CoreLogic has today released the 2018 Perceptions of Real Estate Agents Report, resulting from a nationwide survey of homeowners, with all regions represented.

The fascinating findings signal to NZ’s real estate industry that agents are rated as excellent practitioners of their craft, with high scores in presentation of properties, marketing materials and sales patter, and the majority (64%) of vendors reporting as receiving ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ service from their agent.

The vendor survey data identified six clear behaviours for delivering to expectations of service excellence and eight behaviours to avoid, with capacity to lift service delivery to the next level: 35% of New Zealand’s agents were rated as excelling at empathy, relationship building, communication, delivering on promises and listening.

The report revealed the most common reasons for selling were upgrading (22.8%), and ‘family reasons’ (20.1%). 12.4% were investing and 11.9% were downsizing, and apparently a strong market isn’t necessarily enough to tempt people into selling: only 5.8% gave the reason of ‘making the most of strong prices in my area’. 10.5% were ‘moving for work’ and 16.6% gave ‘other’ as their reason for selling - with further analysis indicating divorce, retirement, getting away from the neighbours, Auckland traffic, moving away from earthquake prone areas or moving overseas.

With nearly 2 in every 5 vendors reporting dissatisfaction at varying levels, newly appointed CoreLogic GM of Sales & Marketing, Peter Bromley comments: “Real estate is a high churn business because buying and selling homes is an infrequent activity for most people, but the 2018 Perceptions of Real Estate Agents Report highlights that some agents are throwing away more leads than they need to - leading to low referrals and even lower repeat business”.

Seen in the context of potential technological disruption, at 31 June 2018, across New Zealand there were 91,176 sales at a gross value of $58.3 billion. The survey reported 18% of vendors experiencing poor or disastrous service, equating to a market gap of 16,412 sales at a gross value of $10.5billion annually and (based on 2%) commission just short of $210m. Bromley notes “that’s a sizeable gap any market disrupter would be pleased to secure a slice of”.

The report found that it won’t take much to close the training gap for those areas requiring improvement. Bromley comments: “the report identifies some key trends, but essentially, if agents takes a longer term view of the relationship, focusing on providing service excellence as a trusted and valued advisor, the data is clear: they will win in both the short and long term, building both reputation and referral business”.

“When you’re supporting transactions daily, it can be easy to forget that the experience of selling a home is often a high stress point, normally only faced once every 7-10 years. As all high performing agents know, making that experience as favourable as possible is good business: because whilst the client may be the ‘vendor’ today, they can morph into a renter in the short term, and then buyers - as owner/occupiers or investors. They can also strongly influence other people’s listing decisions too - in fact, 43% of vendors selected their agent upon recommendations from friends. Vendors offer very valuable future business”. Agents supporting the 61% of vendors who would recommend their agent to family or friends are very well positioned indeed.

Interestingly, when deciding upon agents in the first place, 56% of vendors were influenced by the agent successfully selling a local property and 40.1% noted that commission was a factor, but the emphasis was actually on the agent being able to prove their value. 17% said commission wasn’t important in their decision making at all.

The report found that one of the most important things agents can do to deliver high satisfaction levels for clients is to share more property market information with them in their listing presentation. Transparency was very important: agents who provided open information such as local auction clearance rates and average time on the market were significantly more likely to be rated as providing ‘excellent’ service, and their vendors were more likely to stay in touch with them or use them again.

Bromley comments: “the message from vendors was clear: those agents considered as providing an excellent service disclose market data and offer reliable marketing and sales techniques, but it’s all underpinned by an ability to connect. They can listen, communicate genuinely, recognise vendor interests (and work to protect them), share knowledge and create trust”.