Which agent to use?
Let’s keep that under review…
Graham says online reviews play a significant role in this digital era as they will complement the more traditional ways of choosing an agency
Let’s face it – we all do it. When we buy clothes online we scroll down to see if the supplier has been given five stars by customers. Before we book that weekend getaway we check reviews to see if the hotel and the food lives up to the publicity.
Now property customers are set to have the same experience when they sell, buy, let or rent as online reviews of estate and letting agents become commonplace, writes Graham Norwood.
A series of review platforms, operated by start-up companies such as All Agents, Feefo and Trustpilot, have been engaged by different agents to encourage and manage reviews.
“Reviews are coming and they’re undoubtedly a good guide so long as they are treated with integrity by consumers and agents alike,” says Iain McKenzie, chief executive of the Guild of Property Professionals.
And whereas until recently reviews have been encouraged mostly by newly-established online estate agents lacking the traditional word-of-mouth commendations from customers, now online reviews are spreading to higher-end agents in London and the Home Counties.
“They’re coming and I’m going to have to spend more time encouraging and responding to reviews. They’re gradually becoming a way of life at the higher end of the market as well,” explains James Wyatt, who operates the well-known Barton Wyatt agency, marketing some of the UK’s most expensive homes in exclusive areas of Surrey.
Few believe that online reviews alone will be used by sellers to choose their agency, but the additional information provided by a review may well complement more traditional ways of choosing an agency – such as getting several different agents to offer their market assessments, suggested asking prices and marketing strategies.
Recent research conducted amongst over 1,150 people who recently used estate and letting agents suggested that an increasing number use reviews to inform their choice of agency.
Some 56 percent of respondents said they had read at least one review before selecting their agent but amongst one group – 25- to 34-year olds – no fewer than 70 percent said they relied chiefly on reviews when selecting agents to deal with.
“As the younger generations enter the property market, estate agents will be increasingly judged through online reviews. Trust in the reviews themselves is evidently very important to these consumers. Estate agents should therefore consider ways to guarantee that legitimate and transparent reviews are readily available to potential customers,” explains Matt West, chief marketing officer of Feefo, which commissioned the research.
Of course, discerning customers will go face to face with an agent and examine a range of services and charges before making a decision. But reviews will play at least some part – the digital revolution has now reached our choice of estate agency…
“As the younger generations enter the property market, estate agents will be increasingly judged through online reviews”