Real estate agents less trustworthy than politicians: survey

Real estate agents less trustworthy than politicians: survey
Real estate agents less trustworthy than politicians: survey

There was a recent survey that again ranked real estate agents as less trustworthy than politicians. 

Roy Morgan's annual professionals survey placed real estate agents third-lowest - at 10 percent - among the 30 professions rated, only beating advertisers at 9 percent and car salespeople at 4 percent.

Nurses ranked the highest at 92 percent. Ranking slightly higher in ethics and honesty than estate agents, were trade union leaders on 13 percent and Federal MPs getting 17 percent.

The survey results, which I guess are even starker when considering the electorate backlash at the polls last month, come at a time the the NSW government is conducting a review of training in the property industry.

Indeed Rod Stowe, the NSW Fair Trading commissioner, recently got a report that referred to the Roy Morgan results. The report on training in the New South Wales property services industry, which was chaired by Chris Batt, noted the level of trust in agents was much higher in rural NSW, mainly because of the establishment of longer-term relationships.  

According to his department, there were 6455 complaints about property matters in 2014-15. The mismanagement of trust funds becoming one of the significant issues. 

Better Regulation Minister Victor Dominello has noted NSW has among the lowest entry standards in the country.

There has been ongoing debate on the role of government as the prevailing wisdom is that it not the role of a licensing regime to increase real estate professionalism, although that may be a desirable outcome.

It is the role of a licensing regime to protect the public interest.

The recent report noted submissions invariably began by saying that training standards were too low. 

For some, the issue is about the need for more training before people start, but also about the need to improve the quality of training.

The report to Stowe by review chairman, Chris Batt noted a common complaint was about the difficulty in attracting the right people to enter the industry.

His review explored the attributes that make for good estate agents. 

"The key skill appears to be the ability to gain people’s trust and a capacity for hard work."

But Batt's report noted there is a public perception that "selling real estate is a glamorous industry where people drive expensive cars, wear nice clothes and make lots of money." 

The report suggested the reality was often far different and a better understanding would help to "encourage the right people to enter the industry."

Most stakeholders agreed training courses left an inadequate level of knowledge because they were too short. 

There were also concerns of trainers not having currency in industry experience. 

And as assessments were in a simulated environment they not did reflect the real life environment.

The review noted that supervision out in the workplace was either poor or absent.

It even raised concerns about the literacy and numeracy skills of the aspiring agents.

All this translates into detrimental impacts on consumers with poor selling and appraisal skills, which meant that a vendor did not always get the best price or service. 

One real estate trainer recently suggested the industry’s poor perception had remained low for the past dozen or so years years because many agents had learned bad habits from having the industry teach the industry.

Not enough looking at it from the customer’s point of view, he said, pinpointing scripts and dialogues to outsmart clients in sales, along with "the controversial things in the industry like cold canvassing or vendor contributions." 

This article was first published in the Saturday Daily Telegraph.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

Real Estate Agents Professions


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