More than half of Belgians have little trust in real estate market ... despite wave of professionalization
November 17, 2016
- Over half of the Belgian population says they have little or no trust in the real estate market. The most important reason: a lack of information when buying, selling, building, or renovating a home.
- While architects and notaries inspire the highest amount of trust, estate agents and project developers fall short in this category.
- These were the findings of the first Real Estate Trust Barometer conducted by communications agency Bereal, a company specializing in housing and real estate, and marketing research agency WES research & strategy. The survey questioned over 2,000 Belgians in detail about their trust in the real estate industry.
Even though the industry experienced a wave of professionalization over the last few years, the Belgian real estate market continues to struggle with image issues. Bereal and WES joined forces in order to clearly and concretely identify trust and/or distrust in the industry. To achieve this, they devised the Real Estate Trust Barometer, which specifically focuses on the real estate industry at large. The most remarkable finding: the industry generally received scores ranging from average to poor in terms of trust, even from Belgians who, up until then, had not been in direct contact with the industry.
The results show that a quarter of the Belgians (28%) really do trust the real estate market as well as its many professionals. More than half have negative opinions when it comes to trust: 42 percent barely trust the industry or simply not at all, whereas 12.5 percent have an average level of trust. The rest do not have an outspoken opinion on the matter. Trust levels are lowest in Brussels and Wallonia, whereas Flanders does slightly better. An important glimmer of hope: the younger the Belgians surveyed, the greater the trust.
The reasons for that dose of distrust vary considerably, from dissatisfaction about value for money to complaints about after-sales service or respecting agreed-upon timings. One of the biggest difficulties is the dissemination of information. Only 31 percent of Flemish people feel that, at the start of a real estate project such as buying, selling, building or renovating a home, they have received sufficient information from the various parties involved. This number drops to 29 percent in Brussels and to 26.5 percent in Wallonia.
“Buying, selling, building or renovating a home is one of the most important transactions in a person’s life, but governments and professionals alike sometimes forget to stop and consider this. The industry has been professionalized for a good while now, but that has rarely been showcased so far. This is not due to unwillingness. People in real estate often still think like salesmen, but people want an expert. Especially now, in times where the rules are becoming more and more complex, we all need information that is correct and as complete as possible.”
Dajo Hermans, Bereal, real estate communication
When the average Belgian embarks on their real estate project, their architect, notary, or land surveyor are who they trust most. Nearly half of all Belgians (49.2%) rank these professionals as very good or excellent in terms of trust. Notaries are valued highly for their useful advice (49%), trustworthiness (49%) and respecting the agreed-upon timings (43%), among other things.
But when we look at the banking industry, real estate agents and project developers, it’s a different story. Slightly more than one out of every three Belgians (39%) states having little or no trust in the banking industry if they were to build, renovate, buy, or sell a residence in the future. Roughly the same goes for the numbers regarding project developers: 40 percent says to have little trust in them. When it comes to real estate agents, it’s 48 percent. However, a quarter (24%) of Belgians ranks the real estate agent from good to excellent.
The criticism voiced most often regarding real estate agents as well as project developers is about the price/quality ratio, the advice given, the after-sales service and the quality of the products delivered. A striking detail: Belgians seem to have more trust in self-employed craftsmen such as carpenters or plumbers.
“Today, real estate agents, project developers, and other real estate professionals contribute their thoughts on a societal level more than ever before. Their middling scores make it clear that it’s all about perception. They will have to do even more to explain their function in society and to increase their credibility, e.g. via the dissemination of information. Simply giving advice is not enough. It needs to be substantiated by numbers, facts and a vision.”
Pascal Steeland, director WES research & strategy
Despite all this, home ownership is still deeply rooted in the Belgian mind-set, also for the younger generation. 63 percent of Belgians still think it is better to buy a home than to rent. Belgians who want to invest their savings in real estate predominantly invest in houses (58%) and apartments (52%). Real estate they know less about, such as industrial hangars or office buildings, are much less popular.
Please find attached more detailed graphs about the Real Estate Trust Barometer conducted by Bereal and WES research & strategy.
About WES research & strategy
WES research & strategy is a Bruges-based research and consulting agency that is mainly active in real estate, tourism, retail and the labour market. We assist our client in making strategic choices. Our work is underpinned by market research and we identify, among other things, customer needs and perceptions. This means that our customers are given a clear insight into the market environment, which results in well-founded, strategic decisions. www.wes.be
Bereal is a communication agency specializing in everything to do with real estate and housing. We take a journalistic approach to communication. We make sure that your company, organisation, project, city, or municipality communicates relevantly. The right way, with the right audience. www.bereal.be