


        Well I suppose different people have different experiences but as i say my own is pretty much in line with what the article describes in respect of traditional agents and the survey of 30000 branches.


        With online agents I can only speak for PurpleBricks. Their platform allows you to communicate directly with the other party and you have a record of all communication. Before you list, you confirm you are happy with the listing and in my case the LPE came back out to take another photo after we’d made a change to the bathroom. You can change the price using the platform and I’m pretty sure you can modify the description etc. but that has to be approved by the LPE before it will go live.


        Offers come directly to you and you don’t even need to involve the LPE in negotiations if you don’t want to.


        There’s an after sales team who will make enquiries to the buyer’s solicitor and enquire about the chain on your behalf.


        There’s an online chat facility where the people seem to be very helpful and knowledgeable whenever I’ve been in touch and I’ve been in touch with them quite a bit, not just because I’m a customer but because I was researching the company as an investor. You can also receive a transcript copy of your online chat by email.


        All very en-powering and impressive.


        Like I say, my experience with the traditional agents I’ve used, both as a landlord and as a seller of my own and my parents properties, has been pretty much dreadful at times. The first contact is usually good but once you start dealing with the office staff it’s pretty inconsistent. Likewise when I’ve been looking to buy.








        1. AnotherPlanet365

          cyberduck46 – I was looking at your X-Ray and I was “pretty much” unamazed to find that you were entirely Purple all the way through. That finding was “pretty much” consistent with your interactions in life which seem to be “pretty much” Purple.

          I would like to be the 1st to wish you a very Purple Christmas… that should be “pretty much” purplefect for You.

          1. StanLaurel35

            And his favourite film…..The Colour Purple.

            Honestly, words fail me, I would love this guy to spend a couple of weeks in my office trying to chase sales where PB are involved.I have had three cases this year where I have told my vendors to put there property back on the market due to the lack of information from their ‘call centre’ where PB are involved in the chain and I needed sales progression..

            If he was involved in EA he might have a change of opinion..I can only assume he is a shareholder, no one who has regular contact with this company has a good word to say about them

            1. Robert May

              What has been described above is not an estate agency service, it is an internet listing, passive intermediary service, devoid of an agent’s duty of care and skill.

              With that major obligation and come back absent £1000 is quite a lot of money for a few photos and a listing on the portals.

              1. cyberduck46

                >With that major obligation and come back absent £1000 is quite a lot of money for a few photos and a listing on the portals.


                Really? Are you sure that’s all you get?


                >devoid of an agent’s duty of care and skill.


                If you read the above article I think you’ll find what you are talking about is some ideal that nearly all agents are actually devoid of. Of course it sounds good in theory.

  7. smile please

    As an owner i put my hands up to ignoring some emails as and when they come in.

    Somebody from 200 miles away sending an email for a property asking for “Further details”

    Considering we list everything on a property from rental assessment, council tax, stamp duty, school catchment – These are what i term as “Time Wasters”.

    We have enough local movers to service correctly, and those from outside the ask sensible questions or want to view.

    Having a flick through our local “Winners” it is almost laughable. The largest and best (not my company) fail to even get a mention.

    1. FlyingSheep54

      What makes the largest in your area the best? Genuine question as the largest independent in my neck of the woods have an absolutely appalling reputation. They pick up business from people who know no better. I pick up business from them and quite often people who’ve used them in the past and say never again.

      1. smile please

        Largest in my area have 7 offices and the largest market share, They do have some great agents working for them and invest in the offices and branding all the time.

        Whenever we deal with them the chain chasing, although not a pleasure (is it ever?) it easy easier than most. They know their sales.

        As i say, this is not my company, ut a competitors that i feel has it nailed as much as us 😉

  8. CPestateagentesq

    Six “mystery shop” emails, as Smile said, could it one of the “we are looking for a house within 20 miles of *insert Large town”, they tend to be ignored…

  9. AnotherPlanet365

    Where do I start?

    Buyers, Browsers, Timewasters.

    The Customer is NOT always right?

    I’ve been in the business long enough to witness the change in prospective sellers & buyers. I usually manage to effectively assess who I should be spending my valuable time with. Like a shop keeper selling polka dot widgets, every time my physical or virtual door opens I have to assess who to spend time with.

    As we all know there are a huge range of “indicators”, the mature buyer/seller who understands the process, the novice 1st time buyer who needs help, the amateur developer, the “professional” developer, the diyer, the “I’ve watched all the interior design/refurb shows’, the “I know it all” buyer, the “I’m thinking of” and on & on it goes.

    I witness 1st hand what my clients think of my service and whether they appreciate my service, quite a lot don’t know how hard we work for them however that’s okay as that as they say, is life.

    smile please said earlier, the enquiry “further details”. I agree, I get “more details”, “details” and a miriad of other mannerless enquiries. I/we try to service all clients however those with “Stone Age” manners can settle down at the back and wait for someone riding a dinosaur to take their enquiry.

    It’s a sad sign of society that “manners” are being rapidly forgotten in favour of “convenience”.

    So, forgive me, I/we are attentive, professional, courteous, diligent etc with “real” clients, even those with a reserved personality or very little human interaction skills however when it comes to Timewasters the clue is in the word! Sometimes we get it wrong, rather like when a client chooses the wrong estate agent, however for those seeking to actually buy or sell we work hard.

    The cost of Proptech today is that Timewasters can waste our time much more easily. That’s a shame because it diverts resources from the real clients.

    Amazon, Ebay, McDonalds etc all serve their clients a particular way and that’s fine however those that wish to assess our business need to understand that there are Buyers, Browsers & Timewasters, and yes, I know, they may well be customers of tomorrow, however have you considered I may not want them as a customer?

    Here’s a thought, whilst the Estate Agency & Lettings Business is constantly asked to assess and improve itself, what about this revolutionary tip for some of those people who emerge from their caves to enquire “details?”. Let’s start with “Hi, I’m looking for some additional detail about this property please – which way does the rear garden face for the sun? Thanks, (Jenny, John, Fred whatever).

    And let’s all remember that every time we interact with another human, manners really don’t cost a single penny.

  10. LocalLens

    It cuts both ways.  I agree about the vague enquiries via email.    No address details, no information on requirements or situation.  Cannot got hold of the ‘applicant’ either by phone or email.  Having been doing this for over 25 years now, I find that the common denominator of a really good enquiry is where the applicant readily gives you all the information you need to know to help them find the right property.  All those “its for a friend” “budget?  …… depends”  “do you have a property to sell?  ….. depends” tend not to be very worthwhile!

  11. samzawadzki48

    Well there are tools out there to help agents with this…


    Olivia – https://www.getolivia.co/

    LeadPro – http://propertytechnology.co.uk/

    Callwell – http://callwell.co.uk/


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