2017 Real Estate Agents
Posted by Canstar Blue September 11th 2018
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Compare real estate agents First National, Century 21, Barry Plant, Ray White, Harcourts, LJ Hooker and Raine & Horne on their problem resolution, agent advice & communications, contract handling, marketing, moving services, value for money and overall customer satisfaction in 2017.
Canstar Blue research finalised in August 2017, published in September 2017.
First National Real Estate makes it two years at the top
Whether you’re a buyer, seller, landlord or tenant, dealing with estate agents can be a stressful time – unless you find a really good one. There to help facilitate your next big move, real estate agents should be able to make life easier for all parties concerned, so you really shouldn’t settle for anything less. But can you confidently say your estate agent is the best around? If not, you’ll be interested in Canstar Blue’s 2017 review of real estate agents in Australia. We have surveyed more than 1,000 customers across the country to find out which estate agents are living up to expectations across a range of important variables, relating to factors including their customer service, communications and value for money. Depending on your personal circumstances, not all factors will be relevant to you, but consider this a helpful insight into what you could expect from the seven real estate agents compared in this review.
For the second year in a row, First National Real Estate has been rated highest overall, achieving five stars in all research categories. That’s an outstanding result, especially considering that no other company recorded top marks in any specific category:
- Barry Plant, Century 21 and Ray White received four-star reviews overall
- Raine & Horne, LJ Hooker and Harcourts were given three-star reviews overall
Estate agents don’t always enjoy the best of reputations, so it pays to do your research before making any big decisions. More than two-thirds of customers surveyed (67%) have experienced poor communications from an estate agent, while only 61% would recommend their agent to a friend. So how do you go about picking an estate agent in the first place?
How to choose a real estate agent
We asked respondents to our survey what the biggest factor was in their choice of estate agent and they told us:
- Location: 25%
- Price (i.e. fees, commission): 15%
- Range of properties: 15%
- Reputation: 13%
- Personal recommendation: 11%
A further 21% cited ‘other reasons’ for choosing their particular estate agent, suggesting there are many different factors at play. However, it’s interesting to note ‘location’ was the number one reason mentioned above. This suggests many customers simply take the most convenient option, which could prove a mistake. That said, reasons for choosing an agent will likely depend on your personal circumstances and what you are employing the services of an agent for. Some people will place more emphasis on specific credentials than others.
As an example, landlords who responded to our survey highlighted the following services as those they value most from their estate agent:
- Knowing any issues will be managed properly (e.g. non-payment of rent or damage to property): 32%
- Collecting rent and managing requests from tenants: 31%
- Finding quality tenants: 24%
- Managing repairs and maintenance: 7%
- Other: 5%
To help you decide which estate agent might be best for you, let’s review the important factors discussed in this year’s review.
Whether you’re a landlord or renting a home, buying or selling, you can be sure a few problems are going to crop up along the way. For renters, this could be maintenance issues around the home, while for landlords it could be maintenance problems caused by the tenants! Whatever the case, it’s the role of the estate agent to act as an intermediary and to solve the problems to everyone’s satisfaction. That’s much easier said than done, so an estate agent that manages to keep all parties happy with have earned their money. Our 2017 ratings on problem resolution mirrored those for overall satisfaction, with First National coming out on top with five stars, as Barry Plant, Century 21 and Ray White all scored four stars, and it was three stars for Raine & Horne, LJ Hooker and Harcourts.
Communications & advice
If there’s one sure-fire way to frustrate your customers, it’s through poor communications. No matter what type of real estate service you’re involved in, being kept in the loop is an absolute must. Whether you’re buying or selling and expecting an important call, or a tenant enquiring about a lease renewal, timely and professional communications from your agent are the very least you should expect. It’s also important that customers are treated as individuals and not just a number. Are emails addressed personally to you, or are you just sent the same generic correspondence as everyone else? Good communicating is not rocket science, but it seems that some agents have work to do. First National earned five stars in this area, ahead of Barry Plant and Century 21 with four stars, and Ray White, Raine & Horne, LJ Hooker and Harcourts with three stars.
You can tell a lot about a company by the way it handles contracts and other important details. Is your estate agent a stickler for detail and accuracy, or just keen to get the contract signed so they can move on to their next task? Taking care of the contracts associated with your sale or tenancy is arguably the most important thing a real estate agent has to do – mistakes are not an option. This involves communicating the finer details to all parties concerned and ensuring everyone is happy before proceeding. First National rated five stars for its contract handling. It was four stars for Barry Plant, Century 21 and Ray White, while Raine & Horne, LJ Hooker and Harcourts received three stars.
Value for money
When you’re buying or selling a home, agent fees can quickly add up. Even if you’re just leasing a home through an agency, ongoing charges become important. These will be necessary costs to pay for the service you receive, but it’s always worth asking yourself if you’re really getting value for your money. Is your agent easy to deal with? Do they return your calls in a reasonable timeframe? Do they always have the answers to your questions? This rating is not a comparison of who provides the cheapest real estate services, but instead who offers the best overall value for money! First National was the only firm to receive a five-star rating in this area, followed by Barry Plant, Century 21 and Ray White with four stars. Raine & Horne and LJ Hooker got three stars, but it was just two stars for Harcourts.
If you want to sell your home, or find tenants for your property, they need to be able to find it. Once they find it, they need to be given a good impression. Marketing is a crucial part of a real estate agent’s job, so you’ll need your agent to put their money where their mouth is and also do their homework so they can answer any questions people might have. First National was the only firm to receive a five-star review on its marketing, with Century 21, Ray White and Raine & Horne all rating four stars. LJ Hooker and Harcourts rated three stars.
In addition to helping you buy or sell your home, or rent a property, many estate agents also try to assist with the moving process. Getting you in your new home is one thing, but how about all of those essential services you’ll need, like electricity and broadband? Estate agents commonly help movers set up these types of services, taking away some of the stress that can come with the territory. First National rated five stars in this area, ahead of Century 21 on four stars. Ray White, LJ Hooker and Harcourts got three stars.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have used the services of a real estate agent in the last 3 years – in this case 1,074 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.