Written in the stars: report reveals ratings matter most for estate agents
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Estate agents should pay close attention to ratings as Feefo reveals the majority of young property hunters rely on online reviews
You wouldn’t see a film, book a table at a restaurant or even get in an Uber without reading the reviews first, so it stands to reason that the modern day estate agent might need to start thinking about that five star rating.
By analysing the views of 1,152 agency users, global ratings and customer insights company Feefo has revealed that 70 per cent of respondents aged between 25 to 34 rely on reviews to choose an agent, although just 10 per cent wholly trusted what they read.
Overall, 56 per cent said they had at least read reviews before deciding on an agent. Reviews were most crucial for the 16-24 age group in which 24 per cent said they were most important, whilst only 4% of over 55s said they were crucial. The star rating and the tone and language used in the written review were all scrutinised by savvy agent seekers.
“As the younger generations enter the property market, estate agents will be increasingly judged through online reviews,” says Matt West, CMO of Feefo. “Yet trust in the reviews themselves is evidently very important to these savvy consumers. Estate agents should therefore consider ways to guarantee that legitimate and transparent reviews are readily available to potential customers.”
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There’s good news for agents as 88 per cent of consumers said they were satisfied with the service they had received from the last agent they used, 52 per cent said their agent had been effective and efficient and 24 per cent said their agent got them a good deal.
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Young people are most likely to be optimistic about the future of technology when it comes to solving the bugbears of the property industry. Paperwork was seen by 46 per cent as the irritation that technology should aim to solve first, with reference checking seen as an important issue for 36 per cent. 34 per cent thought that booking appointments should be solved by tech.
Virtual reality and artificial intelligence were expected by 32 per cent of consumers to improve service whilst 48 per cent said booking appointments online would be the most advantageous tech. It’s no surprise that the 16 to 24 age group had the greatest faith in technology to address the property market, with 26 per cent believing in its transformative power. Just 9 per cent of over 55s believed technology would transform the industry, and almost one in five said they were pleased that it wouldn’t.
“These results clearly show the positive work estate agents are doing to make sure customers are satisfied in the levels of service provided,” says Iain Mckenzie, CEO of The Guild of Property Professionals. “It’s refreshing to see that whilst there are problems, customers are confident that technology can help resolve these issues in the near future.”
A test of trust
Knowledge of the local market was seen as the most important deciding factor in choosing an agent for 42 per cent of consumers upon having their properties valued. Low fees were considered the most important by 35 per cent, which will no doubt add fuel to the fire of the letting fees debate which is in the consultation stage currently and concludes in June. 34 per cent stated quality of service and getting the best deal. Interestingly, 10 per cent were said to be swayed by the number of properties an agent had on its books.
Reviews mattered most to renters at 16 per cent, whilst just 6 per cent of buyers, sellers and landlords relied on online reviews. More buyers and sellers were likely to rely on personal recommendations than landlords and renters, with 17 per cent and 14 per cent respectively. Sellers and landlords were also more concerned with the quality of service, whilst buyers and renters said low fees were more important.
The human touch
Agents will have to up the ante if they want to compete with online services for the next generation of home buyers. As prop tech booms, there is undeniably still room for face to face agents in the property market, as long as they keep their finger on the pulse of what consumers want, utilise technology effectively and maintain a personal connection to the clients they serve if they want to avoid being consigned to history and keep their place on the high street.
Here’s the run-down of what matters to consumers when it comes to choosing an estate agents:
Knowledge of the local market: 42%
Low fees: 35%
The best deal: 34%
Quality of service: 34%
Feeling of trust: 28%
Speed and efficiency: 25%
Friendliness of agents: 19%
Recommendation of family and friends: 16%
Belief in getting the best deal: 15%
Location of agent: 14%
Ease of use: 13%