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Shock study claims agent reputation and fee ‘not very important to sellers’

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.

  • Gavin Brazg

    Do the public actually know what an "online estate agent" is? Or are they merely indicating they would use an estate agent that is "online"? Big difference. Strange there is such a disparity between the 65% of active sellers Zoopla say would use an online estate agent, and the 4% that actually do.


    Previously I worked for an "Online Agent" as a Lister for 5 months and whilst sat in customers homes. I realised, it wasn't the fee, it's not what I can offer. It's because the major majority of them thought I was the only agent who advertised properties "Online"

  • Richard Rawlings

    Last week I presented a Rightmove webinar about the Psychology of Persuasion in the context of Raising Fees. During the seminar we polled 1000 agents on their fee level

    6% of agents polled charge between 2% and 3%

    18% charge between 1.5% and 1.9%

    61% charge between 1% and 1.4%

    15% charge less than 1%

    Conclusion: About a quarter of all agents charge more than 1.5%. That’s 60% more than those who charge LESS than 1%

    In my view, for those who charge less than 1.5%, this has nothing to do with location or competition. It’s about skills, attitude, confidence and the deliberate commitment to charge a decent amount of commission in order to secure their future. This survey confirms what I have always said - people are prepared to pay for the product or service they prefer. Message to agents - be preferable and learn the skills to persuade. Have a great day.

    Mike Lewis

    I agree. To coin (and slightly update) a well known saying, "if you pay peanuts, you get a monkey in a call centre".

  • icon

    Sold my mother's house last year (after renting it out for 2 yrs).
    The agents opening offer was 1 per cent, (Which we accepted), but I thought I would have to negotiate to get anywhere near that.
    For the record: I would have paid more and was effectively a captive audience because they had been managing the rental as well.

    I think people in the industry forget what good value we get in the UK compared to most of the world.

  • Chris Arnold

    Vendors choose the agent they most like and justify that emotional decision with the story they tell themselves. It's not often a logical decision.
    If the story they tell themselves is that your agency is preferable, they will find a way to convince themselves to pay the fee.


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