A survey of 6,000 members of the public and 660 estate and letting agents has revealed some striking findings about how consumers relate to estate agencies and portals.
Perhaps most surprising of all the survey, conducted for Zoopla, found that an agent’s local reputation ranked a lowly eighth in the sellers’ list of priorities.
More encouragingly, perhaps, agency fees secured an even lower score in ninth place.
Transparency and openness about fees (but not the absolute ‘lowness’ of fees) came top for consumers, along with a reliable selling process.
Some 56 per cent of respondents ranking these as their most important considerations when listing their property with an agent.
The ability to negotiate the best possible price and offering value for money were jointly voted the second most important factors considered by vendors.
The survey - the third annual study of its kind conducted for Zoopla - also showed a big swing by the public towards at least ‘dabbling’ with online agents.
The survey shows that the number of people who used an online agent in the last year to look at listings has doubled to 24 per cent compared to 12 per cent three to five years ago.
Of those who were actual sellers, some 19 per cent actually went on to market their properties with online agents.
In addition some 65 per cent of currently active sellers say they’re likely to use an online agent to sell their property; this trend is echoed in the rental market where 44 per cent of renters say they’d use an online letting agent next time.
In terms of portals the survey shows 95 per cent of buyers starting their search there - predictable enough, perhaps.
But so-called ‘recent sellers’ are using portals during more stages of the moving process, not just at the beginning for the property search. Zoopla suggests this is likely due to portals’ increased focus on developing innovative products to support home owners throughout the entire property life cycle.
Charlie Bryant, Zoopla’s managing director, says: “Winning instructions is the top priority for estate agents across the country in a challenging and competitive marketplace, and our research reveals what consumers are looking for when selecting an agent to sell their home.
“There are two themes that emerge from the top five items listed by consumers, and in good news for many of our customers, low fees don’t feature high in their list of priorities. First is the overall offer from the agent covering transparency on fees, value for money and the level of marketing proposed for the property. Second is the property valuation and the ability to negotiate the best price.
“Our findings also show vendors want their money to work harder for them in the current climate. Some 44 per cent of consumer respondents told us that the amount of marketing an agent will do is extremely important to their appointing them. Zoopla has invested more than any other portal in advertising over the past five years and has also increased the spend on this year’s above-the-line advertising campaign by 23 per cent compared to last year. Our range of products, services and insights ensure that all our customers benefit from the Zoopla advantage.”
You can see the full survey here.