Does Auckland really need all those real estate agents?

House for sale

OPINION: I guess a consequence of a booming housing market is more people flock to real estate as a career, but with the news Auckland has one agent for every 250 people, we have reached saturation point. 

Stuff reported that 44 percent - or 6515 - of New Zealand's real estate agents work in the overblown and overpriced Auckland market. It's not surprising given the city's house prices have shot through the roof in the past four years.

But do we really need so many? And would we miss real estate agents if the profession suddenly ceased to exist?

I bought a house recently from one of the larger real estate companies. The two agents were both nice, helpful people, but I really struggled to see what they did aside from ask me to take my shoes off when I went round to the open home.

They certainly didn't sell the house to me. Television is awash with real estate programmes where the agent wanders around the property selling its features to a client - the magnificent view, the Italian marble worktop or the manicured garden.

I have watched Million Dollar Listing and Location, Location,Location and seen the agents excitedly point out the property's good features. 

The agents at the house I bought just stood there while we wandered around.

It wasn't until after we moved in we found out the bathroom has underfloor heating or that there is a rainwater tank we could use to  water the garden. They are not big points but given the house had been on for a while they made nice selling points.

These agents were not alone. I have been to countless open homes in the North Shore, and to my recollection only one agent actually took us around the house selling it. Most just opened the door, asked for your email and left you to it.

Once we made the offer and they had a sniff of a commission the agents jumped to life. But they didn't sell the place to us.

I am sure behind the scenes they did a lot - drafted up contracts and got for sale boards made up, but they hardly came from the Jordan Belfort school of sales.

My question is had the agent been removed from the process would it have made much of a difference? Not from my point of view. 

Stuff reported an agent as saying the North Shore was among Auckland's most competitive markets and agents really have to "up their game", advice that has clearly not filtered down to those selling the houses.  

Mark Longley is Newshub Digital's managing editor.