Trust can be built, argues Wouter Jellema. Image – Canva.
  • In a recent survey, real estate agents were among the least trusted professions
  • Commercial real estate agent Wouter Jellema responds to this finding
  • Agents need to work for both sides in the transaction, he argues

Earlier this month, The Property Tribune published an article about Australians ranking 30 professions based on ethics and honesty in Roy Morgan’s Image of Professions Survey 2021.

Unfortunately, real estate agents show up towards the bottom of the list…

Roy Morgan Image of Professionals Survey, 2021

Roy Morgan survey
Source: Roy Morgan

Only 5% of respondents said real estate agents rated as ‘high’ or ‘very high’ for ethics and honesty. Only ad or car salesmen rated lower. Ouch!

In this article, I dig deeper into why, in my opinion, the public reviewed us this way, and I will share my view on what we can do to change the public’s opinion. 

Quoting from the conclusion of 5 May 2021 article, “one might take all this with a grain of salt.”  

“Surveys asking people to rank generic professions usually bring out the tired old stereotypes. When selling real estate, no one is forced to use an agent, yet in the vast majority of cases when selling property, owners employ one. When asked, most sellers (sometimes more than 85%) say they were perfectly happy with their agent, and would happily use them again.”

Working for everyone

In my view, people put real estate agents towards the bottom of the list because we deal with many parties and lots of contentious matters.

One of the famous phrases real estate agents use is “We work for the seller or the owner”. So the other half of our clients – buyers and tenants – may feel they are second-grade customers and will judge us for it. 

My philosophy as a commercial property manager is “happy tenant, happy owner, happy property manager.”

This phrase means that when you deal with tenants, you must treat them with respect, listen to them, and always try to assist the parties in getting a compromise that will lead to a win-win situation.

DMIRS (Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety) trains us to work for the best interest of all parties.

When we all start doing this, the perception that we are not trustworthy might change, and we might climb the ladder.

Of course, there will be situations where we have no choice, and we must act, such as when tenants do the wrong thing by the landlord. In these situations though, we can still show respect.

I once had to terminate a tenancy for non-payment of rent, and the tenants thanked me for my professionalism in how I went about it. Professionalism goes a long way.

Remember, the tenants most likely never wanted to be in a predicament they are in, and so by being informative, available, and supportive, you can terminate a lease and still separate amicably and possibly enter into a payment plan to pay off the debt without the need of lawyers or debt collectors. 

I would like to invite my real estate colleagues to collectively step up the game and do our best to change our public perception. 

Here are what some owners and tenants have said about me: 

Owner’s review 

Review from an owner

Tenant’s review

Review from a tenant

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