Trust and Distrust in the Relationships between Construction Firms and Real Estate Agents: Empirical Evidence from Italy

  •  Oronzo Trio    
  •  Antonio Iazzi    


The aim of this research is to study the characteristics of the relationships between construction firms and real estate agents in order to understand the nature and the role of trust.

In the construction industry trust plays a fundamental role as consequence of the long-lasting nature of the residential product, the big investment made in transaction specific assets, and the overlapping roles and responsibilities of the parties involved.

Real estate agents are the connecting element between the firm and the market and represent a kind of intermediary between buyers and builders.

Since they could assume an opportunistic behavior, in contrast with the builders’ interest, the construction firms need to keep the control over the internal or external sales force.

At this end we represent, through 30 in-depth interviews to builders and agents that operate in the Italian residential market, the actors’ points of view on their relationship and on the role of trust for a good relationship with potential customers.

Starting from the assumption that the main relevant theoretical dimensions of trust in this field are competence, affective and reputational trust, the research reveal a very low level of trust, both for the insufficient mutual recognition and for the scarce level of perceived transparency in the behavior of the counterpart. The builders and agents have many difficulties in their mutual relationship. There is no collaborative approach. The opportunism affects the behaviors both for the builders’ criticality in selling and for seeking a royalty on the agent’ side.

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