When the lists of least trusted occupations are published in the newspapers each year Estate Agents usually rank quite highly (or lowly, depending on how you look at it!). According to an Ipsos MORI survey in 2015, as an industry we are trusted by just 25% of the public which is the same as journalists and only 3% higher than politicians. It doesn’t specifically mention mechanics or double glazing salesmen so maybe that’s why they’re not below us (apologies to any mechanics or UPVC salesmen reading).
I visited a property last week where the vendor seemed somewhat confused about my arrival at his door but he invited me in anyway. I provided my opinion on likely marketing figures and suggested what could be done to enhance the appeal of the property to which the vendor told me to ‘Give it a go!’. I felt that he didn’t understand exactly what I had gone through with him and wasn’t keen to get him to sign any agreement, despite the fact it would probably have been very easy to get him to do so at almost any rate of commission. I had his son’s number, as he had initially called up to book the appointment and called him to discuss the situation, he confirmed that his Father was suffering from some form of dementia and that the family were helping him to move closer to them. My view was that I was going to treat the gentlemen just like I’d have wanted anybody to deal with a relative of mine and I felt secure in knowing that I was doing the right thing by not taking advantage of the situation.
Having started in the business 25 years ago I have spent enough time seeing and hearing of how some agents feel the job should be done and can fully understand why the profession is held in such low regard by many. When you look abroad, the real estate agent is generally a licensed profession where you have to have relevant qualifications and accordingly is far better thought of. There are moves to further regulate the Estate Agency business, which most trustworthy agents will welcome, as it will hopefully weed out those who perhaps shouldn’t be entrusted with people’s most valuable asset.
Thankfully in our local area we mostly have good agents with plenty of integrity to go along with their qualifications, but as we dive headlong into the world of online only ‘agents’ who get rewarded regardless of whether the property gets sold or not, I’m sure that there will be some characters who will do their best to give the public what they really expect of us.