Property Buyers Put Off by Agents' Image

Only 14-16 percent of all real estate transactions are conducted through estate agents, according to the chairman of the Property Agents Association, Nachman Shechter. The chairman told Ha'aretz that the rate of transactions involving agents had not changed over the past five years, adding that as the number of deals had dropped in recent years, so too had the level of activity for agents.

This, Shechter said, had given rise to a situation in which many agents were competing to find buyers or renters for the same property, thereby increasing competition between them. He pointed out that it was difficult to distinguish between buying and renting real estate within these figures, though the majority of all deals conducted through agents were for property purchases.

Shechter said that in comparison, around 90 percent of all real estate deals in the United States were conducted with the use of an agent. In Europe, he noted, the rate was closer to 60 percent.

In Shechter's opinion, so few people in Israel turn to agencies to find properties because of the negative image of the real estate agent, who is seen as "an urban con man" who charges a high fee, but whose contribution to the transaction is marginal. In other countries, he said, the agent was often also a lawyer or an accountant - commanding a higher image - whose role in the property deal was more active.

Shechter continued that the association was working to improve the image of agents in Israel, citing the passing of the Agents Law in 1997 and the promotion of an ethics code for the sector as part of its efforts.