New research shows that complaints against estate agents are at their highest levels ever. We just don’t seem to like or trust them – but do estate agents really deserve their poor reputation?
It may be the Minis with logos splashed all over them. It could be the over-enthusiasm when you first meet one. And it could be the extraordinarily high fees that some charge to sell your home. Despite the fact they’re not actually selling your home – you are.
No matter what it is, people just don’t seem to like estate agents. Talk to almost anyone selling, buying, letting or renting a home and they’ll have a story about an agent – and few of those tales will have a happy ending.
We don’t trust estate agents
A poll released last year showed that estate agents ranked fifth on a scale of professions the public doesn’t trust – just below politicians, bankers, journalists and car salesmen.
More tellingly, figures released by the Property Ombudsman state that the number of complaints against agents was ‘unacceptably high’ with record levels of disputes during 2010.
The Ombudsman received 1,338 new referrals against property professionals – that’s 28% higher than the previous peak recorded in 2008.
The problem is that in a time-poor, property-obsessed society, estate agents are pretty much a necessary evil. It is very possible to market and sell your house yourself, but while this will save you a fortune in fees, it’s also time-consuming and you need a certain level of online savvy.
They’re a necessary evil
Estate agents should be professional salespeople who serve a useful function – they are there to make money for themselves but also to get the best price for your home. They are the middlemen (and women) in a stress-filled marketplace that’s fraught with problems.
However, too many are letting their profession down. And, ultimately, that’s why their reputation has suffered.
So what do you think? Are estate agents noble property barterers trying to keep the wheels of the property market rolling, or sharp-suited profiteers who are after a quick buck?