The perfect estate agent in the eyes of the public is Sir David Attenborough, according to new research from Rightmove.
The news is likely to surprise no-one more than Attenborough himself, but a survey of nearly 1,000 home movers active within the last 12 months determined that he was the natural selection.
Attenborough was the most popular choice for his apparent trustworthiness, honesty and kindness.
Rightmove’s consumer insights manager Daniel Barea explained to delegates at Wednesday’s NAEA conference that the 954 consumers surveyed were not given a list to choose from, but rather encouraged to make their own suggestions.
The next most popular suggestions were Martin Lewis of moneysavingexpert.com because of his perceived ability to get the vendor best value for money and because consumers perceived him to be likely to be on their side.
Another popular choice was TV presenter Philip Schofield for being genuine, personable and friendly.
Barea explained that the apparently frivolous exercise had a serious point because while vendors wanted the best possible price, as quick a sale as possible, and as little hassle as possible, they also find trust and likeability important.
He said: “If they don’t see much difference in what they are going to get [from an agent] then it makes sense they are going to go with the one that is charging less.”
“Honest, humour, outgoing, principled, charismatic, charming.
“Perhaps you can think of ways you can highlight these lovely traits that you have and make them bigger selling points because they can make a huge difference to consumers.
“How do customers define trustworthiness? It comes down to unedited transparency – customers need to know that what you are telling them not just what they want to hear but that you really are on their side and are acting in their interests.
“You need to go beyond what is expected of you and show that you are fully transparent.”
As part of its survey, Rightmove also spoke to 134 estate agent and compared answers to questions posed both to agents and consumers to see where consumers’ perceptions differed.
While Barea said that figures showed it took roughly 24 weeks from a house coming to market to reaching completion, customers expected this to take 11 weeks.
He asked whether agents were aware of the risk that customers’ expectations were so different to the reality.
He added that if it took longer than expected, consumers were “bound to be disappointed and if they are disappointed who do they end up blaming, even if it isn’t your fault?”
Another area where consumers may require education was around what agents spend most of their time doing.
When asked, the most popular option among consumers (21%) was that agents spend most of their time arranging viewings.
This compared to agents’ own perception that they spend most of their time taking a sale to completion (26%).
Meanwhile, it was found that 50% of consumers wanted face-to-face contact with their agent.
Perhaps unexpectedly, this rose to 60% among 18-34-year-olds, which Barea said was an indication that their inexperience meant they needed more hand-holding.