New website promises to keep agents honest

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A new website is promising to give home buyers and vendors a voice by rating real estate agents.

The recently-launched RatethatAgent website uses social media technology to enable consumers to view and submit reviews and ratings about real estate agents throughout Australia, in a similar fashion to sites like TripAdvisor and eBay.

The site's founder, Sydney-based former real estate agent Michael Jackson, argues that the project will "shine the spotlight on top real estate agents and caution unsuspecting home buyers and vendors about the poor ones".

"The power has always been with agents, not consumers – this website is a place for consumers to share their experiences about agents," says Jackson. "It's an opportunity to have people share their experiences: today's consumers want to know about an agent from what their past clients say about them."

Jackson says the website has been well-received by consumers, although admits that it's early days yet. He also acknowledges that, while the site could be controversial, transparency and integrity is paramount.

"There are some agents that are hiding in the shadows, and want nothing to do with the site. Some agents have threatened to sue me if I put their names on the site: I've said fine, I won't put their details on the site, but if a user adds their details and wants to rate their performance, whether that be good, bad or indifferent, it's too bad," he adds. "Agents also have a right to reply, to rebuff criticism.

Jackson adds that other agents can't wait to get their profile up online, and insists that he's "not here to knock agents".

"Having been a real estate agent until recently, I know that by and large all agents are good. There are a few rotten apples, but I'm not anti-agent by any means. This website is a way to shine a spotlight on the good agents. It's only controversial for those that have something to hide.

"It's all about the consumer, and giving them the opportunity to make better real estate decisions."

The site was launched in June, and is free to use for consumers. Agents can also upload profiles, contact details and so on, with a paid-for option to upgrade their profile to include video, current listings and other features. Future developments planned for the site include social media integration, mobile apps and top five ratings for agents in each state.

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