Best Real Estate Agents | Brand Reviews & Ratings ─ Canstar Blue (2022)

Best Real Estate Agents | Brand Reviews & Ratings ─ Canstar Blue (1)Fact Checked

Century 21 listed in top position in real estate agents review

The housing market can be a confusing place, whether you’re there to buy, sell, or purely look at what’s available. Regardless of what you’re after, chances are you’ll deal with a real estate agent at some stage, whether it’s in passing at a housing inspection, or spending long hours with them in an office to get that paperwork signed. Finding the perfect home is hard, and so is finding the right real estate agent to guide you through the leg work.

Real estate agents now take many different forms, including some online-only firms. For many, deciding which to trust will be one of the biggest challenges faced on the path to your next right move. And while some of us might have preconceived ideas about estate agents, having them on your side when it comes to contracts and price negotiations could not only save you hours of stress, but potentially thousands of dollars in the long run. But of course, you’ll have to pay for their help, and costs can be high.

That’s why Canstar Blue produces an annual review of estate agents, to find out which are rated highest by the people who know best – their customers. Whatever they have used an estate agent for – buying, selling, renting or leasing – we invited over 1,300 survey respondents to tell us about their experiences with some of the biggest firms in Australia, when it comes to important factors like problem resolutions, communications & advice and contract handling.

This year, Century 21 was rated best in town, being the only real estate agent chain to receive five stars for overall satisfaction.

Best Real Estate Agents

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Here are the best real estate agent companies in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:

  1. Century 21
  2. RE/MAX
  3. Elders Real Estate
  4. McGrath Estate Agents
  5. Belle Property
  6. First National
  7. Stockdale & Leggo
  8. LJ Hooker
  9. Harcourts
  10. Barry Plant
  11. Ray White
  12. Raine & Horne
  13. Professionals

Century 21 topped our ratings of real estate agents, earning five-star reviews for communication, knowledge & advice, contract handling, and overall satisfaction. RE/MAX, Elders Real Estate, McGrath Estate Agents, Belle Property and First National all finished on four stars, with Stockdale & Leggo, LJ Hooker, Harcourts, Barry Plant, Ray White, Raine & Horne and Professionals all rated three stars overall.

Other five star results included RE/MAX’s jointly topping knowledge and advice as well as contract handling, with Elders the only brand to score five stars for value for money. Belle Property was similarly the only brand to be rated five stars for problem resolution, with both McGrath Estate Agents and Stockdale & Leggo sharing top spot honours for marketing.

Read on as we look closely at what real estate agents actually do and what you need to be aware of when dealing with them.

About the Winner – Century 21

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Century 21 was first founded in 1971 over in the US, with the company currently operating within over 80 countries through independently owned and operated franchises. In Australia, there are over 150 locations, with Century 21 offering services centred around buying, selling or renting properties, with home and land packages also offered in some locations. Century 21 also cater for commercial real estate needs, with the Century 21 website also offering a number of guides to help you navigate the property market.

What do real estate agents do?

While real estate agents are basically a bridge between potential home buyers and sellers, or landlords and their tenants, there’s also plenty that goes on behind the scenes. In addition to understanding the housing market, they can also give you specific information on your local area, including demographics, average house prices, public transport options, schools and even local council regulations, which can be useful if you’re moving to a new area. And if you’re not comfortable with negotiating, some real estate agents can play hard ball on your behalf.

Real estate agents can also be classified into speciality fields, such as a buyer’s agent if you’re looking to buy a property and need someone to evaluate, negotiate and even attend buying auctions for you, or a property manager if you’re looking to become a landlord and need help with screening new tenants and dealing with repairs and inspections.

While most real estate businesses will have a number of agents on hand to help you with whatever property query you have, it doesn’t hurt to look into what type of agent is best suited for your needs, and just what you should expect them to help with.

Costs of using a real estate agent

As useful as a real estate agent may prove to be when it comes to finding a home or tenant, their fees and commissions can quickly add up if you’re not careful. Here are a few standard expenses that you can expect to incur:

  • Fixed rate fee – a percentage of the final selling price of your house, agreed upon before the finalisation of the deal.
  • Tiered percentage commission – a specific percentage that increases once a certain sales value is reached. For example, a commission rate of 3% on the first $400,000, with a jump to 5.5% on anything over $400,000. This encourages agents to sell for a higher price.
  • Marketing & advertising fees – some real estate agents include marketing and advertising costs within their commission, while others charge a separate fee for their marketing expenses, which may need to be paid even if you don’t sell your house.
  • Property managers usually charge either a monthly management fee or a fixed annual cost for processing related bills and tenant paperwork, as well as undertaking property inspections and organising repairs.

If you’re buying or selling a property, it’s best to keep a bit of money aside for other expenses, including repairs, legal fees and stamp duty, so that you’re not met with bills as soon as you set foot through the front door. If you’re still not sure what you might be paying for, talk to your local real estate agent about what to expect when you sign on the dotted line.

How to choose a real estate agent

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When it comes to finding the best real estate agent for your needs, there’s no shortage of options out there to choose from, meaning finding one can be a challenge in itself. When asked about the most important factors when choosing their real estate agent, survey respondents stated the following reasons:

  • Reputation: 25%
  • Location: 22%
  • Was personally recommended to me: 17%
  • Price, such as fees and commissions: 17%
  • Range of properties: 12%

However, finding an agent may also depend on your specific circumstances or needs, as those looking to buy their first home will require different needs to those looking to rent out their property. For example, landlords were asked what they valued most from their real estate agents, with the results listed below:

  • Finding quality tenants: 27%
  • Knowing they’ll manage issues such as damage or non-payments: 26%
  • Collecting rent and managing requests from tenants: 26%
  • Managing repairs and maintenance: 18%

As a result, it’s best to explore your options to find the best fit for you, as some agents may specialise in selling properties, while others are better suited to looking after tenants. To help you find the best fit, this year’s categories may give you a clearer idea of what you’re after.

