CEA recently released the findings from the 2021 Public Perception Survey (PPS). The PPS was started in 2012 and is held every three years. It allows us to gauge consumers’ satisfaction towards the services rendered by real estate salespersons (RESs). The survey findings will give us a better sense of the progress of the real estate agency industry in delivering professional service to consumers.
The online survey, which was carried out from October 2021 to February 2022, involved more than 1,100 respondents. This comprised individuals who had engaged the services of a RES in the last 12 months (referred to as “consumers”) and those who had yet to (the “potential consumers”).
In this post, we cover the highlights from the 2021 PPS, and explain what they mean for the industry.
#1: Consumers remain satisfied with RESs' services amid COVID-19 challenges and higher expectations
The COVID-19 pandemic presented many challenges that impacted how property transactions were carried out. RESs had to adapt to new ways of working while ensuring that they maintained services standards. Consumers, who have been largely used to face-to-face viewings, had to adjust to using virtual tours.
Despite this, 77 per cent of consumers (or three in four consumers) surveyed in 2021 were satisfied with the services provided by their RESs. While this is a decrease from both the 2018 (85 per cent) and 2015 (79 per cent) surveys, consumer satisfaction remains statistically high.
#2: RESs' knowledge/expertise is an attribute that both consumers and potential consumers feel is the most important
Consumers were asked to rate their RESs on statements grouped into three professional attributes: Knowledge/Expertise, Ethics/Conduct and Service Excellence.
Similar to the 2018 and 2015 surveys, consumers were most satisfied with their RESs in service excellence, followed by ethics/conduct and knowledge/expertise in 2021. This indicates that consumers place a great deal of emphasis on a RES’s knowledge and expertise, and have higher expectations of RESs’ capabilities and competencies.
Potential consumers also indicated that a RES’s knowledge/expertise is the most important attribute to them, followed by RES’s ethics/conduct and service excellence.
#3: Consumers whose RES use more forms of technology are more satisfied with their RES's service
Like the findings in the 2018 survey, consumers whose RES used three or more forms of real estate technology during their property transaction were more satisfied with their RES’s service.
- 92 per cent of consumers whose RESs used three or more forms of real estate technology were satisfied with their service.
- 76 per cent of consumers whose RESs used two forms of real estate technology were satisfied with their service.
- 70 per cent of consumers whose RESs used one form of real estate technology were satisfied with their service.
#4: A higher percentage of consumers and potential consumers are undecided whether to engage a RES to facilitate a future property transaction. Fewer consumers and potential consumers are opting to handle future property transactions on their own
As with the earlier surveys, consumers and potential consumers were asked if they intend to engage a RES for future property transactions.
In 2021, the proportion of consumers who were undecided increased to 23 per cent from 15 per cent in 2018, but was lower than 31 per cent in 2015. A lower proportion of consumers indicated that they would be able to handle their transactions on their own – 9 per cent of consumers indicated that they would do so, a decrease from 12 per cent in 2018, but similar to the 2015 finding.
Like consumers, the proportion of potential consumers who were undecided on engaging a RES in the future increased to 44 per cent, from 38 per cent in 2018 and 36 per cent in 2015. The proportion of potential consumers who are likely to handle their own transactions declined to 9 per cent, from 15 per cent and 23 per cent observed in the 2018 and 2015 surveys, respectively.
#5: The top consideration for consumers and potential consumers when choosing a RES is through a recommendation by friends and/or family
Both consumers and potential consumers indicated that their top consideration in choosing a RES is a recommendation from friends and/or family.
This was followed by the RES’s track record and reputation. Other considerations included the reputation of the estate agent (EA) the RES was from and the RES’s online ratings and reviews.
What the 2021 PPS findings mean for the real estate agency industry
The 2021 PPS findings show that the real estate agency industry has shown resilience in adapting to the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. RESs who used technology were able to adjust more nimbly to the new environment, while still providing the ‘human touch’ to their clients and ensuring that service levels were not compromised.
Consumers’ preferences will continue to evolve and their expectations will increase, e.g. consumers have come to expect RESs to incorporate digital tools in facilitating property transactions – from marketing properties to closing deals. Thus, it is important for the real estate agency industry to always improve and innovate through technology use.
RESs must also continually equip themselves with relevant knowledge and sharpen their competencies. This goes beyond fulfilling Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements but having good knowledge of the relevant laws and regulations relating to property transactions, executing paperwork carefully, having good understanding of their clients’ unique needs, so that they can offer more customised advice and value-adding services. This way, they will be able to help their clients make the best decisions in buying, selling, renting or leasing out a property, create personalised transaction experiences and strengthen consumer trust.
CEA will continue to work closely with the real estate agency industry in its transformation journey through initiatives under the Real Estate Industry Transformation Map (ITM) 2025. These are aimed at achieving the vision of a professional, productive and resilient real estate agency industry.
One of the key Real Estate ITM 2025 initiatives is Project ADEPT (ADvancing and Enhancing Professionalism and Training). This is a workgroup comprising representatives from the EAs, industry associations, training providers, and academia, which is looking at enhancing the entire CPD ecosystem for RESs. This will include quality assurance of CPD courses and providing a differentiated approach to RESs’ training.
In the coming months, CEA will be sharing more details on the 2021 PPS findings and providing information on various initiatives that will support the industry in its transformation journey. Do keep a look out for more blogposts!
Information accurate as at 7 October 2022