Why Everyone Hates Real Estate Agents

By: Matt Giggs | June 3, 2024

Why does everyone hate real estate agents? Why are we at the top or near the top of the most hated professions, alongside politicians, parking officers, insurance salesmen? We're right up there with car salesmen. Actually, we're probably ahead of a lot of these professions.

In my opinion, there's such an opportunity in the fact that everyone does hate us, and I'll come on to that a bit later. But first, let's just name some of the reasons:

1. Lack of communication between estate agents and clients.

2. They just think you're commission hungry – you've got commission breath.

3. Because you’re desperate for the sale, you people please.

4. They think you're a little bit lazy.

Let’s look at that last one a bit – you know what you do to sell a house, but they think you just list it on Rightmove. How many times have we heard that? “Oh, well, you know you only need to put it on Rightmove, and then you've sold the house.”

That's what people think. The other thing is you don't call people back, so the communication goes from you being a poor communicator to a total lack of communication.

Now let’s look at how you can use these things to be a great estate agent and change people’s opinions about our industry.

Estate agents don’t make the process easy

A lot of that list of complaints about estate agents comes down to this: you don't make the process very easy. Most people associate moving home with a stressful experience, and in the hands of an amateur it can be really stressful.

The biggest challenge I think for estate agents is understanding the fact that you have a very low bar of expectation from clients. I think that's actually a really good thing, because if you think about it, imagine if all estate agents were just incredible at communicating. Let's imagine that their fees were higher and that people chose them not because of their fee but because of their ability to get the best price and the best buyer for their properties.

Let's imagine that estate agents were chosen because of their community service – no, not because they were convicted of a crime, but because they've actually got a big heart. And then let’s imagine they're not in it for themselves and they're not trying to get commission.

What if estate agents were all about their area and giving their best support to that area? Let's imagine for a second that estate agents become liked. Let's imagine that people thought it's a profession that can be trusted, and they go off to look at their Google reviews and see they've got five star reviews here, there, and everywhere.

I think the industry is actually changing. I actually think that there are better estate agents now in the market than there were 20, 30 years ago. And I think it's because most estate agents that are in that top echelon have figured out that people's expectations are low, and that means all they have to do is deliver a service that they would want themselves.

Getting the basics right as an estate agent

People hate estate agents because they've been conditioned to think they're a bunch of low-life, thieving, commission-hungry people that aren't actually interested in what the clients need. So in 2011, the year before I launched Giggs and Co., I spent hundreds of hours talking to people that have been involved in the process of moving home, selecting estate agents, working with agents, etc.

My desire was to understand what their thoughts were, so I asked them:

- What would you love from your estate agent?

- What would you really value and appreciate from them?

- What do you hate about estate agents?

I've gathered all the insights from this and that’s what I’ve been sharing with you here in this blog and on my YouTube channel. But before I shared it with you, I used it to make my business successful.

I knew there were some problems in setting up a brand new business. When you do that, the first problem is that no one's heard of you. You're launching, and all of a sudden you're trying to figure out how you're going to be successful.

Well for me it was back to basics. As I went around 19 different estate agency offices, asking for property details and doing what’s known as a mystery shop, I realised that the basics of estate agency had been forgotten.

Estate agents had forgotten the importance of actually making someone feel that you've got the time and attention to actually understand what it is that they're looking for. Just taking the time to do that would make them feel like they were getting value back from the process.

What I learned from 19 estate agencies

So I visited 19 different London estate agents over 4 days. I walked in as a possible buyer, someone who was ready to buy. What was my experience in that area of London?

Well if I said to you only one estate agent offered me a cup of tea or coffee out of 19 would you be surprised? If I said to you that I was standing in some of those offices waiting for somebody just to look up and pay me some attention or even just say, “I won't be a moment. Come and grab a seat.” Anything like that would have made a difference. Even just a bit of eye contact – I'm talking some of the basics here.

I was expecting to be treated how we’d all expect to be treated if we were going out there selling, buying, letting, whatever. They forget all of those little moments, those bits of magic that you can sprinkle on people when you come into contact with them. If we remembered these little things, people wouldn’t think all estate agents are just in it for themselves and their commission.

