A Best Estate Agent Guide is to be published for the first time this autumn.
The launch was announced yesterday evening by The Property Academy.
The Guide will be unveiled at a new event, The EA Masters, on September 22 at the Intercontinental 02 hotel, where last night’s launch was held after the ARLA conference.
The new event and the new Guide between them replace the Estate Agency and Letting Agency of the Year awards events, which have now been ‘retired’.
The Best Estate Agent Guide will highlight the top 20% of estate and letting agent branches as assessed by The Property Academy, who will base their findings on a combination of agents’ performance and customer service.
Property Academy CEO Peter Knight said: “Working with the unrivalled data from our principal partner, Rightmove, we will have assessed over 25,000 estate agency sales and lettings branches from all models – including traditional, online and hybrid.
“This Herculean exercise includes an assessment of 3m sales and lettings transactions including those that didn’t go on to complete, 50 million leads and 3 billion property views of the 1 million plus properties that appear on Rightmove at any one point in time.
“As if this wasn’t enough, in addition to analysing this massive amount of data, the Property Academy is now in the process of carrying out the biggest mystery shopping exercise ever undertaken. Over 30,000 sets of consumer interactions will be analysed, along with the data, to identify both the performance and the customer service experience that estate agents across the country are currently delivering.
“And please can I highlight that this analysis has been carried out on a location-by-location basis. The estate agents of Liverpool compete with all agents in Liverpool, likewise Mayfair with Mayfair, Leeds with Leeds.
“Unlike any other study carried out before, we have drilled down to location specific analysis and thereby recognise the geographical differences. One of the main reasons for doing this is to be able to truly identify those estate agents that perform the best and deliver the most positive customer experience in an objective way.
“And these high-performing agents, the best in sales and lettings across the country, will appear in ‘The Best Estate Agent Guide’ which we will publish immediately at the end of The EA Masters event on September 22.”
The c.6,000 branches that will be highlighted within the Best Estate Agent Guide will be graded on three levels: Rated, Merit and Distinction.
They will be able to display a distinctive shield device within their own marketing, plus the shields will also be visible within a variety of places on Rightmove.
A major consumer marketing campaign will increase awareness of the Best Estate Agent Guide which the Property Academy is determined will become the reference point for sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants when they seek to select an agent to work with.
The estate agent offices that have been selected to appear in the Best Estate Agent Guide will be announced at the EA Masters celebration dinner on September 22.
Before that will be the largest estate agency conference and exhibition that has ever been seen in the UK with over 1,300 business owners and senior directors expected to attend.
Knight said: “It’s going to be an incredible full day delivering what we call four-i … information, insight, ideas and inspiration.
“The conference will focus totally on business improvement, innovation and the latest products and services. The EA Masters will include a line-up of world-class business speakers and also some of the most successful estate agents from across the globe who will share their experiences as well as their latest ideas on how to compete profitably in these changing and challenging times.
“We will also have a stunning exhibition where Rightmove, our principal partner, will highlight their latest developments and new features, and we expect the EA Masters Exhibition to be the place where, each year, all the leading supporters to the industry will also announce their latest products and services, upgrades and new editions.”
Nick Salmon, managing director of Property Industry Eye, who was at yesterday evening’s launch event, asked how all this was being financed.
Knight said: “We will charge a licence fee with a range of packages that start from just £100 a month.”
He added: “But let me make a key point: no agent has to pay a penny – we will have carried out this exercise and will be publishing the Best Estate Agent Guide without any upfront contribution from agents. All the branches that are Rated or receive a Merit or a Distinction will appear in the Best Estate Agent Guide for free.
“Those agents that wish to enhance and promote their rating, on their website, advertising, boards and elsewhere, will pay the modest licence fee, but let’s face it, £100 a month to be identified by an independent assessment of this scale and rigour is, I believe, exceptional value.”
The Best Estate Agent Guide will be updated annually with the same approach, although Knight stressed that The Property Academy will seek to continuously improve the process.
He said: “In the same way that the Google algorithm has developed over the last two decades, so we will refine and improve further on our assessment criteria. In other words, what we’ve developed isn’t perfect yet. But, compared to anything else in this industry, our study and accreditation is in another league.
“Those branches that are published in the Best Estate Agent Guide can rightly be proud that they’ve truly earned their accolade.”