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Industry survey highlights discrimination against female agents

Gender-based discrimination remains an issue with the estate agency sector and many female victims are choosing not to report issues, an industry survey has revealed.

This is among the main findings of marketing firm We Are Unchained’s The Voice of the Agent Survey 2024.

The survey provides an in-depth look into the current state and prospects of the UK real estate market, drawing on responses from a broad spectrum of 841 professionals, 2,000 consumers nationwide, and a wide range of authoritative research and data sources. 

It found that while overall almost half of agents having experienced discrimination from colleagues, 85% of women have had issues.

Gender-based discrimination was the most common form reported, especially among female agents (44%) compared to their male counterparts (5%).

Similar trends are observed in client-originated discrimination, with female agents significantly more likely to report experiencing gender (71%) and age-based discrimination (29%).
However, many agents choose not to take action, with a 42% of female agents opting to ignore the discriminatory behaviour. 

Conversely, male agents are more inclined to confront the perpetrator(s) (20%) or remove themselves from the situation (12%).

The report said: “These responses highlight a potential need for much better support systems and mechanisms within the industry to empower agents, particularly females, to address and report discrimination effectively.

“The findings underscore the pervasive issue of workplace discrimination in real estate, accentuating the necessity for targeted initiatives to foster a more equitable and respectful professional environment. Ensuring comprehensive support and establishing clear, accessible reporting channels could significantly improve agents' ability to navigate and challenge discriminatory encounters.”

The survey also found that agents are expecting a more busy market in 2024, with 42% observing increased vendor interactions compared with 37% in 2023 when the survey was previouly conducted.

For 2024, 81% of agents anticipate growth in vendor numbers, revealing strong optimism likely fuelled by expected economic recovery and market opportunities. This contrasts sharply with the previous year's more mixed experiences.

Regarding property values in 2024, agents forecast a stable market, with 67% expecting minimal fluctuations. The report said: “This outlook suggests a balanced approach, considering potential economic uncertainties. 

“Agents believe vendors seek advice from various sources, including personal networks and traditional and social media, indicating a trend towards well-informed decision-making.”
Agent fees average 1.3%, according to the report.

Economic uncertainty, regulatory compliance, and customer lead generation were top concerns for real estate and letting agents, reflecting apprehensions about market volatility, legal complexities, and competitive pressures. 

It comes as most consumers (79%) and most agents (81%) backed formal qualifications and regulations in real estate to boost industry standards and protect consumers.

Agents reported an average of 12 competitors within their local market, highlighting a highly competitive and fragmented landscape that necessitates distinct service propositions and excellence in client relations. 

Future trends indicate a growing preference for self-employed agents due to their personalised service, while traditional high street agencies are expected to maintain resilience. Online/hybrid agencies face uncertain prospects, with respondents predicting a decline in popularity. 

The report added: “This suggests a market recalibration favouring personalised and traditional services over digital-only models. The industry's challenges and evolving service preferences underscore the need for adaptability, innovation, and a focus on delivering value and quality service to effectively navigate the competitive and uncertain market landscape.”


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