Wow your clients in every interaction

When you remember the little details, clients leave and they go, “Wow!” Rather than shrug their shoulders and think ‘That was a pretty forgettable experience.’ Because the bar is so low, you've got the ability to raise it up in every single interaction that you have with a client.

Because people don't expect it, they're not thinking, ‘I'm going to get a five star service across my customer journey.’ Now imagine if you as a business decided to look at your customer journey today and you were to think about what wow would look like across that journey.

Next, look at the experience that you're actually giving. What does it currently look like? Start from when they first register or they first phone in and ask these questions:

- What's the response rate like?

- What's the interaction like?

- What's the service delivery like?

- What's the communication like?

- What's the information like?

- Are we asking questions the right way?

Follow the customer journey all the way through. When they go to a viewing, do they have a confirmation call? Do you check that they’re seeing everything that they should be seeing in the time that you've got with them?

These are variables across the customer journey that you can control right away, from the first contact, to the moment that keys are handed over. The reason people are really not keen on estate agents is that most of the journey is covered by people that don't have the experience to answer the questions.

They may have the experience in terms of time in the business, but they don't have the experience of the particular area that they need to answer questions on. So their knowledge isn't there. Their confidence isn't there to help guide people through each step. That’s why the process becomes stressful: because people don't know what they don't know.

The problem is if people don't know or have the information, they start to worry and overthink, and then you're in a position of a lack of clarity and uncertainty. Those emotions create anxiety and stress.

Estate agents have to understand their clients

When people are stressed, the first person to blame is you, the estate agent. But you've got the chance to manage expectations. You've got the chance to deliver something different compared to the rest of your market.

When I started Giggs and Co. in 2012, my obsession was about making sure that the interaction with our organisation was way ahead of the others. I wanted to know that when clients came into contact with us, they remembered us. That they knew they'd met us and discussed things with us.

Now we haven't always got that right over the years. We've had ups and downs. My obsession now is to get those things back into my organisation so I can say we are on the money now.

That's an admission because every business is a work in progress, whether you're a two out of 10, eight out of 10, or a 10 out of 10. The fact that I'm aware of it means I can do something about it now.

I'm telling you now, the reviews we get say we're amazing, but don't just judge yourself on the positive reviews. Look at the reviews you don't get.

Customer service is all about customer communication and experience. How often are you talking to people that have gone through the process with you to understand what their thoughts across the journey actually were?

Do you have a system for easy feedback?

Do you have a system that makes it easy for them to give that feedback? To share how they really feel? Or is it very rigid and fixed, so it just feels like their feedback’s not going to make a difference to the organisation?

You need to get good feedback so you can understand how to get good customers – the ones you really want to work with. To get those customers, you’ve got to understand :

- what they're experiencing,

- what they're feeling,

- what they're thinking, and

- how you can actually improve what you do.

Getting feedback, managing expectations, and being obsessed about changing those experiences in your business will make you amazing. You’ll go from having clients that just expect to dislike you or hate you or who hate estate agents in general, to making them feel like our industry has changed.

You’ll do this one interaction at a time. Because of you, every single client that you deal with can change their perception of the industry because of how you make them feel. Consider these questions:

- If their offer is not accepted, how do you go back to them?

- If the sale has fallen through, how do you go back to them?

- How do you help them to see the light, to see the wood through the trees?

That's what great estate agents do. They don't just hit people with bad news, they come back with solutions. I'm telling you right now, it may sound easy, but it's not. I've said in previous posts how difficult estate agency is and people do not give it the credit it's due.

In our industry, we don't value ourselves as highly as we should. It’s shock how little some estate agents are charging – but it's not too little when you see what they're delivering. You can do better, which means you can charge more.

What kind of estate agent are you going to be?

So you’ve got a choice:

- You can be in the majority who probably just do what's expected.


- You can be in the minority and exceed expectations.

You can do that because you now know why everyone hates estate agents – it is one of those careers which can divide people. You now have the opportunity to change people’s perception of our industry. Look at what you can do, what you can control to deliver the experience that you would expect yourself.

Thank you for coming on this journey with me. If you want more guidance and training, explore the rest of the blog and check out my YouTube channel. While you’re there, ring the bell so you’ll be notified when I post new content. Also, leave comments and questions on the videos you watch so I can make sure I answer your questions and provide the kind of content you’re looking for.

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