Problem Resolution

Whether you’re a landlord or renting, buying or selling, you can be sure that a few problems are going to crop up along the way. For renters, this could be maintenance issues around the home or garden, while for landlords it could be maintenance problems caused by the tenants! Whatever the case, it’s the role of the estate agent to act as an intermediary and to solve the problems to everyone’s satisfaction. That’s much easier said than done, so a real estate agent that manages to keep all parties happy has earned its money.

  • Belle Property was the sole brand at the top with five stars for problem resolution, withCentury 21, RE/MAX, Elders, McGrath Estate Agents, First National and Stockdale & Leggo close behind on four stars.LJ Hooker, Harcourts, Barry Plant, Ray White, Raine & Horne and Professionals finished on three stars.

Communication

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Real estate agents may be known for their gift-of-the-gab, but like any profession, poor communication can result in frustration for all parties. Whether you’re buying or selling and expecting an important call, or a tenant enquiring about a lease renewal, timely and professional communication from estate agents is the very least you should expect. It’s also important that customers are treated as individuals and not just a number. Are emails addressed personally to you, or are you just sent generic correspondence like everyone else? Good communicating is a cornerstone for many industries, with real estate no different, and with 31% of survey respondents stating they have had poor communication from a real estate agent in the past, it can be a make-or-break factor for potential customers.

  • Century 21 was the only brand to rate five stars for communication, with RE/MAX, McGrath Estate Agents, Belle Property, First National and Stockdale & Leggo rating four stars.Elders, LJ Hooker, Harcourts Barry Plant, Ray White, Raine & Horne and Professionals finished on three stars.

Knowledge & Advice

You want your real estate agent to know their stuff, considering a house is often the biggest purchase that you’ll ever make! Knowing where the housing market is currently sitting, as well as the other tips and tricks of the local market and what to look out for when dealing with other parties such as legal and pest inspections, can help save you more than a few headaches throughout the process, meaning that knowledgeable agents are worth their weight in gold.

  • Century 21 and RE/MAX rated five stars for knowledge & advice, with Elders, McGrath Estate Agents, Belle Property, First National and Stockdale & Leggo scoring four stars. Harcourts, LJ Hooker, Barry Plant, Ray White, Raine & Horne and Professionals got three stars.

Value for money

With plenty of money involved, you’ll want to be getting good value from your real estate agent, which often means more than just simply how much they cost. Some real estate agents may incorporate plenty of services rather than the traditional buy-and-sell spiel, while others may simply offer the bare minimum. As a result, looking at what you’re getting for the fees may help you find an agent to help you land your dream property.

  • Elders was the only brand to achieve a five star rating for value, with Century 21, McGrath Estate Agents, Belle Property and Raine & Horne rated four stars. All other brands were rated three stars for value for money, except for Professionals, which was rated just two stars.

Contract Handling

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You can tell a lot about a company by the way it handles contracts and other important details. Is your estate agent a stickler for detail and accuracy, or just keen to get the contract signed so they can move on to their next task? Taking care of the contracts associated with your sale or tenancy is arguably the most important thing that a real estate agent has to do – mistakes are simply not an option here. This involves communicating the finer details to all parties concerned and ensuring that everyone is 100% happy before proceeding.

  • Century 21 and RE/MAX were the only estate agents rated five stars for contract handling, followed by Elders, Belle Property, First National and Stockdale & Leggo on four stars. McGrath Estate Agents, LJ Hooker, Harcourts, Barry Plant, Ray White, Raine & Horne and Professionals got three stars.

Marketing

It’s hard to get your property off the market when no one knows that it’s on the market, meaning that how effective your agent’s marketing campaigns are can directly determine how much eye and foot traffic your house will see. Additionally, marketing doesn’t have to be confined to just selling, as you’ll want your agent to be noticeable within the area to entice renters or other parties through the door so that your properties get more exposure.

  • McGrath Estate Agents and Stockdale & Leggo were both rated five stars for marketing, with Elders, Belle Property and First National all rated four stars. Century 21, RE/MAX, LJ Hooker, Harcourts, Barry Plant, Ray White and Raine & Horne all scored three stars, while Professionals was rated two stars.

Which real estate agent should I use?

Understanding the housing market can be a tough challenge, particularly if you’re venturing into it for the first time. And with most options coming with a hefty price tag, it’s not always for the faint of heart, meaning that partnering with a real estate agent can help take some of the stress out of your time in the market.

But with plenty of options to consider when it comes to finding a guide for the real estate market, deciding which one is the best fit for your needs can be your first challenge. However, by looking into all of your options, as well as reading the fine print and understanding the fees and charges you’ll likely come up against when it comes to dealing with agents, you’ll be able to move in the right direction regardless if you’re looking to buy, sell, lease or rent.

About the author of this page

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This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Content Projects Lead, Dean Heckscher. He’s our resident expert on all things automotive, health & fitness, streaming and more. Dean is also one of Canstar Blue’s customer research report producers, helping to turn complicated subjects into easily-digestible information for our readers. He’s passionate about helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services.

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Photo credits: Stock-Asso/Shutterstock.com, Solis Images/Shutterstock.com, Sasin Paraksa/Shutterstock.com, Dragon Images/Shutterstock.com, thodonal88/Shutterstock.com.

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