Australia’s largest real estate web site has the lion’s share of the market reporting a whopping $220 million full year profit. Agents and their clients, landlords and vendors, have gifted them this profit because web-site success is adjudged on how many eye-balls view the site.
Agents jostle to spend enough on this site to be noticed but not too much to send them broke.
Of course, vendors and landlords want their properties to appear prominently on the top ranking real estate web site and are usually happy to pay for it. After all, recent statistics show that almost 80 per cent of all buyers first see properties they purchase in the on-line space. On-line classifieds for property have essentially taken over from the print version for considerably less cost.
A more sinister development in the digital real estate space and the newest players are non-classified portals that purport to “find the best agent near you”. When selling, property owners call in local agents in order to assess which agent they believe will deliver them the service and result they want. Many of these vendors will initially look on-line to assess which agents they ought to call in. In this process it is tempting for future vendors to fill out an on-line form which the intermediary then forwards to subscriber agents inviting them to compete for the listing.
The problem here is that successful agents (therefore the best ones) don’t need to use these web sites to get business. Why would they? The best agents can get business on their merit and are understandably reluctant to hand over 20-25% of a reduced commission to an anonymous intermediary for nothing more than a lead. Consumers need to know that in using these sites, you’re simply not getting access to the best agents just the cheapest and most desperate.
These intermediaries are not there to act in the best interests of their “customer”. They have their eye on a slice of the agent’s commission. It’s no surprise that the fact they take a slice is hidden from the consumer somewhere in the fine-print.
Your local state Institute will have an Agent Finder search on their sites that simply provides relevant details of professional local agents in your areas for you to choose from. But this remains just the starting point as you still need to thoroughly interview agents face-to-face before making your choice.
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