Estate agents: A dying breed?

Survey shows high commissions, poor service rankle. Time to sell property ourselves?

Estate agents may be right up there with lawyers as some of the most disliked people on earth. This was underlined in a Dubai study released this week where more than 60% of respondents said they were unhappy with the service they got from agents.

The study interviewed 178 property owners over a four month period in series of face-to-face interviews. About 61% of buyers rated their agents as either "poor" or "very poor". Most were disgruntled about inadequate levels of knowledge, a lack of consulting skills and a lack of empathy.

A recent debate on Realestateweb reflected similar sentiments over estate agents and especially the commissions they receive. In South Africa this rate is particularly high. The article entitled "We deserve every cent" was written by estate agent Linda Erasmus and sparked some heated and often nasty comments.

Of the 57 responses, 38 were negative, the majority strongly so. One comment was off-topic and 18 were positive. Of the 18 positive comments, two were from non-agents, three were from conveyancers and nine were from estate agents. Of the 9 estate agents' comments, four were from the same estate agent.

If all comments are considered, 66% had a negative perception about agents. If the estate agents' comments are disqualified to eliminate bias, the picture looks far grimmer and the percentage rises to 88%.

In a poll attached to the same article the results were as follows:

Do estate agents deserve their fees?

1. Yes - 38%
2. No - 60 %
3. Other comment - 2%

So why do so many buyers and sellers continue to use estate agents when they begrudge the commissions they have to pay? Could it lie in the fact that buyers and sellers use estate agents for legwork to find or value properties and simply get caught up in the process?

In the past it was very difficult for private buyers and sellers to network widely. With the advent of the internet and social media networks like Facebook, the world is getting rapidly smaller. Whether this is having a significant effect on private property sales, is difficult to establish. A myriad of websites offer private properties for sale and there is little record of how many properties change hands in this way.

So we are asking our readers to shed some light. Do you think estate agents' days are numbered?



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