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.