10 Nov, 2023 @ 13:17
3 mins read

Why my trophy cabinet is bare: What’s wrong with international property awards, asks Adam Neale of Terrameridiana on Spain’s Costa del Sol

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REAL estate agency awards are a funny thing. Agents want them because it brings prestige and can be used in their marketing materials. 

And I’m sure that they do have some effect on attracting clients as well. I mean, who doesn’t want their house sold by an award-winning agent?

Like any award, real estate gongs are supposed to recognize the best projects, companies, and individuals in different aspects of the sector. 

There are awards for architecture, developments, marketing, sustainability, and innovation.

And, of course, for the individual agents themselves. 

And ok, I’ll admit I have fallen for it myself; I was offered an award out of the blue by a UK industry magazine a couple of years ago.

My team were nominated as ‘Best Boutique Agency on the Costa del Sol’ or some such nonsense. 

At the time I accepted the award, but refused to pay (as was indicated) for the trophy and additional gala dinner etc. 

When I looked further into it I realised they must have used something like Chat GPT to generate every imaginable award possible. 

Indeed, a closer look at these awards suggests that they are not as prestigious or trustworthy as they seem in terms of determining the best in the field. 

In fact, many of these awards suffer from serious flaws that undermine their credibility and value. 

For starters, almost every award requires a sizable entry fee for each participant. These can range from hundreds to thousands of euros. 

They don’t insist, of course, but ‘including advertising’ as part of an entry package is a subtle hint that doing so will help the entrant. 

More seriously, charging substantial amounts can be a serious barrier to smaller, newer and less affluent agencies. 

An entry fee of €1000 might not seem like too much for a real estate business but if the goal is to win an award, you might have to enter several competitions, pay for advertising, fly to attend the various gala dinners etc, meaning the price tag can quickly ramp up.

The secondary effect is that the competition is judging only those who pay the competition to judge them – not the industry as a whole.

It is not judging those agencies unable or unwilling to pay, nor those that don’t even know about the competition.

Of course, I’m cognizant of the fact that competitions are a business and at the very least need to cover their costs. Nonetheless, there is a competition in the UK, for instance, that I recently read about in a UK trade mag.

This competition, the Estate Agency Masters, as it’s called, ‘mystery shops’ every agency on the online portal Rightmove. No entry fee is required. In fact, you don’t have to do anything at all, you are simply mystery shopped and data mined based on published criteria in your category.

As a result, the EAMasters award is perhaps a broader and more representative competition. 

Agents aren’t, at least, paying for an award. And if you place in the top 20% of agencies (ED: assuming you did Adam?), you are listed in their Best Estate Agent Guide for free. 

Being honest, the one catch is that if you want to promote you are in the guide, using its logo, you must pay a €115 per month subscription fee.

I don’t love this, it excludes, for example, agents that do not advertise on Rightmove (and many don’t), but at least it’s in principle an assessment independent of payment and with published criteria.

Beyond the question of fees, is the fact that competitions don’t have transparent and objective judging criteria. 

Most don’t even state what their criteria are.

This leaves them open to pressure from sponsors, advertisers or just subjective criteria that doesn’t reflect real world success, or even define success. 

This can be seen sometimes most dramatically with architecture awards. The awards often award projects based on their novelty, rather than their functionality, sustainability, or social impact. 

Property awards are not as valuable therefore, as they appear and they could even misrepresent the qualities of an agency. 

So what’s the alternative? 

There isn’t one. I can’t think of an independent body that has the time – or money – to dedicate to running an independent transparent measure of success. 

While Google reviews are not verified and are open to abuse by users posting fake reviews they remain a useful if not completely reliable means of judging a business… and they are probably the best we have at present. 

Ultimately, reputation takes years of hard work to build and is reflected in client feedback and referrals. 

In the meantime my trophy cabinet continues to gather dust….

For more property news and views visit https://www.terrameridiana.com/

Adam Neale (Columnist)

Adam Neale is the owner of Terra Meridiana, a real estate agency based in Estepona on the Costa del Sol covering areas such as Marbella, Estepona, Sotogrande and Benahavís. Adam has more than a decade of experience in the sales and rental markets and, as Property Insider for the Olive Press, will be providing useful advice for buyers, sellers, tenants and all those interested in living in southern Spain. You can contact Adam by phone at +34 951 318480, pay a visit to his office at 77 Calle Caridad, 29680 Estepona (Málaga) or just visit his website at www.terrameridiana.com

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