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Service quality and satisfaction : when will real-estate agents change ?

Whether you are looking for a property to buy, sell or rent, chances are high that you have dealt with real estate agents. In Belgium real estate agents have a bad reputation and as we showed in a previous research, it was justified. Today we are reporting on 4 key recurrent problems on this market that foster incredible dissatisfaction. Read further and we bet you’ll recognize yourself

Customer’s needs not understood

The first satisfaction levier which is NOT activated by real estate agents regards the understanding of the buyer’s needs. Whether or not your search criteria are encoded in the database, the proposals you’ll get are probably not aligned with your needs. When we write “not aligned” we mean “not aligned at all”.

Here are a few recent examples from our 2015 research :

  • Initially contacted for an office to purchase in Brussels, an agency sent a list of private properties in whole Belgium, France, Portugal and Spain
  • Initially contacted for a town house in the south of Brussels, an agency kept sending 5 emails a day with properties beyond budget and outside of Brussels

Those are just a few examples among many others. It seems that real estate agents are applying a mass-communication strategy. Rather than losing time in personalizing interactions and understanding needs, they prefer to go broad and spam customers and prospects with offers that are not meeting their requirements.

Miserable service quality

Here a just a few concrete examples of what we mean by miserable service quality …

  • Real estate agent not on time : their time is more precious than yours. Hence, many appointments just don’t start on time.
  • appointment forgotten : in extreme cases, appointments may just be forgotten. This is particularly the case in one-person agencies
  • No keys to open the building : another classical mistake
  • No call back : bad real estate agents won’t call you back
  • No answer to email requests : you just found an interesting property on a website … if you think it’s sufficient to send an email to request more information, be prepared to send many emails. The average response time is much too high and a high percentage of requests just don’t get answered


Absence of knowledge

A house or an apartment is not just any other merchandise. It’s a highly valuable good, it’s unique and deserved to be “studied” before trying to sell it. Yet many real estate agents don’t know well (or at all) the properties they have in their portfolio. As a consequence buyers cannot rely on the real estate agents to gather important information to make their choice.

Yet legal requirements for buyers and sellers get always bigger and perfect knowledge of the property is key to make good decisions. Most of the time, you don’t need to count on a real estate agent to provide you with that kind of information.

Biased property descriptions

A problem often encountered by prospective buyers and tenants are biased descriptions. “Photoshoped” pictures are very common on agencies’ websites. Biased descriptions are also regularly encountered. This strategy is however counter-productive and lead to much dissatisfaction. Prospects form expectations and will turn disappointed when visiting the property. The agent will have lost his/her time.

A much better strategy would be to tell the truth and focus only on those customers who are really interested.

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Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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